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How to Sell a Dirt Bike (& Get Top Dollar)


I just sold 2 bikes on Facebook.  I had 2 buyers come from 3 and 4 hours away to Kansas City Metro to pay me top dollar – when there were lots of closer bikes. I was amazed they came from so far.  However, there are some horrible listings out there.  Some people just don't know how to sell.  I figure I have purchased and sold around 20 bikes in my day.  I think that makes me a Subject Matter Expert (SME).

1)      Clean it –

a) Like you have never cleaned it before.  Power wash.  Foaming engine bright.  Toothbrush – use your old one and toss it when done.  (Your wife may divorce you if you use hers or yours and put it back in the bathroom.)

b) Get all the crap out of the nooks and crannies.  Make it shine!

c) Pull out the steel wool and clean the aluminum rims, swing arms, etc.

d) Remove all stickers, numbers, etc.  Clean up so you cannot tell they were there.  No one cares about your numbers and they make me think you raced the crap out of it.  If they are custom numbers – maybe leave. Probably not if 3 digits = hard core racer.  1 or 2 digits = garage racer. 

e) Use STP Son of a Gun or Armor All to make the plastics and tires glow.

f) Lube it up – chain, footpegs, kick starter.


2)      Fix anything that you can – broken plastics or other parts. 

a)      If the cases are worn, consider the plastic covers to make it look good.

b)      Frame guards are cheap and make it look new.

c)       Use fine sandpaper to clean up the plastics.

d)      Try to lube or clean off any rust.

e)      Paint is cheap….


3)      Pictures – Do’s after cleaning in a well-lit area, with flash.

a)      Close up of bike only-  left and right side.

b)      Front left and front right.

c)       Front and rear tires to show treads.  If you can see the ‘vent spews’ or gates let them see it.

d)      Show close up of sprockets to show wear

e)      Close up of the engine on both sides.

f)       Rear of the bike.

g)      Hour meter if you have one

h)      Any damaged area – dent in pipe, big scratch.  Full disclosure.

i)        Manuel – if you have it.  If not find it online and print one – and put it in a nice binder with a cover page.

j)        Picture of included stuff – nicely arranged, organized, etc.

k)      Title – maybe cover up part of the numbers to prevent scammers, etc.

l)        Picture of the model plate –One guy thought he was selling a different year.

m)    VIN – to share later via PM or text and give them the location to check not stolen.  https://www.vehiclehistory.com/


4)      Pictures – Do not …

a)      Show pictures of the bike through the ages.  When new from 10 years ago.  Or even before last plastics or stickers change.  I am never sure what bike I am buying. 

b)      Show pictures of the bike in your truck or dirty or anywhere but just before you list and just after cleaning.

c)       Show anything else but the above.

d)      Show pictures of you jumping or wheeling or anything.  One idiot had a picture of him flying 15 ft through the air and you could barely confirm it was the bike.  I don’t want to see you or the bike jumping.  I’m not buying that, I am buying the bike.

e)      Show a picture of the bike when stored outside next to your pile of crap


5)      Listing Description –

a)      Give them details about the bike – estimated hours on each of the old and new perishable parts

b)      Tell them what is great

c)       Tell them what needs work

d)      Tell them what is broke

e)      Tell them the kind of riding you do and have done.  Be honest.  If you have raced every weekend there are pictures and listing out there. 

f)       Tell them how it starts – cold and hot.  4 kicks cold and 1 hot.

g)      Tell them what might need to be done in the future.

h)      Details – some people need them. 

i)        Give them the nearest cross streets without giving address in the listing.  Give that when they are on their way. 

j)        See #8 on price.


6)      Prepping for the Visit

a)      I always start the bike regularly while in the sale mode (weekly).  I would rather have an issue in advance.  I once was selling a YZ 85 and my kids left the gas on.  Plug got fouled and I ended up giving the guy $200 off because it would not start.  I had a spare plug, that was also fouled.  He got a new plug on the way home and it fired right up. 

b)      Tell kids the bike is off limits – see #1. 

c)       Start the bike before the buyer gets, there unless they ask for it to be cold.  Even if they want it cold, it would be cold 1 hour after you started it. 

d)      Try to make the garage look like a showroom.  I don't want to climb over your crap or be covered in grease.  I don't want you dogs sniffing my crotch or scratching my truck.

e)      Have a plan about them riding the bike – Helmet? Hold their keys and license so you don’t get scammed. 

f)       Be Prepared – Have a spare set of tie-downs, so when they break out the ratchets ones you can save the day.  Tools to remove handlebars if they try to shove in SUV.


7)      Negotiation –

a)            Have the price pretty well nailed before they come. 

b) Be Prepared to lower the agreed-upon price if they find something you did not disclose.  I had a guy find a hairline crack in the rims once.  So I had to lower the price a little more than I wanted.

c) A good deal is when both walk away happy.

d) Don't be afraid of silence on the phone or text when you make a counteroffer.

e) Know that you are not going to get your money out of the extra $2000 you put into the bike in rims, hubs, and pipe.  Sorry.  Pull them put the stock back on and sell separately.

f) Give an address near you until they are just about to leave.


😎 Research – (Buying or Selling) – do your homework before you list.  Know what a reasonable price is for the bike.  You don’t want to look like an idiot by listing too high or leave money on the table. 

a)      Look at other similar bikes use the good from their Ads and remove the bad.

b)      Calculate in your proximity to other buyers.  If you live way out, you are going to get less.

c)       Do your homework on the buyer before you give them the final address. 

d)      If on Facebook, look at their profile. Know your buyer.  Don't get scammed.


What did I miss?  


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I see the Thumper Talk (TT) site has same problem, on your computer, I have when using ")" behind your number bullets to list points of subject matter. 

In other words I get the "Sunglass smiley face 😎" for eighth bullet line listing. 

You mentioned …..   "j)        See #8 on price."  and a 😎  is there, but I couldn't find 8, then I remembered the problem, I always have when using TT comment section and bullets. You always get 😎   for bullet #8 when using closed ")" behind the #8.

What's up with that TT moderators?

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This is a great article, full of useful tips!

I browse Craigslist motorcycles faithfully every day and often look at the cars listings. I'm amazed at the number of people who can't be bothered to at least wash their bike and roll it out of the garage or power wash the engine compartment of their car.

(Here's a tip for buyers: Look at the interior of the garage behind the bike. If it is a mess -- photos on a recent Craigslist ad had parts, hoses, empty boxes, and even latex gloves strewn on the floor by a bike -- assume the condition of the motorcycle is similar.)

I've been writing about and photographing collector cars, trucks, and motorcycles for magazines professionally for five decades and this article says it all.



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Never have I ever responded to a listing that says "call/contact for pricing", I don't want to listen to someones sales pitch to know if it is in my price range or want to spend on that particular item.  

great article, Iv'e learned a few things

Edited by gt63

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