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Trade your way to a better bike!



Tired of your ride and want to try something new? Bike too big or too small and think you need a size adjustment? Here are a few pointers on how to trade what you have now for that perfect bike you’ve been dreaming of at little to no cost! If you are thinking of swapping dirt bikes there are a few strategies that you must be familiar with to be successful.  

The first strategy and the hardest part of trading off road motorcycles is getting one in the first place if you do not already have one. Riders do like to swap bikes, however it is uncommon that they want to trade it for something other than another dirt bike. The only people who are usually looking to get out of the sport are those that either have been injured or those who have a new family and no longer have the time to ride. In either case both those types of people are usually looking to maximize their profits to help out with their respective causes. If you do not already have a bike I found that there are two main items people usually swap one for. The first are ATV’s. People who have dirt bikes tend to be hooked to off road riding, though some find dirt bikes too hard to too risky. These are the types of people that want to swap for an ATV. It’s been my experience that most people prefer 4X4 ATV’s instead of the race ATV. I find this I mostly due to again race ATVs being too fast and higher risk. Also some people prefer them because you can have a passenger and is cheaper to ride 2 up on an ATV then have 2 bikes. If you don’t have an ATV to trade the second most popular trade item sought are boats. The most popular boats accepted as trades seem to be bow riders. After contacting a few of these people, it seems that they no longer have the time for both their fishing and biking past times and they chose fishing as their primary activity. Lastly if you have neither an ATV nor boat to trade you can try household items such as riding lawn mowers, snow blowers, hunting equipment etc. I was able to secure a 1984 Honda CR 125 by trading some camping equipment I had just sitting in my basement. I did have to drive over 6 hours but seeing as how I was looking for trades for a few months at that point I jumped at the chance.



The second strategy of trading is if you have a two stroke then trade it for a four stroke or vice versa. We all know the two vs four stroke debate. Some people just prefer to ride the one style vs another. This is your opportunity to profit by finding someone who just rode their buddy’s horse from a different pasture and trading with them. Nobody likes to lose out in a deal but you can turn that feeling of joy they felt in riding the other style bike into value in your bike. What I mean is people will trade their newer bikes for ones a few years older simply because they feel that style is better for them. This may take some convincing by reminding them how great that snappy responsive two stroke is vs their heavy slow four stroke, or how much smoother and more neighbor friendly your four stroke is vs their two stroke. The main point here is find out why are coveting their neighbor’s goods and play on that. Most of the time people are willing to sacrifice to trade for your bike that’s a few model years older to get what they want.


The third way to trade up bikes is to trade one in perfect running condition for one that is not. The purpose for this would be to trade from an older model of either stroke to a newer one. For this you will need some mechanical prowess and a few dollars depending on what needs to be done. I wouldn’t really recommend trading a fully functional bike for a nonfunctioning one unless the nonfunctioning one is significantly newer. One of the main points here is that the newer bike should have a greater value when running then your old bike plus the amount of money you’re going to sink into the new one to get it running. This is how I was able to get from my 1984 Honda CR125 to a 2005 Yamaha 250F. The owner could not start it and just wanted a bike that ran. As it turns out all the bike needed was a valve shim (At this point in my riding career I was just starting to work on bikes and made a fatal error in placing the new shim causing a catastrophic failure but none the less the bike was able to start and run. Had I done the work correctly I would have been well ahead but more on this in a later blog) Beware of people who claim it just needs a carb clean, as this is almost never the reason it’s not running. Be prepared to replace the whole valve train.

Another way of trading and the fourth on this list is trading from a motocross style bike to a trail riding model or vice versa. Often times a racer will want to give up on the motocross scene and get into the relaxed world of trail riding. This may be your opportunity to trade your slightly older comfortable Cadillac cruising trail bike for their newer high revving beast. On the contrary others may opt to want to get into the fast paced world of mx racing and give up their newer modded trail riding pony for your motocross bike. I personally traded my 2005 Yamaha 250F for a 2004 Yamaha WR250F for the reasons stated above. The race bike was all I could trade for at the time, but it gave me leverage to get into the WR. A fellow in my town build a new mx track so I was able to capitalize on someone trading in their trail bike to get onto the track. Most people are wary to get a bike that has been raced, but if you’ve taken care of it, have a log of the work that’s been done and can show receipts of work you will have a much easier time. I tend to trust racers who know their bikes inside and out more than I do the backyard trail riders who have never checked their shims or cleaned their oil screen. There are however some racers who bag the crap out of their bikes then dump them, and trail riders who meticulously care for their princesses so you have to ask the questions. What have you done, when and how many hours.




Lastly the fifth method of trading is for power. There are plenty of people out there who bite off more than they can chew and are looking to trade their 450 four stroke or 250 two stroke for the next smaller size down. This also works in reverse for people who have outgrown their bikes and are looking to trade up. Many times they are willing to sacrifice a couple of model years to achieve this, or go from a more expensive brand to a less expensive brand to get what they want.



Some other points when it comes to trading are to be patient. Frequent all of the different online used sites. Some people include a willingness to trade in their ad, others don’t, I would ask everyone who has an online ad regardless on if they say they will trade or not as often times they have just never thought of it. Never trust anyone at their word on what the bike needs to be repaired unless it’s backed up by a repair shops written opinion. Be willing to travel and check your neighboring town’s ads as well. Its rare, but you may also benefit by trading your bike for something not necessarily what you wanted, but something that is more trade-able or more desirable then what you have as a mid-step to trade for what you want.

Do you have a good trade story? Share it in the comments below!


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My saga into trading started with this Trek Jack. 



I traded straight across for this all downhill Specialized Big Hit


But mountain biking is only so much fun and I longed to get back into motorcycles after a 4 year hiatus so I traded straight across for this blown kx 125.


After lots of wrenching and ebay deals, the bike came together.


I raced the bike several times and placed first in 200A and 200B on several occasions. Then I blew the top end and being a bigger guy, I knew I needed a bigger bike. So I traded straight across for this blown 2003 kx 250.


After more wrenching and ebay deals, the 2003 kx 250 now looks like this



I am happy with how my barter journey has gone.


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I had a 2005 Yamaha 8 HP outboard on Kijiji, the Canadian craigs list used items for sale / trade website, asking to trade for a single cyl 4 stroke like CRF 230 or TTR230.  Got tonnes of people that wanted to buy the motor, it was essentially brand new, might have had 20 hours on it total, but no one wanted to offer me the $$ to buy a dirt bike, which were going for 2~3000 locally.  After about 6 months I got a trade, guy had a big fishing boat with a 3 hp kicker that could barely keep it steady in the current, and was looking for a stronger motor.  He had a 2005 TTR230 that was running, all original, and maybe looked a bit rough but nothing missing or seriously broken.  It obviously needed new tires (still had the original ones, the rear one was worn down almost flat in the center tread lol), the carb needed attention (choke did not work), and the oil drain plug was mashed and stripped to crap+ the usual wear and tear on a 13 yr old bike.

So I traded a motor that most ppl would say was worth about $700~800, + cost of new tires, tubes, chain, battery, carb kit, upsized jets, replacement oil drain plug, brake pad and shoes, + all my time and effort to do the work myself and got a great bike that runs perfectly.

Just had it out last weekend for the first time, after riding for several hours my bud starts filming, and of course...


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My buddy bought a basket case Honda 50, resto'd it, traded up all the way to a Ducati 900SS. Then he traded the 900SS for a f'ing dune buggy. :lame:

I flip bikes, one started with a '92 DR350S, $600 not running. My neighbor was actually working on it for a friend, got it running, then I bought it. Sold that for $1300, bought a XR650L for $2600, sold that for $3200.

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I also like to flip bikes from time to time to fund my bike obsession. It's really hard to lose if you get the bikes for a good price! This past winter I picked up an '05 yz450f for $1,100 and did nothing but put new graphics on it then sold it for $400 more.

The greatest success was buying three old non-running XLs last year for $900 then selling them all within the week for a total of $2,300. Looking back though I know it was pure luck because they literally just needed some carb cleaning and minor tweaking. Bless those old Hondas. 

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I normally say "cash is king" whether buying or selling

But for some reason unbeknownst to me I got a hard-on for Honda Turbo cars and decided to trade a guy who'd offered me a Del Sol with a turbo setup for a very trick 04 KX250 GNCC enduro/hare scramble bike. 

Won the bike on eBay 

It was almost as far away as possible 

I'm in Toronto, bike was in Louisiana!

Got the bike up here(and NOT without incident!)

Rode it a bit(cpl mths?) and found my dream bike for sale up the road(2008 KTM450sx with a 91 CR500 shoehorned in;)

Saw the Del Sol for trade

Guy said it needed electrical work

The only 'electrical work" it needed was to be laid down on Frankenstein's slab and have 500,000 f'in Volts run through it

What a bag of s..t I got

Motor was toast

All I could think about was all the cans of my Guinness this twat drank while checking out my bike 

Even brought his whole inbred brood over to make the deal 

I'm sure they all had a good laugh at my expense on the ride home!

Ya live n learn I suppose 

shit, I better hurry up! Just turned 50 and still getting hosed !! Haha

oh  it gets better

i  burned the engine bay of the Del Sol while screwing around with injectors the day before some guy was coming to take the Del Sol off my hands!

He ended up getting the car for $750!

So folks, if you needed to learn how to 'trade down' I hope this helped

$3300 trick two stroke weapon became a limp pile of damp $20 bills in 6-8weeks!!

If there's an upside it's that I'm opening a high end organic bakery/cafe half a block from their house and they've already been "banned" before it's open.

Actually lookin forward to kickin them out on a busy Saturday morning!!:)



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