How to sell your bike

 31 March 2008 16:30

Use this guide to make selling your bike as smooth, fast and easy as possible.

Our guide even reveals some of the pitfalls - and how to avoid them.

Click the next page to read through our step by step guide to everything you need to do to sell your bike or click the links below to go directly to the section you want to see.



MCN Bike check




Choosing how to sell

Avoid telephone canvasers


Test rides






The first thing you have to do is prepare your bike and paperwork properly. It saves you a lot of time and hassle and can help you make a faster sale.

Check the bike visually from one end to the other – it’s easier not to miss anything that way. At the very least you should check the oil, tyres, coolant, electrics and chain to make sure they are all in working order. But the more effort you put in the the less a buyer will have to haggle about.

Whether it’s a dealer or a punter looking at your bike, there are basic common sense rules. Wash the thing. Make sure it starts. If it looks like crap and sounds like crap then people will only pay crap.

Do all this before you even advertise - there’s nothing worse than trying to fix an intermittent ignition problem when the prospective buyer is arriving in 10 minutes.

A good wash and polish will make a huge difference to the appearance of a bike. Spend a bit of time and effort to get all the bits clean – even the furthest crevices of the swingarm and wheels. A good degreaser or wheel cleaner will make even the nastiest of chain-lube encrusted wheels look good. Use paraffin to clean the chain before re-lubing it. There are even special products to make your tyre sidewalls look nice and shiny. Give the seat a good clean too – and if it’s torn, get a new cover.

Any good wax polish will do for the bodywork – some of the polymer spray polishes are a breeze to use. Use metal polish on any chrome or alloy parts that are looking dull.

Once it looks good, make it work as well as you can. Give the bike a service, keeping any receipts. New oil, filters and plugs. If you can do the work yourself, it only costs a few quid too. Fix any exhaust leaks and adjust the chain – everyone checks that. Check and charge/fill the battery, cleaning the connectors. Adjusting and lubing control cables and gear linkages will improve the feel of the controls massively. Replace blown bulbs. Clean up the brakes and give them a bleed.

Like all consumables – tyres, chain and sprockets - only change brake pads if they’re really bad. If the buyer points out they’re worn, say you’re asking less because of that. If you fit new ones, point out you’ve just spent loads on them (wave receipts triumphantly), and the price reflects that.

If your bike needs an MOT, get one. An un-MOT’d bike is a nightmare to sell, and a full year’s MOT is a good sign for any buyer. If the MOT runs out in a week, it’s well worth getting a new one - you’ll get back more than it costs. Tax isn’t as important, but is a good haggling point.

A stamped-up service history book or piles of receipts are nice to have. If the bike’s mileage is suspiciously high or low, be prepared to explain why.

If the bike is worth it get a third party inspection from someone like Motorcycle Inspections. It will cost you around £150 but you’ll get a 99-point check, an HPI check and a proper valuation for you bike. You’ll end up with a report detailing the condition of the bike, which could increase the value.


Have ready all the information about the bike, it will make all of the above checks much easier and make the ad booking process go more smoothly.

Also make sure you have all the paperwork for the bike to hand.

Put the V5, service history, MoT certificate and service receipts in a folder and don’t forget to include the owners manual and toolkit.


The next step is to decide how much you want to get for the bike. Getting the price right on your ad can make a huge difference to whether you get any enquiries or not.

The first place to check is the Parkers Used Bike price guide. They’ve got thousands of bikes listed with the latest market value for each of them.

You should also do a search in our Bikes for Sale section to see what other people are asking for the same bike.

Telephone preference service

It is a good idea to list the telephone number in your ad with the Telephone Preference Service. This is a service that stops telephone marketing companies calling you up. Disreputable companies will often use any classified ad as a source to find new customers but by listing your number with TPS you shouldn’t receive any calls. Click here to find out how.


There are a lot of scams that prey on people that advertise anything in a classified. The most common ones involve asking you to accept a cheque for more than the bike is worth and forward on the difference. The general rule is “If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is.” Make sure you read our full guide to avoiding the scams, here.


You should include the make, model, registration number, mileage and full description of the condition of the bike alongside the following:

"The undersigned purchaser acknowledges receipt of the above vehicle in exchange for the cash sum of £..... being the price agreed by the purchaser with the vendor for the above named vehicle, receipt of which the vendor hereby acknowledges. The vehicle is sold as seen, tried and approved by the purchaser without any representations, warranties or conditions express or implied whatsoever."

You and the buyer should sign and date two copies, one for you to keep and one for them to take away.


Ask the buyer to bring cash. It is much easier for both parties and it is the only real security when the buyer takes the bike for a test ride.

If the you or the buyer is not comfortable handling large amounts of cash you can accept a cheque but make sure it clears in your account before you hand over the keys. Remember cashiers cheques can be faked as easily as personal cheques and will still need time to clear in your account.

Another option is a direct money transfer between the buyer’s account and yours. If the buyer asks their bank for a same-day CHAPS transfer before 2pm the money will be in your account before the end of the day. It will cost the buyer £25 but they wont have to carry around large amounts of money and you wont have to wait seven days for the cheque to clear.

Choosing how to sell it

Like buying, you can sell privately, or to a dealer. Bottom line is, a dealer will give you less than a private sale. Having said that, if you’re in a desperate hurry for cash, or are trading in your bike for a newer one, selling to a dealer will be quicker and easier. It’s also worth taking your bike to a dealer even if you’re selling private. The experienced eye of a dealer might spot some faults you missed, and the price offered gives you a bare minimum to aim at.

Advertise in our Bikes for Sale section and your bike will reach more bikers than any other website and it will be included in MCN the following Wednesday.

Remember word of mouth too. Tell all your family and friends you’re selling your bike (unless it’s a dog – your best mate’s big brother will never forgive you). Word your ad truthfully, but sensibly and always put a price. No price puts loads of buyers off. Include make, model, year, mileage, condition, length of tax/MOT/warranty, and any non-standard parts, like paint, exhaust etc. Don’t forget your phone number and area.

Booking your ad online through this site couldn’t be easier, just click on the Sell Your Bike link and follow the easy step-by-step process. Remember the bigger your ad, the more attention it will attract.


Another big factor in whether your ad gets the attention it deserves is whether the photo lest you see the bike. A good photo will sell a bike. Click here for a detailed guide on how to shoot the best photo with advice from top MCN photographers.

MCN Bike Check

Even if you don’t go for the inspection get a check done.

The MCN Bike Check service costs just £19.99 and will list the complete history of the bike to put your buyer at ease. Many buyers will insist on doing a check and it is much easier and saves a lot of time to have one already waiting.

You will need the registration plate as a minimum, and ideally the frame and engine numbers and the MoT certificate serial number.

Armed with those numbers you’ll get a report to tell the seller whether the bike has been written off and rebuilt, has finance owing on it, has been registered stolen, if the frame and engine numbers are correct, or even if the MoT is hooky. Which of course it isn’t.


It’s worth taking off any trick bits or accessories, and selling them separately later, or offer them to the buyer once you’ve sold the bike. A posh exhaust won’t add much - if anything - to the price of the bike, but could net you a couple of hundred quid if you sell it separately.

Things like alarms, panniers and Scottoilers can all be used on your next bike. Some buyers will even pay a premium for a totally standard bike.

Log book

After handing over the keys the final thing you must do is give the buyer the New Keeper section of the V5 logbook and send the rest off to the DVLA.

The buyer gets to keep the New Keeper supplement as proof that they are now the registered keeper of the bike.

You also need to get them to fill in their name, address, date of birth, driving licence number and the mileage of the bike on the main part of the V5. You then send this away to the DVLA and they’ll send the buyer a new copy in their name.

Test ride

Be careful about offering a test ride. Use your common sense – if you’ve any doubts at all, don’t let the bike out of your sight – it might not come back again.

A bike/car left as deposit might turn out to be stolen, a friend/wife/family with them might do a runner. The asking price in cash is the best deposit.

Also make sure that the person riding the bike is insured to do so. The only real proof is seeing an insurance certificate with entitlement to ride other bikes.

Another good way to guard yourself is to take a photo of the buyer. Even using your mobile phone is fine. This way if your bike does get stolen, at least you can show the police who did it.


You could write a book on the complex psychology and battle of wills that is ‘haggling’. You want the highest price, the buyer wants the lowest price.

Unless you’re really desperate for money, don’t sell to the first buyer who turns up. Say you’ve got more people coming to see it. Let them walk away – but take their number in case no-one else makes a better offer.

Stick to your guns – but don’t cut your nose off to spite your face. It’s better to lose £50 on the deal than be stuck with the bike and have to re-advertise it.

At the end of the day you are both bikers and you are both trying to move on to the next, even better bike.


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