Motorcycle dealers paying top prices and £500 incentives as used stock dwindles

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The value of used bikes is on the rise due to a combination of factors brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, say UK dealers and industry figures.

Rebounding demand post-lockdown, production interruptions to new supply and moves away from public transport are all factors cited by the trade behind boosted used values – so much so that dealers are paying more than usual for secondhand bikes to satisfy demand, with some offering big trade-in incentives.

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“In general sales have been very good,” said Vinnie Styles of Wheels Motorcycles, one of the UK’s largest dealers with more than 100 used machines in stock.

A range of offers are currently available on motorcycles

“Scooters and commuter bikes are definitely strong because there’s a lot of people who are not planning on using public transport, plus there are certain models which are hard to come by like slightly older sportsbikes, 600s and 750s – there’s just nothing around. We used to have rows of R6s and GSX-Rs, now I’ve just got one Gixxer 6!”

“Used is where it’s at at the moment,” added TJ Skrobot, of Sycamore BMW, who as part of the BMW dealer network are offering at least £500 on top of used trade-ins for new models.

“New sales are buoyant and we have stock but because production was affected stock is going to be harder to get which means used bikes are even more in demand.

“At an auction last week prices were very strong. I needed an RT and paid ‘well into book’ simply because I needed it for a customer – which means I didn’t actually make a great deal. But I’ve another Sycamore number plate running around the country and another happy customer. You’ve got to look further ahead than the one deal…”

There has been a strong demand for bikes following the Covid lockdown

Meanwhile Jeff Turner of Yamaha UK said: “Sales in April were very small but they started coming back in May and then it all started to change on June 1 when dealers could reopen.

“June was very strong. There was obviously pent-up demand for several reasons: dealers had been closed for two and half months, the sun was out, people saw bikes as a good way to social distance and have fun, some people moved from public transport onto two wheels and a few had perhaps saved money for holidaying abroad, decided not to go and had a bit of cash for a new motorcycle.

“Regarding used bikes, the general feeling is that good, low mileage trade-ins, which would normally have been expected to come onto the market in March and April, simply didn’t due to the lockdown. Therefore the stock of trade-ins is lower than it would normally be. And that, coupled with higher demand, has meant that secondhand values have firmed up and become good.”

But there was a word of warning, too. “The unknown factor is what’s happening with the virus,” said Wheels Motorcycles’ Vinnie Styles. “Is it going to swing back to where we were before? If we’re told to close it’s going to get difficult. Most dealers can’t afford to close.

“We lost the best 8-12 weeks of the year. That money is gone. All we can do is hope for a longer season and a good supply of bikes and that’s going to be the problem as new bikes are running out and pre-owned ones are getting harder to come by.”

People are moving away from public transport and onto motorcycles

Customer advice: help get yourself the best deal

“As far as part-exes go, the best things to do are the simple ones,” TJ Skrobot of BMW dealer Sycamore told MCN. “So, wash it before you come in, make it look its best, know when it had its last service, know how much you owe on it, know its registration number… If you want a deal, help yourself: if you get it looking its best it’s going to be worth more than if it doesn’t.

“The other thing that annoys dealers is ringing up and exaggerating a bike’s condition before bringing it in then, when it turns up, its chain is hanging on the floor, it needs two tyres and there’s a scratch down the tank… you’re not doing yourself any favours!”

Phil West

By Phil West

MCN Contributor and bike tester.