How to Price a Motorcycle

Updated November 21, 2016

Used motorcycles are rarely sold through dealerships like cars are. Instead, people generally buy and sell motorcycles through third parties and solicitation, so establishing a price requires a little more work. Motorcycles are simpler machines than cars and as a result can last a long time if properly maintained. A 40-year-old motorcycle may be worth even more than a new model if it has been properly maintained. The primary key to establishing a good price for a motorcycle is research.

Go to Kelley Blue Book online and enter your zip code and the make, model and year number of the motorcycle to get a base price for the motorcycle. Double check that you've selected the correct model number and letter, as that can make a big difference. For example, a 1980 Honda CM 400T is worth more than a CB 400E.

Test drive the motorcycle to see if the engine runs smoothly. A test drive will also give you a feel for how smoothly it rides. Engage all the gears and use both brakes to make sure the gear box and brake system work well. Problems shifting can signal internal gear problems or simple problems with the gear lever. Indicators of bad brakes include difficulty braking or choppy stopping. Moderate to severe squealing usually means low brake fluid or old brake pads, both easy fixes.

Examine the motorcycle's overall condition. Check the mileage. If a motorcycle has over 50,000 miles the price should be lower than the Blue Book estimate. Make sure the tachometer and speedometer work. Loose or damaged cables are relatively inexpensive to fix, but damaged gauges are not. Heavy rust on the gas tank or exhaust pipes signal expensive repairs in the near future. Abrade rusty areas with a screwdriver or pocket knife to see how deep the rust is. If large chunks of metal fall off, that signals long term oxidation and damage. Things you'll have to fix should be factored into the price of the motorcycle. If it needs no repairs and is in good condition the Kelly Blue Book price is fair, give or take £65.

Research websites like eBay and Craig's List to see what motorcycles like yours sell for. Sometimes, especially with older or customised motorcycles, Kelley Blue Book's suggested prices and street value differ greatly. Search for a motorcycle that's either very similar to or exactly the same as the one you're pricing.


If you don't know much about motorcycles, take the bike to a mechanic for a diagnostic check or bring a friend who knows more about them.

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About the Author

Ricky Andromeda has been writing since 1999. His articles have been published on various websites, specializing in pool, art, hunting, antiques, home improvement, chemistry and gambling. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Louisiana State University and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in writing at the University of Arkansas.