What You Should Know About Resale Motorcycle Values

Jake Robison - October 22, 2022

There are as many reasons to sell a used motorcycle as there are to buy a new one. Whether you plan on upgrading to a new ride or moving on from those carefree days on the open road entirely, it can be hard to figure out how to price a used motorcycle.


Checking any classifieds or auction site will uncover a wide array of prices, but it's important to find a balance between getting a good price for a used bike and facilitating a quick sale. Before getting started, read on to find out what you should know about resale motorcycle values. The information below will offer a starting point for performing more in-depth research.

Where to Sell a Used Motorcycle

Most people assume the best place to sell a used motorcycle online is a secondhand classifieds site. They do some research into what other people are requesting for similar motorcycles, then place a hopeful add up, often with an "or best offer" tacked on the end. The problem with this approach is that it is anything but guaranteed.

Selling a used motorcycle to a private party comes with all kinds of hassles. It often involves dealing with multiple unqualified buyers, people who don't want to offer what the bike is worth, and even the threat of theft or personal injury should the supposed "buyer" turn out to be someone disreputable.


If you're thinking, "I want to sell my motorcycle without all the hassles of dealing with strangers on a classifieds site," that's completely understandable. The good news is that you may be able to get an equally good, or even a better, price for a used bike at a local dealership. Typically, dealerships will offer more money in credits for trade-ins than they would straight cash, but either way, they will make it far less of a hassle to get a fair price for the motorcycle.

The Law of the Market for Used Motorcycles

When a rider starts looking at used motorcycle pricing guides, things can get a little confusing. It's often the case that the prices listed on NADA or CycleTrader are a far cry from the actual fair market value for popular bikes. The reason for these discrepancies is that the law of the market is just as applicable to motorcycles as any other types of goods. Regardless of what other people have gotten for similar motorcycles, your bike is worth what a buyer will actually pay for it.

Factors That Influence Resale Motorcycle Values

The difficulties associated with estimating resale motorcycle values don't stop at differences between local markets. There are also other factors specific to each bike that can influence its resale value significantly. They include:

Book Prices

The industry-accepted prices for bikes often used by dealerships to determine trade-in value are sometimes referred to as book prices. Book prices are determined by factors such as outstanding finance, whether the bike was imported, if its license plate has ever been changed, whether the color of the bike is still factory-standard, and if the bike has been stolen and recovered in the past.

Modifications and Popular Appeal

It's common for motorcycle owners to personalize their bikes, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, those modifications will often impact the final price of a bike. Mods that increase overall performance or appearance will push up the resale value, while those that are too unusual to maintain popular appeal will usually drive it down.


It's also relevant to note here that some types of performance modifications are illegal. The presence of these kinds of mods can reduce the resale value of your motorcycle. Even legal performance mods can decrease resale value if they could indicate that the bike was raced or otherwise treated harshly by its former owner.

Bike Condition

It should be obvious that motorcycles that are in better condition will be worth more upon resale. Unfortunately, not all riders consider how the way they treat their bikes could impact how much they are worth. The best way to maintain a motorcycle's value is to make sure it receives regular maintenance and annual professional inspections.


When it's time to sell, riders should check every part of their bikes first. Clean everything up, make affordable repairs if needed, and check to be sure the motorcycle looks good. Most buyers will judge a bike at least in part based on its appearance.

Demand for the Bike

Some types of bikes are just more popular than others. Those that sold well when they were new often have higher resale values. Limited-edition models can also fetch better prices when riders trade them in.


The motorcycle's manufacturer also matters more than some riders might think. There's a reason that used Harleys, BMWs, and Ducatis fetch better prices than their lesser-known counterparts, though, and it's not just about the brand appeal. These well-known manufacturers have a reputation for producing high-quality bikes that retain their value well over time, so buyers are more likely to pay more for popular models that have been well maintained.

Age of the Bike

Motorcycle age is a double-edged sword. Generally speaking, the older a bike is, the less it will be worth. After all, older motorcycles have typically seen more wear and tear and have been more likely to sustain damage. After years of use, even well-maintained motorcycles tend to have worn-out parts, loose connections, rust, and other problems.


There's a second reason newer bikes tend to be worth more used, and it's that they've been produced using modern methods. Today's motorcycle manufacturing technologies are far more advanced, which means newer bikes tend to have better safety features.


The other end of the equation is that some types of collector motorcycles become more valuable as they age. For this to be the case, vintage or antique bikes must be maintained in their original condition.

Get What Your Bike Is Worth

Want to get a fair price for your motorcycle without going through all the hassles of finding and vetting private buyers? Reach out to the American Motorcycle Trading Co. All it takes to get a fair and accurate quote is the bike's VIN, so get started online today.



Jake Robison


Jake Robison has operated powersports dealerships since 2003.  With an extensive background in the motorcycle industry including sales, service, parts, finance, management and powersports training, he covers all things motorcycles and enjoys sharing valuable information to newcomers on two-wheels

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