Avoid getting ripped off when you sell your bike
This advice is part of our ‘Seller’s Pack’; a series of tools to help you get the quickest sale, a fair deal, minimum comeback and maximum peace-of-mind when you are selling your motorbike.
The other tools in the pack are:
How to sell your motorbike safely
One of the worst things to swallow about biking is the fact that there are bikers out there that are very ready to rip you off. To them, any biker code is meaningless.
Fraud and theft, especially in the digital age, is rife. If you are selling a motorbike, whether it’s sub-£1000 scratcher or a £25,000+ Ducati 996R it’s no longer just buyer beware – now the seller has to be equally wary.
Follow the tips below and hopefully you won’t get your fingers burned.
Meet on your terms
It’s your sale, so you choose the meeting venue.
If you don’t want buyers to come to your home* or the buyer suggests a location make sure you are entirely comfortable with it and know the location well.
We would advise that in those situations it should be a busy, public location like a motorway service station.
Get a second pair of eyes and ears
If you are not a confident seller we strongly advise having someone else with you during the sale. A standard deception technique during fraud is distraction, so having a second pair of eyes and ears around during the process could be invaluable. Ideally, get them to read this too so they know what to watch for.
This is especially true when it comes to completing the paperwork – if the buyer is paying a large amount of cash, you’ll want a second count and having someone extra to check individual notes is handy (imagine if 5% of the notes were actually forgeries but you were too busy counting to notice…).
Test rides and inspections
We don’t recommend you let anyone test ride your bike without having full payment in your hands. We’ll come to safe payment methods later.
Make it clear to the buyer when you are arranging the viewing that test rides are welcome only if the buyer hands over the asking price in full before the ride and they sign a disclaimer saying if there are any incidents involving the bike they immediately become the legal owner.
We see recommendations on other websites to make sure you check the buyer has appropriate insurance before they are allowed to ride the bike. But now that insurance certificates are no longer sent by the insurance company complete with watermark but can be printed at home, it’s easy to see that a professional thief can easily create a false certificate.
Ideally, if you absolutely have to let them ride on their insurance, make sure the viewing is happening within typical call centre operating hours, say before 8pm weekdays and 12pm Saturdays and call the insurance company to check with them that the certificate you’ve been presented with is genuine. Also take the opportunity to check the buyer is covered to ride other bikes.
Don’t fall for the ‘here’s the keys to my bike’ scenario. That bike could be stolen too. And if they have switched the keys for some from another bike you couldn’t even get on it to follow them once you’ve realised they’re not coming back.
Being completely cynical, I wouldn’t trust the ‘leave the friend behind’ form of security either. All you need to do is go inside the house to fetch a brew and they’ll be gone in seconds.
Whenever you leave the bike alone with the buyer, to get the paperwork for example, never leave them with the keys and ideally leave the bike’s security in place, even if it’s only to put the steering wheel lock on.
For once, cash is not king
In the days of online banking and mobile apps, payment by Faster Payments bank transfer is by far the most preferable method. It’s safe and they can only send funds if they have them. Faster Payments can’t be reversed either – they are instant and once they have hit your account, that’s it.
Faster Payments are actually better then cash as banknotes can be forged. Although the amount of forged notes in circulation is falling, they are still around and it is a known technique to bury fake notes with legal notes when large sums are involved.
If you do need to accept cash, make sure that you can complete the transaction in time to get to a bank branch to deposit the cash. A criminal gang, knowing ‘their’ cash is in your home overnight, could target you for burglary the same evening.
With the advent of digital banking, use of banker’s drafts is pretty much going the same way as the old Postal Orders. Like bank notes they can be forged and the only sure way to know they are genuine is to meet the buyer at their issuing bank – but then you may as well get them to do a bank transfer from their branch – it’s faster and you don’t need to bank a cheque.
PayPal is also not as safe as a bank transfer – the account may have been set up using false credit card details. And we really don’t need to tell you not to accept offers of overpayment from gentlemen in Nigeria or the Philippines, do we?
Don’t forget the paperwork
Make sure you complete the V5 Registration Document correctly. Whilst not strictly defrauding you, a rouge trader may ask you to not fill in the New Keeper section, which allows them to disguise their trader status to the next buyer.
As soon as the sale is complete, jump online and immediately inform DVLA of the purchase so you can reclaim your vehicle tax. You have to do this by law as soon as the purchase is complete but it also serves to protect you if the bike is involved in any speeding offences or worse.
Get yourself sorted:
Faster Payments bank transfers are way safer and faster than cash these days.
* Understandably, you may be nervous about revealing the bike’s storage location to some buyers.