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I just realized I can't make money building bikes.

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by 79josh81, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. 79josh81

    79josh81 XS650 Addict

    The title says it all. lol

    So since I just finished my new bike, I started throwing around the idea of selling the bobber in my profile pic that I finished this past December because I would like to get a used fishing boat for my family. The way I look at it is that I can always build another cooler bike and building is the really fun part to me anyways. So yesterday I put the bike up for sale on craigslist and facebook. Guessing what would be a fair price for the bike (being that i've only put about 100 miles on it since it's been built), just off the top of my head from what I thought I spent and what I was hoping to make extra, I came to $5,500 (I know, I know, hear me out. lol).

    So today when I got up I thought about the price. I knew I hadn't priced it with any sentimental value included but I also would like it to sell so I promptly lowered the price to $4,400 thinking that I would still make a little bit on the bike just so I could feel good about myself.

    At this point I got curious as to what the actual total cost was to me throughout the build just so I knew. The costs I wanted to figure out were just the cost of the donor bike and the brand new parts I added. I didn't include all of the "extras" in the total cost like welding gas/wire, new fluids, LED bulbs...blah blah blah etc...etc. So I went through my email from the date I started the project to the date I finished it and found every receipt for every online order I had for all of the brand new parts that were put into the bike. The donor bike I bought was $900 cash. And the total of all of the new parts was ..... get ready....$2,904.62!!! So on a bare minimum I'm at least into the bike for $3,800.

    Jesus I thought, if my wife knew this I might have to include another $500 into that cost just for the new bed I would have to buy so I have something to sleep in at night. So, I now understand that if you want to make a couple bucks on building bikes, don't build it for yourself. lol Because I built it for myself, I literally went through everything and replaced and upgraded everything. Even if I didn't need to upgrade certain parts or replace them I did because I wanted this bike to run like it just came off the assembly line in 1979. I think I mostly succeeded in that goal because the bike really does run about as good as any newer bike but trying to sell it for what it would be worth just wouldn't be practical. Hopefully if I do sell it to someone who knows these bikes they’ll appreciate the time and parts put into it and at least see it’s value in what was spent.

    So...if you want to make money on building these bikes (which I never planned on doing anyways), build shitty bikes with shitty parts, and as long as the current shitty parts work, keep the shitty parts because anything other than shitty costs money. lol Jeeezzeeee....
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  2. Downeaster

    Downeaster Everything in XS Top Contributor

    Reality is a bitch, ain't it? You do NOT want to see the numbers on the ass-whipping I took when I sold my bike.

    And I'm about to do it again on the DRZ I bought and repaired...Grandson decided he'd rather have a street bike.
    MaxPete, gggGary, GLJ and 5 others like this.
  3. 79josh81

    79josh81 XS650 Addict

    Yeah I know. The funny thing is I thought I maybe spent $1500 on all of the new parts. When I saw $3,000 I was like holy shit where did I even get $3,000 from? Lol
  4. madmax-im

    madmax-im Yamaha...Go your own way... XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Your only shot at getting your money back or even a profit would have been to restore that bike to OEM..Originality sells and commands the highest of values..'nuff said..As an aside,..one rarely makes their money back on things like this ...so you're not alone...Good luck with you sale.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
    Gator xs2, MaxPete, gggGary and 2 others like this.
  5. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Yeah, some years ago I had the same idea as you. I thought hmmm....I could have this nice little hobby that pays for itself. :laughing:
    I came to the same realization as you.
    If you’ve ever watched any TV shows like Gas Monkey Garage. He loses his ass on every high end build he does.
    He makes his money on buying old cars that don’t run, then spending just enough to get them to run, then flipping them without doing anything else!

    I continue doing this, just because it’s a fun hobby and I enjoy tinkering. But I fully realize it’s just a big black hole I throw money into.
  6. 79josh81

    79josh81 XS650 Addict

    I don’t completely disagree with that, but I’m pretty sure restoration guys lose as many times on costs as guys who chop bikes do. Some guys want to buy restorations and some guys want to buy bobbers and choppers. Some chopper guys wouldn’t spend the amount of money a restoration is worth just like some restoration guys wouldn’t even think about buying a chopper at the price that it’s worth. Custom and restoration bikes are one in the same in that, whether it’s $4000 or $40,000, your bike is only worth what the highest bidder will pay for it.
    mrtwowheel, gggGary, lakeview and 3 others like this.
  7. 79josh81

    79josh81 XS650 Addict

    Couldn’t have said it any better myself.
    gggGary and Jim like this.
  8. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    I’m into my XS2 for way more than it’s worth. And it’s not even a show bike, too many mods from factory.
    It was really just a bucket list thing for me to do.
  9. madmax-im

    madmax-im Yamaha...Go your own way... XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    gggGary and 79josh81 like this.
  10. 79josh81

    79josh81 XS650 Addict

    Yeah building these bikes right is definitely a self satisfaction thing.
    TwoManyXS1Bs, mrtwowheel and gggGary like this.
  11. madmax-im

    madmax-im Yamaha...Go your own way... XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    This is basically a labor of love..It rarely leads to getting your money back per se.
  12. 79josh81

    79josh81 XS650 Addict

    I mean don’t get me wrong, you could make a little money but you would really have to pick your battles meaning...if you get an old beat up bike for $200 it might leave enough room to just get it running, chop it, and make few bucks. But if you’re paying $900 for a bike that’s in decent condition, it would probably only make sense to get it running, clean it up nice, and get rid of it for a few hundred bucks more than you paid for it. Neither of which sound like much fun to me.
    gggGary likes this.
  13. lakeview

    lakeview XS650 Guru XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I get a lot of enjoyment in hunting for items, meeting the folks who are in the market place and then putting the bikes back together. Selling them is always a bit of a cold shower, but ya knew that going in.
  14. 79josh81

    79josh81 XS650 Addict

    Well if I don’t sell it, I could always build the first fishing boat running a prop off of my bobber’s 650 engine. Lol
    gggGary likes this.
  15. 650trader

    650trader XS650 Enthusiast

    Back in the 80's when I was reading a Dealer news magazine an article on sales profit claimed the
    average New bike net profit was 2-4% ! where a clean used brought 20-40%. You never recoup
    the costs of accessories either. Stock is by far the best and a custom ( chopper ) is the best way
    to ensure you will never see your money as it may be fab in your minds eye but to you only. If you
    could see a Yamaha Dealer parts price list you would see that even what the Dealer pays is obscene.
    In the 60's I would often find stock triumph & BSA parts at the local dump that were leftover from chopper
    projects. Fit and finish with only minor mods is the way to go.
  16. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Markets are moving animals and buyers rule at this time. All those guys that bought farkled out "adventure" bikes are taking a bath too. The milwaukee 8 motor and a glut of aging out riders has tanked used harley prices. That affects everyone cuz when HDs are cheap that's what sells first. You could buy a decent dyna or fat boy 4 less than the bike above.
  17. 79josh81

    79josh81 XS650 Addict

    Yeah but I’ve also seen the mileage and condition of some of those said Harley’s in that price range and they’re kind of junk if you ask me.

    I do agree though to some extent. The ordinary person looking for a motorcycle doesn’t understand the xs650 or the upgrades that we make. They understand the word “Harley” and a cheap price though.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  18. Gator xs2

    Gator xs2 XS650 Addict

    This is hilarious! Unless you pick a real cherry you’re not gonna make money. It’s therapy. I thought about restoring bikes for a living but to do it right you’ll have way more in it than someone is willing to pay. I know it sucks. I just sold a BEAUTIFUL K1750 that I easily had over 12K in recently for a lot less. I was trying to help fund the XS project. I did restore it in 08.Sold it to the same guy that bought my 77RD400. It ain’t the money. It’s the legacy and the pride. Its the therapy.
    79josh81, madmax-im, MaxPete and 2 others like this.
  19. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    ...and it is one DAMN nice bucket my friend.

    Jim, gggGary, madmax-im and 2 others like this.

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