Selling a bike / how to handle test rides?

Mailman

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Doug posted this story the other day about a guy selling his bike, and the potential buyer was allowed to take it for a test ride, and he just rode off into the sunset with the guys bike and never returned.

http://www.xs650.com/threads/stolen.60013/

I’ve sold two bikes on Craigslist in the past and I wrestled with how to handle the test ride dilemma. For the first one, a guy came over with his young son and left the son behind, so I knew he wasn’t going anywhere, and he bought the bike after the test ride. (1977 BMW R100/7 ) .

Later I sold my 2011 Suzuki V-Strom, and I really wrestled with how to handle this. The guy came over, seemed like a nice guy, wanted to ride the bike. I asked him to leave his driver license and car keys on my workbench, I told him I wouldn’t touch them. He was hesitant, and can’t say I blame him, but he did it. He took the bike for a pretty long test ride, 15-20 minutes. I might’ve been concerned if I didn’t have my little insurance policy that I made him leave behind. He came back all grins and immediately bought the bike.
He surprised me by going to his car and retrieving all cash, paid me on the spot.

I know it’s a little insulting to ask someone what I did. But what are you supposed to do? It’s a very tricky point in the transaction. What would you do, or how have you handled it in the past? I’ve also worried about my potential liability if the guy crashed my bike and was injured.
 

Tomterrific

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I don't believe asking to leave a driver's license is asking too much. I know of at least one bike stolen when a friend dropped off the potential buyer and neither came back with the bike. I have been asking for a driver's license since the late 70's. I don't want an idiot riding my bike so if the buyer doesn't show up on a bike, they don't ride mine.

Tom
 

hovel

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worried about my potential liability if the guy crashed my bike and was injured.
I've never thought about from that perspective. Interesting. I have avoided letting the buyer come to my house, I prefer to have them meet me at some large parking lot. Show the buyer that the bike runs (hey, you rode it there) and offer the buyer a ride as a passenger. I would not let the buyer ride the bike until I had the $$ in my hand.
 

grizld1

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I only had one situation in which the prospect showed up with a buddy. He was a new rider and wanted his more experienced friend to check the bike out for him. I got on another bike and followed, after telling the prospect's friend what route to take. I live in the country on twisty roads that I know well, so there wasn't much chance of the guy getting away from me. He finished the ride grinning from ear to ear, and the bike changed hands.
 

gggGary

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I'm variable depending on my feel for the buyer. But before the ride i ask if the bike checks out are you paying my asking? So any negotiating happens first. if the ride checks out we go straight to paper work. Ive had a time or two not doing that where i thought it was just a free trial ride of the brand, model. Many years ago a kid and his buds showed to check out the Norton. Quiet night I could hear the speed shifts a mile away. Next day a shaft broke in the tranny. pissed .
 
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DogBunny

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I agree that it depends on how I feel about the buyer, and I'll also agree that sometimes I tag along on a second bike. Lots of advantages there, like you can get the bike running again when the buyer stalls and then gets flustered (never actually happened).
Also, I have never been asked to jump through a single hoop when test-riding, and likewise, I never ask the buyer to jump through any hoops. But, I'm usually buying and selling bikes that aren't very expensive.
Finally, I come off as being honest, which I am. A surprising number of buyers just want me to ride the bike up and down the street, they never test-ride it themselves.
 

Mailman

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Im vsriable depending on my feel for rhe buyer. But before rhe ride i ask if the bike checks out are you paying my asking? So any negotiating happens first. if the ride checks out we go straight to paper work. Ive had a time or two not doing rhat where i thought it was just a free trial ride of the brand, model. Many years ago a kid and his buds showed to check out the Norton. Quiet night I could hear the speed shifts a mile away. Next day a shaft broke in the tranny. pissed .

I thought you sold all your bikes to JRP? :D
 

650Skull

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The best evidence is to get a photo of you, the bike, and the potential buyer all together before he takes it for a ride. That in conjunction with keeping his/her driver license, (i let the seller have my license and CC when i took my last bike for a test ride), and or the money. ...........

The seller made some basic mistakes that he shouldn't have made and they would have been very simple to implement and would have probably prevented the theft

For every bad deal there are probably hundreds that have no hassles............just a few bad eggs.
 

gggGary

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I thought you sold all your bikes to JRP? :D
Not all, but...
20210705_122254.jpg
 

gggGary

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He's more the buy and keep type with a very nice shop.
PS I'm glad my steepish driveway is paved these days, there's been a few times I've chewed my nails hoping a "test rider" could stop and not flop before going out into the road!
One guy buying my BMW K1200 fell over during the test ride, some utility workers helped him right it and get going. He bought it and fell over again on the way home, but no problem, he brought a rope along just in case. :shrug:
 
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RustiePyles

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I honestly don't think I've ever sold a (running) bike to a total stranger. I've always sold them to people I know and for the most part trust. In most cases the person buying the bike has already rode the bike and more or less talked me out of a bike I wasn't really trying to sell. I personally don't think asking for collateral is uncouth. I've always volunteered my truck keys as collateral for test rides before being asked when buying from a total stranger. Taking someone's bike on a joy ride and flogging it is a dick move. When I was an HD tech we had to test ride EVERY bike we worked on but doing so disrespectfully was a one way ticket to unemployment-town. If a customer expressly asked you ride their bike hard to trouble shoot it that was a different story. We had a tech who got walked out the front door as his tools were loaded on a truck because a customer saw him doing stupid shit on their bike.
I did have a customer ask me to "really get on it" on his bike once because he was having some jetting issues with his S&S super B (big surprise) which if you've ever worked on big Harleys you know a super B is basically just a huge fuel on/off valve . This particular customer was affectionately called "Lurch", he was easily 6'8" and a monster of a man. He rode an FXST with ridiculously long forward controls and rather cartoonish looking apes. Said bike also had a pretty wicked 103" S&S stroker which in and of itself is not that big a deal but coupled with the bars, controls, light switch of a carb, and mounted by a 5'11" rider the bike was unpredictable to say the least. I rode it once and told him I wouldn't ride it again, he would have have one of the taller guys in the shop ride it. The more I twisted the throttle the further back I slid, the further back I slid I lost contact with the pegs and bars but since I managed to keep my one point of contact as the throttle it quickly became a catch 22 of speed and fear. I did mange to keep his bike and myself from going down but that has always stuck with me.
 

WideAWAKE

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Done this many times.

you want a test ride - count the cash in front of me for the asking price. Leave it on the bench. Show me your motorcycle license. You break it - you buy it.

Potential buyer takes a ride, parks bike, picks up cash and then if they are into it we can talk about a price.

very simple - state those are the requirements for a test ride in your ad.

gets rid of all tire kickers too
 

madmax-im

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That stolen VStrom was local to me..i had been talking to the seller about it..I couldn't believe it when i heard it was stolen..But to the point of this thread...Full cash price in hand..your DL with MC endoresment and proof of insurance before i let my bike go anywhere..if i am selling to a friend then obviously those constraints are lifted...I sure hope they catch the low life bastige.....
 

2XSive

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Had this young college age guy show up to test drive my xs1100 I restored and had for sale. Said he had cash in hand and that he was an experienced rider. Negotiated sale price first so only thing left was a succesful test ride. I had my suspicion that he wasn't that experienced but with an sale agreement in place, I allowed him to take it for a test ride on the condition that I would follow him. I warned him how quick these bikes were. He was all over the road, I couldn't keep up with him on my 650. When I did it was clear he couldn't downshift, stalled it, then almost launched it into the ditch letting out the clutch and gassing it. Made him turn around immediately. He pulled out his final cash to buy and I refused to sell it to him. I told him I didn't want his obituary from a motorcycle crash on my conscience. Suggested that he go buy a Honda 250 rebel. Lesson learned....no more test rides unless s/he can truly prove riding experience by asking in depth questions about what, when, etc., on the types of bikes previously owned. Then a test ride will be allowed only as a last step in turning over the title and only after a 50% minimum cash in hand. Turns out he had a small dirt bike when he was a kid and hadn't ridden since then. Stupid me.
 

madmax-im

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It has been suggested on the Stromtrooper thread that a satellite tracker mounted in the bike would be a good way to see where the bike is if it were stolen...This would be a smart move...
 

gggGary

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On the other hand I've had a guys from a couple states away pay me in full for bikes they had only seen pictures of. Some of these were NOT cheap bikes that in a few cases sat here for months till they could get by to pick them up.
 

Mailman

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On the other hand I've had a guys from a couple states away pay me in full for bikes they had only seen pictures of. Some of these were NOT cheap bikes that in a few cases sat here for months till they could get by to pick them up.

I think timing is everything, it just takes the right guy to see your ad. I ran an ad for my ‘76 Bonneville for a whole month and never got one phone call, and it was a nice bike!
But when I put my ‘77 BMW up for sale, a guy showed up with cash, literally within 1 hour of posting my ad.
Go figure! :shrug:
 
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