Where to Buy Used Motorcycles

Craigslist, Ebay or Classifieds?

When you're looking at picking up a bike, a lot of factors come into play. You're going to be dropping a sizable chunk of your hard earned change and want to me sure that you're getting the most for your money. With outlets like Ebay, Craigslist, dealerships and even Cruiser's own Classifieds there are more ways than ever to find the right bike for you at the right price.

Let's take a look at what some of the top places to go shopping for used bikes are, and the challenges and advantages to each of them.

cruiser classifieds
A 2012 Dyna with low miles listed on the Cruiser Classifieds pageStaff

Craigslist: Craigslist presents the most challenges, but also the most potential for reward for one reason: PEOPLE ARE CRAZY. You never know whether you'll come across a 1969 sand-cast CB750 for $2k, or the guy that has his "patina-built" Yamaha XS650 project listed for $14k. While you may be able to get some things for much cheaper than they're worth, you also have all the crazies that think their old crummy project is worth the world. Their prices don't have to be based in reality, and neither do their builds. There is no form of quality control other than what you can see when you're there to check it out. If something breaks on you a little ways down the road, that's you're problem now.

In short: Craigslist is great if you know what you're talking about, but don't expect the seller to.

instagram motorcycle
Prices on Instagram, like those on Craigslist don't have to be rooted in reality.Staff

Ebay is great for finding more rare and hard to find bikes, but can be expensive and usually has to include shipping. You are free to shop at your leisure, sit back and browse through photos without ever having to talk to the weirdos that are selling the bikes. If you have a question to ask, you can just send a message and sellers usually respond quickly-- especially if they're motivated to sell.

The warning: make sure there are good photos. If you don't see enough of something you want to, ask the seller to provide more detailed shots. Better photos usually mean a better bike, but you want to be absolutely sure of what you're getting, so ask as many questions as you can beforehand. Some sellers will offer you the option to ship it back on your dime if you're not happy with what you got, but shipping is still expensive and that's a lot to waste just to find out you don't like it in person. Ebay does have scam prevention, so if something was grossly misrepresented, it is possible to get your money back.

Dealerships are designed to sell bikes both new and used, and they do it well. Well, most of them do anyway. The big advantage to buying from a dealership is that, unlike Craigslist, they have to be accountable for their actions. That dealership is probably still going to be there when you come back, so if the bike they sold you doesn't live up to what they said it would, you can come back and give them an ear full. If you want to come back and get a few more parts to hop up your bike, they'll probably recognize that you got it there from them and try to hook it up. While some dealers can be slimeballs, most of them are good about not taking advantage of new riders and aim to get more people on the road-- rather than just focusing on more money in their pockets right that second. If you feel you're getting the 'hard sell,' or something pushed on you that isn't quite right, you're always free to leave and probably should; there are plenty of honest dealers out there that will take good care of you.

Initially, you'll probably pay more because you're paying for the salesman's commission, the building's rent and all those other factors, but the added reliability and relationship you form with the dealer can be worth it.

Classifieds seem to be used less and less these days, but people in the know still check them regularly. Most classifieds require the seller to pay a fee upfront to list their bike, which translates to one thing from the buyer's perspective: they're motivated.

With a system like Ebay, listing your bike doesn't cost anything unless you sell it, so there's no risk to just putting it out there for an absurd amount of money if you want to. Craigslist has no repercussions whatsoever except maybe ending up on Instakook, but if you list your bike for too much money on a classified, you're the only one that's going to suffer. While the downside may be fewer bikes listed, the sellers tend to be much more serious and more responsive, leading to less time wasted by all parties.