Sellin’ It Myself

It has been a slow season for motorcycle sales, not just mine but everything I’m watching on Craig’s List and my local dealer’s sales. I’ve only had three bites on my V-Strom and I’m the cheapest V-Strom 650 on the Minnesota Craig’s List by more than a few dollars and with a whole lot more touring accessories and parts added than the competition. So far, all of the prospective buyers are clearly just looky-loos, but they’ve made it pretty clear that is the case. Two have show up to look it over and one of the two is “thinking about it.” Today, though, I got an email that read “I was wondering if I’d be able to come take a look at the bike and maybe take it for a test ride?”

tdmIt’s been a while since I’ve sold a motorcycle and a really long time since anyone asked to take a test ride. The last time I experienced that adventure was when I sold my 1992 Yamaha TDM 850. The buyer showed up in a nice new pickup, with his girlfriend, a nice set of gear, and he looked to be fairly competent and knowledgeable about the Yamaha TDM. LIke today, it had been a fair number of years between my last motorcycle sale and my chops were rusty. He wanted to take the bike for a test ride and like the Minnesota passive-aggressive dweeb I’ve become, I handed him the key.

The TDM is no beginner’s bike, as Victor Wanchena discovered when he test rode one for Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly. My prospective buyer saddled up competently, found first gear without any problem, released the clutch and eased into the street, before he had the bike straightened out and lined up for the big curve in our street, he decided to nail the throttle; I’d guess he was showing off for me, his girlfriend, or both. What he did, instead, was drop the bike on its side so quickly that he didn’t even have a chance to get his leg out from under it. The girlfriend and I held our breath and I ran across the street to help him get out from under the bike. We stood him and the TDM back up, rolled the bike back to my driveway and surveyed the damage: two broken turn signals, one mangled mirror, one bend handlebar, and some scratches on the tank and side panels. To his credit and my great fortune, he paid my asking price without much comment. We loaded the bike up on his pickup, plus the spares and busted bits, and he drove off. I transferred the title immediately, on-line, and I never heard anything from him again. I was lucky.

Today, I’m less inclined to count on luck. Now, I offer the option of my delivering the bike to a mechanic for evaluation and appraisal or this form along with cash in advance:

BILL OF SALE – MOTORCYCLE
6/15/2018
For the consideration of $____________________ I, Thomas Day of my address(“Seller”), hereby sell, assign and transfer to _______________________________________________, of _______________________________________. ____________________ (“Buyer”), the following described motorcycle (“Vehicle”).

Make: Suzuki
Model: DL650 V-Strom
Year: 2004
VIN: ??????????????

Seller states that the mileage reading on the Odometer at time of sale is xxxxxxxx miles. Seller certifies that to the best of Seller’s knowledge, this reading reflects the actual mileage of the Vehicle. Further, the Vehicle’s odometer has not been altered, set back or disconnected while in Seller’s possession, nor does seller have knowledge of anyone else doing so.
Buyer acknowledges the above odometer statement:
___________________________________________________________________________________ (Buyer’s Acknowledgement)
Buyer Name
Seller warrants that the Vehicle is free and clear of any liens or encumbrances.
The Vehicle is being transferred on as “AS IS” basis, with not warranties, express or implied, as to the condition of the Vehicle.
Seller certifies the statements made in the Bill of Sale are true, to the best knowledge of the Seller.
TEST RIDE INFORMATION: If Buyer returns vehicle to Seller within 1 hour of purchase, in its original condition (save for additional mileage), Seller will fully refund the sale price and Seller will retain title to the vehicle.
________________________________________________________________________________________Start time of test ride:
_______________________________________________________________Buyer’s acknowledgement of test ride conditions
Buyer Name
_______________________________________________________________Seller’s acknowledgement of test ride conditions
Transfer of the Vehicle is effective 6/15/2018.
Thomas W. Day (Seller)
Seller Name

I’ve read that some buyers are highly offended by the suggestion that they may not be competent riders, decent human beings, or have the money to actually purchase the motorcycle in question. I apologize, in advance, to those people. You might as well assume you won’t be buying anything substantial from me. I am from Kansas, I am a hick, but I didn’t just get off of the turnip truck yesterday; it was at least a month ago.

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2 Responses to Sellin’ It Myself

  1. Dear Mr. Day,

    So good to see you still writing and thinking about motorcycling. You are just a few years ahead of me in age, and I watch your thoughts and actions relative to biking very closely!
    I noticed your Pirsig quote at the head of your column and think you might be interested in an articie I just published about Pirsig and his motorcycle history in IJMS; here’s a link:

    https://motorcyclestudies.org/volume-17-2021/chrome-and-black-and-dusty-robert-pirsigs-motorcycle-heritage-paul-f-johnston/

    Best wishes,

    PFJ

    • Thanks for the link and the memories, Paul. I think I’ve read most of what was contained in your article in numerous places, but you put it all together nicely in one place. Mr. Pirsig changed my life, along with John Muir, at a moment when that life could have gone any of a dozen ways. The timing for ZAMM was spectacular in my case and it was a little heart-breaking to read, “Although Landis wasn’t a motorcycle rider and had never spoken in public about Pirsig or his book, he accepted the challenge and spoke at a Saturday barbecue hosted by BMW motorcycles and Esquire magazine. He recalls sunny, hot weather and a 100-person audience for his hillside speech, which began with asking the audience how many had read Bob’s book. Only his own hand went up, so he asked how many had heard of Zen, with exactly the same result. His presentation, written out for 40-60 minutes, was consequently abbreviated to “probably 12 painful minutes at most” so the event raffle could begin. Clearly, either the book’s fame had waned or these riders weren’t readers.”

      I honestly don’t take motorcyclists who haven’t read ZAMM seriously. They are just bikers, not motorcyclists.

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