Article - Used bike shopping

Looking for a used bike?

Used bike prices are all over the map. So are dirt bike shoppers.
"What do you think is a good bike to get...."
" this a good price for this bike?"
These are the two most often asked questions I see, but not always the easiest to answer.

What bike to choose is wide open and has already been covered before. Pick up any magazine, read the reviews...
Buying an affordable used dirt bike, with reasonably current technology, not that tricky. Go look at new bikes, see how they look and how much they cost retail from the dealer. If you can't afford that and are forced to shop used dirt bikes, you can use this method to determine a fair price to expect to pay, or even what to expect to get if you are considering selling "your baby". With everyone wanting to buy it for free, and everyone else wanting to sell it for what they paid for it, deciding on a fair price can be challenging for some.

First determine fair market value.
This has already been done for you. See? This gets easier.
Since you are an AMA member, you recieve American Motorcyclist Magazine and saved the last issue, February 2002.
(The issue lists market value on virtually every model for the last 10 years.

If you toss your magazines, for shame, but alas, never fear. Retail value of a used bike is with six mouseclicks on the internet too, at
There's other resources too. Kelley Blue Book (, etc...
If you check two or three used bike value sites or sources, you end up with a range of values.
This is how NADA breaks them down below, For example, on a 1999 Honda XR-400
Low Retail: $2,220
Average Retail: $2,920
High Retail: $3,185

Low Retail Value low retail unit may have extensive wear and tear. Body parts may have dents and blemishes. The buyer can expect to invest in cosmetic and/or mechanical work. This vehicle should be in safe running order. Low retail vehicles usually are not found on dealer lots.

Average Retail Value An average retail unit should be clean without obvious defects. All rubber and cables should be in good condition. The paint should match and have a good finish. All lights and switches should work properly. The mileage should be within or slightly higher than the average range. This unit should also pass any emission inspection.

High Retail Value A high retail unit should look like new. All equipment should function properly. The paint should match and have a high gloss. Tires should appear new and cables should be clean with minimal wear. Engine should start quickly and run smoothly. Sprockets/chain should be new or nearly new with no visible sign of wear. Units in excellent or prime condition may increase value 10%-15%.

Pick your price from the "blue book" value you look at which most closely matches the appearance of the bike you are looking at, then subtract the costs for:
Wheel Bearings Front
Wheel Bearings Rear
Steering Stem Bearings
Water Pump Seal
Front Brake seal set
Rear Brake seal set
Chain Guide roller
Chain Guide wear bar
Countershaft sprocket oil seal
Shifter oil seal
Shock and linkage bearings
Swingarm bearing set
Clutch actuator oil seal
Gasket set

Add it all up to, say, for example... ....about $400 bucks
(You'll replace all of them, or their equivalent eventually even if the original owner has once)

Add the costs for any aftermarket add on parts (Bark busters, flywheel weights, steering dampeners, disk guards, radiator guards, skid plate, etc..) ONLY if you would have bought them anyway.

Add the costs for any aftermarket replacement parts ONLY if the original parts are available in good to fair condition (Exhaust pipes, footpegs, disks, levers, seats, reeds/RAD valves, clutch baskets, handlebars, plastic, etc..)

Motor and suspension work are fine and good, but along with brake pads, silencer packing, and clutch plates, they are not considered as added value in the price since they are expendable as part of normal maintenance. You don't pay for them used, nor do they add value if they "just replaced the clutch plates".
Chains, sprockets, and tires however should be brand new at every sale and are a deduction... go figure.

You might feel compelled to pay or charge more, since it's "the hot bike of the year", or less since it's "not racing competitive", but at least now you have a fair price.

Our XR in the example above, the best trail bike of all time, looking almost new!! ..well, pretty darn good ... sporting bark busters, all the carb mods making it current with the 2001 models, a vortip exhaust insert, but nothing else really..., following our formula:

$3,000 - $400 - $100
(Retail - grin - chain/sprockets)

is worth $2500, and the seller was happy to get it. So was the buyer.

Don't let the advertised price of any bike scare you off. Go look at it, then offer the man a fair price. You might still have an unexpected expense like lower rod bearings, crankcase seal, shifter spline, kickstarter spring/gear, etc. early on down the road, after all, you are buying a used bike, but at least you won't feel like you got ripped off on the sale if you are confident you paid a fair price

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