Bike Buyer Guru: Buying on Auction?
Craig Langton has quite the CV. Here at The Bike Show we refer to him as King Midas because, as you might’ve guessed, everything he touches turns to gold. Apart from previous businesses that were massively successful under his watch, he is the owner of Fire It Up in Fourways and within a year of opening its doors it has become the biggest selling motorcycle dealer in the country by a long way. Much of this is down to good honest hard work by him and his team, but much of it also has to do with decades of dealing in motorcycles, spotting trends and noticing nuances. Craig will be passing on much of this knowledge to our esteemed readers in his regular Bike Buyer Guru column. Herewith this week’s column:
The very word ‘Auction‘ gets buyers excited about a possible bargain to be had. While there are certainly bargains to be had, you need to be aware that auctions are often used to dispose of unwanted stock – where there is no recourse should something go wrong. Some advice:
- Take the time to inspect the motorcycle the day before the auction. If you are not very familiar with motorcycles, take a friend with you who knows them well.
- Take your time going through the bike looking for previous accident damage as many motorcycles that are accident damaged are no longer ‘written -off’ by some insurers and instead, are sold to salvage companies who repair these motorcycles and put them on auction for sale. Spotting one of these bikes can be almost impossible but because it has such an effect on the value of the bike it is worthwhile calling the manufacturer to see if there are any recorded repair quotes on the system such as ‘uneconomical to repair’. In some instances this can be because there is a scratch on the frame and the cost of replacing the frame is more than the calculated value. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a bike like this but the ‘comment’ has an effect on the value so ensure you do not pay market related prices.
- Please remember that if the bike is a simple repo, then often the owner did not have the money to maintain the motorcycle. Look for evidence of the selling dealer by way of stickers and/or a key chain or service book under the seat. Make sure there is some kind of a service history.
- Check the engine carefully and especially sign of track use, very often damaged motorcycles are disposed of on auction. Unfortunately many bikes are repossessed because the owner might not have had the money to repair them. Remember that an auction and private sales ‘voetstoets’ still applies. Again, call the manufacturer or dealers and try and establish if the mileage is genuine. Often in accident damaged motorcycles the instrument cluster would have been replaced.
- If there is no key available and you are unable to start the motorcycle, my advice would be to stay away unless you are purchasing it as a project and paying accordingly.
- One of the biggest mistakes buyers at auctions make is that they forget to calculate the additional fees such as VAT, sellers commission and buyer’s fees. These fees can often add 20% to the price the hammer drops at.
- Be wary of fake buyers bidding you up so that you end up overpaying for the bike you wanted. Set a max budget and do not be tempted to go over this figure as emotions run high at auctions.
- If you have never been to an auction before, try and go to a couple first so that you get a feel for the atmosphere. It’s important not to get carried away on the day that you do decide to buy.
I have customer examples where some very special bikes have been bought for an absolute song and of course many customers come to us for help after buying a lemon.
Take your time to do your homework on the bike that you want. If it goes over your budget or is suspicious let it go, next week there will be another bargain.