Thursday, October 29, 2009

Do your homework before buying online

Do your homework before buying online
Thursday, October 29, 2009
By Rocky Marks
Anita Dufalla
Recently, I was perusing the motorcycle section of the popular free classified Web site craigslist. I've heard many stories from people that have used craigslist with both positive and negative feedback. I've had friends walk away with furniture, others find apartments to rent, and even friends who have claimed to have found "true love" on craigslist.

From time to time, I'll check out the motorcycle section to see what the market is doing, and once in a while I'll find an ad that will catch my attention. What you are about to read is an ad that made me shake my head. I won't give the poster's name or location, but I will share the majority of the ad with you. This is a classic example of how not to post an ad to sell your motorcycle and probably a red flag for someone who is looking to purchase a pre-owned motorcycle.

"Selling a Brand New Harley VRSC V-Rod Night Edition with only 5 Miles!! I bought this bike brand new with 0 Miles off the showroom floor and NEVER have time to ride it since my work promotion takes away a lot of my free time. 2009 was the last year they made the V-Rod so this is a bike that will most likely hold its value! I bought the bike for $18,000 and I am asking $16,000/BO. I am also including a New NEVER worn black full face helmet and a nearly new Hydraulic Pump Bike Stand ($500 value) great for cleaning and oil changes. This bike was inspected till 2010 and title is clean."

OK, let's break this down. The first thing that you want to make sure the ad has is the correct year, make and model of the motorcycle that's for sale. If you look at the example above, the seller doesn't have a "brand new" motorcycle, he has a "used" motorcycle that he's trying to sell. There is no such thing as a "Night Edition." The picture of this motorcycle was of a VRSCDXA "Night Rod Special." So right off, we have a person selling a motorcycle that he isn't really familiar with. This is when research really pays off.

The poster claims he purchased the motorcycle with zero miles off the showroom floor. Harley-Davidson does a minimum one-mile roll test at the factory on a Dynamometer, and for legal reasons, the dealership is required to make sure there is a minimum number of miles put on the motorcycle locally for a test ride before it can be sold to a consumer. This is why pictures of odometers should be posted with ads. Personally, if I saw the reading of only five miles, then it would lend more credibility to the poster and I wouldn't be second guessing the mileage.

Whether you're posting or purchasing, never take a claim like "it was the last year they made it, so it will hold its value" for granted. It's important that you do some research. I went to the manufacturer's Web site and found that Harley-Davidson still makes the Night Rod Special Model in 2010, and the base price is $16,699. I also went to both Kelley Blue Book and NADA's (National Automobile Dealers Association) Web site and found that the stock 2008 motorcycle isn't bringing in the $16,000 as the seller is hoping it will.

Unless you have a large down payment, most banks will lend on only the NADA value of a motorcycle. (Yes, there are some exceptions, but in this economy, it is very rare.) There are people out there with cash who are willing to spend it, but the average consumer has to rely on banks, and in order for that bike to move out of your garage (or into your garage if you're purchasing) is by sticking close to the NADA value.

Another point about this post I would like to discourage is the fact the seller is offering a helmet with the motorcycle. There is absolutely no way to know if the helmet was worn, dropped, left out in the sun or damaged in any way that could cause it to weaken and not fully absorb the shock of an impact during a crash.

Helmets should be purchased carefully, and you need to shop around where you can look at different styles, weights and designs. They do not fall into the "one size fits all" category, and you should select a helmet that properly fits you before taking to the open road.

I don't know the circumstances around this particular ad. Maybe the seller of the motorcycle was misinformed. Maybe he didn't do the proper research when purchasing the motorcycle, but it is still his responsibility to get the facts right before putting it up for sale. Don't get me wrong, the Internet is a great starting point for research and it can help you narrow the search for your dream bike, as long as you are looking on the proper Web sites.

Rocky Marks is the operations manager for Hot Metal Harley Davidson in West Mifflin and host of the weekly radio show "On the Road With Rocky" on 1250 AM WEAE.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Warming up to winter riding

Warming up to winter riding
Pittsburgh Rides
Thursday, October 15, 2009
By Rocky Marks

A heated suit is a one-layer warm-up for the cold season.
Out of all of the women I met in my entire life, Mother Nature is probably the biggest tease of them all.

Over the past several weeks we've had temperatures from the 30s all the way up to the mid-70s. We've had everything from partly sunny skies to rain, and before you know it, we'll see flurries. On a good fall day in Pittsburgh, we can experience all of these in a 24-hour period and do it all over again the next day. It's very hard to predict what is going to happen later in the day let alone what's going on for the next five.

I'm a year-round rider. Riding in the fall and winter months is a little more complicated than riding in the summertime.

Living in Pittsburgh and riding in the fall means I have to carry clothing to support the cold, the rain and eventually the snow. My Tour Pack and saddlebags are filled with extra layers of clothes, several styles of gloves, a rain suit, rain boots, a pair of chaps for the slush, a pair of chaps for the cold, a face mask, a scarf, etc.

Even though my mom would be proud of how prepared I am for the elements, it is getting increasingly harder to keep a full wardrobe of outerwear in my bike.

This year I made the leap and traded in the outerwear that fills every square inch of storage that I have on my bike for something that is more sensible and takes up much less room. I picked up a heated suit that I can plug into my bike.

I remember being a little kid coming in for a cup of soup to warm up after riding my sled all morning. When it came time to make the decision on whether or not I wanted to go back outside, I would look at the layers of wet clothes, the hand-me-down snowmobile suit, and bread bags for my feet piled up and then I would look at the warm couch and TV. Back then, the choice was obvious.

Now that I'm older with kids of my own, I look back on those days, and I wish I could go back in time and get in those cold damp clothes and ride that sled until the streetlights came on just in time for another cup of mom's hot chocolate. Unfortunately, those days are gone.

There also will come a time in my life where I will be unable to ride. I don't want to reflect on my life and regret that I passed up riding time in my 30s because I was too cold or burdened by the amount of time and clothing that it takes to dress and undress so that I could ride in this weather.

That is why I picked up a heated suit. I want to make the most out of life every day, and if that means buying heated gear this winter instead of some chrome goodies, then it's worth it to keep me on the road and live life without regrets.

A heated suit also will give me more room in my saddlebags and it will give me a little extra time as I will only have to put one layer over my regular clothes.

I'm also toying with the idea of heated hand grips and a heated leather seat. Very tempting, but I think that's something I can put on my wish list for another holiday or birthday.

Right now, I want to get suited up and get out there and flirt with Mother Nature, and not give in to her cold temperatures while making memories with each extra mile that I can squeeze out of what life has to offer.

Rocky Marks is the operations manager for Hot Metal Harley-Davidson in West Mifflin and host of the weekly radio show "On the Road With Rocky" on 1250 AM WEAE.

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