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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