The Cost of a Used Motorcycle: Can You Afford One?

How Much Does A Used Motorcycle Cost

Maybe you are looking to purchase a used motorcycle as your first ride. Or perhaps you already have a cruiser but want a used sport bike, or even something as specific as a trials bike. Either way, the cost can be notably less when buying used. When you don’t have to pay dealership fees and can avoid the initial depreciation, buying a used motorcycle in decent condition starts to make a lot of sense.

Location, Location, Location

Buying a bike from another state can be a smart decision, especially if you live in a pricy area such as Los Angeles or New York. For instance, a used Kawasaki 300 could vary in price up to $5,000 depending on the location. Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, Connecticut, parts of New York, and the Detroit, Michigan area can be some of the most affordable places to check.

In some of these colder places, a bike that is stored and cared for properly can be a gem of a find. Don’t forget to check CaJ.D. Power for deals on motorcycles. Some cities just over the border, such as Winsor, Ontario (across the river from Detroit) can offer fantastic finds.

It might be the idea that warm weather keeps vehicles in better condition, but some of the more expensive places to find a used motorcycle are Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and California, as well as Washington (Seattle). That does not mean you should not check these areas, as many of these prices’ factors depend on the cities in these states.

Just don’t fall into the assumption that cheaper motorcycles are always found in the south.

It’s also worth noting that buying a motorcycle in winter, particularly after the holidays are over can be the cheapest time of year to purchase one. Looking into bikes during February can often be your best bet. Even with shipping costs or traveling to another state, if you find an excellent deal, you could still save thousands of dollars.

If you buy from another state, first head to a local dealership to test out similar models if possible. You want to check on the feel of the bike with your height and comfort level before purchasing one from another region. You will have to pay road tax for the motorcycle in your state as well as get a NOC (or No Objection Certificate) from the state in which the bike is registered.

Used Motorcycles

The type of bike you are searching for will alter the price a bit, naturally. You will get totally different numbers for a used 3 wheel motorcycle, a Yamaha that is 10 years old, and a Harley-Davidson with less than 1,000 miles on it.

In a very general sense, you can expect a decent used motorcycle values to be anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000. Some suitable options are even available for a lot cheaper if you grab them at the right time of year and from a more affordable region.

There is a significant depreciation hit that occurs not long after you buy a new bike. However, many used motorcycles values stay relatively high well after this initial dive if they are well-maintained. If you can find a bike that is a few years old, you could end up with one in prime condition but save yourself thousands of dollars off the initial dealership cost.

Buying from a private seller will typically mean you need to have the cash to pay for the bike, but in saving a lot of money, this could prevent you from having an ongoing monthly payment and a loan.

Factoring in how much value you will get out of the bike is also something to consider. If you are likely to use it to commute to work several days of the week, paying $5,000 or $6,000 for a motorcycle could be an incredible value. If you will only ride it a few times a year, be realistic with yourself, and look for something on the more affordable side.


If you can manage to get a bike well under 10,000 miles, or conversely, one that has just undergone a lot of servicing between the 10,000 and 15,000-mile mark, you could save yourself some money on maintenance that will need to be done soon.

Many bikes require servicing around that range, so if you buy one with between 10,000 and 15,000 miles, be prepared to either shell out some cash for somewhat immediate maintenance or look for records that this was already done.

Service Records and Inspections

If you are considering purchasing a used motorcycle, you will want to evaluate the bike as carefully as possible from top to bottom. Always ask the owner about the motorcycle’s usage, whether it was mostly highway, city, or on trails, for example.

Check on the number of services the bike had done and if it incurred any accidents. Many motorcycle owners change their own oil, but it’s worth asking if they have papers for oil change records, also. You will also want to look into the vehicle identification number, or VIN, for the motorcycle.

Verify with the DMV to make sure the bike is not re-registered in someone other than the seller’s name. You should also find out if there is a lien on the motorcycle. You can do this by checking on its papers for released signatures.

If there is a lien, you may want to look elsewhere for a different motorcycle. Additionally, be sure to check the odometer. If the papers for the motorcycle state 999,999 for the odometer (or say “salvage” or “loss”) this is either an illegal odometer or a salvaged bike you will want to avoid.

Buying a Used Motorcycle

As long as you go through your research and handle the paperwork correctly, buying a used motorcycle makes a lot of sense. You can get an outstanding bike for well under $10,000, and if you buy from an affordable area, can find something you might not be able to afford where you live. Start by checking out comparisons and see what buying used can get you.