Buying and Selling Used Bikes

Buying a Used Motorcycle in the State of Georgia

This document was created for newbies to the used motorcycle sales market to help alleviate potential pitfalls.  Please review this document before considering the purchase or sale of a used motorcycle. 

I submit this information in the hopes of benefitting both buyers and sellers of used motorcycles. If you have anything to contribute, I am open to modifications and upgrades to this document, so bring it on and let’s make a better vintage motorcycle buying/selling experience for all.

Author’s Background

I bought my first motorcycle, used, for $30. That included the laundry basket (a true basket case) with all the loose parts that went with the bike. I learned all about two-stroke, internal combustion engines long before Google, the internet, and vintage motorcycle forums, way back in 19 and 72. It was a Benelli 70cc street motorcycle that had a similar frame size as a Honda CB200T.

After about two months and a lot of trial and error, more error than trial, I came to the conclusion that the magneto/charging system was damaged. So, in a manner that became my eventual modus operandi, I bought another Benelli 70, but it was comparable to the Honda Trail 70 (fat tire) mini-bike. After cannibalizing the fat tire’s magneto, I was finally able to get the first bike to run. Then, I swapped the magneto and carburetor back to the fat tire bike and had it running and fully operational. With a few practice sessions, I could go from one bike to the other in 20 minutes.

I give this history to point out the fact that I not only have been restoring motorcycles for more than 4 decades, but I have also been buying and selling used motorcycles for that long as well.

Buying a Used Motorcycle: The Process

Your Budget: This is not something to be hemming and hawing about up until the time that you happen to run across that great deal. Once you’ve determined your budget, you should consider having it in your possession, in cash, and ready to show up on site ready to hand over in order to get the bike. Learning about safe transactions is NOT something to do as you are approaching the point of sale! Always leave a trail of e-breadcrumbs, including sending copies of emails/texts to someone who is NOT going on-site for the transaction.

Know ahead of time if the bike will be sold with a Title or a Bill of Sale. Be sure to use driver’s licenses to document and verify that the person you are paying IS the owner of the motorcycle! Make sure that addresses match Title and Driver’s License. Consider taking photos of documents WITH driver’s license. As soon as returned to your home, call the local law enforcement authorities to have a VIN verification (Georgia T22B form), version July 2013 is latest at time of this writing,  completed. This verifies that the motorcycle is NOT reported stolen and also documents the VIN in the Georgia database. Insure and register the motorcycle ASAP to document the transfer of ownership with the state authorities.

Buying a used motorcycle is best done with a lot of research to know what you want, or what you’re willing to acquire, along with the CASH to buy it. There are more modern means of paying for a used motorcycle, like PayPal. Either way, a good deal on a used motorcycle means the bike will move quickly. With all the modern communications capability available between eBay and Craigslist, you need to be decisive and ready to act.

When looking for a used bike there are a few monetary considerations to keep in mind.
1) Purchase price, 2) Motorcycle Safety Course costs/benefits 3) Upgrades and customization costs, 4) Riding gear costs, 5) ongoing insurance & registration and maintenance/operating expenses.

This article will concentrate on the purchase/sale of a used motorcycle.

When buying a used motorcycle, CASH IS KING!

The average used motorcycle cost is less than $5,000.
A decent 1968-1973 Honda CB350/CL350/SL350 can be purchased for around $2,500 in the stock configuration and a bit more for a customized version. I use this as an example because the 350 Honda twin is the most popular highway worthy motorcycle sold in North America in the history of motorcycles. It’s also created the best reputation for being “bullet-proof” reliable. Its also the best supported vintage motorcycle on the planet.

Title or Bill of Sale

Depending on where you live in the U.S., this motorcycle may or may not include a title. In the state of Georgia, motorcycles were not titled for the duration of the production cycle of CB/CL/SL, 350s. As such, most are sold with a Bill of Sale. As a matter of fact, so long as all the pertinent information is included, you can submit a Bill of Sale to the tag office… on a bar napkin.

Vehicles and motorhomes that are more than 30 years old can be sold with a Bill of Sale and do not require a Title!

In order to ensure that the motorcycle has not been stolen, a Georgia T-22B form can be printed out and then the local police department can be called (non-emergency line) for a VIN verification. During this process, your local law enforcement officer will run the VIN through the database to verify that the bike is not stolen. This process also adds the VIN to the state database for registration purposes. After this process, insurance can be tied to the VIN and with the Bill of Sale and insurance allows the owner to register the motorcycle.

In those rare cases where a titled motorcycle is brought into the state, a new title can be issued (bringing more value to the motorcycle) as well as registration associated with the motorcycle.

So, when purchasing a used vintage motorcycle (more than 30 years old) in the state of Georgia, a Bill of Sale is all that is required to transfer ownership. And, if already registered in the state, a T-22B is not required, but still recommended to validate and verify that the bike has not been stolen.

With this in mind, when inquiring and communicating with the seller, verify that a Bill of Sale will be included with the motorcycle. It would be in the buyer’s best interest to bring MULTIPLE Georgia T-7 Bill of Sale forms, in case errors are made while filling out the form.

Methods of Payment

Whether finding your prospective bike in the newspaper, eBay, or Craigslist, basic common sense techniques can keep you out of trouble. Bring a friend or two? Meet at the POLICE DEPARTMENT? View the bike without cash, but offer to pay upon delivery? Another great way to pay for a documented transaction is PayPal. Including the VIN in the memo section of the transaction ties the monies to the motorcycle acquisition.

In some instances, it may be best to pay half after a demonstration of the operation of the motorcycle. But be sure to receive a receipt for any and all monies transferred, noting the remaining balance on the documentation. Then pay the remaining balance upon delivery. Using a printed version (print multiple copies!) of the Georgia T-7 Bill of sale and noting how much was paid for deposit/earnest money and how much remaining balance remains to be paid, you can later complete a new Bill of Sale stating complete payment transferred and no balance remaining or Paid In Full, allowing proper transfer of ownership.

When using PayPal, be sure to discuss who will pay the PayPal fees. Do Not Use PayPal in the “gift mode”. A gift is a gift. You are NOT giving a gift! You are buying a motocycle. If the PayPal fees are an issue during the sale, be sure to document how they will be compensated for to close the deal. There are PayPal fee calculators that can be used to include PayPal fees when offered the use of PayPal as a payment medium.

Always include the V.I.N. In the notes section of the PayPal transaction. If cash is being transferred, TAKE A PICTURES OF THE CASH WITH THE BILL OF SALE OR TITLE. This will identify the serial numbers of the money used to pay for the motorcycle. It will also cover the buyer in case the cash is counterfeit.

Insurance and Other Considerations

Insurance and registration

You will NOT be issued registration (a license plate & paperwork) without liability insurance, in any state. Whether or not you insure the motorcycle for comprehensive or collision insurance is totally up to you, or your lender if applicable.

So, contact Maria Rodeghiero for a liability insurance quote and she’ll get you entered into the Georgia state database, ASAP!

(wowmaria@hotmail.com) or 1 800 782-1846. Have your MSF information handy for your insurance discount. Maria is one of the founding member os Women on Wheel (R) in Georgia, hense the WOW. Maria has been my motorcycle insurance agent since I became a civillian in 1983.

Even in this computer age we live in, the state of Georgia states that it may take up to 48 hours for informaton to be transferred into the state database. I’ve not seen any delays in about a decade. So, if you’re going to be looking for a quick one-stop shop at the tag office, ask Maria for a Binder of Insurance to take with you just in case.

Different types of motorcycles: 2 stroke vs. 4 stroke.

Back in the day… there were just as many 2 stroke motorcycles as there were four strokes.
So that you know, 2 strokes are the ones that sound and smoke (2 smoke bikes) like a chain saw.
They have the distinctive “Rin nin nin nin” sounds unlike the 4 stroke, Vroooom sound.
The two-strokes also leave the rider with the smell of the “two-smoke” oily smoke, unlike a 4 stroke motorcycle. Two-strokes, when you watch them, leave a cloud of oily smoke behind, in front of, besides and all around, but only when the engine is running… They also foul plugs like nobody’s business.

Back in the 1960s, 70s, and some of the 80s, two-stroke bikes were found both on and off the road.
To understand the benefits of 2 stroke bikes you must realise that they have “power strokes” twice as often as four strokes, so a 250cc two stroke bike can run more powerfully than a 350cc four stroke bike. However, a 350cc four stroke bike can have a more comfortable ride and be less caustic sounding to the nerves than a two stroke bike.

In hindsight, there is good reason that there are no modern two stroke bikes on the road in the U.S.

And, as this vintage motorcycle racer sees it, the only good use for a vintage two-stroke bike is for vintage motorcycle racing. Period. End of statement. That said, let’s talk about buying and selling.

If after reading this article you still have more questions, please contact me. Any unanswered questions will make it easier for me to better round out this information.

Jack Houman
American Vintage SERVICES
Stone Mountain, GA

Search String:

Search string: CB CL SL 450 350 160 175 200 CB160 CL160 CL175 CB175 CB200 CB200T CB200 T CL200 CB350 CL350 SL350 CB450 CL450 CB500 CB500T NORTON TRIUMPH YAMAHA KAWASAKI SUZUKI VINTAGE CAFE BOBBER CHOPPER RACER HONDA VJMC OLD SCHOOL OLD’S COOL
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