Buying and selling motorcycles on internet auction websites Part 1

I now very rarely buy or sell machines, involving my personal collection, on auction sites that might rhyme with flea spray. I used to, but in the last few years it has become more and more frustrating and also open to fraud and abuse, which the website operators, seemed at the time, quite indifferent to.

In 2008, I sold a beautiful Harley Sportster and, to my surprise, I received a call from the new owner the next day. He told me that he was reporting me to the police, because the bike I had sold him was for sale on the same auction site at a lower price with my name and address published as the seller and place of sale. He had phoned the “owner” who told him that the bike was located at my address, but he was abroad, and if he just sent £2,000 by Western Union, he would arrange delivery of the bike. The fraudster had copied almost all of the text and also my pictures from my auction.

Naturally, I contacted the site administrators and they said they could not do anything about it, because a crime had not been committed and the auction with the “purchase now” price continued. The police also told me the same, except that the fraudster had committed an offence by pretending to be me, but the police are too under-resourced to prosecute or investigate.

I spent three days of my life, which I will never get back, dealing with that particular sad experience and I was shocked at the site’s indifference to the fraudsters.

I also used to buy some machines from the site, which may rhyme with flea spray, commercially to supply to motorcycle shops. After numerous trips up and down the country to see bikes, which were not the ones shown in the photographs in the auction, to be told, “No it’s not the same bike, but it is a Honda CBR600.” Yes it was, but the one in the picture was a CBR600RR, was red and in immaculate condition. The one I drove over two hundred miles to see was a silver Honda CBR600F and it was a dog with accident damage, bald tyres, twice the advertised mileage, seriously corroded and a rattling cam chain. Another day lost in the life of a professional motorcycle trader and another tank of fuel duty to the chancellor.

During my time as a motorcycle trader I have seen the most incredibly bare faced scams attempted, using such auction sites. One time I went to buy a van for a friend. We HPI’d the vehicle and it had no outstanding finance, wasn’t on the any registers and sounded great. So we travelled from London to Newcastle to notice that there were two identical vans on the drive and no one was home. We phoned the owner who told us that his wife had gone into labour and that he was at the hospital, could we meet him there? So, we got in a cab, went to the hospital and a very stressed Gaelic man met us in the car park. He gave us the keys, the logbook, MOT, ready printed invoice and asked for payment.

I asked to see the V5 (logbook), and explained that I was not going to part with any cash unless the vehicle was present. I noticed that the registration was not the registration of the van we had HPI’d. He said it was a fault at DVLA and that it was all alright and that they had registered the vans the wrong way round.

After running an HPI check on the van I had the V5 for, it came back as financed to the hilt. I gave him back his paperwork, got in another cab and returned to London. Not before our flea spray seller tried every trick in the book, including tears and a great story about how his daughter had just been born and was on life support, to convince me it was all a simple mix up by DVLA.

I have seen classic motorcycles for sale on such sites that, upon very close scrutiny, are just not what they claim to be. Replica parts have been used, they are what is known as a bitsa- a motorcycle built up of numerous parts from many other motorcycles. I have seen, on such sites, bikes claiming to be a Kawasaki Z1 900. The machine looked like a Z1, but it was a cobbled together mass of replica parts, a Z900A5 frame, a Z1B engine and some very pretty finishing. A Kawasaki Z1 900 is worth about £6,000 more than a Z1B and this motorcycle sold for the price of a Z1. Depending on what the invoice stated, the new owner had bought a very beautiful looking machine, but had paid £6,000 over and above its true value.

So, whether you have a classic motorcycle, or classic motorcycle collection, you want to sell for its true value. Or if you are wanting to make a great tax free investment in buying and taking possession of an emerging market classic motorcycle. Then call Paul Jayson, The Classic Motorcycle Broker on 01803 865166 or go to and avoid the nasty pitfalls of auction sites that could rhyme with flea spray.

Paul Jayson

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