How to Buy a Motorcycle from Autotrader

If you are in the market to buy a motorcycle you may have come across the website Autotrader. Here's all you need to know about buying on Autotrader, including top tips such as finding out how long an ad has been up. If this is your first motorcycle, you may also want to read our articles on the Costs of Motorcycle Ownership, Learning to Ride a Motorcycle and see our infographic on How to Get Your Motorcycle Licence.

What is Autotrader?

Founded all the way back in 1975 this company has grown over the years and has become one of the favourite go-to sites for anyone looking to buy a new or used vehicle. Autotrader is not just limited to motorcycles either. You can find listings for cars, trucks, caravans, trucks, and even farm and plant machinery. The company has built a solid reputation over time and if you are wanting to buy a motorcycle using their service this article will show you exactly how to do it.

You may or may not know what model of motorcycle you wish to purchase and that is totally fine. Simply head to the Autotrader site and use their handy search tool to browse by the motorcycle manufacturer, or search for a specific model. Almost every make, style and model of bike is contained on their pages.

Once you hit the search button then all the vehicles that are available will be displayed. Enter your postcode and select a radius to show the bikes that are close to your location. This is customizable and you may specify distance or run a national search.

If you know exactly what you are looking for and have some specific requirements, engine size, mileage, year, or other similar specifications then Autotrader offers some nice advanced features that you may use to narrow your search. In fact, when hovering over options (e.g., engine size) you'll be able to see how many results match the different options (e.g., 112 cars with a 1.0L engine, vs 22 with a 1.5 litre engine) which is handy for identifying which options are most popular and will give you the most choice in your search.

picture showing the Autotrader search options

Search results

After you have run your search you will be presented with all of the bikes that are listed for sale and results can be further filtered by price, distance, and other criteria. Clicking on any of the listings will bring you to a page that lists detailed information for the bike you have chosen. There is usually a selection of photographs too that will show you views of the vehicle from various different angles, and a section that shows Autotraders own background checks.

picture showing example of Autotrader search results

How long has an ad been listed on Autotrader?

The publish date of each Autotrader ad is displayed in a YYYYMMDD format in the ad's unique URL. For example, the URL https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201905318517381 indicates that this ad for a Triumph Bonneville was first published on "20190531"—in other words on 31 May 2019.

There are two ways to easily find an ad's URL, and you can use these tricks to find how long as ad has been up whether you're looking for a motorbike, car or other vehicle on Autotrader.

2 Ways to see when an ad was published on Autotrader

  1. If you have clicked onto an ad, you can see the publish date in the ad's URL in the address bar at the top of the page. This will let you figure out how long the ad has been up. Here's an example showing an ad that was published on 31 May 2019:
picture showing how long an ad for a car or bike has been on Autotrader
  1. If you're on a search page that display lots of ads according to your search criteria, you can quickly see the URL and publish date of any ad by hovering over an ad's blue clickable title . But don't click the link—simply hover your mouse over this blue link (which turns green when you hover over it), and the URL will appear on the bottom left of your web browser. Here's an example:
picture showing how long an ad for a car or bike has been on Autotrader

This information can be extremely useful when negotiating for a good price. Generally speaking, the longer a bike has been on the market, the more likely the seller will take a lower price. Someone who has just posted their ad the day before will typically want the asking price—unless they're after a quick sale, of course.

Background Checks

The company runs a number of background checks to verify the authenticity of the vehicle and offer you a level of protection. However, these are just basic checks and Autotrader recommends that you run a complete check on any motorcycle or vehicle that you are intending to purchase. A nice feature of their website is that you may order and run these background checks directly from their pages. The information is provided by Experian and will give you all the relevant details about the vehicle so that you may make an informed decision.

picture showing background checks at Autotrader

Arrange a viewing

Once you are happy that the motorcycle is in good condition, passes all security checks, and is the vehicle that you would like to purchase then you should contact the seller to arrange a viewing. No purchase should be made before the vehicle has been seen. Schedule a time to meet with the seller so that you can view the vehicle yourself and verify that it is in good condition, all the information is correct, and the motorcycle is as advertised.

The contact information for the seller will be listed to the right of the page and contains the phone number and/or email address for the vehicle owner or listing contact. Simply call or send a message requesting a viewing.

picture showing background checks at Autotrader

Should the seller request any kind of deposit before you see the motorcycle be aware that you run the risk of losing it. Confirm that any deposits paid are fully refundable. If the seller persistently requests that you transfer money before seeing the motorcycle then be very cautious, this is usually a good indicator of a scam.

Autotrader although only acting as an intermediary, attempt to keep their buyers as safe as possible. They provide a Buyer Safety Checklist to detail the purchasing steps you should follow, but it is worth keeping in mind that after Autotrader has connected buyers and sellers, their responsibility ends. They do not handle any money or facilitate buying transactions.

Take the motorcycle for a test drive

Once you have examined the motorcycle and everything seems in order then take it for a test drive. Here is where you can put the bike through its paces and check that everything seems to be in full working order. Check the acceleration, braking, indicators, and lights to make sure everything is fully operational. As a side note, take a moment to check the current market value of the vehicle, this is for 2 reasons:

  1. You don’t want to pay above the current value
  2. If it is below market value then you need to know why

If a motorcycle is well below the current value then there may be a reason for that so it would be wise to question the seller as to any issues.

Verify all documents

When you are satisfied with the performance of the motorcycle and have successfully completed your test drive, don’t forget to take a moment to check that all of the paperwork is in order. This includes things like:

  • Service History
  • Insurance Information
  • Registration Documents
  • VIN number

Make sure everything matches up and that dates and all other information pertinent to the vehicle is correct.

Don’t forget to negotiate

Just because the motorcycle was listed at a certain price doesn’t mean that there is not a bit of wiggle room. Most people will list their vehicles slightly higher than the price than they actually expect to get to allow for a bit of negotiation. You may request a discount for a cash sale or simply ask for a bit off the listing price as a serious buyer ready to make an on the spot purchase.

Either way, if you don’t ask you don’t get so it is worth a shot. And remember to check when the ad was listed as a seller may be more open to negotiation if their bike has been on the market for months. At the same time, remember to keep any offer or request reasonable. Offer a silly price and you may blow the sale altogether so be realistic.

Exchange payment and documents

After all the necessary tests, check, and legalities have been done to your satisfaction then you can go ahead and make the purchase. There are a number of ways you can do this, cash always works well, or you can transfer the money directly to the seller's bank, or use a payment service like Paypal. If you are dealing with a company then you may be able to arrange motorcycle financing, or perhaps you have arranged a loan of your own. Whichever way you do it, as soon as the payment is made you should then complete and exchange the necessary owner's paperwork, designating you as the proud new owner of the motorcycle.

Enjoy your new motorcycle

If you follow the above steps then you should have no problem making your purchase. Following some simple precautions and taking the time to run checks, verify documents, and properly view the vehicle should make the transaction happen with the minimum of stress. Making you the proud owner of a brand new motorcycle.

And here's another top tip—don't wait until the last second to buy motorcycle insurance for your new bike or you'll end up paying more than you need to. Whether you're buying car or motorcycle insurance, you'll save money buying in advance, with the amount you can save typically increasing the further ahead you buy (until savings top out at 3 weeks in advance). In fact, you can get quotes for a bike you don't even own yet. So as soon as you find the bike you want, start researching to find the best motorcycle insurance for you so you'll be able to quickly lock down a policy when you're ready.

Happy riding!

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.