How to Use Kelley Blue Book to Determine Motorcycle Value
We bet you’re here because you’re planning on buying or selling a motorcycle. How exciting!
If you’re buying a motorcycle, you’ll want to avoid overpaying for it. And, if you’re selling a motorcycle, you’ll want to avoid pricing it significantly above or below its actual value.
We recommend using Kelley Blue Book (KBB) to determine the value of a motorcycle. It’s a great tool that can be used by buyers and sellers alike.
To learn how to determine the value of a motorcycle, continue reading below!
Before we get started on the steps to using Kelley Blue Book’s valuation tool, there are a few terms you’ll want to know first. Go ahead and familiarize yourself with the terminology below.
Typical Listing Price
This is the average price of a used motorcycle (in good condition with typical mileage) when purchased at a dealership. This price includes any repairs the dealership made before putting the motorcycle on the market.
This is the price a dealer would expect to pay to purchase a private buyer’s motorcycle (that it is in good condition with typical mileage) when that buyer purchases a motorcycle from their dealership.
Private Sale Value
Kelley Blue Book does not provide the private sale value of motorcycles. However, you can use the information they provide to calculate it yourself. We’ll explain how to do this in the section below. It’s quite easy to do.
Private sale value can be defined as the price a buyer would expect to pay to purchase a motorcycle from a private seller.
Keep in mind that these instructions are based on the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) website as of March 2020. Aspects of this valuation tool may change over time, but these steps should remain similar.
1. Visit KBB‘s motorcycle valuation page. There will be three drop-down menus. Select the year, make and model of the motorcycle from the options provided.
2. You’ll be prompted to select trade-in value or typical listing price. You can take a look at both.
Note: Don’t worry. You won’t have to re-enter all of the bike’s information to see the other value. After you select one, the other will be available right next to it.
3. In order to calculate the private sale value of the motorcycle, we recommend subtracting $500 to $1,000 from the typical listing price.
For example, as of March 2020, the KBB value for a 2018 Harley-Davidson® FLFB Fat Boy is $15,845. Therefore, we suggest that this motorcycle’s private listing price be between $14,845 and $15,345.
Note: The typical listing price nor the trade-in value represent the private purchase value. KBB does not provide suggested private purchase values for motorcycles. Hence why we recommend the calculation above.
Common Valuation Questions
It’s not unusual to have questions when using an online pricing tool. Continue reading below to find answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Why is private purchase value less than a dealer’s typical listing price?
When a dealership buys a used motorcycle, it has to be inspected. After the inspection, the vehicle has to meet basic safety standards or the dealership could face legal liability.
Therefore, dealerships must pay to repair unsafe vehicles before selling them. Private sellers are not required to do so.
A dealership may also make cosmetic repairs and add upgrades to make the motorcycle more attractive to potential buyers. This, of course, costs the dealership money, which is why the typical listing price is more expensive than the private sale price.
Furthermore, dealerships may slightly markup prices to cover overhead expenses, such as rent, labor, utilities and insurance. Certainly, if these expenses aren’t covered, the dealership can’t stay in business.
Note: If you want to buy a used bike out-of-state but are concerned about its condition, you can get a vehicle history report or have the bike inspected. Also, always review the Certificate of Title before making the purchase. The title will tell you if the motorcycle is a lemon, salvage vehicle or is severely damaged.
I want to sell my bike, but I doubt it’s worth this little. What about the added value of maintenance, repairs and upgrades?
You may feel that the KBB value does not reflect all the hard work you’ve put into your motorcycle. But, keep in mind that the value calculated by KBB represents a motorcycle in good condition with typical mileage.
If you feel your motorcycle is in great condition, feel free to reflect this in its price. For example, a motorcycle that is practically brand-new with very little mileage will be worth more.
Or, if you recently made a significant repair, such as replacing the engine, you can reflect this in the price as well.
You can also add value to your motorcycle by clicking “view options.” This is located on the results page below the description of the motorcycle’s engine, which is located below the motorcycle’s value. Here you can add the value of various equipment and upgrades.
Note: Keep in mind that buyers frequent KBB just as sellers do. Meaning, buyers have access to the same information you do, and they are often looking for a deal. If a buyer sees your bike priced equal to or higher than the dealership (typical listing) price, they might skip your listing and go on to the next.
However, if you are selling your motorcycle online and insist on listing your bike above the suggested value, it’s best to add “OBO” (or best offer) or “negotiable” next to your sale price.
Why is the dealership offering less for my trade-in than KBB suggests?
One way dealerships increase their margins is by paying as little as possible for trade-ins. The less they pay for your trade-in, the more you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket and the more money they’ll make. But, don’t take it personally; it’s just business.
For example, if the dealership values your trade-in at $5,000 and the cost of your next bike is $15,000, you will pay the dealership $10,000 (not including fees). But, if the dealership values your trade-in at $2,500. You’ll pay $12,500.
Dealerships also take into account the amount of demand for your motorcycle. For example, if your model is quite common and not very popular, it will have a lower value. But, if your model is in high demand and is “hard to keep on the shelf,” its value will be much higher.
Why is the typical listing price for my motorcycle so low?
Immediately after a new motorcycle is purchased, its value begins to depreciate. On average, the value of a motorcycle decreases by 10% as soon as it leaves the dealership. And, each year it will continue to depreciate.
Note: It’s a good idea to keep tabs on how much your motorcycle is depreciating each year. This way, you’re not surprised by how much worth when you decide to sell it.
Many seasoned riders recommend replacing your motorcycle every two to three years. This way, you always get to try something new and the resale value of your motorcycle is reasonable. For more advice on why you should sell your current bike before buying another, check out our blog post.
It helps to do a bit of research before buying or selling a motorcycle. The more knowledge you have, the better.
In addition to valuation, another factor you should consider when buying or selling a motorcycle is negotiation. If you plan to buy, check out our blog post on how to negotiate when buying a motorcycle.
And, if you’re selling, go ahead and check out our Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Motorcycle.
Was the motorcycle’s value what you expected? Let us know in the comments below!
Are Kelley Blue Book values and prices accurate and reliable?
Not accurate, or at least, not as accurate as it’s given credit for. KBB values and pricing rely on seller data which often does not reflect live up to date market demands for a motorcycle, atv, utv, car, or truck.
The Internet has proliferated the number of resources we have access to, which is great because this allows us to be better informed about the world around us, as well as the things we own. A resource many people have flocked to when it comes to selling all things automotive is Kelley Blue Book (KBB). It’s also become a staple resource for anyone looking to sell a motorcycle, atv, or utv online. KBB's 20-million average visitors a month will attest to the site's popularity.
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Since when did "popular" mean "reliable?"
As consumers, we create our own "fictional truths." We know there's an endless amount of information and resources at our fingertips, but do we ever stop to critically look at these resources? Are they as sound as we think?
Perhaps the two biggest questions consumers of the automotive industry have to ponder are 1) "Is Kelley Blue Book motorcycle prices accurate?" and 2) "Is Kelley Blue Book realistic?" Whether you love or hate the number KBB quotes for your ride, you have to make peace with the fact that Kelley Blue Book is not a flawless system because it funnels its research through its users, and therefore should not be treated as a fail-proof resource.
Source: Steve Richards YouTube
How accurate and reliable are Kelley Blue Book Values?
Factors used to determine your Kelley Blue Book motorcycle value:
- Private Party Value
- Suggested Retail Value
- Trade-in Value
- Certified Pre-Owned Value
While all of these components should create reasonable expectations, each one comes with its own set of flaws. For instance, the motorcycle trade-in value is based on how much a dealership would offer you for your bike; but, every dealership will provide a different price based on a) their location, b) the amount of customer traffic that dealership has, c) the popularity of a particular bike in an area as well as its ability to sell in that area, and d) the quantity of a certain model that already exists within a dealership's inventory. All of these variables will impact your offer, so Kelley Blue Book's quote will likely fluctuate and hardly ever be spot-on.
There are other downsides to Kelley Blue Book as well. For example, KBB gathers its information primarily from the people who use the site and then accesses user information to craft its own database. This system is not entirely sound, and here’s why:
People can be biased.
Believe it or not, you might be a bit biased towards your motorcycle, and for good reason. You have fond memories and emotions tied to your bike, and even if you’re selling it, you still recognize its value. There's nothing wrong with that.
Check out this video to see how bias can exist in different forms:
Source: Big Think YouTube
However, personal bias often distorts reality and, in this case, the perception you have of your bike. You won't view your motorcycle the same way as someone without your personal experience will view it. Instead, you'll see a motorcycle in nearly perfect condition because it’s your bike and you put in the time and effort to maintain it. We know this isn't intentional; it's human nature to think highly of our personal belongings, and our motorcycles are no exception. But, by the same token, others who aren't emotionally tied to your bike will assess it fairly and objectively.
For instance, when you take your bike to a dealership, it's likely they won't show bias because they can physically see the motorcycle and assess it properly. In a sense, what you see is what you get, and dealership's prices will reflect that. However, when Kelley Blue Book has you (a.k.a. the current owner) determine the condition of your bike, the quote you generate will likely be inaccurate due to personal bias. A system that relies on the personal judgments of its consumer base is not a suitable system.
While Kelley Blue Book tries to ensure all the information on their site is up to date, this system is anything but perfect. For example, you might receive an unrealistic quote for your motorcycle because the site has yet to adjust to the live demands of the marketplace.
So, while you might've received what you believe to be a reasonable quote for your bike from KBB, it remains in everyone's best interest that you approach an interested dealership with more realistic (which sometimes means 'lower') expectations. After all, it's their job to stay in-the-know when it comes to industry shifts and changes.
Dealerships and buyers don't take KBB seriously.
No, dealerships don't refrain from using Kelley Blue Book simply because it tends to offer a higher price than they are willing to pay for your motorcycle. The fact is, these entities are running a business, and businesses aim to make a profit. To make a profit, dealerships offer the seller a price representative of the live market value; and, as we previously touched on, KBB doesn't always present prices that reflect live market value. RumbleOn, on the other hand, uses resources with more accurate data.
Those who understand data collection are aware of the weaknesses inherent in Kelley Blue Book's value system. Dealerships, for example, use data from the National Auto Research Black Book, and Manheim Market Report (both of which the public cannot access,) and NADA guides. These resources, unlike Kelley Blue Book, do not rely on the potentially biased input of consumers; instead, they rely on the actual, comparable sales and purchases of all motorcycles, along with the details and costs associated with it.
All of this is to say that how and where you get your numbers is just as important as the numbers themselves.
Kelley Blue Book does not accurately reflect demand.
Kelley Blue Book is not reflected in real-time. It doesn't adjust its information every second changes occur. This means that while the market and industry is a roller coaster ride of changes as time passes (and time is essential when selling), Kelley Blue Book does not reflect live market changes. When KBB finally does update, by the time the changes are implemented, the market has already shifted and the vehicle's value has likely changed, again.
If Kelley Blue Book had a system in which real-time dealerships were able to visually take a look at your bike, the site would likely quote values that are consistent with the live marketplace at any given time. However, since KBB relies entirely on sellers to gather its information, it's inevitable this system be subject to error.
Flawed systems like Kelley Blue Book's are what make sellers feel disappointed in the offers they receive. How accurate is Kelley Blue Book? Not accurate, or at least, not as accurate as it’s given credit for. Why is it so hard to sell my motorcycle? Only as difficult as you let it be, because there’s always an individual, or dealership, out there who’s interested in buying your bike. Check out our guide on how to sell your motorcycle for the most cash.
RumbleOn makes it easy to sell motorcycles online. Check us out today!
Don’t waste your precious free time at the dealership or KBB: sell a motorcycle online fast to RumbleOn. Just fifteen minutes after I submitted my bike’s VIN for a free cash offer, I had an email from RumbleOn waiting in my inbox. The process was so quick and hassle-free! Sell your motorcycle to RumbleOn now for your best cash offer!
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Motorcycle Blue Book Value
A motorcycle's "blue book value" is the generic term for the market value of a motorcycle made in a particular year by a particular manufacturer. The Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is the origin of that term and is one of the most well-known pricing guides for those in the market for a used motorcycle.
The other major motorcycle pricing resources are the NADA Guides produced by J.D. Power. NADA stands for the National Automobile Dealers Association who provided comprehensive buying guides for used cars. In 2017, J.D. Power bought the company and expanded the offerings to includes motorcycles, RVs, classic cars, boats, and manufactured homes. NADA Guides offers print appraisal books on both newer motorcycles (as well as snowmobiles, ATVs, and personal watercraft) and vintage, collectible, and retro motorcycles.
- The Kelley Blue Book gives you a sense of how much you can expect to spend or receive when buying or selling a specific motorcycle.
- These values are based on nationwide sales transactions, including auctions, dealer sales reports, and dealer surveys.
- Additional equipment for a motorcycle, such as an engine guard, may also be included as a separate value.
- The NADA Guide uses a variation on these calculations to come up with its own values for motorcycles.
How KBB Calculates Motorcycle Values
KBB says that it determines values for motorcycles based on data obtained from "auctions, dealer sales reports, and dealer surveys, plus dealer and consumer listings and sales transactions nationwide." The company says that it also takes into account current market and economic conditions.
Trade-in vs. Listing Price
After you've searched for a particular motorcycle—by providing the year, make, and model—you are asked to select either Trade-In Value or Typical Listing Price. The former is the amount you might expect to get when trading in a used motorcycle in good condition with all of its original standard equipment. The latter is what a dealer would likely ask you to pay if you were looking to buy a used motorcycle in good or better condition.
Some motorcycles that you search for will have information on the value of additional equipment, which you can see by clicking on Optional Equipment. For example, depending on the make, model, and year of the motorcycle, cruise control and an engine guard might each add $35 or more to the value of the bike. KBB assumes that these additional options are also in good condition.
KBB does not take into account the mileage on the odometer. KBB says that road conditions and the previous owner's riding style have larger effects on the bike's value than mileage.
How NADA Guides Calculates Motorcycle Values
You can start your search for motorcycle values on NADA Guides' website by selecting a manufacturer or a category of bike, such as Cruisers or Motocross. Ultimately, as on the KBB site, you'll choose a year, model, and make. You'll also be asked for your ZIP code and any special options.
You can even compare as many as three specific motorcycles side by side.
The site offers four prices on motorcycles:
- The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), which includes only standard equipment and excludes taxes and transportation and destination fees, which cover the cost of getting the vehicle to the dealer.
- Suggested list price, which is the manufacturer's or distributor's highest suggested list price in the U.S. when the motorcycle was new. It typically does not include destination charges or taxes.
- The low retail price, which is for a vehicle that may show "extensive wear and tear," including "dents and blemishes" on the body, but is still safe to drive. Motorcycles with this low quality usually aren't sold by dealers.
- The average retail price, which is for a vehicle that is clean and "without obvious defects." The mileage should be about average, and the bike should be able to pass an emissions inspection.
NADA Guides uses data from more than 1.5 million vehicle transactions a month to help determine values. Those transactions include wholesale, retail, and auction sales. NADA Guides also considers asking prices posted on classified listing sites and Autotrader. Its valuation team says that it "uses the latest technology, deep knowledge of each segment's market, statistics, analytics and econometrics to derive our values." It does not use a depreciation schedule, because there is a lot of variation in the rates of depreciation among different used motorcycles.
Value kbb motorcycle
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