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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am going to buy my first bike. Is it different than buying a car.? Do dealers stick to sticker price or is there room for negotiation? I've look at the Kelly Blue Value on used bikes and it says there is room for negotiation on used bikes. But what about a brand new one from the showroom floor?

Thanks,

Lucy
 

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There is certainly room to negotiate. MSRP on my 09 Ninja ZX6R was 9799, I got it for 6799, or 8205 OTD (Out The Door is price with TT+L).

That's all fine and dandy, but if this is your first bike, buy used. If it's not, secure financing through your bank or credit union and just negotiate the "out the door" price of the bike with the dealer...never tell how much you'll put down, how you plan to pay for it, etc...
 

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Per the OP, It will be a first bike. I concur to stay away from the stealership and buy used from an individual owner. Bikes shed almost 50% of their value in the first 2-3 years and the warranty on just about everything except a Harley is only good for one year. Also which vehicle are you looking at to start on?
 

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Yeah, everyone knows the private sellers are so honest... like the one that traded in a clean "stock" GS750 to me one time. It was only "stock" because he took off the high performance parts that were on it, except the big bore kit, from his DRAG RACING it that wasn't mentioned!

As a "stealership" (as you so kindly call all of us) when we sold it to a similarly unsuspecting buyer, when it blew we did probably exactly opposite of what YOU and others who refer to all dealers as "stealerships" would expect...

We offered to simply take the bike back as if it had never been sold, costing the customer nothing. But he really liked the bike and the original deal was pretty good, so he asked what else was possible. We did a deal for a total rebuild, maintaining the big bore, with us doing a 20% off on parts (we weren't a Suzuki dealer) and I think it was at least 50% off on labor. The guy ended up with a really sweet GS 8something with a brand new engine (and the tranny was inspected and found to be in excellent condition). He was happy and we ate a bunch of cost for us.

Yeah, go with the private seller every time, they'll be there to help you out if something goes wrong... you betcha.



Now, for the OP, if you want to do the best with a dealer there are two things I'd recommend. One is know what is hot and what is not. The other is research and know how much you are willing to spend for what you want (limit on cash or limit on desire for the given model). New Ninja 250s and probably used ones in the new design are hot. Older ones are not quite as hot They pretty much sell out easily in most areas where sportbikes are popular. The older ones have barganning room. If you know what you are willing to pay in either case you present the price you'd like to pay, which will be lower than what you are willing to pay, and see what happens. If you get your low buck price - bonus! You got a better deal than you expected. Be ready if they accept it on a used bike, they may be turning a quick sale on a fresh trade in, which can be nice for both of you.

Figure out what you like and figure out if they are the hot ticket. If they are, you aren't going to have much barganing room and I'd use accessories as the barganing chips. You get the break on equipment like your helmet and a coat, while they sell a bike without eating away at all their margin.

If the bike is more or less a consistent seller there is bargaining power in dollars. Have the check ready when you know what you want to spend - money talks. Again, work a break on accessories in the deal, if nothing else as a discount for the next 30 days.

On used bikes there is one plus to buying a used bike of the brand sold by the dealer - if there are any problems they have the knowledge and supply. Realize too that sometimes they may have gotten a killer deal on a trade and may have a good margin on the used bike. Make whatever offer you want to make, know what you are actually willing to spend, and be ready to buy if they give you the right deal.

I will say sometimes the game is played where people come in and do the "gimme the best deal" and the salesperson may "lowball" them with a really low price, figuring they're going shopping. If you know what you want to spend and know what the bikes are worth, you may be able to pounce on a "low ball" price and come out rosy.

I remember we had some guy who would stop in at closing time and screw around questioning everything, low prices and such. We found he was just burning time before he could go to work in the area. One night the owner was there and the guy asked the best price on the bike. The owner shot him an out the door price that put the bike about $300 UNDER cost - but it was right there on the spot money down deal done.

If the guy actually wanted a bike and knew what was what he'd have gotten a killer price. The owner was playing a game hedging a bet with himself that the guy still wouldn't buy. He didn't.

So, know what you're looking at and know what the market is for it. Whether you're going through a dealership or a private individual know what it what.

One other sales tip, private or shop, when the barganning hits and an offer is made - shut up! He who speaks first usually "loses". In other words if the price given by the salesperson or individual isn't what you want, just sit or stand there a bit and see what they say - uncomfortable or not, see what they say. Worst case is you end up either buying because it's within what you want or you get up and walk without buying and they don't stop you.

When I bought my one bike the guy immediately dropped $295 when I asked the bottom line. I looked around the bike some, then said I'd see what I could do. It was what I was willing to spend, but I didn't say that I would take it. I left, intending to get the money and come back to buy if it was still there. I returned a day or two later with a downpayment, but nosed around the bike again looking for oil leaks and such... the guy dropped another hundred bucks, I pulled out two hundred to make the downpayment till I got the rest. I never said a word until I pulled out the money and said "I'll take it". The bike was about $400 under what it was actually worth.

In a shop, if there's no action on the seller's part, unless the price is within what you want to spend, get up and say "Thanks, I think I'll look around a bit more." and start walking. You'll either go away and think about it or you will be called back with more of a break.

You could tell when you hit the limit with the one salesperson I knew. He'd be jovial and friendly as he shook your hand, thanked you for coming in, and told you it was nice working with you but you couldn't reach common ground. He'd say if you couldn't get what you wanted he'd be there again for you. Really nice guy, never saw him have anyone leave on a sour note. Even if a customer didn't buy, they'd remember how he treated them well.

Last notes - be aware of fees and such. In the dealership they will run all the paperwork except your actual license plate fee. Make sure you have the bottom line figure all in. In private sales likely you will be responsible for fees.

In shops document fees are legal to be charged up to certain amounts by most states and are to defray costs of maintaining records for legal reasons. So don't be surprised to see a document fee. Title fees, which should be the actual office costs, tax per your location, and a temp tag fee are normal as well. Otherwise any other "fees" are just adding to the price. Thus my comment about the actual bottom line number. For private sales you will be responsible for the tax, title, and tag fees over and above the cost of buying the bike. So figure that in too on private sales.

If financing, make sure they SHOW you what the numbers are and what they mean. Know your interest rate and what else is in there. This is where you separate the good guys from the not-so-good. A good shop F&I person will present options like the service contract (extended warranty or used bike warranty) for you to take or leave, they will also tell you about credit life and disability insurance which is a reasonable thing if you don't have cash reserves to make payments should you get injured or sick for a prolonged period. I think there may be lay-off insurance now too, but I'm betting it's pretty costly. If you have cash reserves to make payment if you're off work, skip the insurances and such. As for service contracts it's only how lucky you feel. Some people don't worry about it, others do. I don't bother with service contracts, but do the credit life and disability on my loans.

When buying privately and financing, the credit institution will show you your interest rate and tell you about credit life and disability insurance.

Again when you go to buy know what you're doing. A lot to absorb, but do it and you should come out good in the buying process.
 

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There is certainly room to negotiate. MSRP on my 09 Ninja ZX6R was 9799, I got it for 6799, or 8205 OTD (Out The Door is price with TT+L).

That's all fine and dandy, but if this is your first bike, buy used. If it's not, secure financing through your bank or credit union and just negotiate the "out the door" price of the bike with the dealer...never tell how much you'll put down, how you plan to pay for it, etc...
MSRP is usually different from "sticker price". Sticker price=advertised price at the dealer.

Maybe it's different elsewhere but in NY, they bring you in with the sticker price and it goes UP from there, not down. So your negotiations are about trying to keep it as close to the sticker price as possible, after taxes and fees are lumped on.

When I bought a brand new ninja 500 a few years ago, the sticker price was $3800. OTD price ended up being $5000, or just about what MSRP was at the time. This included a 4 year transferable warranty, and the salesperson later confided in me that if I didn't buy the 4 year warranty, he would have just added other fees instead and I would have paid the same price anyway.

Sucks when you know that the only place that has the bikes you want operates this way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Very helpful info. I find Sir Gilbert's $3000 drop astonishing. Someone told me never pay more than 10% less than sticker. Gilbert got a lot less than that.

I'll be interested in hearing responses to Schneiderman's thoughts as well.

So far I have been to two Yamaha deadlerships here in Buffalo where I was completely ignored by all sales people on the floor. Walked the entire showroom and not one sales person spoke to me. They seem like they could care less if they make a sale. Is it a gender thing? So I walked out. They look more like hangouts than dealerships to me. That has been the biggest disappointment when visiting showrooms. So I'm not expecting much reciprocity in negotiations after that.
A couple more dealerships to visit this weekend.

I am a first time rider and hesitate to buy used, even though everyone says to do so, because I know from my own practice runs what a beginner can do to a bike. I want one in top shape out the door. I have enough car buying experience to know I really don't want to start spending money on repairs in the first year. I will be buying trainer size. Yamaha 250 is my inclination. I'm open to a Honda Rebel. Did not like the Kawasaki 386 I rode for my course. And I don't want a sport bike. I want a straight up standard motorcycle.

This weekend will be the first serious shopping run and I hope to buy but I am going to ask for a test ride and am going to more than one location before making any decision. I expect to establish a relationship with the dealership I choose. Even though so far, none of them seem to care.

Mark, your summary describes quite accurately my experience with buying a car. Got a very good deal walking out the door on my Grand Am.

Lucy
 

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Maybe so, but consider this, Your average New Yamaha 250 out the door is going to run you between $4K and $4.5K (the lower end is if you can find a last years model that they are trying to get rid of). Compare insurance, taxes and registration fees on that new 250 with something like the bike I am going to post. Also consider that if you upgrade (which is pretty likely from a 250 cruiser) that buying new you are going to eat it on the resale. If you turn around and sell it a year later you are going to be lucky to get $3.5K for the thing, so you are almost guaranteed to lose $1000 in value after only one year, more so if you hold onto the bike for 2-3 years. On the other hand if you are picky and take your time and an older but well maintained bike, You can get a good bike in the $2K or less range, which will (as mentioned above) will be cheaper to insure, register and pay the taxes on and at that price point, unless you completely wreck the sucker isn't going to lose much in it's value. I know the bike is quite a bit older but it appears to be well maintained and has low miles and other than the logo on the gas tank it looks just like the current V-Star 250.

http://buffalo.craigslist.org/mcy/2330317272.html

With something like that unless there is an absolute catastrophe (ie you end up having to have the engine and tranny rebuilt) you are going to come out ahead of buying a new one given the huge disparity in price. Even having a dealer replace something expensive (ie a starter) in the first year that you own it isn't going to cover the price gap there, and if you don't end up replacing anything in that first year, you are saving thousands of dollars, and even if you do replace something expensive that you are still coming out ahead over a new bike. Also consider this, if you do drop the bike while riding it and put some scratches or a dent in the gas tank, how much do you think it will affect the resale value on something like the bike I listed versus a brand new V-Star? I seriously suggest crunching some numbers and compare everything between the purchase price of the bike, taxes and registration fees, potential re-sale values after 1-3 years and insurance on something like what I listed and something like a brand new V-Star 250. I think you will be shocked to see the disparity.

@Mark while my words may have been harsh, let's face it most dealers aren't like you (or the dealer you work for). All the dealers in my area definitely overcharge as compared to craigslist ads and are firm believers in the in the "As is, no warranty" policy on used bikes, which means they don't offer you any kind of deal if something goes wrong on the bike after you ride it home (they certainly wouldn't do what you guys did for that guy). The bottom line is that there are just as many dishonest sales people (if not more so) than regular joe individual sellers. If you take your time and know what you are looking for (check things out before you buy) your odds of getting a better deal are in favor from purchasing from a private seller.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Where does a person go for repairs and maintenance if they can't do it themselves, at least not at first? Ultimately, wouldn't I wind up at a dealership one way or the other? I am not a hard core rider doing my own repairs.

Lucy
 

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Neither am I. I have taken my bike down to the dealer since they are closest to me. Although my Auto-Mechanic being as versatile as they are would probably work on it (seen everything in their garage). Anyways, yes even if you buy used you will most likely take it to the dealer to get work done on it (unless you know someone who works on motorcycles). It still comes out cheaper though (than buying a new one directly from the dealer), even if you do go to the dealer to get the work done on maintenance issues. Case and point, I bought my '95 Honda Nighthawk 250 last year with just over 3800 miles for $900. Yeah it has some scratches and a dent in the gas tank but it runs just fine, all lights work, etc. Over the last 8 months that I have owned the bike I have had the oil changed and the front tire tube replaced, which ran $109 with tax from the dealer. Add about $73 in tax and registration fees and my out the door cost for the bike+maintenance for the last eight months has been $1082. So even though it seems like you are stuck at the dealer either way and even if you do have to get some maintenance done over the course of the first year (and afterwards) you are still most likely to come out ahead.
 

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Very helpful info. I find Sir Gilbert's $3000 drop astonishing. Someone told me never pay more than 10% less than sticker. Gilbert got a lot less than that.

I'll be interested in hearing responses to Schneiderman's thoughts as well.

So far I have been to two Yamaha deadlerships here in Buffalo where I was completely ignored by all sales people on the floor. Walked the entire showroom and not one sales person spoke to me. They seem like they could care less if they make a sale. Is it a gender thing? So I walked out. They look more like hangouts than dealerships to me. That has been the biggest disappointment when visiting showrooms. So I'm not expecting much reciprocity in negotiations after that.
A couple more dealerships to visit this weekend.

I am a first time rider and hesitate to buy used, even though everyone says to do so, because I know from my own practice runs what a beginner can do to a bike. I want one in top shape out the door. I have enough car buying experience to know I really don't want to start spending money on repairs in the first year. I will be buying trainer size. Yamaha 250 is my inclination. I'm open to a Honda Rebel. Did not like the Kawasaki 386 I rode for my course. And I don't want a sport bike. I want a straight up standard motorcycle.

This weekend will be the first serious shopping run and I hope to buy but I am going to ask for a test ride and am going to more than one location before making any decision. I expect to establish a relationship with the dealership I choose. Even though so far, none of them seem to care.

Mark, your summary describes quite accurately my experience with buying a car. Got a very good deal walking out the door on my Grand Am.

Lucy
I bought my bike in January of 2010...and it was one of TWO leftover 2009's. They were DYING to get rid of it! They also paid off my 2007 Ninja 650, which I owed 3200 on. Woot. I watched bike prices at my local dealers for like 4 months and I also looked for "Internet Specials" etc... I didn't just get lucky, I made a planned stategic move at the last possible moment and in the dead of winter when they weren't selling bikes very well. There's plenty of wiggle room on the prices if you buy at the right time...

A few responses to the rest of your post:

Keep in mind, dealers also usually stock used bikes, not just new. So you can still buy a used bike from a dealer, its just that the type you want go fast so they may not be in stock. I bought new because I plan to keep it forever. You may not with a 250 (most people upgrade from a 250 after a season or two). So, I still say buy used cause your first bike aint your last, especially if the bug bites you hard.

And as far as not getting any respect in a dealer showroom, I've experienced that too. I'm 6'3", 200 lbs, its not like they just didn't see me! I say either go back and flag someone down or if you want to be more subtle, go back with a guy friend of yours in tow and see if they come to you. Either way, speak up and make them earn your business. They wont "care" about that relationship you want to establish until you buy a bike and have them do your scheduled maintenance...

EDIT: oh and I did not negotiate that price on my Ninja, it was an advertised internet special that I made them give me in person. I brought a print off and said I want this bike at THIS price TODAY...LOL. And I got it.
 

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@Mark while my words may have been harsh, let's face it most dealers aren't like you (or the dealer you work for). All the dealers in my area definitely overcharge as compared to craigslist ads and are firm believers in the in the "As is, no warranty" policy on used bikes, which means they don't offer you any kind of deal if something goes wrong on the bike after you ride it home (they certainly wouldn't do what you guys did for that guy).
The thing to do is talk with riders in the area to find who is the best. If we let someone come in and ignore them the owner would be on our back so fast it would make your head spin. I also found that even the most unlikely looking person could be the buyer. It takes some exploration to find the good shop. I know the one former Honda rep who lives here in middle Ohio takes his bike 120 miles away to get to the mechanics at the shop where I worked.

We were seldom the lowest buck dealership, but we were competitive. The thing was trying to sell ourselves. How much was it worth to stay closer to home and have a place who will treat you human before, during, and especially after the sale. That was us. We were enthusiasts as well as sales, parts, and service people. Plus, contrary to what you may perceive, many dealers will help out if problems arise. They do the As-Is to avoid being totally on the hook for every whim. The guy who wants to stay in business and have a good reputation will work with a customer. We sold virtually all used bikes As Is too. But we knew.

One of the oldest tricks in the book for cut throat dealers has always been the low price going in. They have two reasons for it. First they figure you'll not want to bother going elsewhere and second, once they have a deposit they have you in a binding contract. Then they layer on the fees. We had a copy of the receipt a guy got when he bought a CBR954 for "$8195". We had quoted $10,000 out the door. He went to the true "stealership" 200 miles away. When he came back he had paid $9998 for the bike. He saved $3! 200 miles and at least 12 hours for $3!

We also knew of a dealer that would take people to court if they tried to simply abandon their deposit because they found the price wasn't good. Since you walk in their door to buy there is no three day cooling off period where you can get out of the deal much less a refund if the true "stealer" wants to screw you over - and they obviously did.

Seems we, who were within a hundred or so dollars one side or the other of all those great "deals", were deemed "too expensive" because we were honest with the up front MSRP pricing. Fact was we never gouged on high demand bikes either. We sold for full retail plus realistic reasonable freight and prep with the minimal actual fees for the title, tax, and tag; when others were marking up as much as $1000 over list. That happened with the original introduction of the Yamaha Raptor and certain other bikes. Dealers would charge premiums over and above. We didn't.

Seems people didn't know or want to know an honest dealer when they looked them in the face.

I guess what I'm saying is take those low ball price dealers and see what they have to put on the table - but don't sign or put money on anything yet. Then go to the guys who have the MSRP or whatever more realistic pricing on their bikes and see what they will do. You might just be surprised at what you might get from a shop that is deemed "too expensive". They just might be more up front with the figures rather than lying and inflating them.

There is no way we EVER had a bike start at a $3800 price and climb a grand or more mostly because we usually included any freight or prep fees we needed in the sale price. Still that Out The Door price of 5 grand may be perceived as inflated, but the fact is the real profit margin at that $3800 is either razor thin or non-existant barring any wholesale break or rebate to the dealer from the manufacturer. I did a quick figure on that $3800 and with reasonable freight and prep, a fair state allowed document fee, 8% tax, and the title and tag, the price would be around $4600. Clearly the $3800 was under cost and had to be inflated to make dime one. But they sucked in the customer.

We didn't low ball prices. We worked the other way. We wanted to talk OTD pricing, it was much better to see money coming off than being added on. If $5000 OTD is coming in at or around MSRP is actually pretty fair. It's just the impression it gives when they jack you up to where they should have been had they been up front about it. They are not up front because of the customer. We saw people walk when we gave our honest prices, then find out they overpaid at another dealership - yes, dealers talk and in casual conversation a lot can be discovered, like customers lost due to our pricing. That is why I don't mind not selling anymore - seems you have to deceive the customer to get them in the door, then stack up the fees to get where it should be. Not my doing, but the customer's doing and what I'd have to do to survive.

Shoot, we'd sometimes give a better deal at times when we were financing, because we'd let them know if we could get a better rate and that we actually made some money on the financing. It wasn't uncommon to give the new customer a card with a percent off purchases over the next 30 days for accessories or agree to a cut rate deal on a specific item a ways into the future when a customer could afford it.

You find that dealer and you've got something. A dealer where the sales, parts, and service people are glad you came in even if you aren't buying. That was us. I know it's more cut throat now, but a shrewd shopper that can look beyond the initial price tag can find the good guys. Then they have to figure what that is worth. To me it is worth a few hundred dollars for sure if it is close to home. I still use that logic in parts and accessories. I buy my parts where I'm treated good. They will give me a break because they get a majority of my business.

The fact is when I started doing cam chain tensioners they started giving me the break they would an independent shop. That added up since I've done a few hundred tensioners. Now I call and order, pay when they come in, and have them sent to me 110 miles away. That's the kind of service that can be had with good will. I will pay more for tires in some cases, but it's seldom more than $20 total after all costs and they'll order them in without a deposit because of the trust we've developed.

When I want another helmet I am going to do the shopping on the net, then go in and tell them what I'd like to pay for one and give them time to pick me up a deal on one to get it at that price. When I wanted a KBC Racer1 a certain web store had them at $199 or about a hundred off. I went to the shop, told them I'd pay $220 to them for one if they could get a deal on it. When I went in a month or so later they told me they could get me the helmet. I asked how much - $189 - less than the net price and no shipping. If it came in wrong or didn't fit right they would take care of me on it. That's what the extra money buys me. Service, smiles, conversation when time allows, and the chance to get a deal if they can get a deal on something.


I see Costco is going to sell some Kawasaki models now. It's going to be interesting to see what will happen there. You know they aren't going to have salepeople negotiating. The price is going to be real and the bike drop shipped to a cooperating dealership who will get a fee for their work. That may just pull the product out of the "low ball" deceptive syndrome... or at least expose it.
 

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I bought my bike in January of 2010...and it was one of TWO leftover 2009's. They were DYING to get rid of it! They also paid off my 2007 Ninja 650, which I owed 3200 on. Woot. I watched bike prices at my local dealers for like 4 months and I also looked for "Internet Specials" etc... I didn't just get lucky, I made a planned stategic move at the last possible moment and in the dead of winter when they weren't selling bikes very well. There's plenty of wiggle room on the prices if you buy at the right time...

A few responses to the rest of your post:

Keep in mind, dealers also usually stock used bikes, not just new. So you can still buy a used bike from a dealer, its just that the type you want go fast so they may not be in stock. I bought new because I plan to keep it forever. You may not with a 250 (most people upgrade from a 250 after a season or two). So, I still say buy used cause your first bike aint your last, especially if the bug bites you hard.

And as far as not getting any respect in a dealer showroom, I've experienced that too. I'm 6'3", 200 lbs, its not like they just didn't see me! I say either go back and flag someone down or if you want to be more subtle, go back with a guy friend of yours in tow and see if they come to you. Either way, speak up and make them earn your business. They wont "care" about that relationship you want to establish until you buy a bike and have them do your scheduled maintenance...

EDIT: oh and I did not negotiate that price on my Ninja, it was an advertised internet special that I made them give me in person. I brought a print off and said I want this bike at THIS price TODAY...LOL. And I got it.
Wise maneuvering, the kind a good dealer can appreciate. I guarantee your demand would NOT have been met if the dealer had used a low ball number and had anything in the ad about fees. They would have jacked it up where they wanted or you would have walked.

That's my point. A non-deceptive dealer will be able to honor what they put in print. We always could. If we needed freight and prep it would be noted and it was seldom over a few hundred since we didn't use it as a profit margin. Fact is we usually had our ad prices with that included, just because it was how we'd want to be treated. Our documentary fee was also minimal (in Ohio you have to maintain hard copy documentation for 8 years last I knew) and not a profit margin either. Tax, title, and tag fees were whatever the county and bank (memo copies of title) required, nothing more and nothing less.

Obviously that dealer ran an ad they could honor. Sometimes it may be a loser, like the Vulcan 2000s which lost about a grand each at the dealership I go to, other times there may be some rebate or discount in cost to the dealer from the manufacturer. Either way the dealer is willing, you are willing, and both usually walk away happy. That was our goal - be able to smile, laugh, shake hands, and walk back in the store commenting about a nice customer. That was a great feeling... success.
 
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