What to Know About Sport Bikes Sold At Auctions

Why salvage motorcycles are a cost-efficient alternative

When bikes are issued salvage titles, insurance companies often sell them through auctions. Scrap dealers, salvage-bike dealers and repair shops bid on these bikes to use for dismantling parts or other projects. Bike enthusiasts buy these two wheelers to repair and then ride as a cost-efficient alternative to vehicles sold by dealers.

Online auctions present a wide variety of advantages — who wouldn’t love to pick out a sports bike from the comfort of a home? Hundreds to thousands of salvage bikes are presented with specific details and multiple photos. Some auction companies will arrange shipping directly to your driveway. Quick transactions and great deals make online auctions one of the best ways to purchase a salvage motorcycle.

1. Costs

In good condition, a 1982 Yamaha xv920 for sale could cost up to $2,000. Through a salvage sport-bikes auction, this make and model could cost less than $100. In most cases, completing necessary repairs is more cost efficient than buying a clean-titled motorcycle. These incredible savings are the greatest incentive for sport-bike enthusiasts to bid through auto auctions.

Salvage bikes come from insurance companies that deem damaged bikes a “total loss.” This means that the cost of repairs or replacement is about 70 percent of its market value. The criteria for determining when a bike is salvaged differ between states, provinces and countries. In the United States, bikes may be issued a clean title upon proper repairs, regardless of history.

The key to purchasing a salvage bike, whether it’s a Ducati sports bike or a Kawasaki, is estimating how much repairs will cost. Rather than purchasing the first bike you see, search online for how much the make and model you’re looking for is really worth. Purchasing a custom bike is usually a mistake, as custom parts are hard to find and can cost thousands of dollars. Top names and models, like Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha, are less risky choices because inexpensive parts are easy to find. Also, don’t forget to include the costs of proper gear (like a helmet and leather boots) in your cost estimation.

Before deciding to purchase a bike, find out as much as you can about its damages. If it’s possible to go to the auction yard and check out the vehicle in person, go ahead. Although a bike might look great in pictures, there could be internal damages. Just remember to keep in mind that there may be hidden costs. It’s not a bad idea to visit your local repair shop to get a rough estimate of repair costs before making any decision.

2. Repairs

Some bikers may be hesitant to purchase a salvage bike because they do not know how to perform repairs. However, it often takes little time and effort to research what parts are causing issues. Online auctions allow bikers to find inexpensive parts with only a few clicks. There is no longer the hassle of traveling to a dealer and then falling for overpriced parts.

If repair work isn’t for you, it’s always possible to hire someone to repair the bike for you. Regardless of who performs repairs, it will need to be inspected by a professional before it’s driven on the road. Most states require bikes to pass a safety inspection to qualify as “rebuilt” or a “clean title,” which will make it legal to drive on the road. You must also be able to provide the proper documentation, including a state-issued title, a damage appraisal and any receipts that document that the bike has been repaired.

For the best results, severely damaged bikes need to be rebuilt in this specific order: frame, tires, fenders, engine, exhaust, accessories, chroming, painting and then wiring. This order of repairs will cause less dismantling and reassembling.

3. Insurance

Not all insurance companies will insure salvage bikes, but many will offer liability insurance. If you are willing to pay for it, chances are, the insurance company is willing to offer it. However, it’s highly unlikely that an insurer will cover comprehensive damage or collision damage. Since the bike has already been determined a “total loss,” there is no guarantee to the insurance company that all mechanical issues will be properly repaired.

Don’t let rumors fool you — many people say salvage motorcycles are “accidents waiting to happen,” but with proper care and repairs, salvage bikes can run like new. Although insurance companies tend to avoid salvage bikes, damaged motorcycles can be fully repaired. In fact, many mechanics and builders prefer the challenge of repairing a damaged bike to score a new ride at an inexpensive price.

An insurance company that is willing to cover liability will examine your driver’s history, your bike’s make and model, your credit score, yearly mileage, neighborhood and other determining factors. Contact your insurance company for a quote.

4. Safety

If you plan on riding, make sure proper repairs are completed (and then inspected) before taking the bike on the road. You will also need a learner’s permit or motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license before you can drive on the road.

Note that a motorcycle should only be driven if the driver comfortably fits the bike. A biker should be able to touch the ground on both sides of the motorcycle while astride. If you’re purchasing a bike through an online auction, check out different models of bikes in person before purchasing online to get an idea of which model best fits your body type. This way, there will be no surprises when the bike arrives.

Motorcycle riders should wear a proper helmet, which could potentially save your life in the case of a crash. Make sure the helmet is tight fitting and fastened while riding. Bikers should also wear closed-toe footwear (leather boots work best), gloves, eye protection, a jacket and long pants. When you’re riding a bike, even a small stone could cause pain or injury. Always wear proper gear to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.