Looking For the Best Deal on a Used Motorcycle? Try an Auction House
Danny Reyes, Shipping Specialist, rider advocate, Angels fan and tailgate warrior. [email protected]
Nothing feels better than getting an awesome deal on a motorcycle. Every once in a while, a rider will get the deal of a lifetime with a lucky “barn find.” Some prefer eBay, Craigslist and other online platforms where you buy directly from the owner. But a lot of riders we know swear by another route: motorcycle auction houses.
There are many types of auctions, all with varying standards. First, there are the luxury collector auctions: the Christie’s of motorcycles. Bonhams and Mecum Auctions are the two best known. Bonhams holds the record for the most expensive motorcycle ever auctioned off ($979K for a 1951 Vincent Black Lightning). Mecum holds the record for the largest ever motorcycle auction.
If you’re a collector looking for the world’s rarest motorcycle or a rider who loves to check out mint condition vintage rides, these auction houses are for you. But if you’re looking to snag the best deal—and judging by this article’s title, we’re guessing you are—then let us guide you to the best auction houses for doing just that.
(Want to snag an unforgettable motorcycle barn find? Read our guide.)
The top auction houses for the best used motorcycle deals
With the rise of all things Internet, it’s no surprise that motorcycle auction houses have popped up online. Many of these auction houses sell motorcycles at cheap prices—and we mean cheap. Some bikes are damaged and/or salvaged; others aren’t. But if you know where to look, what to ask and how to ship your motorcycle once you buy it, auction houses can be the ultimate source for a “once in a lifetime” deal.
First, a quick primer on how online motorcycle auction houses work. In general, the major platforms require the same set of steps before you can bid.
- Join the platform
- Pay a fee or deposit to start bidding
- Submit a business license or find a broker (if applicable)
If you’re bidding on a “no license required” vehicle, you can skip this step. You just need a government-issued ID and the minimum required deposit. You’ll have to pay sales tax on this motorcycle. Want to buy a motorcycle that requires a business license? Then you’ll have to register as a business or use a broker.
- Search vehicles
- Join auctions
- Place your bid
- Pay and pick up your vehicle
These seven steps are fairly standard, though as you’ll see, pricing can vary significantly depending on which platform you use. Which auction house is hiding the best deals on used motorcycles? Start by exploring these three auction houses, which are used often by our customers. (Our customers have also found good deals on CrankyApe, but its list of “Auction” and “Buy Now” motorcycles is looking a bit thin at the moment.)
CoPart is a 100% online auction house with more than 175,000 vehicles in its daily inventory. Salvage buyers, dealers, body shops, dismantlers and riders all visit CoPart to find used motorcycles. You can find great deals here, but in order to bid, you need to either put down a deposit or upgrade to a Premier account. Here are a few other details to keep in mind about buying a used motorcycle on CoPart.
- Fees: To start bidding, either pay a $1,200 deposit or upgrade to Premier. Premier members pay a $199 annual fee and one-time refundable $400 deposit.
- The auction itself: Once you’ve found the motorcycle you want, you can either place a preliminary bid or join a live auction. Auction times depend upon the location of the facility with the motorcycle. Facilities in EST begin their auctions at 10 a.m. local time. All others begin at 12 p.m. local time. Evening auctions, for vehicles that didn’t sell during the daytime auctions, run Monday to Thursday at 9 p.m. EST.
- Number of Motorcycles (as of today): 32,229
CoPart also offers a mobile app that lets you bid anytime, anywhere.
CrashedToys was acquired by CoPart in 2013, which is when they began using the CoPart digital platform to expand its capabilities. When you register for CrashedToys, you’ll be required to pay the same fees as on CoPart. CrashedToys has four locations around the U.S.—Sacramento, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Dallas—and has around 1,700 vehicles for sale at any given time. Although it’s much smaller than some of the other auction houses on this list, you can still find good deals on CrashedToys, often with fewer bidders driving up the final price. And as its name implies, the platform specializes in powersports, RVs and boats rather than cars and trucks.
- Fees: These are the same as CoPart, its parent company. To bid, either pay a $1,200 deposit or upgrade to Premier. Premier members pay a $199 annual fee and one-time refundable $400 deposit.
- The auction itself: After you’ve found the motorcycle of your dreams, you can either submit a preliminary bid or join a live auction. Online auctions run Monday through Friday. Its Atlanta location begins auctions at 10 a.m. EST. All other locations start their auctions at 12 p.m. local time. Just like on CoPart, CrashedToys also runs evening auctions for vehicles that didn’t sell during the day.
- Number of Motorcycles (as of today): 1,262
3| IAAI Auto Auctions
IAAI Auto Auctions often gets compared with CoPart, and for good reason. These two platforms are considered the largest online salvage vehicle auctions. IAAI processes 2.5 million total-loss, damaged and low-value vehicles on its platform annually, and it has more than 200 physical locations across the U.S. and U.K. Like CoPart, IAAI markets itself to dismantlers, body shops and the public. But how does IAAI compare to CoPart? For one, it has fewer motorcycles in its inventory. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a deal there, but the number of bikes to choose from is significantly lower.
- Fees: To start bidding as a public (non-business) buyer, you need to upgrade to a bidding account. Doing so requires you to pay a $200 annual fee. But with IAAI, there are other costs to keep in mind; the platform is notorious for adding various fees to your final bid, which are only calculated at that time.
- The auction itself: IAAI offers four auction platforms. IAA AuctionNow lets you bid any time on the motorcycle you want. IAA Timed Auctions, which is online only, lets you bid during a specific period of time prior to the start of the normal online auction. With IAA Buy Now, you can purchase the vehicle for a specific price any time. And in some cases, you can join an IAA Online Exclusive sale, with a live auctioneer, which sells particular types of vehicles in one auction. We haven’t seen many of these for motorcycles, but it’s worth keeping an eye out.
- Number of Motorcycles (as of today): More than 7,700
How to ship your motorcycle from the auction house
Some riders prefer to bid on motorcycles located in their neck of the woods. However, by expanding your geographic limits, you have a much better chance of finding the motorcycle you want at a great price. Because the major auction houses are all online, you’re only limited by your ability to ship the motorcycle to your door. That’s what Motorcycle Shippers does best.
We often get calls from clients who need to coordinate shipping for a motorcycle purchased on CoPart, CrashedToys or IAAI. We’re happy to help you do that. But as you bid on your motorcycle, keep these tips in mind.
Before you bid, ask the auction house these questions:
- How many days of free storage do I get? (With CoPart, you get three days from the day of the sale. After that, you start to incur storage fees. At IAAI, it varies depending on the location of the sale. At CrashedToys, it also varies by location. Its Sacramento location offers three days of free storage, including the day of the sale. After that, the prices start at $5 per day and quickly escalate up to $30 per day.)
- If I’m buying a salvage bike, are the forks and tires undamaged? (Both need to be undamaged for us to ship your motorcycle)
Once you purchase your motorcycle via an auction house:
- Pay for storage in advance; auction companies will typically refund any unused days.
- Make sure storage and all other fees are paid before the driver arrives to pick up your motorcycle.
Information that Motorcycle Shippers needs when you book us to transport your bike:
- Buyer ID number from the auction house
- Lot / stock number of the vehicle
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Release form for the carrier to use for pickup
- Verification that the vehicle rolls
Motorcycle Shippers has helped countless riders get their motorcycles from the auction house to their door. We’re here to make the process easy from beginning to end. Are you ready to transport your new (used) motorcycle? Get a free quote online. There’s no hidden fees and no hassle. As long as the motorcycle you buy is in the U.S. and its forks and tires are undamaged, we can transport your bike from any of the major auction houses—all at a flat rate that still ensures you get the best possible deal.