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Motorcycle Auctions – Your Guide To Bidding And Buying

Buying at auction can be a great way to pick up a bargain bike.  But, if you are not careful you can end up with a real doozy on your hands, or blow your budget in a bidding fury.   

Whether you choose to use a high-end auction company, or just pay a visit to your nearest commercial vehicle auction, bidding on a bike can offer excellent savings, provided you know what you are looking for.

Because no two buyers are the same, what floats your boat when it comes to mean machines may not be as much loved by somebody else.  There is a very healthy market for rare and classic motorbikes here in the UK, so if you are looking for something special, a high-end auction is the best place to find it.  

If, on the other hand, you are looking for a bike that will get you about, is cheap to purchase and you have the skills and wherewithal to make repairs, commercial auctions offer an excellent way to pick up a bargain.  

Here is our guide to how to pick up a prize specimen at auction, whatever your budget.

Step 1 – Know What You Are Looking For

You wouldn’t visit a motorbike showroom without having an idea of the type of bike you are interested in, and visiting an auction house should be no different.  Do your research before you even start looking at what is for sale.  From quad bikes to racing bikes and everything in between, there will be an auction to suit.

Step 2 – Peruse The Catalogues

All auction houses will have a catalogue of sorts available before the day of the auction.  Whether it is a full glossy brochure or a printed handout with basic details, it will give you a rundown of the bikes for sale on the day.  It will also include details about the way the auction house operates.  Some will require a substantial deposit or even full payment on the day, so you need to be aware of your obligations are as a buyer.

Step 3 – View Before You Buy

Most auction houses will allow you to see the lots on offer prior to bidding.  Always inspect any lots you may be interested in before you raise your paddle, and if you can, bring a helpful mechanic with you. You should also ask to see any documentation and history that the auction house has on file. Virtually everything sold at auction is “sold as seen” meaning it is your responsibility to satisfy yourself as to the completeness, condition and integrity of any lot prior to bidding.

Step 4 – Prepare For The Day

Find out in advance how they expect payment to be made and make sure you have the funds available. It is also worth noting that you will usually need to arrange for collection of the bike. Unlike a dealership, auction houses don’t tax, MOT or insure bikes prior to sale.  They may consider storing them for you, but you will usually pay through the nose for this service.  Have your transport on standby and insure the bike from the moment you make payment.

Step 5 – Set Your Budget (And Stick To It)

Auctions are exciting!  It is super easy to get carried away when bidding.  This is why it is so important to set your budget before you get there.  Sales made on the day are legally binding and there is no cooling off period.  So, if you get carried away with the bidding process, you may need to find the extra cash to cover your impulse buy before you leave the premises.

Step 5 – Register To Bid

Most auctions will ask you to register as a buyer on the day.  You will need to bring a photo ID and proof of address to the auction if you are going to bid in person. If you are not able to attend the sale you will need to arrange to leave an absentee bid or to make bids by telephone.

Step 6 – Stay Focused

Auctions are busy, bustling exciting places and the auctioneers work very fast.  Don’t get distracted.  When the lot you are interested in comes up, focus all of your attention on bidding.  Don’t start waving around frantically or jumping up and down in your seat, remain calm on the outside and only bid as far as your budget allows.

Step 7 – Be Sure

From the moment you visit the auction house, to the moment you leave, you need to be 100% sure that the bike you have bid on is the one for you.  Once you have won the bid, have arranged payment and organised transport, you are stuck with it.  Buying on a whim can have expensive consequences.

If you are wary of auctions, or not sure how the process works, visit a couple of auctions in advance to get a feel for the way they work on the day.  Just remember to keep your hands by your side if you are not planning on buying!