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What is a pre-registered motorcycle?

Q81 MV Reparto Corse - What is a pre-registered motorcycle?

A pre-registered (pre-reg) bike is a motorcycle or scooter that has been registered (often by the dealer, sometimes by the finance company) but it has never been owned or ridden by a member of the public.

Why do dealers pre-reg bikes?

Pre-reg motorbikes are a result of sales targets, often set by the manufacturers. The margins on new motorcycles are nowhere near what most people think – we’re talking as little as a few hundred pounds on some models.

Dealers are incentivised by manufacturers to hit sales targets – sure they get a little profit on each new bike but the real juicy numbers come when they beat the sales targets and get their bonus.

If we trace it right back to the start, most manufacturer’s UK HQs have to forecast the number of bikes they think they can sell, so they can order them from the factory and get them to dealers. Manufacturers don’t want to have to deal with oversupply, as it costs them to buy and store stock. They’d rather pass that stock onto the dealer, or rather, incentivise the dealer to take that stock – ideally selling to the end users (that’s what we’re affectionately known as to the dealers!)..

However if a dealer is just a few bikes short of hitting their targets, they might pre-register a some motorbikes or scooters to hit their target. They’re prepared to take a short-term cashflow hit in order to earn their bonus. They’ll then sell these ‘registered’ bikes, usually at a slight loss but they’ve calculated it’s worth it when they think of the bigger picture – their bonus.

Manufacturers don’t care whether a bike has a happy new owner, is sat in a dealer’s showroom or even in an outdoor compound still covered in plastic wrapping. As long as the bike has been registered with the DVLA it counts as sold and will increase that manufacturer’s sales tally which is great for the manufacturer’s reputation, good for market share and general confidence in the brand.

When do motorcycles get pre-registered?

This depends to an extent when the manufacturers declare their end of year. However you can be fairly confident motorcycle pre-registration takes place in the first and third quarters of the year as this is when the new registrations come out and a pre-reg bike with a new plate is much easier to sell than one with an older plate. The months leading up to the new registrations usually tally with the largest sales targets the dealers have to hit.

Should I buy a pre-reg motorcycle?

A pre-reg motorcycle is a used motorcycle, even though it should have zero miles on the clock and is, to all intents and purposes, brand new. A dealer cannot try and pass it off as new as you’ll be the second name on the registration document.

Most dealers will advertise their pre-reg bike with a not-that-generous discount compared to a new, zero owner bike. They might offer £500 off but treat this as a starting point.

Why you should haggle

As soon as a dealer has pre-registered a motorcycle or scooter, the following is happening or has happened:

  • They’ve got cash tied up in a motorcycle or they’ve started a finance agreement against a motorcycle
  • The motorcycle already has an owner, it’s ‘used’
  • The motorcycle is getting ‘identifiably older’ i.e. it has a number plate on it and can’t be registered again as a newer at a later date
  • The dealer has it taking up space on its showroom floor

None of these are ideal, in fact the dealer will be desperate to get shot of that bike. You’re in a great bargaining position – you could realistically get 15% off the RRP of the motorcycle. The first result we found in the classifieds was a Burgman 200 with an RRP of £4199, for £3300, that’s a 20% saving – so make the most of the system and get it working for you.

What you should watch out for

While you’re getting a new bike with a good discount, you have to remember if you go to trade it in in a couple of years time, the dealer will factor in the ‘second owner’ – even if it was them to pre-registered it in the first place! They’ll offer you slightly less in part-ex than a one-owner bike.

If you’re taking out finance on the bike, the finance company may not offer you the best rates, the rates they reserve for ‘brand new’ motorcycles. So you might end up paying more over the period of a loan than you saved on the initial purchase price.

Finally, manufacturers may offer a deposit contribution (essentially a discount) on brand-new motorcycles to help incentivise sales and it may be that a brand-new motorbike with a deposit contribution works out to be cheaper, or more manageable for your cash-flow than a pre-reg.

When a pre-reg isn’t a pre-reg

A pre-reg is ideal if it has zero miles on the clock and not a mark on the tyres, as it is brand new and when you buy it, the dealer should PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) the bike for you which will add a few miles on.

In some cases the pre-reg bike will show 1-mile on the clock – the dealer has probably fired the bike up and sent a mechanic around the block on it to ensure it’s as it should be -in this case it’ll probably be PDI’d.

In some cases the bike will have high single-digit mileage as the dealer may have a more rigorous PDI routine – or they have a compound a few miles away which they’ve ridden the bike to or from.

Some bikes now have the ability for the dealer to reset the mileage before the ODO has clocked up a set figure (usually under 50 miles). This is due to the fact some manufacturers have a specific cycle they want the bike to be put through before being handed over to the customer and it usually takes 10 – 20 miles to complete this cycle. Then the bike can be handed over to the new owner with the magic zero miles on the clock but it can only be reset once. Aren’t we all suckers for marketing?

However be careful what you or the dealer are prepared to accept as pre-reg. We’ve seen ex-dealer demonstrators with 80-miles on the clock and a few months old being sold as ‘pre-reg’ and we think this is being dishonest – it’s an ex-demo and should be priced accordingly.

If it doesn’t smell of the manufacturer’s canteen, it might not be the pre-reg it’s claimed to be. Be warned, be armed but don’t be afraid of a pre-reg – you could get a cracking deal!