My first visit to a motorcycle auction still stands out as one of the best non-riding motorcycling experiences I’ve had.
I went with the intention of buying a bike, so perhaps the nerves and anticipation heightened the experience for me.
Listed in the catalogue was a rare bike that I’d been after for years and the estimate was around half of what I was prepared to pay. The auctioneers clearly didn’t know what it was and I was set for a bargain!
I registered at the front desk with my ID and bought a catalogue. I perused around the other auction lots, from boxes of rusty old bike parts to hordes of motorcycle memorabilia and stacks of books but I was only interested in the one bike.
There were over 100 bikes being put through the auction and I patiently waited for my lot to come under the hammer. Then it was time. The bidding started at just below the estimate, 1 bid and it reached the estimate, 2 bids and it was well clear of the estimate. Still within my grasp, I didn’t want to miss out but I didn’t want to inflate the price so I thought I’d wait until the last minute and put in a cheeky winning bid. Seconds later the third bid came in and it was close to my upper price. The realisation dawned on me that I was about to miss out. 4 bids and it was well clear. Just like that, the bike – my bike – was out of my reach.
Floating in a rough sea of emotions, I felt I’d been mugged by the room. I didn’t realise there would be so many other people clued up on that bike and prepared to pay for it. As quick as a flash, the hammer dropped and it had gone for almost double what I was prepared to pay and almost three-times the estimate.
While I lost out and felt my trip had been a waste of time, little did I know I was hooked.
I quickly got my head around the auction game. I realised that low estimates were just to entice mugs like me to turn up with the thought of walking away with a string of bargains. I appreciated how a bike that looks brilliant in the photos, hides all sorts of things in the flesh. I also realised that sometimes the right bike’s in the room but there aren’t the buyers to snap it up and therefore being flexible can reap rewards. Before my bike came up for auction I watched a string of unregistered Bimotas go for peanuts but I didn’t bid for them as I’d pooled my money to go for the bike I missed out on. My chance had gone.
My strategy of heading to an auction to buy one bike on a tight budget was risky at best, downright foolish in reality.
And that sums up the magic of an auction. The atmosphere goes from candid to electric once the bidding starts. Every auction I’ve been to is a unique experience where you’ll see bikes that you’d never see on eBay or other online marketplaces and you’ll soak up an atmosphere that eBay could only dream of.
For true motorcycle fans, an auction is a must-see experience. Below we’ve listed the various different physical auctions in the UK and a couple of decent online auctions too. From classics and collector bikes to police and salvage auctions.
If you’re lucky enough to find a bike you want to buy, prepare for a roller coaster!
Who is it for
If you love rare bikes, odd characters and a decent bacon sandwich, a motorcycle auction is right up your street.
Why you should do it
At a classic bike auction, you'll see bikes you never knew existed and come home either owning a bike you didn't start the day wanting or thinking you want a bike you don't need.
What does it cost
They're usually part of a larger bike show or autojumble. Expect to pay £10 for entry.
Various UK locations | 020 7468 8238
We are the auction house of choice for the sale of important collectors' motorcycles and single-owner collections. We are renowned for achieving world record prices and for our industry leading catalog marketing. Offering auctions for classic motorcycles, memorabilia and parts. Collection, removal and storage of motorcycles can be arranged.
Dee Atkinson & Harrison
East Yorkshire | 01377 253151
A classic car and motorcycle auction held 3 times a year. If you’re after an investment motorcycle, it’s worth keeping an eye on the auction catalogue.
Various UK locations | 01925 210035
Regular auctions of classic motorcycles. Online catalogue available or pocket guides on the day of the auction. Transport and shipping can be arranged for purchases after sales.
York | 01377 593593
A classic car, motorcycle and automobilia auction held at Sledmere house. Dates for this specific auction are added infrequently – check the website periodically.
Coys - London
London | 0208 614 7888
The Spirit of Motoring Auction has a large range of lots including classic motorcycles, memorabilia and cars. Venues change frequently, check the website for lot details and location of auctions.
BCA Motorbike Auctions
Peterborough | 0344 875 3480
Motorbike sales are held bi-monthly on Thursdays. A great selection of bikes with an expert team to help you on the day and after-sales.
Motor Auction Group
Rotherham | 01709 919400
Held on the 3rd Thursday of every month. With entries from major dealers and finance companies, there’s plenty to choose from. Buyers fees are fixed and the collection and delivery of bikes can be arranged.
Manchester | 0161 713 0435
With hundreds of models, superb buyer customer service and the choice to bid online or at the venue. Online registration is required to view the catalogue.
Online | 01226 770257
Dealing in salvage, stolen-recovered and seized motorcycles, Raw 2K is an online auctioneer that has hundreds of bikes at very low starting prices.
Online | 01325 348912
Another online auctioneer, Salvage Market is dedicated to the sale of total loss salvage sourced from leading insurance companies and similar businesses.