How to own a motorcycle for free for one year (would work for cars too…)

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

It’s always a good feeling to ride a motorcycle or drive a good car… Now imagine the same feeling as you ride it for free… Yes free.
All it needs is patience and a bit of DYI:
– Patience to learn the market, know your target so well that you can jump on a bargain and can recognize when you see one
– A bit of DYI to fix stuff

DYI Will be Key

You can learn it, as always, it’s just a question of motivation and desire.
I – and my mates can attest it… 🙂 – have never really been good with mechanics, at all ! I broke an engine when I was 18YO trying to fix a exhaust (an easy job apparently according to magazines at that time – huh huh), and cannot count with two hands and two feet the number of times that I have done mistakes, and lost bolts (once, one almost fell in the engine opened!), and been saved by the sames mates.
You know what, you learn from your doing, and I love to learn and feel proud when I have achieved something by myself.
And why not saving money along the way.

Step 1. Research the model

Do your research on a popular model according to your needs. Why popular? Because it will be easier to compare, better to negotiate and what is rare is expensive… And sell !
In Australia, I highly recommend Japanese machines (cars as well) as you can buy then easily and find parts for them from everywhere around the world on the internet.
A good way to search for your new dream car/bike is forums where people genuinely give feedback of what they feel and/or issues they have had. A good forum for Aussies is forums.whirlpool.net.au/

To back-up your choice, you can ask around (colleagues, Friends, …). If your model is popular there is a good chance someone you know owns one already.

Step 2. Research your market

Once you’ve selected your model, you can do few things:
– subscribe to automatic researches on eBay, Gumtree and Carsales.com.au. This will help give you plenty of info and what is the platform preferred by sellers/buyers for this particular model. Gumtree is usually cheaper however people tend not to be as trustworthy as the other two: no feedback possible afterwards and free always come to a “cost”
– Start asking questions and keep in touch with vendors. It will help you understand the common issues on that particular model, how long does it take to sell it and what a good price is (guess what they sell first !)

With experience, I tend to find that researching the market takes approx. 1 month

Step 3. Spotting the bargain

This is the most crucial step. Almost everyone does to a certain extend the first two…
To be successful, you can use redbook.com.au that will give you the value you’re after: The trade-in price.
The trade-in price corresponds to the value a dealership would be likely to offer to your seller if he was to buy it.
That also is most probably your rocket bottom price. And your target price !
You will see that the trade-in price is actually two numbers: The lower corresponds to a car with lots of kms and poor condition. The higher price would be for the opposite.

Step 4. What to look for and get to the “yes”

Now you know what bike/car you want, you know what they sell for generally and you know that you can buy them cheaper (dealership would anyway) possibly. What’s next?
BEFORE visiting the car, you do two things:
– Call the seller and grab as much info as you can. You will use this info against him/her to get your price: How many owners, history, months of rego left, ANY damages on the car, repairs done or to be done, who was driving and where everyday, reason for selling Etc etc.. Another reason to make your seller talk is that, usually, people lying when selling their car are pretty bad at it and will tell contradictory stories as the conversation flows…
– Now, the important part: If the price is low, there must be a reason for it. When you spotted the issue with it, call dealerships and/or garage to ask how much it would cost to fix it. There is a good chance that they will give you the higher estimate for both parts and labor.
If you’re already an avid DYI, that would tell you how much it would cost to repair yourself
– Set yourself with a target price according to your research and stick to it mentally. Ask the seller for his best price (you don’t care but that gives your starting price). If unrealistic according to repairs walk away and let the seller know you will call back in few days if unsold – You’ll have a huge advantage by then

Step 5. The visit

Be ready to make your move fast and be prepared to ask your employer for a couple of hours as bargains don’t last long. For my wife’s car, I have seen the ad on a Sunday at 11pm, called the seller at 8am on Monday and was putting a deposit on it at 10.30am (Two guys were going to see it at 12pm when I phoned the guy).

You must be thinking by now that no ones sells his car for what it is worth… Believe me, people do, and all the time !
That’s because you know your market that you can tell when someone is leaving you with a target.

As you visit the car and test drive, ask the same questions that you asked on the phone, look for contradictory comments so you can read between the lines and see if any issue with the car.
It is very common to put a $500 deposit to secure the sale. NEVER have this money with you as you inspect the car.
Instead, once you agree to a price, walk by yourself to the ATM, that will give you 5 mins to be sure you’re making the right move.

Things to look for: History log as this will help to resell it the right price this time.

If the seller agrees to a price at the level of Trade-in price, leave a deposit for the car on the stop, seal the deal !

A few examples:

Wife’s car: 2006 Subaru Impreza R. Bought in 2014 for $8k, valued at that time on Redbook at $11k and trade-in price was $9k. Reason for the price? A broken window motor driver side, plenty of scratches everywhere. The guy had been quoted $3k to repaint the car and $700 to change the window motor.
Found a second hand motor in the US and followed instructions on youtube and 2H later, the window was fixed.I have detailed the car and it was almost, “almost” I said, scratch-less afterwards.
The car is most probably valued still at around $10k today.

2006 Honda 600 CBR bought in 2011 for $6k. Changed the front tire myself (YES you can do it) – with second hands I found on gumtree for $90, regulator was changed for $60, new battery – new – for $90, new front disk for $30 on eBay – Again, changed myself. Oil and filters for $70.
Paid rego for $180 and insurance for $300.
The bike was sold exactly one year later at $7k. If you put fuel aside, I rode it for free.

1990 Honda VFR 400 – Race bike.
Bought in 2010 for $3600. Cannot count how many spare parts I got with the bike, I knew I would resell it with no major issue. Upgraded tires, tire warmers, regulator repaired, new battery, full oils and fork work, etc etc… and sold it for $4 250 to guy in NT who asked me to put it on a train (a mate even came in to pick it up on his behalf).
I even had the luxury to do 3 races on it and sold it with unused oil and filters !
Again, a few hours in the garage were spent but how lovely it is to learn and be able to find what’s going by your self when something goes wrong… And save money on the way !

VFR400

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