A modern interpretation of the board tracking racing motorcycles of the 1920s, Derringer cycles capture the simple, pared-down, aggressiveness of early motorsport while delivering an intricate level of personalized customization. Like their owners, no two Derringer cycles are the same.

For the discerning rider, Derringer offers the opportunity to own a truly unique, one-of-a-kind motorbike that combines innovative engineering with a classic high-performance aesthetic.

Powered by a moto-hybrid drivetrain, Derringer cycles are built for our modern age. With superb fuel efficiency they have a range of 180 miles per gallon. The ultra-clean four-cycle powerplant also meets stringent CARB tier 3 emissions standards.

A heritage of speed and danger.

A pedigree of exceptional engineering.

An aesthetic unlike anything on the road.

For the discerning rider, it is the next
generation motorbike.

At a frantic pace, each rider would circle the broad, banked motordrome. Planks would rumble beneath their wheels as lap after lap they would seek to exploit opportunities to overtake competitors. With the yellow flag, one lap left. Then the checkered and a sprint to the finish line. For the victor a prize purse and boasting rights.

Board track racers were among America’s first sporting superstars. They quite literally put the ‘roar’ in the Roaring 20s, an era of industry and engineering, when machines came to dominate the public consciousness. The motorbikes these racers rode were simple, stripped-down, and designed for one purpose only — speed. In truth they were little more than light bicycles with powerful engines.

Not surprisingly, board track racing was incredibly dangerous often as famous for its mortality rate as it was for its winning riders. But board track racing offered a jolt of adrenaline irresistible to both rider and spectator. While the wooden plank surfaces have been replaced my more durable materials, the legacy of board track racing lives on in the wide, banked motordromes of motorsport today.

Lit Motors (Two-Wheeled, Untippable)


The recent influx of both high- and low-end EVs and electric motorcycles have shown promise, but current battery technology is still limiting, and the cost of entry is far too high with the benefits of switching from petrol-powered vehicles not being quite as obvious or apparent in the near term.

Now imagine a vehicle that’s smaller than a Smart Car, nearly a third of the price of a Nissan Leaf ($32,500), safer than a motorcycle with a range capacity that just lets you drive and won’t ever tip over? What you get is Lit Motors‘ C-1, the world’s first gyroscopically stabilized, two-wheeled all-electric vehicle, which launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco today. Oh, and it will talk to your smartphone and the cloud. Did I mention that you can’t tip this thing over? (I’ve tried.)

Founder, President, and CTO Danny Kim and his team at Lit Motors have built and approached the C-1 much differently than others have with their respective EVs. Instead of Frankensteining existing technologies, the C-1 has been designed, machined, and built by hand from the ground up in San Francisco. They’ve not only created something unique based on proprietary technology, but have also put together a package that appeals to the “cool kids” and the price-conscious in both America and abroad.

“We aim to be the future of personal transportation,” Kim told me. “By taking our vehicles to the mass market quickly and internationally, we will ease traffic congestion, decrease fuel use, reduce CO2 emissions, create 2,000 to 10,000 green jobs, and allow people to get around quickly and efficiently.”

While several electric auto and moto companies have emerged over the last five to 10 years, the fundamental issues of range and price loom large. The initial price will be $24,000 when the C-1 is expected to launch in 2014 and will take a year or two to drop down to $16,000. As it scales to being mass market (~100,000) around 2018, the price of the C-1 will drop down to $12,500. It is not only expected to top out at over 100 MPH but has an estimated range of up to 200 miles per charge and will go from 0-60 in roughly six seconds.

Commutes can be reduced by up to 50 percent, and thanks to its two wheels, the C-1 can lane split where legal. Without the cost of gas, it could cost you less than $1 to go upwards of 200 miles.

More importantly, the gyroscopic technology at its core can be used elsewhere to keep things level, such as airplanes or boats or even on top of buildings in high wind areas.

“Leveling suspension in sports cars could be the second largest application,” says Kim.

The extended range of the C-1 is also assisted by a KERS regenerative braking system, which uses flywheels to store energy kinetically. These flywheels are also part of the gyroscopic stabilization system keeping the vehicle upright in all situations – even a collision – while allowing the control system to dictate the tilt and lean of the vehicle at all times. In other words, as the gyros spin, downforce is created to keep the vehicle stable and level. It’s a bit peculiar to see a two-wheeler not topple over without the assistance of a kickstand or human power.

What’s most surprising, though, is that every bit of the two engineering and two full-scale prototypes were built by hand in SoMa for less than $750,000.

“As any cartoon villain will tell you, the only way to get something done right is to do it yourself,” Kim told me. “By controlling every aspect of the R&D process, we’re able to avoid the added headaches, mistakes, and cost of outsourcing. The knowledge we gain in the process of physically making everything is invaluable and informs our manufacturing designs considerably.”

Not only will the C-1 and future versions never tip over, but they’ll also be packed with every amenity you can find in other vehicles today, like AC, power windows, airbags, etc. What’s even cooler is that you can program certain maneuvers or start the vehicle from your smartphone and then initiate said maneuver (like a u-turn) by tapping on the steering wheel. You can even suggest things to the vehicle like “It’s kinda cold in here,” and the C-1 will increase the heat, says Kim. Your music (think Spotify or Rdio) and social networks (Yelp, Foursquare) can also be integrated in case you’re asking the C-1 to play some music or find a restaurant.

Kim added: “Distracted driving is a growing problem, so this is all experienced through a minimal digital HUD to convey the right amount of data with the minimal amount of distraction; basically Google Glasses for your windshield. The UX bar has been raised quite a bit over the past decade, and we aim to leap over it.”

Like most of you, I asked myself who the hell this guy was. Kim’s story is an interesting one. He’s a Reed College dropout, certified ASE Automatic Transmission mechanic, world traveler, studied architecture at Berkeley, spent some time at the Rhode Island School of Design, and nearly died rebuilding two Land Rovers in his quest to make “the perfect SUV.” It sounds about as crazy as it can get, but maybe that’s what we need more of in this world. Kim also machined his own spectacle frames from titanium. What can’t this guy do?

U.S. Motorcycle Market is a $21.5 Billion Business (2004)

U.S. Motorcycle Market is a $21.5 Billion Business

 October 19, 2004

Editor’s Note – This report was prepared by Dave Crocker, senior partner for Power Products Marketing, a market research firm based in Minneapolis, Minn. PPM ( specializes in the power products and components, powersports and marine industries. Crocker may be reached at 952/893-6870 or at

Over the last several years, we have defined each of the powersports markets in terms of its relative U.S. retail sales dollar contribution based upon products sold and services provided by profit center through powersports dealerships and other retail outlets.
The motorcycle industry is the largest and most difficult to compute. It is so large, in fact, that at $21.5 billion it far exceeds the sum of the other powersports markets: watercraft ($1.5 billion), snowmobiles ($3 billion), utility vehicles ($1.1 billion) and ATVs ($7.7 billion).
Altogether, we estimate that total motorcycle U.S. industry retail sales from all products and services amount to about $21.5 billion. Of that we estimate 63% of motorcycle-related retail sales, $13.5 billion, is generated through franchised and non-franchised motorcycle dealerships. Most of the difference comes from estimated used motorcycle sales through private parties.

Our calculations differ from those compiled by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and reported in their annual statistical abstracts. The MIC includes employee payroll, advertising and promotional expenditures and some other miscellaneous taxes and fees in their calculations, which we exclude.

We include an estimate of used motorcycles sold through other channels such as private parties via the classified ads or over the Internet. Moreover, we include estimates of PG&A sales from other retail outlets that may not be tabulated in the MIC’s definition of a “non-franchised motorcycle outlet.”
For this market analysis, we called 200 U.S. franchised motorcycle dealers across the country, a quarter of which were Harley dealers. These dealers collectively had sold more than 80,000 motorcycles through July, which we estimate represents between 13%-14% of industry sales, a respectable sample. We asked each dealer to provide us with a breakdown of his sales dollar contributions for each of five profit centers: New motorcycles, used motorcycles, service, PG&A and F&I.

According to our analysis, an average of 65% of total motorcycle dealer revenues are generated from new motorcycle sales, clearly the largest contributing sales center. Two years ago when we last conducted our survey, we determined that about 61% of total motorcycle dealer revenues for powersports dealerships was derived from new motorcycle sales.

Used motorcycle unit sales to date in 2004 account for about 10.5% of total motorcycle dealer revenues generated from motorcycle revenues for the average dealership. In our August 2002 survey, this figure was 14%.

The dealer service department only accounts for about 4.5%-5% of total sales from motorcycles, and this hasn’t changed much since our survey of two years ago when service labor represented 5% of total motorcycle revenues.

The collective PG&A reported by dealers through August of 2004 amounted to about 18.5% of total motorcycle revenues for dealers. Of that, parts accounted for about 36%, accessories 32.5% and garments 31.5%.

Only 1.5%-2% of total motorcycle revenues for an average dealership are derived from Finance & Insurance (F&I), which is unchanged from our survey of two years ago.


Based upon the information provided from our dealer survey and other sources, we have developed an estimate of 2004 U.S. industry retail sales generated by motorcycle-related products.

According to our research, we estimate that new motorcycle sales for 2004 could total about 1.1 million units. Current MIC retail sales published only count sales from member manufacturers. But an increasing number of scooters and motorcycles are being imported from Europe and in particular the Far East, such as China, Taiwan and Korea, over the last few years.

Our calculations are adjusted to include estimates for these OEMs. For example, we believe U.S. scooter sales could total 100,000 units this year, with MIC members accounting for about half of that number. Our estimate for 2004 is for new motorcycle sales to total about $8.8 billion, with the average selling price weighted at about $8,000.
Industry sales of used motorcycles are difficult to determine. Estimates are that 20% are sold through franchised motorcycle dealers, 5% through non-franchised used/service outlets and 75% through private parties via the classified ads or over the Internet. These numbers are based upon estimates from reliable industry sources.

As a result, we were able to determine that franchised dealers are expected to sell about 293,000 used motorcycles this year, based upon our survey average of about one used bike sold for every four new one sold, and the industry as a whole selling about 1.47 million units. If we assume an average used motorcycle price of nearly $4,800 derived from our survey, the market at retail would amount to about $7 billion.

Another estimated $900 million is generated from servicing and maintaining motorcycles, nearly all of which is conducted through authorized OEDs and non-franchised outlets. We did not include any figure for end users who perform their own service, such as changing the oil and filters.
Motorcycle parts, accessories and garments are estimated to account for about $3.8 billion. Of that, an estimated $1.45 billion comes from parts, another $1.2 billion from accessories and $1.15 billion from motorcycle-related clothing. These represent our best estimates based upon dealer surveys for what can be rather ambiguous categories. Most dealers and analysts prefer to lump the three together.

Based upon our 200 dealer sample, franchised dealers we surveyed purchase 67% of their parts from their respective OEMs and 33% from independent suppliers. For the non-Harley dealers the ratio was 60/40, which shifted from 70/30 two years ago. For Harley dealers, the ratio was much higher from the factory at 85/15. For our industry total, we estimate about 80% of all motorcycle parts are purchased through franchised and non-franchised motorcycle outlets.

For accessories, about 54% of purchases are from OEMs and 46% from independent suppliers, according to our franchised dealer sample. For the non-Harley dealers the ratio averaged 42/58 and for Harley dealers, the ratio was significantly higher from the factory at 86/14.

For our industry total, we estimated at least 90% of all motorcycle accessories are purchased through combined authorized dealers and non-franchised motorcycle outlets.
For garments, there was a significant disparity between Harley and non-Harley dealers in our sample. The average of OEM purchased clothing for all authorized dealers in our sample was about 62% compared to 38% from independent distributors.

However, the Harley dealers we sampled collectively purchased 96% of their clothing from the factory and only 4% from independent suppliers while for non-Harley dealers the ratio was 13/87. For our industry total, we also estimated at least 90% of all motorcycle-related clothing is purchased through authorized dealers and non-franchised motorcycle outlet stores.

According to our analysis, Harley Davidson could possibly wholesale about $1 billion worth of PG&A this year, which could be worth about $1.4 billion at retail. Of that, at least $1.15 billion would be U.S. market, which would put their share of the motorcycle industry PG&A at over 30%.

The motorcycle PG&A industry is not only difficult to compute in overall size but also difficult to define because no one has really standardized what constitutes parts, accessory or garment items. For example, some people con sider tires and batteries as parts yet others would argue they are accessories.

Some count helmets as clothing, others claim they are accessories. Also, does a leather jacket and gloves purchased at a local leather shop, such as Wilson’s, and that one might use riding, count as motorcycle apparel? For our analysis, we only included “dedicated motorcycle gear” as opposed to fashion copies or types of clothing, such as the Wilson’s items mentioned above.

It is interesting to note that in recent years, the price for dedicated street motorcycle clothing has come down dramatically with the advent of more affordable nylon replacing much of the more expensive leather gear. For example, some mesh jackets are selling for $99 now compared to leather jackets that had sold for at least several hundred dollars. The result is that there is a lot more motorcycle gear being sold now for fewer dollars with higher turnover than in past years. And, more and more dealerships are stocking and selling this gear than before.

F&I related to wholesale and retail motorcycles is estimated to amount to perhaps $1
billion in revenues, less cash outlays by customers.

US motorcycle dealers count down to 10K from 13K

In countries other than the U.S., an economic downturn is likely to translate into more motorcycle sales as consumers with less money opt for less-expensive vehicles.

Not so here. In this country motorcycles are not generally seen as general transportation options, but as recreational vehicles, and as such, an expense to be deferred until the household finances are in better shape.

The truth of that situation can be seen in the number of dealerships that have closed in the last few years. According to a new report from the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), there are now 10,428 retail outlets dealing in motorcycles, scooters, and ATVs. That compares to 13,973 in 2006 and 13,230 in 2009. (Note: the MIC’s sources for the report vary from year to year so the organization warns that year to year comparisons are subject to error.)

In related news, J.D. Power and Associates reported recently that the average age of those buying new motorcycles is increasing. Also, the percentage of buyers purchasing motorcycles for the first time is decreasing.

At the same time, the reported that in one of its earliest shows of the season, in Seattle, the number of first-time attendees was up, comprising 23 percent of those attending. -Vintage Motorcycle Museum

The motorcycles in the museum are from the private collection of Virgil Elings. He has been collecting motorcycles for 2 decades. The collection is quite broad with something for everyone, ranging from a 1910 FN to the present, and across all makes. The emphasis is tilted toward racing motorcycles since Virgil and his son Jeff were involved in vintage motorcycle racing, both motocross and road racing.

The Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum is an easy day ride out of Los Angeles, through the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.

The museum is located in the former Solvang Designer Outlet Center now owned by Dr. Elings. You can find us in the former Brooks Brothers store (maple floor and all).

The museum rotates some of the bikes each month so that the bikes on display are constantly changing and expanding.

“We spent a much cherished couple of hours at your museum today. It was incredible in so many ways. My riding buddy and I have been building vintage bikes and racing AHRMA  motocross for several years, so were primed for this experience. First, and most obviously, was the content of the collection. But beyond that, it was how accessible everything was. No ropes, partitions, or barriers of any kind, giving full freedom to examine everything in intimate detail. I’m a photographer by trade, so felt like a kid in a candy store, being able to get in close (including a few shots taken while lying on the floor) and shooting the bikes from just about any perspective I could dream up. We rode our bikes, KTM 950 Adventures, down the coast from Monterey, over to Solvang, and back up 101, for a total of 450 miles. I couldn’t think of a better way to fully enjoy the museum than to ride up, put our helmets and jackets on the bench by the door, and dive in.

Thank you for the ultimate highlight of our little journey!”

– “I finally had the opportunity to visit your museum last Thursday and was
very impressed with the collection.  There were many motorcycles which I
hadn’t ever seen before, and some which I never knew existed.  Thanks for
letting the public share in your excellent collection!”

– “I recently visited the museum while visiting from Boston, MA.  My friend from LA had been there before, but did not prepare me for such a comfortable, casual presentation of such amazing and significant bikes.  I had a great time and am grateful that these bikes are being “shared” with the rest of us.  I happen to have my own “collection”; a garage full of Hondamatic 400cc bikes!  [Really.]  Let me know if you’d like to exhibit one of these beauties!!

I want to ask why the “jewel” among all your jewels is not displayed on this great website, that is, the Britten that I may have accidently drooled on while there.


p.s.  I visited the museum with a friend I met when she bought my Triumph “Mountain” Cub on ebay!  Small world.”

Buy Here, Pay Here (BHPH), In-House Financing

Used Cars

These are places where the dealer finances car loans himself (BHPH is sometimes called in-house financing.).

Basically, he is the bank and he takes on all the risk. That’s especially true because BHPH dealers cater to people with bad credit – deep subprime customers who typically have credit scores less than 550.

It’s not hard to find people who are out of luck, out of work, and grateful for the opportunity to finance a car at all. But that opportunity comes at a steep price, which is either folded in or added on in the form of interest rates up to 25%.

So here are six tips to consider if you’re thinking about Buy Here-Pay Here:

1. Can you wait? Say you’re going to spend $300 a month on BHPH car payments. Can you put off your purchase by a few months and save that money? Reed says if you grow your down payment, you may be able to find a friendlier loan, or even buy a used car outright.

2. How much is the down payment? A bigger down payment reduces the balance on which you pay interest, and that’s good. But how much is too much? If you put $3,000 down on an older car, you may be handing the dealer enough to cover its actual value. The rest is profit. Again, that money might be better spent on a friendlier loan or a private purchase.

3. Where’s the nearest computer? This relates to another good question: Where’s the nearest door? Go home; think it over; don’t rush. Try to go online and comparison shop. Look up a vehicle’s history on You can appraise a vehicle and calculate maintenance costs on See what other deals are available in your area.

4. Take a test drive. Preferably to a mechanic.  Do you have the option to get an independent inspection before signing? Take it. Take it now. A lot can happen in the 100,000 miles that many used vehicles rack up. Get advice from a third party.

5. Do you feel like the dealer is doing you a favor? I like it because it speaks to the emotional aspects of A) needing mobility and B) needing money. Reed says when people feel vulnerable they are less likely to negotiate. And you should negotiate.

6. Does the dealer report to the credit bureau? These days, it’s easy to wreck your credit, but you want to be able to build it too. Make sure a successful track record of payments can, theoretically, count in your favor.

Oxford, Ohio, 1971

At home in the back yard
You have heard people say, if I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself?

I say, if I would have known that I was going to live this long, I would have kept the Honda CL175K3 that is pictured above.  This was just the machine for cruising the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  I have only seen one other like it since!  I bought and paid for it from a guy in Maine.  However he ran into some hard times and sold it before he shipped it to me!  He eventually paid me back, but I was really hoping  to get one back under my roof.

My name is David.  I grew up in the 60’s in an era where the curious phenomena of little Japanese motorcycles just started making the scene.  These cute little things were never be considered “real” motorcycles by most enthusiasts at the time.  However, for a kid, there was no better diversion that two wheels and some speed.  It was quite a revelation to find out that on a Honda Step Through 50, if  you pushed the gearshift back further in first gear, it was like having a clutch in neutral.  You then revved it up and lifted your foot it would pop a little short wheelie as it purred its way down the road.

These bikes were pristine little marvels; not like those big bulky Harleys that you could barely hold up, let alone ever think about being able to afford.  They had flawless paint and smooth lines.  The engines purred while idling but roared at red line.  They were also as dependable as the sun coming up.  Most importantly, you didn’t have to always tinker with them to get them running.

Did you ever notice that at the very top of most small bore vintage gas tanks have lots of little tiny scratches?   Ever wonder why?  Well, I am sure that my experience riding my friend Jimmy Brandt’s Honda Super 90 may tell the story.  At the time, nothing was more important  than trying for the land speed record watching the speedometer creep up: 59, 60, 61,maybe even 62 if there was a tail wind that day.  All those tanks were scratched from buttons, zippers and crosses because their riders were lying prostrate  on the tank trying for just a couple of more MPH.  Ah yes, those were certainly the days and I love to share the memories with you.

Today, I live in the Columbus, Ohio area.  I spend most of my free time tinkering around with old Japanese motorcycles.  I have owned over 200 of them,  most of which I bought simply because I couldn’t afford them when I was younger.  I often rescue them from dark, dank garages in desperate locations.  I must get some sort of perverse satisfaction out of busting my knuckles cleaning impossibly blocked pilot jet passages on Keihin or Mikuni carburetors.

I learned some time ago, that you can only collect so many, and then they get neglected and never ridden.  Now it is my passion to re-unite people with the motorcycles they owned in the past.  It is a great feeling to connect someone with something they had as a younger person, but never thought they could find one again.  Only YOU can imagine how excited my customers are when  they are able to ride the bikes of their youth.

I have put together what I hope is a good mix of motorcycle memories, motorcycles for sale, and nostalgia pictures and information.  I hope you enjoy my website.

Please feel free to email me if you are looking for a particular bike or have questions.

DealerNews Top Independent Dealer of 2012

Road Track and Trail — 3-time winner
Owner: Nick Rank
Location: Big Bend, Wis.
Store size: 21,500 sq. ft.
Vehicle brands: Pre-owned

This is the second year in a row that judges have awarded Road Track and Trail the Best Independent merit award. The store counts 25 percent of its customers as repeats and 26 percent as referrals. How do they do it? By making it known that they care about their customers’ safety and well-being. “Our customer service philosophy was molded around our moral code of loyalty and safety,” the store says. “We couldn’t be satisfied with our sales if we weren’t making sure that every vehicle is inspected and road-tested again and again.” Repeat customers also get additional discounts on their vehicle purchases as a thank-you from the store.

National Powersports Auctions (San Diego, Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta)

Many MO journalists have gone on to successful careers pushing this cart around.

In a nondescript industrial section of the San Diego suburb of Poway, CA is a large warehouse and parking lot that is one of three facilities run by National Powersports Auctions. Once a month, dealers, brokers and others come to bid on the hundreds of dirtbikes, streetbikes, cruisers, ATVs, watercraft and RVs. It’s a fascinating display of frenzied commerce that should fascinate anybody who has ever wondered where some dealers procure their large supplies of clean, low-mileage, late-model motorcycles for sale.

National Powersports Auctions is the premier Powersports auction in the United States. They claim to sell 3,700 units a month between their three facilities in San Diego, Houston and Atlanta. What such huge volume means is that if a used unit sold at a dealership in the United States wasn’t a trade-in, it probably was purchased at a National Powersports Auction.

Most of NPA’s inventory comes from one of the major banks that finance Powersports purchases in the United States, giants like General Electric Consumer Finance or CapitalOne. These banks need a quick, efficient way to liquidate a vast amount of repossessed vehicles at a minimal expense. The banks double-dip by offering prospective dealers and brokers financing to purchase the units, making the auction a one-stop shop for dealers looking for fresh inventory.

Insurance companies also take advantage of NPA’s facilities. A great number of units are also salvage, some rideable and re-titled, others with extensive damage and salvage certificates only.

What’s In a Name?A salvage-titled vehicle can be a great way to save money without sacrificing style, safety or performance.

If you’ve ever had a car you called a “piece of junk”, you might consider owning and riding a salvage-titled motorcycle. A salvage-titled vehicle can be a great way to save money without sacrificing style, safety or performance.

“Salvage” can mean different things in different states. In California, a salvage-titled vehicle can be registered and ridden on public roads, but will always have the word “salvage” on the Certificate of Title. In other US jurisdictions, a vehicle that has been in a severe accident can never be re-registered and may be sold only for parts. Other states, like Florida, allow you to “resurrect” title to a clear one after repair and inspection, which gives new meaning to buying a Honda Hurricane.If the vehicle is being offered to you for sale and it already has been registered as salvage, make sure you inspect — or have a repair facility inspect — it to ensure it has been properly repaired and is safe to ride.

A vehicle has its value significantly reduced by a salvage title, even if it is perfectly repaired and functioning. For one, that permanent salvage designation will always limit resale value. Also, insurance companies often refuse to provide any coverage — either comprehensive or even basic liability — for salvage-titled vehicles.

If the vehicle is being offered to you for sale and it already has been registered as salvage, make sure you inspect — or have a repair facility inspect — it to ensure it has been properly repaired and is safe to ride. Just because it passed some kind of “inspection” means little in some states. In California, all that is required is a “brake and lamp” certificate from a repair shop (meaning a mechanic verified the lights and horn work), and verification that the vehicle’s identification number hasn’t been altered. The frame doesn’t have to be checked for broken welds, the brake rotors don’t have to be checked for warps, and the forks don’t have to be checked for alignment. Caveat Emptor!

If the vehicle is purchased directly from the insurance company — like all the salvage title bikes at the auction were — the buyer will eventually receive some kind of “salvage certificate” from the seller. This certificate just confirms that the VIN is assigned to this vehicle and that it has been salvaged. It is then up to the buyer to take the necessary steps to make the vehicle road-worthy so it may be titled in her state.

Buying salvage title can save you plenty, especially if you want to buy a motorcycle for racing, stunting, trackdays or jumping Snake River Canyon. But only careful research and planning will tell you if it can be a safe, practical way to obtain a bargain ride for the street.

Finally, there are plenty of units that dealers are unloading for various reasons. Some might be lien sales; vehicles abandoned by customers who couldn’t pay for repairs or service, while others might be “lot lizards”; bikes that have sat too long without selling. Additionally, Eagle Rider — the chain of cruiser rental shops — had a large number of Harley Davidson and Victory cruisers ex-rental bikes they were getting rid of on the day I attended the auction.

After a day-long “preview” open to bidders to check out the units before the auction starts, the bidding is ready to begin at 8:00 sharp on Friday. I went down there with a friend of mine who operates a motorcycle dealership and wanted to unload some of his “dead wood”. The dead wood was five motorcycles and scooters that he couldn’t or wouldn’t sell to his customers. He also wanted to load his truck and trailer with as many good deals for his shop as he could. “I’m looking for starter bikes and 600cc sportbikes”, said my friend; I’ll call him `Fred’, as NPA chose not to cooperate with the production of the story and I don’t want to jeopardize his standing with them.

Fred had already checked out the bikes he was interested in by accessing NPA’s preview page and by inspecting them in person the day before. He had his eye on GS500s, Rebel 250s and the vast number of late-model Japanese sport 600s. Time permitting, NPA runs the bikes through their mechanical inspection, checking the          frame, bodywork, motor, transmission and other components. The vehicle gets a score for the motor, body, and overall, so the buyer has some idea of what he will need to do to make the bike ready for their sales floor, or how valuable salvageable components are if sold separately.Inside the warehouse, the sight of thousands of street and dirtbikes was overwhelming to a motorcycle enthusiast’s eye. Everything was represented, from the wildest Big Dog Ridgeback to a burnt-out hulk of a Kawasaki ZX-6 that looked like it had met its end in a house fire. The bikes were arranged in long rows, several hundred long, with corridors between the bikes to allow a large rolling platform to move between them.

On this platform sat an auctioneer and two assistants. The assistants would type information and bids from internet buyers into the auction system while the auctioneer would call out the high bids in a rapid-fire banter. In front of the cart, two “ring bosses” were poised to spot and encourage bidding.

The auctioneer started on the first unit for sale. Less than 40 seconds later, it was sold, and the next of over 1300 motorcycles to be sold that day was on the block. Auctioneers claim to be able to sell over 100 units an hour. To keep up, a team of workers pushes the large blue cart along the lines of bikes, and an attractive young woman holds a flag marked “Current Auction” in front of the bike for sale. The action is fast, and you have to be careful to be sure the bike you want isn’t sold out from under you before you realize it’s being auctioned; Fred lost more than one opportunity like this.

The action is fast, and you have to be careful to be sure the bike you want isn’t sold out from under you before you realize it’s being auctioned…

The action is fast-paced as the participants are mostly seasoned veterans who attend many auctions a

Oh, yeah, people buy these things, too.

year. One man had numbers from many buyers and was bidding on almost every bike. By lunchtime, he had purchased over 30 motorcycles and was on his cell phone asking if his dealers wanted more bikes. These brokers know the ring bosses and auctioneers so well that they just make eye contact or move a single finger to indicate they are bidding.What was notable that day was that people were bidding top dollar that day for sportbikes of all displacements. A clean, low-mileage 1000cc sportbike would go for well over the Kelly Blue Book retail price. A quick glance at the crowd revealed the reason; many of the dealer’s ID number tags were hand-written with marker rather than printed. The dealer can bring as many “guests” as he wants to the auction; many of these people were friends and family members looking to find a good deal on a sportbike, dirtbike or Harley. Since they didn’t have to make a profit, they didn’t seem to mind bidding over KBB retail, so long as they were getting a nice motorcycle. At press time, NPA has not answered any information requests, so I do not know if this violates their policy or if they encourage it to force the sales prices up higher.

Man, oh, man, a riding mower! I missed that one.

The high price for sportbikes makes life a little tougher for Rich Mason, who purchases motorcycles and cars in the USA to export to England and other European countries. Prices at the auctions sometimes get so high that if “the exchange rate’s bad it’s not worth it” to buy the bikes and ship them to England, despite the fact that the USA is a treasure trove of low-mileage, late-model sportbikes: “some of them are like brand-new…it’s crazy”.Stunting and stunters were also a theme of the day. One 2003 Honda CBR954RR was fully enclosed in a stunt cage, complete with a 12 O’ Clock bar at the back. The bike’s label noted the motor as a “six” for transmission trouble, common enough for stunt bikes. The very young man (accompanied by his father who worked for a dealership) who bought it bid well over the Kelly retail price. I asked him if he had noticed the notation about the transmission. “Is that bad?” was his response. Other sportbikes had obvious signs of stunt abuse: balled-up rubber under the rear fender from burnouts, bent levers, loose bodywork and other signs of abuse. Repo man coming next week? Stunt party! He probably could have found better deals in the local classified ads or on Craig’s List, but NPA lets him use dealer financing and is convenient.The day wore on, and the hungry jaws of commerce chewed up hundreds more units. Fred was able to snap up a trio of EX500s for just a little more than KBB wholesale value. His dead wood sold, some for less than what he wanted to get, others for impossible amounts. A 50cc Chinese scooter a customer traded for a $100 store credit because it was not registerable in the US fetched $300 from a Mexican buyer. A 2001 Suzuki GSXR750 that had sat on his showroom floor for six months at $5,500 was snapped up in 25 seconds for $6,000.

By four PM the auction was over and I was helping Fred load his truck and trailer with the six units he was taking back home. He probably could have found better deals in the local classified ads or on Craig’s List, but NPA lets him use dealer financing and is convenient. More importantly, it helps him keep his shop busy and full of customers by having fresh inventory, even if he doesn’t make huge profits on bike sales.

For consumers, from what I saw I think there are less stressful and cheaper ways to obtain a good deal in a used bike. Although there are some beautiful motorcycles available, late model Japanese bikes go for almost retail price. A 2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R went for $8,400, despite the KBB website valuing it at $7,720. Even if you have a friend on the inside and can get to one of the auctions, I’d recommend staying away and letting the pros fight it out.


Harley Davidson’s most prestigious award -Platinum Bar & Shield Circle of Distinction Award!

Colonial Harley-Davidson has been awarded Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s most prestigious award for superior performance in 2010; the Platinum Bar & Shield Circle of Distinction Award! . This award is given to the top 6 Harley-Davidson dealerships in the United States. There are approximately 650 dealers nationally. Colonial Harley-Davidson earned the award based on their motorcycle and related product sales performance, an evaluation of customer service and satisfaction, and various operational measures.