MOTORCYCLES GALORE AT THE AUCTIONS
How do you buy and sell bikes? There's the ubiquitous ebay of course, and Gumtree, Autotrader, Motor Cycle News, a for sale notice in a riders' cafe. 'We Buy Any Bike' will always offer you a rock bottom price; or you can choose to haggle with a dealer.
The other option is an auction. Usually associated with selling of rare or collectors bikes, there are a number of auction sales around the country pushing any number and variety of bikes through the bidding process. They usually take place monthly, and out of journalistic curiosity, and never dismissing the prospect of adding another two wheeler to my (small) collection; I went along to Bawtry Motor Auction Remarketing near Doncaster in Yorkshire to observe one of their monthly bike auctions.
How does it operate? What kind of bikes are offered for sale? Who are the potential bidders? How much does it cost to sell a bike through this method?
At Bawtry the sale bikes are lined up in a big shed for viewing at 4.00pm, two hours before the auction action begins. So plenty of time to look around, check condition and make a note of any bike and lot number that catches attention. I arrived at 5.00, and there was a good sprinkling of people walking the lines; bending, tweaking, consulting mates, trying a bike for balance. You can't start them, that comes later in the auction room.
The most animated were traders/dealers. Consulting the sales catalogue, thumbing Glasses Guides, and conferring through mobiles various. There were vans and trailers parked out back. People had come prepared with the intention of taking stock away.
Amongst the bikes I found interesting to look at and possibly make a bid on were an 2007 Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra with thirty thousand miles through the engine; a 2011 Ducati Diavel 1198cc with just nine hundred and four miles showing – what were the circumstances of this sale?; a very tidy 2007 KTM 990 Adventure, and also in this category, but at the other end of the scale, a 1988 Suzuki DR750 that had seen a lot 'action'. I did cast a longer eye over a 2009 Honda Transalp 680cc. I'm planning a trip to Iceland next year and need a bike that will tackle both Tarmac and the 'gravel' roads up there.
They charge a token £2 to enter. Presumably to discourage 'time wasters'. The process for selling is simple. It's £25 to enter your bike into the auction, and if it sells the fees are £75 for a bike that sells for up to £2499; and £95 for £2500 and above. You can set a reserve price, but even if the auctioneer cannot persuade bidders to reach this, they will take a provisional sale bid and call the seller while the auction is taking place to ask if it's acceptable.
Closer to sale time more people drifted in, making use of the on site cafeteria. What's that food smell: ah! chips and curry sauce this evenings popular choice; and why not. Most people will have come straight from their workplace.
The auction shed has a raised platform where the two auctioneers and support staff stand. Giving them a view of the bikes as they are ridden in onto a stand in full view of the small 'grandstand' type seating. These were full, but a small crowd gathered at the entrance where the bikes were driven in. Presumably so they could get another close look and hear the engines.
The room is equipped with two screens, displaying the bikes' details and in large type the auction price, changing as the bidding takes place. An air of anticipation is palpable as the first bike is started and the auctioneers explain the procedure. At the junction of the viewing shed and auction room feet are shuffled, positions changed, notes consulted, guide pages turned hurriedly.
I'd watched one trader/dealer from early on in the evening. He looked as if he would be active in the auction shed as he'd been scoping quite a few bikes, and I found myself standing next to him as a 2011 CBR 125 Honda was ridden in. A lot of attention for this (and other good 125's) and the bidding went up quickly in £50 and then £25 units. It was difficult to see who was bidding, but the auctioneers were obviously catching the nods and hand indicators – I kept my arms folded.
'My man' seemed to be in it with another bidder I couldn't see. The price rose quickly, I think he wanted this bike. In no time at all it was at £1675, I was feeling nervous for him. Then as the auctioneer urged a £1700 bid he shook his head, and it was knocked down to someone else. Literally; the blokes conducting the bidding close by bringing down their wooden hammers with a sharp rap.
A Honda step thru puttered onto the ramp, a 1966 C90. In such good condition it must have been kept in a centrally heated garage. The hammer came down on this cult classic at £800. A 2009 Hyosung 650 in superb condition only reached £1050. This is effectively a Suzuki SV, but the brand has never really made an impact in the UK. Someone got a bargain.
There were over seventy bikes 'getting hammered' that evening. I didn't stay for the whole show, and consequently didn't see the what price the Harley and Ducati fetched. It was a useful and informative bike experience, providing you walk outside away from the fumes every now and again - I don't know what the health readings would be for someone working in this environment for any length of time.
There are a number of auction houses around the country holding monthly sales. Even if you're not buying or selling it's a diverting evening where you can gauge prices and take the pulse of the motorcycle market. Especially in the winter when there's not too much going in our bike world.
Bawtry Auction, Yorkshire
Anglia Car Auctions, Norfolk
West Coast Auctions, Lancashire
John Newman for Wemoto News
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