mad8vskillz buying guide for people asking "is this a good deal"

crosspost of the old svrider thread 

Please note, this is mostly based on prior experience, my local market, and guesstimates. Every bike is unique, has its unique downsides and upsides. Market prices in your area may be different, and in the end, it's your money... buy what you like. 

About 10 times a week we get the question of "is this a good deal?" from someone searching craigslist, ebay, forums, their neighbors' barns, etc. This is my attempt to clear some things up.

First of all, bluebook is horsecrap for bikes. Nobody ever reports the right prices to them, bike condition varies wildly, as do mods and service done to the bike. Knowing what's a good price is a bit of an art? or at least rather fuzzy science. 

So you want to buy an SV? Here is my ballpark seat of the pants decision making process. 

Start with the following "guesstimates" (note these may change if you're reading this in 2015, or in Alaska or some other part of the country that doesn't price the way Philly does...) :
1st gen (99-02): $2200
2nd gen (03-whenever): $3000
sv1000 (03-whenever): $3500
OEM Full Fairing bike (svF or SVSF as people call them): Add $200-500 (those fairings are a bit pricey and usually on newer bikes).

These prices are for clean (no or minimal damage) stock (or very minor bolt-on mods) bikes that have been maintained by someone whose head grows from their shoulders and not out of their ass. This is a BASELINE. So up from this, it better be a damn good bike. And down from this, you're either getting a deal, or should be hunting for massive surprises (well, expect surprises any time you buy a bike really). 

best thing you can do, is to bring someone that knows bikes, and even better someone that knows svs with you. there are members all over the country who may be willing and/or able to help

Good signs: 
-Newer tires. Look at the date code (google how to read a date code) and see that they're nor worn in weird ways, cupped, flattened down the middle, etc.
-Newer years (2007+ seem to be less beat up than '03/'04)
-Low mileage (but verify that on the title and on condition too, gauges are cheap and people cheat)
-Chain is clean and in proper adjustment, sprockets are in good shape.
-Brake fluid is clear or yellow and lots of brake pad left. Lever feels solid.
-Owner has maintenance records (either their own or shop receipts). Owners manual. Tank prop rod. Original toolkit. At least they gave enough of a crap to keep them (not that they're that useful, but it increases the likelihood they cared). 
-Oil is filled to the correct spot.
-Bike is clean (as in not dirty, not as in "nice"). While this doesn't guarantee anything, it at least shows they cared enough to wash the thing or garage it.
-Garage kept (and not just the owner saying that, you can see fading in paint and plastics from bikes sitting outside)
-Clean title. Duh.
-Clean Gsxr front end. While not a guarantee of anything, there's $600+ of parts there, so that's something. Worst case if the bike is a piece, sell the parts off and recoup some money. 
-Springs and emulators. At least he cared enough about the ride quality. (my personal opinion, remember..) 
-Penske, Ohlins, etc. shock in the rear. Hell, worst case sell that thing and get $500 and put a $10 stock shock back in. 
-Other high end parts. Rearsets, Power commander (sometimes, remember it has to be tuned), brembo master, GiPro, Corbin, Yoshimura, Leo Vince, etc. Like I said, worst case, sell the things off.
To balance this though, "Regardless of what the seller may tell you, aftermarket parts -such as exhaust, suspension, "performance improvements", etc.- don't necessarily increase the price of the bike. Actually, poor executed modifications can even decrease the value of the bike, so consider what they are really worth to you before you pay any extra for them." - OfirMX

-Valve check records. These should happen every 15k, and many people skip the first one... If owner did it himself (i want to hang out with him then) then he would probably at least remember/write down the values somewhere for reference.
-Good Vin Check (while not a guarantee, it's at least something)
thanks Domiken for the suggestion

Bad signs:
-"Doesn't run, easy fix" Run away! (or demand a lot of money off the price. like a thousand bucks) It won't be cheap. If it were easy or cheap, why didn't you do it then? (yes it could be something easy) Thanks Opticlicker for contributing this one.
-Rash (even small bits of rash on levers, mirrors, barends, etc.). Dents. Bent stuff. DUH. keep an eye out for additional hidden damage (headlight tabs on s models for example)
on rash from NHBUBBA: 
Not all 'rash' is created equal. Rash or dents that do not feature the tell-tale slide pattern are less frightening to me than those that do. When you see a scuff or dent that has tails-usually towards the back of the bike-then you know it was a crash at speed. 

-Nasty chain, hooked sprockets.
-Brake fluid is red, lever feels mushy.
-Rust in the tank. Run away. If you're reading this rant err guide, you likely are not equipped to deal with it. If you are, well then, make your own decisions.
-Creaky suspension. Or front suspension with leaking seals. Or front suspension that has never been serviced. (how you find this out is up to you usually you can assume they haven't). 
-Wire nuts under the back seat (means wiring was done by a hack)
-R or salvage title. While this doesn't mean run away from a bike, this is a big alert to look over it extra carefully.
-Aftermarket gauges. While this doesn't mean it has been crashed, there isn't much of a reason people get them unless they're going very custom.
-Bent forks (DUH, to me a bike with bent forks is worth $1000 maybe and even then barely).
-Any cheap ebay blue, gold, red anodized parts. Yes i have them on my bikes. Just the levers. And that's cause i'm cheap. But color anodized bolts, etc. scream squid to me. Not always true, but often.
Cheap eBay parts can not only reflect bad taste but they are often used as cheap repairs after minor crashes or lay downs.
-idiot mods: from svrider mitbrown "Look for stripped heads on chain adjuster nuts, parts off other bikes which are not intended to be compatible, and tail sections that may have been carefully bondoed together into one piece."
-Any spikey stuff. Spikey barends. Spikey fairing bolts. Owner was an idiot, and now you have to spend money to buy hardware which won't lacerate you if you happen to walk by your bike wrong. It may look cool, but every real rider thinks you're a fuqtard. 
-Poorly adjusted clutch. Doesn't mean anything by itself but shows a lack of care or sometimes complete incompetence.

Obviously this isn't a complete list. And not all the "bads" are terrible. and not all the "goods" mean anything. But this may get you started. The "bads" reduce the value of the bike, don't automatically mean "don't buy this" 
Svrider Kixx also (wisely) suggests: "Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. A few hundred bucks more can get you a much nicer bike that's cheaper in the long run.
For example:
A $2900 SV might have a few plastic scrapes and need a chain/sprockets, but the $3200 SV is perfect and needs nothing. I'm buying the $3200. Those parts will easily cost $300 to replace. "
Basically use your best judgment. 

So, what has mad8vskillz done with all this useless sv buying knowledge?
-saved a couple locals from some really crappy bikes for tons of money. you know who you are 

-help a "bike exporter" (not with svs, but with ginormous metric cruisers that he sends to Ukraine...) 

-3 (yes, three times i've done this) '99 sv650 track bikes for under $1200 each. All came with titles (ish), trick parts and extras and spares. and all were barely running CRAP. After I gave up trying to get them to be good, they made pretty good money in parts though. So that's something. While I did find deals that were quite good, i overestimated my desire and abilities to tinker. One of the frames is the basis for Ofir's frankenbike (use search, feel human)

Note to people thinking of buying bikes to part out: don't. You waste months of your life to make a few hundred dollars.

-1 2003 sv650s for $2,000 in almost good condition. Lucky. But it came with a ton of good parts. And became a track bike because it was 95% there already and I would have never found another one like it. Hey, i didn't say i made good decisions, just that I sorta figured out values for these bikes. 

-Before these, i made some average and even stupid buying choices (3k sv650, 3500 sv1000s, new '07 at the dealer as a new rider)

This isn't about bragging, but about showing you that crazy deals do exist. And if you see them, it may be a good idea to pounce on them.

All that said, if you love a particular bike and will be jumping off a building if you don't buy it, buy the thing.
"a good deal is one you feel good about. Take these great tips to get the best price, but don't feel that your deal is reduced because someone found a better one. In the end, it only maters if you feel it is a deal" - Digasi

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