Motorcycle Buy and Hold or Sample and Sell?

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter


SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

If that was mine, I’d love it forever and never sell it

I feel so lucky to have owned and enjoyed so many great motorcycles in my life. I never won a lottery to pay for them, and I don’t have a motorcycle museum to store them. So, I have accepted the fact that most of them pass through my life for only a limited time. A few days ago, I agreed to sell a 1920’s Harley JD that I’ve had for a few years. I’m dealing with various feelings as I wait for the new owner to show up to pay me and truck it to a new home far, far away.

Each time I sell a motorcycle I have mixed feelings. I had some great fun with each one and enjoyed owning, wrenching, and riding them all. But if one has been sitting unused in the back of my garage for too long, I can’t justify keeping it. I want and need a better experience with each bike than occasionally topping off and charging the wet cell battery, wiping up the oil on the floor under it, and cleaning the carburetor. All of that would be reasonable and is an expected part of the ownership experience—if I ride the bike on a regular basis. But if it sits too long unused, it’s time for a new home.

Some people think selling a classic motorcycle is heartless or worse. “How could you ever sell that?” they ask. “If that was mine, I’d love it forever and never sell it.” Over the decades of owning dozens of motorcycles, I recognize that, while I love them all, there are only a few very special motorcycles I wouldn’t consider selling for any price. Most others, no matter how excited I was when buying them, will be in my ride rotation for a year or three before they too go down the road. Sure, it’s fun to buy a bike—and I’ve bought lots—but I know there are so many more I look forward to riding. I can’t keep them all, but I try to enjoy as many as I can. And that often means selling one to buy another.

We all know people, and you might be one of them, who buy a motorcycle to ride, wrench on, and keep forever. I have friends with lots of motorcycles who would sooner sell one of their kids than one of their motorcycles. (Don’t judge until you meet their kids!) I also have friends who can’t seem to keep a motorcycle for more than a year, no matter how much they love it.

My approach is a blend of the two.For me there are three types of motorcycles: short-term, long-term, and forever bikes. The short-term ones are typically bikes I buy specifically for a project in the magazine (like an upcoming 1946 Harley Knucklehead runner that was pulled out of a barn fire). Long-termers are great bikes I own and ride for years but will sell at some point (like the 1936 Harley VLH I rode coast to coast on the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball). And forever bikes I never see myself selling, like my “Birthday” 1955 Panhead sidecar rig.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about myself through buying, wrenching, riding, racing, and selling motorcycles. Sure, there are a few bikes I never should have sold (and a few I never should have bought!), but each time I sell a bike, it gives me the opportunity to replace it with others. I couldn’t do that if I was strictly a “Buy and Hold” enthusiast. I can’t keep them all. And that’s OK. What’s your thinking on this? Please let us know at [email protected]

Garage Build Magazine
We love when riders get involved with their motorcycles and improve their riding and wrenching skills. Every issue of AIM shares tech and how-to articles that most riders with basic mechanical skills can handle. Some people want even more tech, so we publish Garage Build magazine (formerly American Iron Garage).

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Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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