Wheeling and Dealing

By Steven Wyman-Blackburn

Have you ever read some of the funny, and oftentimes misleading, descriptions one might find while sifting through the piles of junk that is used motorcycle hunting? When asking our fans on Facebook to share all the nonsense they’ve had to deal with, one of the first responses was ironic. Mike Dencklau wrote about a bike he bought that had the following description: “Needs new spark plug wire.” Well, the bike inevitably ended up having trouble, so Mike turned to someone who could identify the problem. And guess what? All it needed was a new spark plug wire. However, on the complete other side of the spectrum, James Stoncius shared a time (before eBay) when he and his buddy pulled over to look at a Harley dirt bike a guy was selling. After inspecting the machine, they realized it was missing a lot of parts (James claims there were 80 parts MIA). James’ friend asked, “So does it run?” And here’s the kicker. The guy responded by saying, “Oh, it’ll run — if the right guy looks at it.” The moral of the story is that some sellers actually know what they’re talking about. Meanwhile, others don’t.

Below is a list of some attention-grabbing titles (along with their meanings) that you might come across when looking for a used bike or parts. Whether it’s eBay, craigslist, or some other trading site, the language is universal. Keep in mind, though, what “selling my bike” means as a particular ad we noticed called “Harley Super Fast glide” records: “Wife. Enough said.” (Editor’s Note: If the seller uses ampersands, stars, or an excessive amount of exclamation points in his title, the symbols are usually there to make up for something. Whether it’s a junk ride or a complete wreck, just turn and run and don’t look back.)

Mint condition: The seller is hoping that you judge a book by its cover. While the bike might look great on the outside, there’s nothing mint about the internals. Stock: After bolting on a lot of chrome, the owner stripped it down to make it look like it came right off the factory line.

Custom chopper: Everything but raking the chassis was done. The bike could well be a stock Breakout or Rocker. In a worst case scenario, the above bike actually comes with extra decals and bolt-on parts. Oh, and usually the tank is painted with some form of Old Glory.

Low miles: I rode it for a day. The bike won’t start anymore and has been sitting in my garage for a few years now./I installed a new speedo. Head turner: The head, in every case, is turning away from the bike. In other words, it’s ugly.

90-percent restored: Nowhere close to being done. Might as well read, “90 percent of the bike still needs to be restored.” The percentage, in this case, is referring to the surface area of the bike that’s finished. The remaining 10 percent is usually the motor and transmission.

New <insert part name here>: New doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the latest, top-of-the-line component. New usually translates to “new on my bike.”
Custom stretch: The original builder either stretched the bike correctly and the rest of the bike doesn’t match up or there is no rest of the bike. Good luck! Modified engine: The power plant is ruined. ’Nuff said.

High-performance: Switch performance with maintenance and you’ve got it about right.

Good beginner bike: I suck at riding.

Rare bike: Nobody else was stupid enough to buy it. Rare is being used to convey the amount of people who have actually gone out and bought the bike even when it was offered at a great price. It’ll be rare seeing it on the road. You’re more likely going to see it gathering dust in someone’s garage or showcased in a dealer showroom.
Rare part: I can’t find anything like it in my Harley-Davidson Parts & Accessories catalog. Wife says it has to go: My wife has to go.

Classic or Vintage: It doesn’t have those bags on the side./It doesn’t have a Big Twin or XL Evo engine./There was rust on the bike when I bought it. In other words, the guy doesn’t know what classic or vintage actually mean.

Collectible: Yeah, it’s a collectible bike. It collects dust.

Must sell: I’m leaving the country immediately. Whether the person is moving, going on vacation and needs the money, or is a criminal and has to get off the grid pronto, it’s probably the truth. That or the seller maxed out his credit card and just wants more money to spend. No title or

Lost title: I’m a klepto.