Why buy a motorcycle in the off season?
My name is Chris and I am the sales manager at Harley-Davidson of Baltimore. I have been riding since 2003 and have owned quite a few motorcycles. Most of which I have bought in the off season. I have been asked to explain some of the benefits of considering an off season purchase, and I think that my experience as both a consumer and as someone who sells motorcycles, that I have some insight that some may not have considered.
Often people have opinions as to the best time of year to purchase a motorcycle, and depending on what part of the country you live in this answer can vary. In the mid-Atlantic however, the best time of year to make a purchasing decision on a new and especially a pre-owned motorcycle is in the off season, specifically November through February.
Your new motorcycle is waiting for you now. Depending on the manufacturer, the model year has just flipped or is about to flip and new inventory is being shipped to showrooms in large numbers to bulk up dealerships and empty warehouses out. This means that the hard to find model or color will be sitting on the showroom floor during these months. Quite often when spring hits you may have to search for something very specific that many dealers may not have in stock.
Pre-owned motorcycles are not different. There is an old saying that “all the best bikes sell first”, and in this case buyers who come across the best pre-owned inventories have their pick of the litter. By spring inventories will be picked through and only the less desirable units will be left before spring hits and dealerships will see an influx of new inventory being traded in. My advice is to move on the right bike at the right time, regardless of the time of year.
Money is cheap. The next thing to consider as an advantage to purchasing during the off season that most people overlook are the financing specials that often disappear when the weather gets nicer and everyone is looking for their new ride. Many times dealerships partner with the financial institutions in order to get some lower rates or even differed payments. This allows you to put your new motorcycle in your garage with little to no money down, a lower rate which results in a lower payment, allowing you to get more bike for your money, and payments that won’t start until you are ready to throw your leg over and start the engine.
Your trade matters most in the off season. If you have a bike and would consider trading it in, the off season is the best time to consider your upgrade. Unfortunately, today’s market isn’t what it was just a few years back and motorcycles depreciate quicker than they have in the past. If you finish the season on your bike and don’t even consider your new one till next spring you can potentially lose equity in your ride while you aren’t riding as much. As a dealership, reconditioning is very important when it comes to a recently traded motorcycle. We have to service and make sure that the bike we recently bought is in its best condition and worthy of being put back on the street with a new rider. This takes time, and we must also stand behind our work to ensure that someone’s new ride is safe and mechanically sound.
We can always order your new motorcycle. This isn’t always the case. Even though most manufacturers have regular ordering windows for inventory, our customers may have to wait a little longer than they would like if they have a special order, or a build project that would take slightly longer in season with the influx of service work. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t thinking about servicing our bikes during the off season so that they are ready to ride on the first pretty day of spring. This floods service departments with work and makes it a lot harder to get your new ride customized just right in just the right amount of time. Most orders are fulfilled within 90 days, and getting the motorcycle of your dreams could take longer than you were hoping if you have to order it in the spring and miss wonderful weather and rides because your bike hasn’t been built yet.
Let’s make the deal. The last great reason to make an off season purchase will always be the value added proposition. I’d be lying if I said that mid-Atlantic dealerships sold just as many motorcycles during the off season as they do during peak riding weather. Even though we are slower, we all still have to move inventory to keep the doors open and pay employees to keep everyone gainfully employed all year long and not just when we are busy. This means one very simple thing. Dealers will work the best deal and have the best value added propositions available to make sure that the gears of industry keep turning. This benefits you, the rider, most of all.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy off season, and that we will see some of you readers in our showroom considering your new or pre-owned motorcycle for the upcoming season. Ride safely.