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Sorry for the long post, thought someone might find it interesting and I’ve been on a bit of a writing kick lately.

As a motorcycle enthusiast, I found that I thoroughly enjoy tinkering and modifying bikes. Of course this turns into an absurdly expensive hobby very quickly. Trolling craigslist one day, I saw a very cheap, beat to crap sv650, my favorite bike for some mysterious reason, that was not running, needed a bunch of work, and I KNEW I could make into a fine useable track bike for cheap (if I did all the work myself) I just HAD to buy it.

Well, I quickly discovered that dreaming about bringing a bike back from the grave and actually doing it are two significantly different activities. In short, it ended up like so many other “project bikes,” and that is taking up floor and shelf space in the garage. What a stupid purchase, I thought.

A few months later, thinking that I should just put it back up on craigslist and take the loss, I realized that while I may lack the knowledge and experience to make it a running bike, I could at least learn something by taking it all apart. Of course that would make the “restoration” even harder, but who ever let common sense stop them?

A month and a few hundred dollars of tools later (who would have thought that I need the stupid castle nut tool, and a triple tree stand, and various size sockets I hadn’t owned, and an impact gun and a ….), I had a pile of bike parts taking up even more floor and shelf space. And I learned that almost everything on the sv650 is the standard “lefty-loosey, righty tighty” kind of thread (except the shifter rod, which kept me baffled for a few minutes). I also learned that a bike in parts takes up about four times the space that a whole bike takes up. But in parts fits on shelves. Which makes it almost better. Except not. Because half of it is too big or heavy to fit on a shelf. And the shelf space I had so much of is now nonexistent.

Having stared at the pile of crap errr parts in the garage for another couple of months, I decided that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I was going to put it back together. Of course, I am (probably) capable of just reversing the order of operations I followed when taking it apart, but the result would have still been a crappy non running bike. And I was not about to sink any more money into the thing as that would have undoubtedly interfered with such adult “pleasures” as paying the electric bill, rent, student loans, etc. I decided that the only way to get that sv out of my life and maybe even recouping that “bargain of a price” would be to part it out.

Sorry, I took a while to get to the point, didn’t I?

As a super motivated seller and member of the community, I figured I knew exactly how to go about it. I made a partout thread and everything. I even researched what almost every part of the bike was selling for on ebay. And to make sure I was competitive, I priced everything at like half. Of course I mentioned a couple of the decent parts, and then said “make me an offer for anything”. 2 days later I had to buy a bigger membership on the forum (limited private message space), had a whole lot of people annoyed that I didn’t know the answers to their questions, but I did have a few dollars in paypal and needed to ship the things. Of course I had thought of this and scavenged a bunch of boxes from work.

Packing up a few nuts and bolts isn’t hard. I’ve sent lots of small parts in flat rate boxes and those are wonderful. It’s when you need to pack and ship a wheel or gas tank that things get…interesting. Most of the time you either have a box that isn’t big enough, or a box that is too damn big. A bigger box is a problem because you need to pack it with stuff to keep the parts from bouncing around, as well as costing more to ship (after a certain number of inches, the post office wants absurd amounts of money for shipping). So I learned to make frankenboxes, to grab every box from the janitor before he throws it in the dumpster, to save every bit of bubble wrap, packing peanuts, etc. that I come across, and most importantly that girlfriends don’t like to live in a parts shipping department nor do they like parts under the bed, in the kitchen sink, in the bathtub, and pretty much anywhere else I could put them (my garage was/is a few miles from my apartment, so parts come home for washing or packing up). I also eventually learned that shipping some things is really really really stupid. Like $60 to ship a $30 gas tank. Uh, no.

I also learned that the absolute majority of the time is not spent taking apart a bike. It’s not even spent packing things up and taking them to the post office. It’s spent on the computer trying to figure out what the hell a part is worth, what you should ask for it, answering questions that you don’t know the answers to. For example, “I will gladly buy this shock from you for $10 shipped, but only if it works on my bike. Do you know if a shock off a 1999 sv will work on a 2005 gs500?” (yes actually). Then I learned that everyone has their own name for half the bike parts. Either that or they kept me guessing what they wanted “how much for that triangle bracketey thing that holds the plasticky thing with the hose coming out?”

I discovered that there are some absurdly expensive unobtanium parts. Like the ignitor box for a 1st gen. Why the hell is it so much money? An ECU for my vw which is about 50x more complicated was a third of the price. And some absurdly cheap parts. And some parts that absolutely nobody wants (ever try to sell a stock airbox? There are literally two people in the country who need one and one doesn’t know how to computer and the other is broke.)

Eventually, I did manage to sell most of it, give the frame with sorta title to frankenbike, and even made a few bucks on the overall exercise. But once I did the math, it turned out that if I included labor time (online and physical), the “profit” after disassembly, answering questions, packing, packing materials, and shipping came out to be about $2 an hour. Yes, I would have improved my financial situation better by working part time as a janitor (no offense to janitors). Sure I never set out to make money on the thing, and I gave half the bike away for just shipping costs, but it is just an immense time sink.

Being the dumb **** that I am, next year, when I saw a very cheap, beat to crap sv650, my favorite bike for some mysterious reason, that was not running, needed a bunch of work, and I KNEW I could make into a fine useable track bike for cheap (if I did all the work myself) I just HAD to buy it.

You can guess how that one ended :p

Don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of it, especially seeing some cheap parts that were useless to me make some guy’s bike whole again (or a fairly expensive part on a svotm-level bike). I made a bunch of friends meeting people off the forums. I met a bunch of super cool people. And some “interesting” ones. I don’t actually count my time spent online, or in the garage, or even packing stuff (these are all activities I enjoy and always a learning experience). But don’t expect this to make you rich. And don’t expect it to be easy.

Tl;dr: I’m a crap mechanic, and parted out a few bikes, it was fun, and not really profitable. Shipping things sucks.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Some tips from the somewhat experienced in case you do decide to go this route:

General:
-If you're thinking of doing this for a profit, don't bother. Get a part time job. You'll make more and do it easier. Some people manage, but it takes a lot more patience, knowledge, and business sense than I have.

Pricing:
-Ebay’s “completed auctions” search shows you what things actually sell for, not what some dreamer asked for them.
-Don’t use ebay. The fees will kill you. Use craigslist, forum classifieds, facebook, etc.
-Price things so that people want to buy them from you. Yes it means you’re giving things away for a lot less than you could. It also means you won’t be sitting with a pile of parts that nobody wants for 6 months.
-A lowball offer is still money heading your way, and a good feedback from someone to whom you gave a deal

Dealing with buyers (these come naturally to me, it’s who I am, but even if these go against your nature, you probably want to follow them):
-Be nice (no ****? Really? I have to tell you this?)
-Be excessively nice. You are part of the community. Not a vendor. Not a business. (unless you are a business, then you aren’t reading this guide, are you?)
-Answer questions honestly. Excessively honestly if you have to. All it takes is one guy to say “mad8vskillz screwed me on a deal” and everyone will believe it and you’ll be stuck holding your dick. Remember that whole community concept? Don’t screw your friends. It will come back and bite you in the ass.
-If you have problems with a buyer, it’s much better to take a loss on the sale, than to take a loss in rep. Someone cursing will still make a few people think twice about dealing with you.

Shipping:
-Try to sell locally if you can. Meet new cool people. Buyers are happy cause they see what they’re getting, you’re not throwing out tons of money on shipping, some things are not shippable without some extreme effort.
-Use padded envelopes when you can
-Use flat rate boxes when it makes sense (note, you can also send them as just priority mail if they’re light and/or not going far).
-Use flat rate boxes to stuff bigger boxes for padding (free packing materials)
-Save every bit of newspaper, cardboard, bubble wrap, etc. You will find a use for it and still need more.
-Price things online with actual weight and packaging dimensions before quoting shipping. It’s often not worth it to ship. Of course you will end up getting screwed somehow anyway. Live with it. It’s part of the game.

Disassembly/Storage/listing:
-Office paper boxes (the ones you get your printer paper from) are free at most offices, and make good free disposable storage bins.
-Have lots of pans, trays, buckets, etc. on hand
-Label EVERYTHING and keep hardware with components (ziplock bags in various sizes are your friends)
-take pictures of everything. Put it all in a spreadsheet. Keep the spreadsheet up to date. So that you don’t need to remember whether you have a thing or not. I also use my spreadsheet to keep my thread updated
-keep brake systems closed if possible. They last longer and don’t drip fluid all over the damn place. Less mess is good.
-Keep hardware IN the thing you are removing if possible. Buyers appreciate it, and it’s easier to know what’s what.
 

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You learned a great deal by doing this. Don't feel too silly, I just bought a '05 Thruxton that I thought just needed tires and mirrors, but otherwise was posted as a great running bike. Bought for a good price, well below the asking price. First mistake was looking at the bike when the temps were 21F. Second mistake was having the cash in my pocket. Third mistake was having my mind made up that I wanted this bike since it was local to me. I rode the bike home in the cold, engine performance was rather frozen as was the rider. I was wrong that the bike only needed tires and mirrors once really looking at it by taking parts off. By now I could have spent a great deal more on a perfect specimen and just ride it in the spring. Here's hoping at least this bike becomes that perfect specimen. I stopped adding up the parts. Otherwise I would be very depressed since I'm always giving others advice when purchasing a used bike.
 

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That was a really long post, wow; it's pretty much right on from my experiences too. Although I've never purchased a whole bike that I parted out, I have bought and sold MC stuff online pretty regularly for the past 8 or 9 years now.

One thing that surprises me is the general lack of negotiating by folks for individual parts. In a lot of my experiences as the seller, if someone offers a lower price I'd say there's about a 85-90% chance they will not accept a counteroffer, even if it's still lower than my original asking price. Also, if I don't get a solid offer within 2 or 3 days of posting up a FS ad, I figure it's going to be a long, drawn-out selling process.

Another thing I've witnessed, hardest bike to sell parts for that I've owned - Triumph Speed Triple. I don't know if it's the lack of aftermarket demand or if not enough owners frequent the sites I do, but it takes a long time to sell anything for this bike.

Easiest bike to sell parts for that I've owned - Honda RC51. Cult like following and the fact it's discontinued mean parts are getting harder to find and more expensive. Of course I was usually selling quality parts that were already highly desired, but I had multiple offers on the same day on the majority of the bits I was selling. One of the few bikes I made a decent profit during my ownership.
 

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If I might offer an alternate viewpoint:

You learned a lot more than if you'd worked as a janitor. You now have a lot more knowledge of how an SV goes together (or at least how it comes apart).

If you buy a bike with some aftermarket goodies, you can sometimes come out on top.

If you need a motor or a frame, you can often do it a lot cheaper by buying a wrecked bike and selling some of the more popular parts.

Other than that, no...I wouldn't buy bikes for the sole purpose of parting them out. I don't enjoy the selling process that much. It does look good on paper, though :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have an almost running second gen if you'd like to part out yet another sv ; D
I have one here as well. It WILL be my track bike, and nothing is going to stop me this time.
And no, I will probably not do another sv partout. 3 times is enough experience I think.
 

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Sounds like fun.:icon_biggrin:

But what gets me is people taking perfectly good motors apart trying to part them out. My street bike is a YZF750. Parts were HARD TO COME BY as it is when it was 2yrs old much less now when its 17yrs old. Would like a spare motor for it (mines is near 100K miles) to build up but most goofs on flea bay tear perfectly running motors apart.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sent from under your bed

i didn't say i was a smart man...

and besides, how can you pass on a 1g with BROKEN EVERYTHING!!! for $400

 

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Great post, I actually read the whole thing :)

While things could be frustrating sometimes with buying bikes for flipping/fixing/etc... the journey and the amount of knowledge learned is priceless.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
oh and this came with a TANK PROP ROD!!! i haven't had one in like 6 svs (this is sv #8 for me and nothing except my "bought 07 new in 08" has ever had that rod)
 
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