Since there’s no CarFax for motorcycles, you never know what a bike’s previous owner has put it through. This busted up CBR1000RR ‘could use touching up.’
Your Pocket Reference Guide to the Classifieds
Let’s face it, a good portion of becoming a proficient motorcyclist involves learning a new language. No, I’m not talking about excessive use of the terms “dude” or “man” to fit in at the local biker bar either. What I am referring to is the version of the English language that accompanies classified ads in newspapers, Swap Sheets, Cycle Traders, and internet sites all across the planet. While the words themselves appear as harmless variants of commonly used phrases to describe something, the truth is that mastering their cycle-specific applications is critical to a prospective buyer if he wishes to avoid wasting precious time and gasoline. I’m hoping in time the following guide will eventually become printed at the beginning of the classified section, kind of like the distance key on a map. Without further ado:
Needs a good home. Here is a phrase surely based on a kernel of truth. The catch is that more often than not the reason the bike in question needs a good home is because since 1987 it has lived outside.
Could Use Touching Up. This is the gentle way of preparing you for the fact that sanders, buffers, air-guns, and a tetanus shot are mandatory to even consider this one.
Needs Nothing. Having fallen for this one just last week, needs nothing is actually short hand for needs nothing that I can list here. In my case, the bike in question needed bearings, brakes, a seat cover, plastic, and rewiring. In the seller’s defense, it is very unlikely I would have made the trip had the ad said “needs just about everything.”
Could Use Some TLC. Immediate reaction is to assume TLC stands for tender love and care but that is all part of the clever ruse. TLC in this case means Total Lunatic Collector; the type of obsessed buyer so focused on the model in question that the condition of it becomes irrelevant.
Ready to Ride. I like this one only because it pulls ever so delicately on the heart strings of a good imagination. ‘Ready to ride’ instills images of handing over the cash and immediately straddling the bike in question for the return trip home. Those of us with overactive imaginations take it upon ourselves to spice the fantasy up with the perfect summer evening in which the dusk air flows like bath water around us as we cross endless fields of jasmine. For the record, I’ve never once ridden home on a bike listed as ‘ready to ride’ condition.
Few Blemishes. Like the proverbial high school prom date, the degree of the blemishes is often downplayed. I like to believe this is just a seller trying to be honest to his potential buyers, but this is a situation where it is wise to err on the side of caution. Have someone else drive you to the scene so that you can have a few beers to take the edge off. Beer goggles have allowed countless singles to get through blind dates through the ages and the same logic applies here.
Look familiar? How many garages are cluttered with spare parts from small projects or add-ons that were started but never finished? Giacchino would catergorize these bikes as ‘nearly complete.’
Nearly Complete. Run, don’t walk away from this one. I know from experience that this means trouble as it is the very condition the last two bikes I sold were in. In common tongue this is the same as saying “I gave up on getting this thing back together and want it far, far away from here.” I suppose a more appropriate way to list vehicles in this condition would be “dream bike for person interested in buying someone else’s headaches.” Hey, nobody said the truth was pretty.
One of A Kind. Sure, this works out when we’re talking about customs and pseudo-choppers, but on production bikes it becomes a whole different animal. I have found that a majority of the time this is the phrase used to disguise the unappealing nature of mismatched parts and clashing paint colors. Use caution on this one. If it really was an improvement to the original, there would likely be more than one of them in existence.
Always Pampered. I imagine this is commonly assimilated with well cared for but the fact that the origin of the word pamper comes from the Dutch meaning “to cram with food” it becomes clear that the diaper company of the same name has a better grasp on what this one is really all about.
And the list goes on. In time and after many disappointing road trips, you too will be able to decipher the meaning behind such classified catch-phrases as Injury Forces Sale, No Serious Offer Refused, Wife Wants Divorce, Hate To Let It Go, Moving Can’t Take It With, and many more. The only catch is that perhaps somewhere out there exists a seller who means exactly what they say in which case it would be nothing shy of tragic to let a great deal slip on by without even looking. That’s exactly why I keep on ignoring my own rules and driving all over creation only to be let down time and time again. If I didn’t waste so much money on gasoline I could get myself a bike that really is in showroom condition. But don’t even get me started on what that one really means.