A motorcycle's "blue book value" is the generic term for the market value of a motorcycle made in a particular year by a particular manufacturer. The Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is the origin of that term and is one of the most well-known pricing guides for those in the market for a used motorcycle.
The other major motorcycle pricing resources are the NADA Guides produced by J.D. Power. NADA stands for the National Automobile Dealers Association who provided comprehensive buying guides for used cars. In 2017, J.D. Power bought the company and expanded the offerings to includes motorcycles, RVs, classic cars, boats, and manufactured homes. NADA Guides offers print appraisal books on both newer motorcycles (as well as snowmobiles, ATVs, and personal watercraft) and vintage, collectible, and retro motorcycles.
- The Kelley Blue Book gives you a sense of how much you can expect to spend or receive when buying or selling a specific motorcycle.
- These values are based on nationwide sales transactions, including auctions, dealer sales reports, and dealer surveys.
- Additional equipment for a motorcycle, such as an engine guard, may also be included as a separate value.
- The NADA Guide uses a variation on these calculations to come up with its own values for motorcycles.
How KBB Calculates Motorcycle Values
KBB says that it determines values for motorcycles based on data obtained from "auctions, dealer sales reports, and dealer surveys, plus dealer and consumer listings and sales transactions nationwide." The company says that it also takes into account current market and economic conditions.
Trade-in vs. Listing Price
After you've searched for a particular motorcycle—by providing the year, make, and model—you are asked to select either Trade-In Value or Typical Listing Price. The former is the amount you might expect to get when trading in a used motorcycle in good condition with all of its original standard equipment. The latter is what a dealer would likely ask you to pay if you were looking to buy a used motorcycle in good or better condition.
Some motorcycles that you search for will have information on the value of additional equipment, which you can see by clicking on Optional Equipment. For example, depending on the make, model, and year of the motorcycle, cruise control and an engine guard might each add $35 or more to the value of the bike. KBB assumes that these additional options are also in good condition.
KBB does not take into account the mileage on the odometer. KBB says that road conditions and the previous owner's riding style have larger effects on the bike's value than mileage.
How NADA Guides Calculates Motorcycle Values
You can start your search for motorcycle values on NADA Guides' website by selecting a manufacturer or a category of bike, such as Cruisers or Motocross. Ultimately, as on the KBB site, you'll choose a year, model, and make. You'll also be asked for your ZIP code and any special options.
You can even compare as many as three specific motorcycles side by side.
The site offers four prices on motorcycles:
- The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), which includes only standard equipment and excludes taxes and transportation and destination fees, which cover the cost of getting the vehicle to the dealer.
- Suggested list price, which is the manufacturer's or distributor's highest suggested list price in the U.S. when the motorcycle was new. It typically does not include destination charges or taxes.
- The low retail price, which is for a vehicle that may show "extensive wear and tear," including "dents and blemishes" on the body, but is still safe to drive. Motorcycles with this low quality usually aren't sold by dealers.
- The average retail price, which is for a vehicle that is clean and "without obvious defects." The mileage should be about average, and the bike should be able to pass an emissions inspection.
NADA Guides uses data from more than 1.5 million vehicle transactions a month to help determine values. Those transactions include wholesale, retail, and auction sales. NADA Guides also considers asking prices posted on classified listing sites and Autotrader. Its valuation team says that it "uses the latest technology, deep knowledge of each segment's market, statistics, analytics and econometrics to derive our values." It does not use a depreciation schedule, because there is a lot of variation in the rates of depreciation among different used motorcycles.