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The GS425 and Craigslist Experiment

Craigslist culture has interested me since the beginning. Maybe because the ads are free. Maybe because of the sheer quantity of folks involved. Either way,'s free want ads seem attract a wide variety of buyers and sellers.

In the Spring of 2010 I decided to run a little experiment. I started with a pretty run down motorcycle that I wished to sell. A price of $500 was chosen to be intentionally higher than what I believed the machine was worth with the intention of improving the motorcycle over time but not decreasing the asking price. To set a baseline I listed the Suzuki as it was with virtually no clean up or repairs. On March 6th this sobering ad appeared:

Suzuki GS425

Looks rough. Runs rough. (Likely needs a carb clean) Tires are worn out. Seat has fallen apart. Clear title in my name. $500.

Suzuki GS425 Version One

Immediately after listing the bike I realized two shortcomings. The recently filled rear tire didn't hold its air for long. And that I failed to supply two important details: the model year and vehicle mileage. I received a few half price offers but no serious interest.

While waiting for the ad to run its one week course, I started working on the machine to see if I could improve it a bit. A quick inspection in the carburetors showed some sediment from the rusty tank but no evidence gumming from old fuel. The poor running was resolved with the introduction of a home made air filter where the original should have been. The bike ran just OK. When I ran the ad next, on March 16th, 2010, I updated the ad copy to reflect the previously omitted details and the slightly better running condition. I included the same image as the first ad.

Suzuki GS425 1979

Looks rough. Runs OK. Tires are worn out. Rear tire only holds air for 20 minutes. New tube included but not yet installed. Seat has fallen apart. Clear title in my name. New plate with tabs till August 2010. 31k miles. $500.

A few more low offers and one person who actually came out to inspect the bike. But no viable offers. By this third week I'd had time to give the machine a once over. A wiring bug was found and all the lights were now functional. I also invested in fixing the ugliest visual aspect of the machine: the seat. A plastic seat base was created and a vinyl cover was sourced to cover the original foam. This cleaned up the bike visually. I installed the new tube in the rear tire. I then test rode the Suzuki to the fuel station (for a fillup) without any issues. With its new face the GS425 deserved a new image. And another update to the copy of the ad. On March 24th I listed the following:

Suzuki GS425 1979

Still looks rough. Seat has been recently recovered. Runs OK. Tires are worn out. It is rideable and I have test ridden to verify all systems work correctly. Clear title in my name. New plate with tabs good until August 2010. 31k miles. Gas tank is full! $500.

Suzuki GS425 Version Three

Although I received a few more inquires immediately, the eventual buyer did not contact or visit until the ad had run for a few days. He must have known what he wanted. Much to my surprise he drove a couple hours to take a look. And he must have liked what he saw. He paid full price.