Smart dealers can smell window shoppers and they would be foolish to start dropping the price until they feel you are ready to buy. So they will always give you the impression that there is no wiggle room, and there won’t be until they have an offer on the table.
If I were in your shoes, I’d do a search of Craigslist and print out a half dozen sheets showing similar bikes for sale. Then print out KBB sheets on each, staple them together and carry them with you when you visit the dealer with the bike you want. Tell him you want the bike, but you plan to only have it for a year or two so you can’t afford to take a huge loss by paying way over blue book. He’ll know the retail KBB is $2,900, and when he sees you leafing through your sheets, he’ll know that you’ve done your research too. He’ll also know that you have other options and you’ll look like someone on a mission to buy a bike today.
Now make your offer. Your first offer tips your hand, so don’t make it the most you want to pay. When they counter, they are likely to come down only 20-50% of the difference between your offers, because they are hoping you will keep meeting them halfway. Instead, haggle them down hundreds while you haggle up tens. For me, it goes something like this:
Me: I can see the value of the low mileage, so I’d like to take it home today and will pay you $2,950 cash.
Dealer: Hell no. Best we can do is $3,700.
Me: Wow, that’s really steep, especially in light of all the other similar used bikes out there. How about $3,025?
Dealer: Let me check with my manager… can’t believe it, but he’s willing to go $3,500, but no lower.
Me: OK, thanks for checking (as I get up). Sure is a nice bike though, … you sure you wouldn’t take $3,100.
Dealer: No way, but let me check… OK, we’ll take $3,100, but we’re taking a loss, I’m getting no commission and you’re stealing from me!
Obviously, this won’t always work. I’ve walked out of plenty of auto and MC dealers with no deal. But, when I’ve bought used, I’ve always gotten in below KBB retail and typically 20-30% below advertised price. My guess is that the dealer has something like $2,450-$2,920 into the bike. Somewhere above that they make money. They don’t make $$ storing used bikes.