Thinning the herd: My Kawasaki H1 awaits its new owner and home.
Thinning the herd: My Kawasaki H1 awaits its new owner and home. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Chances are you’ve spent time on Bring a Trailer. For most of us, it’s not about actually buying or selling a used motorcycle or car. It’s about watching other people go through said process with noteworthy vehicles. Then commenting on it.

Born as a blog in 2007, BaT exists because fellow car/motorcycle nerds like you exist. BaT’s vetting and curation process is key. It ensures a steady stream of surprising, engaging rarities for sale, even when the hoi polloi doesn’t approve. Jalopnik regularly features a “Biggest Sucker on Bring a Trailer” column, which is recommended reading. Bring a Trailer has been owned by Hearst Auto Group since 2020 and benefits from Hearst assets, notably Car and Driver and Road & Track magazine, which no doubt amplify their audience. It’s part of a “synergistic” strategy of connected interests scratching each other’s backs while growing and supporting a community.

The BaT folks have made compelling spectator sport for those in capitalism’s lower (and higher up) rungs. Do you attend Mecum auctions? Probably not. But BaT connects the haves and the have-nots of the automotive and motorcycling world in one long scroll. They ensure an unbiased, uniform experience for buyer and seller that results in fair outcomes and great reading.

I’m selling a 1975 Kawasaki H1F I bought nine years ago. I didn’t restore it, but I got it running, raced it once, and generally enjoyed owning it. But it’s time for it to go. The bike nearly killed its previous owner, so I replaced the frame and swingarm, plus the speedo/tach housing. In mid-2014, I found exactly one compatible H1 frame for sale, a 1973 (H1D) example. With the ‘73 frame, it’s a Vermont-registered (not titled) Kawasaki H1D in the legal sense. It’s a complete ‘75 H1F, as far as engine, colors, and bodywork are concerned. If the right buyer’s cool with this, they’ll have a fun summer terrorizing the EPA and common sense. Prices on H1s are high, with pristine later examples fetching $10K or more. My H1 isn’t anywhere close to that. But what is it worth? Time to find out.

From start to finish, it takes about 45 days to go from acceptance letter to finished auction. Just getting accepted felt like a feat. Not just any vehicle goes up on the BaT auction block. My bike was accepted on June 1; by July 8 it was live. As per the BaT process, the listing is written entirely by an auction consultant, a nice guy named Chris. I was unsuccessful in reaching Chris for comment about being a BaT consultant, but he seemed genuine about wanting me to have a good BaT experience.

I included pics of an article I wrote about my half-assed efforts to get it running and race it, figuring it might give the bike “provenance.” Bad idea. Instead of just listing its faults, I’d literally written a whole story about them. As is his job, Chris grilled me on various anomalies from my description and the pictures, like the bent subframe and crash damage. Motojournalism isn’t the unfair advantage many assume it must be, and doesn’t necessarily add value to a vehicle.

Chris wove my story into a legally unassailable tale of shortcomings, disclosures, and brutal honesty that would hold up in any court of law. By the third sentence, the crash history and 31 years of storage were disclosed. The lack of title arrived in the second paragraph, along with more descriptions of damage. But it was all correct, true, and accurate, as affirmed by the idiot owner of this “widowmaker.”

Once BaT had earned its $99 auction fee, it was time to be judged.

Day 1

Bring a Trailer doesn’t like auctions to go live if the seller isn’t close at hand to what they’re selling. But now I’m back, it’s up, and I’m damn excited. Thousands of fellow losers can see what I spent the last few months finalizing. Immediately, comments trickle in. Rather than reading the listing, folks ask redundant questions and offer expert opinions. Bring a Trailer fans note that the comments are a sort of “policing” of the community and auction integrity. I can see that. Looks like they’re handing out deputy badges at the Anybody Corral. You can flag comments as “not constructive,” but I decide to see how the conversation plays out, good or bad.

A $555 bid starts the day off. Heyyy, big spender.

Day 2

If there was a “Nuke the Commentator” button, I’d bloody my fingers pressing it. Evidently, my H1 is a disappointment to motorcycling. There’s the bike people want to see; then there’s the bike actually being sold. Comments roll in bemoaning how the latter is not the former.

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By: Anders T. Carlson
Title: What’s Selling a Motorcycle on Bring a Trailer Like?
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Published Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2022 10:00:08 +0000