Is Kelley Blue Book Accurate?

The internet has opened up the number of resources we can access, which is great because it allows us to be better informed about the things around us and the things we own. A resource that many people have flocked to when it comes to selling anything within the automotive industry is Kelley Blue Book. It’s become a staple resource that all those looking to sell a motorcycle online will use, and KBB's 20-million average visitors a month will attest to the site's popularity.


Since when did "popular" mean "reliable?"

As consumers, we create our own "fictional truths." We know there’s an endless amount of popular things that exist for no valid reason, so do we critically look at these resources? Are they as flawless as we think?

The real question to ponder over is "is Kelley Blue Book accurate?" or "is Kelley Blue Book realistic?" Whether you love or hate the number that Kelley Blue Book quotes for your ride, you need to first acknowledge that Kelley Blue Book isn’t all factual. It is not all-knowing. It is not without flaws and failed systems, KBB funnels its research through its users should not be treated as a fail-proof textbook.

Source: Steve Richards YouTube 

Here are the reasons that your Kelley Blue Book quote and price is not real or realistic:

First, we need to consider the things that go into quoting your motorcycle:

Private Party Value
Suggested Retail Value
Trade-in Value
Certified Pre-Owned Value

While all of these things are entirely reasonable expectations, when you critically look at each point, you see their flaws. For instance, the motorcycle trade-in value is based on how much a dealer would offer you. But every dealer will provide a different price, based on their location, the amount of customer traffic they have, the popularity of that bike in the area and its ability to sell, and how many of those models already in their inventory.

All of these variables will impact your offer, so Kelley Blue Book's quote is likely always too high or too low, and hardly ever spot-on.

But that's not even the bad news. The actual downside of KBB is primarily from the people that use the site, as they’re considered a huge information source. KBB accesses user information to create and craft their own database, which is hardly ever a system that works well, and here’s why:

People can be biased:

It’s obviously not something you would be thrilled to hear, but believe it or not, odds are you might be just a little bit biased towards your motorcycle. You have fond memories and emotions tied to this bike, and even if you’re selling it, you still care about it and think very highly of it. That’s normal.

Check out this video to see how bias can exist, in different forms, without us noticing:

Source: Big Think YouTube


However, that bias transfers over to how you perceive your bike. You will not see your motorcycle as accurately as someone who has no personal experience with it. You will see a perfect motorcycle that is in great shape and rate it as such, simply because it’s your bike and you put in the time and effort to keep it at this standard. You will have biased blinders on, and that’s not intentional. It is human nature for us to think more highly of something that is our own. But someone who doesn't own it will see it for what it is, and not the condition you claim it to be. It's those on the outside who will judge it accurately.

Think of it this way: when you take your bike to a dealer, and they physically see it, they show no bias. What you see is what you get, and dealers' prices will reflect that. However, when Kelley Blue Book has YOU decide the condition without any physical proof to support your opinion, your quote will not accurately represent the vehicle. A system that relies on the judgment of its consumer-base is not, in fact, a factual or accurate system.

Outdated information:

While Kelley Blue Book tried to make sure that all the information on their site it up-to-date and relevant to the current marketplace, no on can be perfect. That means, there are periods of time in which you’ll get a certain quote for your motorcycle, but the site has yet to adjust to the current industry and marketplace.

So while you received a high quote that you’re okay with, if you were to take your bike to the dealer and get a lower offer, referencing the Kelley Blue Book price will have dealers and other buyers shaking their head at you. They know this industry shifts and changes quickly, and with all the updates and edits demanded for KBB, it's just not feasible for a website to keep up with those changes.

Dealers and buyers don't take it seriously:

No, they don’t refrain from using it because "Kelley Blue Book will give me the highest price and they don’t want to pay me that." Yes, dealers need to make money; that’s a fact, it's a business. But to continue to make a profit, they need to offer the seller a fair price, and they do not base offers on Kelley Blue Book. RumbleOn personally uses resources with more accurate data, like Black Book.

Anyone with an idea of how data collection works can understand how flawed the Kelley Blue Book Value system is. Instead, dealers use things like National Auto Research Black Book and Manheim Market Report, both of which the public cannot access. Those resources do not rely on people inserting their biased information about their vehicles. Professional resources rely on the actual, comparable sales and purchases of all motorcycles, along with the details and costs associated with it. Yes, there are facts in numbers.

But how you get those numbers are just as important as the numbers themselves.

Kelley Blue Book does not accurately reflect demand:

Kelley Blue Book is not reflected in real time, it’s not adjusting its information every second of every moment the information changes. That means that while the market and industry is a rollercoaster ride of changes as time passes (and time is always essential when selling), Kelley Blue Book does not reflect market changes. When they finally do acknowledge that one vehicle worth more at the moment, by the time the changes are implemented, the market has shifted and the vehicle lost value. KBB is continually lagging, and that means that the quote you get from them is likely not going to reflect its worth, whether higher or lower.


Source: Trend Updates YouTube

If Kelley Blue book had a system in which real-time dealers were able to visually take a look at your bike (through photo or video software), the site would likely quote actual prices. However, since KBB relies entirely on sellers, it is far from rocket science to acknowledge the human error in the system.

Flawed systems like this are what makes sellers feel disappointed in the offers they receive in the real world. How accurate is Kelley Blue Book? Not accurate, or at least, not as much as it’s given credit for. Why is it so hard to sell my motorcycle? It’s a question that you likely keep asking yourself and is frustrating you on a level you’d prefer not to talk about. But it’s only as difficult as you let it be. There’s always an individual or dealership out there that’s interested in buying your bike; it’s simply a matter of finding them.


We'll give you the fair cash offer your bike deserves

There's no point in wasting your time on Kelley Blue Book when you know that the dealer or private seller won't give you that much. If anything, it will frustrate you that no one is offering you the price you were quoted, even when you know it's probably not accurate. RumbleOn will give you an accurate, fair offer for your motorcycle in just minutes. We'll pick up the bike free of charge so that you can leave all the hassle and tedious tasks to us! Is there a Kelley Blue Book for motorcycles? Yep, that would be RumbleOn!

 Get My Cash Offer


Need the best place to sell a motorcycle online for free?

RumbleOn is the easiest way to sell a motorcycle online for fast payment. The motorcycle stays in your possession until you are paid via check or direct deposit, and then we'll come pick it up for free! You can get paid as soon as the same day in some cases, and we handle all the hassle!

I'm Ready to Sell or Trade My Bike!

sell your motorcycle online harley-davidson

If you're looking for resources on how to sell a motorcycle or if you want to buy a motorcycle of your own, RumbleOn is a great resource! 

Check out the easiest place to sell a motorcycle online, and browse through one of the largest pre-owned motorcycle shops on the web!

Check Out RumbleOn

Leave a comment

Recent Articles

Popular Articles