Going to pick it up today. I've been in communication with the seller and he seems like a straight guy, but when he sent me a pic of the title it's in the previous owners name. I did a VIN check and it's not currently listed as stolen or totalled, he claims he took it in exchange for some work he did, he has a bill of sale from the previous owner, but never titled it in his name. He's going to look for his copy of the bill of sale from the guy he got it from. That should be all I need to cover my ass when I'm titling this bike, right?
I'm always a little leery of deals like this, the story has all the signs of a curber
(unlicensed dealer). I'm sure there ARE people that trade vehicles for services rendered, but if you look at Craigslist you'll see a disproportional HIGH number of vehicles for sale that were obtained in barter for "work I did for a guy". Here there is a guy named Josh, that moves dozens of vehicles every year, and he always uses the same reason he doesn't have the title in his name, "traded for a job he did for a guy".
I don't know how YOU feel about the possibility of dealing with a curber, I'll do it if it's something I want, but I'll also thoroughly inspect the vehicle, trust NOTHING the seller says about services and maintenances performed, it's accident history or anything else. The curber is covered by "well, that's what the guy I got it from told me, I'm just as much a victim as you" if anything goes wrong.
Above all else, IF I feel like I am dealing with a curber, I can and will be downright abusive in negotiations (I know HE was when he acquired the vehicle). If nothing else, the fact that there is a chance you'll get hosed on the deal with the title NOT being in his name lowers the value of the bike.