What is Considered High Mileage for a Motorcycle?
If you’re in the market for a second-hand or used bike, then the question of ‘what is considered high miles on a motorcycle’ will probably be the first thing that comes to mind in terms of things to consider.
You see lots of 18,000 mile bikes that are in perfect condition and wonder whether they are reasonable mileage and then what you should pay for them given the usage. Clearly, all things staying the same you’d pay more for a 4,000 mile bike over one that has 20,000 miles.
While it isn’t everything, understanding the mileage of a motorcycle will give you a good indication of the actual age of the motor and health of the motorcycle (to some degree). It is a good litmus test.
Of course, a low-mileage motorcycle will probably be a bit more expensive compared to a high-mileage unit, simply because the motor is considered ‘newer’ than a bike with hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer.
However, low-mileage does not necessarily mean the motorcycle is better, or fresher, or even newer. We recommend not just checking the total accrued mileage of the bike but also dive into the full service history of the bike to understand its background. If a bike doesn’t have a full service history that’s not a bike we’d buy.
We’d contend that it is better to buy a high-mileage bike with complete service records, rather than buy a newer bike that was serviced only once or twice since it was bought brand new or has spotty records that come with it.
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What is considered high miles on a motorcycle?
It really depends. A motorcycle engine with 40,000 to 50,000 miles is considered a high-mileage bike in some circles. But if this particular motorcycle has complete maintenance records, has no evidence of physical damage, and the engine has no oil leaks, then this is considered a good buy.
We’ve heard of a rider who has a 20 year old Honda Goldwing with over 277,000 miles on it and it still runs strong, uses no oil he still puts over 6,000 miles on it in each year. The key to longevity is like any other machine – maintenance. Oil change every 3,000 miles and regular service will keep them going a long time.
If you were looking at a sports bike, then 25,000 miles is already considered high-mileage, because sport bikes have high-revving engines, and are typically driven very aggressively by their owners. It is less about the bike and more about how the bike has been ridden. That’s why sport bikes to have a shorter life expectancy compared to cruisers, touring bikes, and even choppers. Don’t be surprised if you buy a sports bikes and find out you will need an engine rebuild at 25,000 miles (doesn’t always happen of course).
Note that water cooled engines tend to last longer than air cooled ones as they run cooler which make a huge difference in longevity.
Overall, motorcycle’s service records, history and owners habits are more important than the actual mileage.
Service records are more important than the mileage!
A prime example of a good used bike is the presence of a complete service record. This means that the bike was serviced accordingly since it was bought new, and that preventive maintenance procedures were expertly performed at appropriate intervals.
Not all bikes are the same, and the manufacturer will outline important preventive maintenance checks for every interval, in accordance with the recommendations indicated in the service manual. Check both the service history of a bike AND what was recommended by the manufacturer.
You might be looking at a cruiser with more than 50,000 plus miles on the odometer, but if the bike was religiously maintained, then the mileage count is not that important. With regular maintenance, 25,000 miles is probably no problem whatsoever on a sportbike, however with serious neglect and poor service, 25,000 could mean a tired motor on it’s last legs.
Here’s what you should do: if you have your heart set on a pre-loved bike, and you think that the mileage is quite high, you should use this to get a discount, or maybe use this as a selling point so you can pay less money on a bike. You can always ask to have the bike checked by a licenced mechanic who will be able to look for obvious signs of abuse or care.
How to keep your high-mileage motorcycle running like new
Keep these tips in mind so you can keep your high-mileage motorcycle running like new!
1. Break-it-in like a pro!
If you just bought a bike and you want to keep it running like new, then you better know how to break-in the engine properly. If your old bike had an engine rebuild, you need to break—in the engine like it’s a new engine. The break-in period of most motorcycles is the first 500 to 1,000 miles.
During this time, there is still a lot of internal friction inside the engine, so keep the following in mind:
- Avoid using more than ¾ of the throttle for the first 500 to 1,000 miles.
- Avoid excessive engine speeds at any given gear.
- Avoid hard stops, jackrabbit acceleration and aggressive starts.
- Avoid lugging your motor. Always downshift before the motor begins to labor.
- Always use the highest gear possible.
2. Follow the recommendations in the service manual.
It doesn’t matter if your bike has 2,000 miles or 60,000 miles. You should strictly follow and observe the maintenance guidelines in the service manual.
This will not only include regular oil changes and lubrication, but this will include checking the valve adjustment, servicing the brakes, and inspecting or replacing the primary chains in the transmission.
3. Always check the air filter.
Checking the air filter is one of the most basic maintenance procedures that every motorcyclist should know.
If your air filter is dirty, clogged, damaged, loose, or missing then you are essentially letting the engine suck in dirt and debris. This is not good.
You should regularly replace or wash the air filter if you ride your motorcycle in dusty and sandy areas.
Remember that engine failure or breakdown will result if the engine sucks in even the smallest amount of dirt or grit.
4. Use coolant instead of water.
If you have a liquid-cooled motorcycle, you should use the prescribed amount of coolant and water in the radiator.
Coolant contains additives that will lubricate the internal components of your radiator. This helps to prevent rust and corrosion from building up inside the radiator tubes.
You should also drain, flush, and replace the coolant at least every two years to prevent overheating and water pump failure.
5. Inspect the final drive periodically.
You should inspect the motor chain, sprocket wear and rear drive housing periodically, even when there is nothing wrong with the bike. Keep the chains well lubricated and properly adjusted. This alone will keep your high—mileage motorcycle running like new!
Conclusion. There is More to Motorcycle Mileage Than Meets the Eye.
What is considered high mileage on a motorcycle? It really depends on how well the bike was serviced. If you think that 25,000 miles is considered high-mileage, it is more important to check the service records to determine the actual condition of the bike.