- This topic has 6 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 6 years, 7 months ago by Sean.
Buying older bikes (as in 20-40 years old)
August 7, 2010 at 8:05 am #4156camsch2112Participant
I love the vintage look of older motorcycles. Like the yamahas of the 70s. Is it a bad idea for my first bike to be an old one? And any tips on buying used, old bikes?August 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm #27985WeaponZeroParticipant
i would advise against buying an older bike for your first bike. you want to be sure that the bike you use to learn on and get comfortable riding on is reliable, mechanically sound, and hasnt been affected too much by metal fatigue over the years. your best bet IMO would be to purchase a newer bike to learn on and an older bike to use as a project bike. learning while fixing it up. once the project is completed and 100% streetable you should have enough riding experience under your belt to be able to ride one of those awesome older literbike standards such as the Kawasaki Z1R or Yamaha XS1100.August 8, 2010 at 1:36 am #27974TrialsRiderParticipant
I’ve been going to CVMG Vintage motorcycle rallies for years and afforded the opportunity to ride numerous extremely old motorcycles, with some of the nicest runners being from the 1930’s and 1950’s, but most because the owners had spent countless hours in rebuilding and restoring them to a state of almost priceless art. The rarest ‘non-restored’ motorcycle I ever test rode was a pre-unit BSA single ( making it older than 1958 ) everything original, faded paint, rust, died out leather and all. But the thing ran perfect and was complete, in every respect a terrific bike. The dealer ( a very close friend now deceased ) had just acquired it and spent only a few hours cleaning it up and replacing all of the fluids, he offered to trade me even for my 1986 BMW K100RS and it was difficult not to take up the offer. ( wife thought I was nuts and talked me out of it ) The point of all this; these experiences have convinced me, with sufficient care and maintenance, good motorcycles last forever. And if you really, really want an old bike, but don’t have the time and trade to make one perfect yourself, Vintage Rallies are the place to shop. ( arrive early and be prepared to barter )
Now for the bad news; You are purchasing obsolete technology ( distributors only promise OEM parts for about 7 years ) so your best buy is a model that is still in current production. As a totally new rider, you will not be extended the opportunity to test ride anything. I’ve been doing this forever and can completely dismantle a motorcycle and reassemble it without a manual, or left over pieces, ( sorry ) …you can’t.
The best advice I can offer is; shop for a new or near new bike that has a retro look or retro history like a Royal Enfield, ride it, love it, take really good care of it, learn to service it yourself and own it for the next 40 years. Then you can go to the vintage rallies and have all of the newbies drool over it
BTW: most of the 70’s Yamaha’s were 2 strokes, except the 500 single and 650 twin, the 650 is not a good learner bike. Did you have a particular model in mind ?September 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm #28418MaxParticipant
It is very easy to tie up several thousand dollars just to make an old garage or barn bike safe and get it running….if you can find parts.September 2, 2010 at 11:47 pm #28442RabParticipant
Old bikes are a money pit and that’s if you can even find the parts. Possibly dangerous too due to metal fatigue, etc.
Look at the new Triumph Bonneville and T100s, the Ducati GT1000, the Moto Guzzi V7 Classic, Royal Enfield Bullet variants and the Harley Davidson Sportsters. All modern motorcycles with a retro look.
These are not the best beginner bikes IMO, but the Royal Enfields probably qualify as that. They’re 500 c.c. I think, but are single cylinder bikes which are built to a 1950s design so do not have the performance of modern 500 c.c. motorcycles.April 7, 2016 at 2:57 am #30103JamieGuest
I have to agree with the posters above. One I got a 1980 xs400 for my first bike. I did an entire engine rebuild on it and was ready to hit the road with my hipster helmet and everything.
But I quickly learned that I wasn't learning to ride a motorcycle. I was learning to ride a carburator. And one that always seems to deliver a different air fuel mixture. So Everytime I start my bike there's no consistency with the motor. It's been very difficult to learn on. I actually regret my purchase. As a milienial I have no experience with this technology. So it's hard for me to troubleshoot something I never grew up around.
My word of advice. Stay away from carbs and vintage bikes till your ready. Get something you can ride on everyday without struggling. Really learn how to ride. That's what's most inportantApril 23, 2016 at 8:56 pm #30131SeanGuest
I have a disagree with the bias against older bikes.
My bike is a 1979 gs850G (bigger than I would have chosen in CC's but it was a gift.)
strong stable motor, no plastics to break, parts are not hard to find if you look around.
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