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Discussion Starter #1
So I have the option to get a 1980 Yamaha Midnight Special, and I've talked the guy down from 600 to 475. The only issue is the fact that the buyer states that when it idles, it runs fine, but when you open the throttle, it has a knock in the engine. This would be my first bike, and I wouldn't mind having a spring project to work on and get ready by summer, but I want to know how labor and monetarily consuming this problem might be to fix. I have some mechanical knowledge, and I have a couple friends that work on bikes quite frequently, but I don't want to sink a bunch of time and money into this bike if it's never going to run quite right. I know that an engine knock in a car can sometimes be a death sentence, but I've been told on a couple other forums, and through some research that it's not necessarily as big of an issue when it comes to bikes, especially older ones, because of the ease of access and simplicity of the mechanisms. I'd just like to get some more input from some more experienced mechanics before I decide to buy or not. Any and all input appreciated.

Thanks,

John
 

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The first thing you need to do is check parts availability for a 34 year old bike. I don't know anything about this bike specifically, but parts just aren't readily available for many old bikes.

Have you heard it run? Have you heard this knock for yourself? I wouldn't touch it if not.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I haven't personally seen the bike. There is an ad with pics on CL, but I can't post the URL until I get 15 posts in here. I'd go take one of my gearhead buddies to check it out with me, but I don't have a car at the moment, which is one of my reasons for wanting a bike. I could potentially get out there to check it, but I don't want to waste three hours of my life if it's not even worth it in the first place.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I just did a workaround and posted pictures of the bike, along with the original ad in an album on my profile. Again, any and all input appreciated.
 

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So you would consider three hours to check it out a waste but not the money you could be potentially wasting? I don't get that thought process. The knock could be anything from a rod bearing to carbon build up in the head. If you're not willing to go see and hear it then go with grace and take your chances. Remember, people lie, good possibility it won't even start.

And then you have to consider, how long since it's been ridden? Tires good? Lines degraded? Chain and sprockets okay? Wheels bent? And please god lose the king/queen seat, there's several hundred dollars right there. Is the tank rusty inside? Carbs gunked up?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It would just be a hassle to try and arrange a way to get out there, and have that coincide with one of my mechanic friends availability. Plus, I work all the time on odd shifts, so things are always up in the air. I get what you're saying though, I might just go out and do a preliminary check and see if, like you say, it even starts. Then, depending on the feel I get from the owner and the bike, I could arrange to go out again with someone that has a little know-how.

Thanks Murph.
 

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I think for a first bike I'd get something that's running enough to ride for a while. You'll have plenty of wrench time I guarantee.
 

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Depending on which "Midnight Special" it is (850 or 1100 in 1980), at that price, there is most likely something really wrong - they are becoming somewhat collectible and commanding decent prices, if in good shape, of course.

Both are as reliable as a rock, for the most part. The knock, does it go away, get worse, so many questions, so many possibilities - cam chain tensioner (easy fix) or a rod (huge $$$).

I dunno, need more info, but I have to agree with others, probably best to get something that may have the potential to not cost a fortune to fix.

At that price, it's hard to say no, if it presents itself well.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Any idea what questions I should ask/ any type of information I could get out of him to make it easier for you guys to give me advice?
 

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Questions are not going to help. Many salesmen will mislead you with what they don't say or "don't know". You need to see it run and it needs to run well for more than a few seconds. If you have a license you need to ride it and check clutch action, brakes, engine acceleration/power and so on. If you don't have the license or they will not allow a test ride, walk away. There are plenty of good bikes out there for what you are willing to pay.
 
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