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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Kind of a tangent to the "first bike" question, and I'm sure this is a loaded question, but at what point does mileage become a concern? Most of us new riders are looking at used bikes, and it seems evident finding a bike with, say, 5,000 miles wouldn't be a problem. I've seen a lot of bikes with 10k to 20k miles, but also a number with considerably more. Maintenance is obviously key, and buying from an original owner who has all maintenance records would be ideal, but if you purchase a used bike from a shop, if it's anything like the car world, you don't typically get any maintenance records with that. A couple of shops I'm looking at appear to give a short warranty (like 30 days) on bikes, but not all dealers I've talked to do that. Thoughts?

John Meggers
Naples, FL
 

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So much depends on the history of the bike. And as you have noted, sometimes you just don't know. But, there are clues you can pick up in a thorough examination and test ride of the bike, and you can also make some assumptions just based on the type of bike. For instance, a hot, high-revving sport bike is not likely to have been ridden sedately by a little old lady only on her way to church on Sunday, nor is a Gold Wing likely to have been ridden hellbent-for-leather by some pimply-faced punk racer-wannabe.
 

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It depends a lot on the bike, some are known to last longer than others, and of course on the rider and maintenance, as previously mentioned...I'd feel safer buying a well maintained Goldwing with 100K on it than a beat up sportbike with 10K.

Give us some details about as bike that your considering and we might be able to offer some insight.

I can give you one personal example though, I was concerned about buying a 6 year old touring bike with 45k miles on it a few years ago, I did some research and found that this particular bike was known to last a long time, often going 150K or more and the price was excellent so I went for it. 3 years later that bike has 98K miles on it and is my daily ride to work, and the only thing I have had go wrong other than routine maintenance was a fuel pump that failed and had to be changed, a $200 part.
 

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.... I'm sure this is a loaded question, but at what point does mileage become a concern?
How long is a piece of string?

A daily rider will probably clock up 10,000 miles a year. A seasonal, weekend rider might only
do a small fraction of that.

There are many variables to consider. The age of the bike. Type of bike. As oldenslow
says above, sports bikes might have endured a harder life than long distance tourers.
Service history. Oil changes, valve clearance etc....


finding a bike with, say, 5,000 miles wouldn't be a problem.
5,000 miles is very low mileage by any measure. For most modern bikes,
the recommended oil change interval is longer than this.

I've seen a lot of bikes with 10k to 20k miles.
I would expect to see this kind of mileage on any bike 1-3 years or older.
If the mileage was much lower than this on an older machine, I would suspect
that the mileage had been tampered with "clocked".

....but also a number with considerably more.
That shouldn't be a problem in most cases. We take it for granted that
cars or trucks will run for hundreds of thousands of miles without any
major issues. There is no reason why bikes can't do the same.
My old Kawasaki has only done 76,000 miles. I would be very disappointed
if it didn't last for twice that distance. My friend's Honda Gold Wing is at
140,000+ and he is planning to ride it to Russia this year.

There are differences between types, models, brands and engine sizes.
A large capacity tourer or sports-tourer should be good for very long
distances. I would have a bit less faith in a small capacity two-stroke,
although there are a few cases of 50-125cc two-stroke engines covering
huge mileage.


Maintenance is obviously key,
Oil changes and valve clearance checks/adjustment are particularly important.
Other forms of neglect can often be corrected after you buy the bike.

and buying from an original owner who has all maintenance records would be ideal
In this part of the world, a bike without full service history will sell for a
significantly lower price.
 

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In the UK every vehicle has a logbook. Here in the States not so much.
 

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In the UK every vehicle has a logbook. Here in the States not so much.
The UK has mandatory road-worthiness testing for motorcycles and other vehicles.
The MOT (Ministry of Transport) test details can be checked on-line, so it is
easy for a buyer to check the mileage recorded at each annual test. This is
one reason why many Irish buyers go to the UK to buy used bikes.

Here in Ireland, we have testing for private cars and a separate test
for trucks and commercial vehicles. There is no testing for motorcycles,
so there is no 'official' record of a bike's mileage.

A detailed service history is the only proof
of mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Give us some details about as bike that your considering and we might be able to offer some insight.
I don't have one specific target in mind right now. I've been looking mainly on CycleTrader in my general geographic area, and after reading a bunch of reviews, etc., at this point I think I think I'm leaning toward the Honda Shadow, although I'm still trying to get my head around the different trim packages and when they were available. I'm trying to keep my investment under around $3k (not a hard ceiling, just a target I set initially), so that means looking at bikes that are a few years old. So, for example, I see a 2009 Shadow with 29k miles, and based on what you say, it sounds like that's not unreasonable. And there are lower-mileage examples out there (e.g., a 2004 with 11k miles), even some considerably less (e.g., a 2007 with 3,700 miles) but those are higher priced (that one is in the mid-4s).
 

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I'd take a touring bike with 50k miles on it before I would a sport bike with 12k. You can almost bet your last dollar that the touring bike has be maintained. There is just something about breaking down on the road that those owners just don't care for. Then you can take off parts of a tourer you don't care for and make it what you want to boot. Not likely you can make it sort bike though if that's what you are after.:smile:
 

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My own personal experience...several years ago I bought a 2004 Suzuki SV650 with like 4000 miles on it. It was 11 years old and a couple people advised me to the possibility of having problems down the road due to not having been ridden enough, or often enough. I had the bike about a year I think. It was a good bike, but developed a serious shifting problem and I ended up selling it. I can't say for sure that this was due to it sitting in the previous owner's garage for months and months at a time, but that is my suspicion.
 

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Keep in mind also -- you are shopping at the highest-priced time of the year. I know, I know -- you have made up your mind to buy, and you want a bike now. But if you can wait until later in the year -- even as early as August or thereabouts -- a lot of those bikes you're seeing now will still be for sale, and at lower prices. I picked up my oh-so-nice '08 Suzuki Boulevard C50 (13k miles) early last October for $2750, a good $1000 or so under book value, well-equipped and sporting brand new Michelin Commander II tires.

At the very least -- don't let yourself get rushed.
 
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