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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I looked at one of these on Saturday, its been sitting for a long time in a shed. Its going to need a battery, a carb and fuel tank cleaning, and new tires at the very least. Its got a few dings in the tank and both fenders are out of shape. It belongs to an 80 year old man who said he bought it but realized he was too old to ride. He bought it new in 95.
I've got a few buddies with Bonnevilles but this thing is different, its got a water cooled triple, a mono shock rear suspension, and huge looking tank.
The bike is borderline rough, its hard to tell how much of the damage was from him riding it or from sitting in an old shed with stuff falling on it. It looks good from about 15 ft away. There's no rust, the tank looks pretty clean but the gas is old. It has spark and compression but won't fire off of starting fluid.
Its got a lot of add on chrome and two leather saddle bags. I see road rash on the headlight on both sides but no other damage, so its hard tell how that got there. I would think the bar ends and levers would have gotten damaged as well if it went down. The rear fender is crunched into the back tire from behind and its cracked from where its been pushed in and out a few times.
The bike is showing only 4,880 miles on it. The speedo works when I spin the front wheel. The tires are Avon brand, and badly dry rotted. The front tire is split right down the middle, almost in two. Its got aluminum rims, SS spokes, and a ton of chrome that's likely been added. Chrome Valve cover, radiator covers, side covers, stepped aftermarket saddle, and a gell battery that's completely dead.

The exhaust appears all stock, yet its got a K&N air filter and modified air box. The carbs are likely stock. The guy said anything he had done was done before he took delivery of the bike at the dealer. its never been back since other than for its first service.

I have zero experience with these bikes or this motor.
I was thinking the bike was fairly cheap at $850 but after looking around for some parts it needs I'm not so sure?
The good things I see is that its got dead even compression and low miles, there's no rust from sitting outdoors and most of the damage is cosmetic other than the things that it needs to run.
The good is that the damage is minor other than the rear fender, that needs to be replaced. The front fender can be painted or replaced. the dents in the tank can likely be removed without paint work by a paintless dent guy. The headlight ring is mashed on both sides, but that's cosmetic, and I suppose I could straighten and paint that if it really bothered me or buy a used one online eventually.
The immediate fixes would be battery, tires, and a carb cleaning, and do a temporary fix on the crack in the back fender for now.

My concerns are about the bike itself, I've never had good luck with mono shock type bikes, I'm a big guy at 6ft 3in tall and roughly 350 lbs. The fit on the bike is ok, but it sits low under my weight. (So do most other bikes of this type).
since I'm unable to test drive it I'm going in blind as far as how these handle and ride.
Its a 6 speed trans, so I'm guessing the power is likely sufficient for most uses but I read more bad about these online than good from the magazine guys but I've disagreed with many magazine reviews in the past. Most of the complaints I read say the bike rides terrible and handles like a wet pig.
They said my Suzuki Intruder was a great bike with excellent predictable handling and its likely the worst bike I've ever owned for handling and ergonomics.

Are there any owners here with first hand opinions?
 

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Swamp Rat Rider
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Myself would walk away .. $850 is a Great Price but if won't start at least for a few seconds with Starting Fluid might find yourself having bought an Expensive Boat Anchor/Money Pit .. Might consider it if I was good Triumph Wrench but know little about them and too late in life for me to learn ..
 

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Myself would walk away .. $850 is a Great Price but if won't start at least for a few seconds with Starting Fluid might find yourself having bought an Expensive Boat Anchor/Money Pit .. Might consider it if I was good Triumph Wrench but know little about them and too late in life for me to learn ..
I would agree. this is too much to pay for any bike that will not even start or run.
 

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The Thunderbird 900 is a wonderful bike. They ooze tons of character, not only in the looks department, but in the ride too. They're best known for their Bullet proof triple cylinder Hinckley motors, they tend to run problem free forever. I had one and sold it in 2015 (Pic below). Unfortunately I agree with the others, it sounds like it would cost way too much to restore, and you would never recoup your money back. Besides, there are still plenty still available for sale in much better condition.




A short video of what it sounded like after I did a slight exhaust modification.



 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I decided to pass on it. After looking at how scarce used parts are and how expensive they were, I'll look else where.
It just had too many unknowns to take the chance on it. After I added up everything it likely needs just from sitting as well as considering my time that I'd have to put into it as well as the parts cost, it was just too much money.
 

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If you think he may agree, ask him if you can work on it in his garage and if you can get it running, you'll give him the $850.

I'd work on getting it to fire with starting fluid and then give him the $850.

" After looking at how scarce used parts are and how expensive they were"
Worst case scenario, you could part the bike out and get your money back or more.
 

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I had gone as far as trying to get it to crank over with a booster box but the best I could get was to get it to crank really slowly. It had spark, but I think either the battery in it was shorted or the starter was bad. I don't think the motor was the problem but I didn't go that far. He kept on about how he needed to use two car batteries to get it to start every spring after it sat. With the list of parts it needed and the sellers odd excuses I got a bad feeling and walked away.
I had already wasted half a day there. I was only interested if it was something I could clean the carbs and the fuel tank and go riding but it needed too much. The more I thought about it, the list got longer. a carb job, clean out the tank, tires, mirrors, a headlight bucket and ring, a rear fender, the seat vinyl felt stiff or dried out so it likely would need a seat soon, and a ding or two in the tank. I'm not looking for a long term project and if I was, I just didn't see that bike being a project I wanted to take on. If it were an air cooled model, like a Bonneville, or an older bike maybe, but my time is worth too much to spend on a run of the mill bike that's in rough shape due to neglect. I'd take a bike with more miles over a low mile bike that's been beat up in the garage or dropped. There were too many variables and the seller kept tossing out excuses for every little thing I found wrong.
A buddy said he sold it today after his daughter put it up online. Better them than me to deal with all the issues.
The one thing that killed the deal for me was seeing that the fuel tank was badly rusted and had been coated rather than cleaned out properly. I've got bikes that I've owned for 30 years, I've not once had to coat a tank on a bike. I've had to clean and de-rust a few that sat but never had one get so bad that I had to resort to coating the inside of the fuel tank. Something in the back of my mind is that the bike could have been a flood victim at some point. Being so close to the shore, I've seen dozens of old bikes that have been sitting that got exposed to saltwater in one of the big storms over the past 10 years or so. The more I thought about how the tank likely got that way, the less I wanted to take a chance on that bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I didn't even go that far with it, once I took an inventory of all it needed and the amount of time it would take to make it 100% again I was ready to walk away. I didn't even thing about it maybe being a flood bike.
I just can't believe how many people let some really nice bikes get so screwed up by leaving them outside year round here.
I was leery when I couldn't find a way to make the motor turn over and it wouldn't push in gear. I looked at another one this morning that was the same way, all the hardware was rusty, the pipes were changed and still rusty, and the seat was sun baked. Both of them were a bit different than the bike pictured above. These both had lots more chrome. The radiator, valve cover, air box cover, side covers and headlight buckets were chrome. The bike I looked at this morning had a chrome front fender.
The minute I walked up to the bike this morning I was already over it. The aftermarket exhaust, grips, mirrors, and seat turned me off. I've had it with bikes modified with cheap aftermarket parts.
 

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I didn't even go that far with it, once I took an inventory of all it needed and the amount of time it would take to make it 100% again I was ready to walk away. I didn't even thing about it maybe being a flood bike.
I just can't believe how many people let some really nice bikes get so screwed up by leaving them outside year round here.
I was leery when I couldn't find a way to make the motor turn over and it wouldn't push in gear. I looked at another one this morning that was the same way, all the hardware was rusty, the pipes were changed and still rusty, and the seat was sun baked. Both of them were a bit different than the bike pictured above. These both had lots more chrome. The radiator, valve cover, air box cover, side covers and headlight buckets were chrome. The bike I looked at this morning had a chrome front fender.
The minute I walked up to the bike this morning I was already over it. The aftermarket exhaust, grips, mirrors, and seat turned me off. I've had it with bikes modified with cheap aftermarket parts.
Sounds like you should consider raising your budget a little and look for a bike with less issues. I know in the market that I'm in, good deals on used bikes pop up from time to time. Here, you just have to act fast though because a lot of people are looking for them. For instance, I paid around $2000 for the Thunderbird 900 in the photo that I posted. Cosmetically it was in pretty good condition. It had a couple of issues, mostly electrical problems, things like lights & switches that didn't work, bar ends and mirrors missing. But I repaired it and used it until I sold it for a decent profit. Today anything under $1000 wont get anything but maybe a decent 50cc scooter, anything else will require a little time and a little money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I really didn't set any budget when looking around, it just popped up by word of mouth at first, then later on CL.
The next cheapest bike I've seen lately with a title was in the $3k range and it wasn't much better. It seems most of the bikes here for sale are either later model bikes that people can't afford to keep up the payments on or flood bikes that have been sitting. I've looked at more than a dozen bikes over the past 6 months that looked like they were dunked in saltwater.

I just got back from looking at a 2015 Sportster that was listed at $2500. The bike was completely trashed, the transmission was a mess, there was blue silicone hanging out of the case halves, and nearly every bolt on part had been swapped for some cheap aftermarket chrome bits. The pic in the ad showed a bike that was nearly mint.

I looked at a Honda Shadow two weeks ago, the guy said it was garage kept, supposedly had only 8K on the clock and it had only fallen over once, thus the sale. The damage was almost undetectable in the pics he posted and sent me. When I got there the bike looked like it slid for a half a mile on a cobble stone road. The seat was shredded, the forks were bent, the bars were bent, and the side covers on the left side were ground down. The tank was mashed in on the side and corner, the shifter was folded under the frame and jammed.
The guy finally admitted the bike had a 'few' accidents' but he didn't think that was worth noting since the damage was 'minor'. The bike was scrap in my opinion. It was wrapped up in a blue tarp that had seen better days out behind a store in an alley, and it looked like it had been there for months. The bike had no tags on it and the title was a duplicate.
He went on to say that the bike had been totaled and the insurance company had paid him for the bike, he had somewhere along the line lost and gotten a duplicate title and kept riding the bike. A later VIN check showed the bike as salvaged and destroyed 9 years prior. He was trying to sell the bike with a dead title.

I like the look of the Triumph bikes, mainly the vintage styled models, but so far anything I've seen that's even slightly salvageable around here has been upwards of $8k. That's out of my budget.
I paid $200 for my current bike, it was rough but it cleaned up nice. My last bike was $850, it was older but super clean.
I'm always looking for my next ride or something better. This one just wasn't it.
 
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