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Older bike with low kms - issues?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by mark59, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. I'm looking at older bikes around $5000, typically built around the turn of the century. A few of these appear to have very low ks as compared to many other bikes of a similar age.

    I've heard of oil sitting undisturbed for a decade does weird things to the gears. Carbies, fuel lines and tanks with petrol that has long since turned to jam. Coolant that's more like honey.

    What about the rubber parts - seals, brake lines, etc? Can these just perish away and all need replacement due to lack of regular servicing? Maybe some low kilometre bikes have NEVER been serviced?!

    I know its hard to be definitive but how many ks per year on average would be a safe minimum? And how likely is it that the clocks have been wound back any way?

    I'd just hate to overlook a genuine bargain (little old lady just rode it to church on Sundays) - just cos it looks too good to be true.

  2. How long is a piece of string?

  3. My advice if u have $5 k is to get a bike with efi first and foremost
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Servicing is every 12 months or x kms whichever comes first. If thats not done I would want a discount.

    Also if it hasnt been ridden regularly recently expect a new battery and a carb clean if not efi.
  5. Yeah.

    Rubber bits had it after 13-15 years? some, maybe. 14 years ain't that old...

    Brake lines can be looked at pretty easy. cracks on the outside? Leaks around the crimps.

    If they're seals in carbies or other engine bits then you they might show up in leaks, trouble starting or running when cold.

    If it's sat for years doing nothing maybe brake pistons a bit corroded and might stick.

  6. Twice it's half length!
  7. Also bear in mind that it depends on how much the person you're buying it from -who may not be the first or even second owner- has ridden it. They may have picked it up from someone's dusty garage then had it for the past couple of years, in which time they would probably have had to deal with most of the problems that would arise.

    So, yeah, the only real way to sort out the chaff is to talk to the seller and look at the bike :shrug:.
  8. Deep down you know the answer about older bikes
    Just be prepared to throw some $$$$ at your older model

    It's about your enjoyment and that smile you get - nothing like a classic
  9. If you're not comfortable with making a judgement call, take someone who is with you to inspect the bike- you may have to part with a 6 pack for someone's time but you'll make an informed decision and perhaps learn something. Nothing like looking at a bike with someone who knows their stuff and walking away (with or without the bike) with no regrets.

    I've had a few older bikes, so got nothing against them. But I always try to make informed choices. I've found you can read a lot about stuff on the net, but a picture tells a thousand words and every bike is different so yeh.
  10. its a judgement call but don't let an opportunity go buy pun intended.

    I bought my 97 EL with 12,000 ks on it, lady owner had it checked out all original genuine kays well looked after etc $2200 and two years 12000 ks later its still going strong.

    It just had intermediate service at 60 degrees & there's no issues or concerns.

    imo if you find something you like give it go.
  11. I bought a streetfightered Kwaka Zx750 (1997) sight unseen on ebay for two grand. So far I've had leaking fork seals and had to deal with shitty wiring by replacing it with my own shitty wiring. It had a new dash with 5000km on the odo so don't have a clue how many k's it's done.

    However I love the fcuking thing and it's teaching me about caring for older bikes, particularly about creating new shitty wiring.

    TL: DR buy an older bike, check what you can, be prepared to pay a bit to fix it up.
  12. #12 toadcat, Feb 13, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014
    Here's a pro tip that I found out after buying a 1999 bike with 9,000kms...
    Check the tyres have been replaced... I bought the bike the day after it had been road worthied and registered and the tyres 'looked' brand new.. Turns out they were the original tyres fitted in 1999 and had NO GRIP at all. The top layer of rubber would come off just from rubbing it with your finger since it had dried out so much. It had gone brittle and hard and would not wear down so they looked totally new.
    Go to the tyre's sidewall and look for a set of numbers - pre 99 it is a sequence of 6 - the actual numbers itself are now irrelevant and if there are 6 get a new set. Post 2000 there are 4 numbers, the first two are the week it was manufactured, the second two are the year. So a tyre with 5213 was made in the 52nd week of 2013. If they are older than 5 years they should be replaced, especially if they're a softer compound which will age quicker.
    Obviously if the tyre rubber is farked, there's a good chance other rubber seals and coolant hoses are probably well on their way to pasture now so getting them checked over is a must-do. Check the brake lines in particular - it might be a good opportunity to put on braided steel lines if they're old and cracked.
    Check that the carbies aren't gummed up and needing an overhaul - they almost certainly will. Check idle is nice and flat, all cylinder pipes are hot (i.e. that all are firing), spark plug condition etc.
    If it has been left outside in the rain for a lot of that time (or looks like it has) I would walk away. There will be serious corrosion issues and most likely when you go to change those hard, dry, brittle tyres the wheel nuts will have become one with the fork leg due to corrosion from rainfall. Under the tank cap there will probably be considerable rust or rust developing depending on the time it has spent outside in the rain. Things like changing ALL the fluids/plugs should go without saying.
    All in all, how long is a piece of string? How long has it been sitting? Where has it been sitting? These will determine how farked, if at all, the bike is.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. Also, what the fcuk happened to the formatting on this forum? Despite paragraphing painstakingly it just wall of texts it... Goodo.
  14. No issues at all.

    Like any bike, if the service history is up to date then it is fine. If the service history is NOT up to date, then all due items need to be refreshed. That includes coolants, hydraulic fluids, lubricants...

    Then there are all the other intangibles - like batteries, tyres, various hoses. Tyres for example may look like they've got plenty of tread, but if they are several years old then they would need to be replaced - not worth the risk of cracking. Headstem bearings - are they smooth, or have they developed corrosion spots and don't run smoothly? Same goes for all exposed bearings really.

    The list goes on, but obviously is commensurate with price. You could find a peach. Or you cold find a lemon. Largely depends on how it was stored.
  15. If you aren't familiar with mechanical inspections I'd really recommend paying the $200 odd for one - it would very easily give you $200+ in bargaining room anyway.
  16. 2000 isn't that long ago. Polymers (as used on bikes) have been pretty good since the 80s. So as Tasman said, replace all fluids is probably they only thing that is a given, after that it's more; take a looksie.

    You can replace fuel lines as precaution. I'd add vacuum lines to that. These often get overlooked as not being important, but can often cause problems with the running of a bike. For a few dollars, I'd replace them.

    Also, If the tyres are more than a few years old, I'd replace them, even if they have lots of tread. Been there. Tried to wear out some old tyres and eventually cottoned onto the fact they had gotten too hard over time. The difference on replacing them was phenomenal.

    And I assume you are taking a good look at the true condition of the bike to see if the ks are real. It's always good to be suspicious of motorcycle kms.
  17. As others have said, look at the current condition of the bike and if the owner rides it. I have bought low K and higher k bikes, and higher k's were generally in better condition. Every single bike I buy always gets a full service (performed by me) as soon as it's in my garage. While i'm doing it, I go over the bike in thorough detail to see if anything is amiss (rubber seals,wiring, vacuum lines etc) and correct it before I ride too much. I generally pull the battery and give it a full charge on the charger too, to give me an idea of what condition it's in.

    Logbooks for newer bikes are great, but for a $5K bike, it may be a bit of an ask (I dont think mine has a log book) for an older bike. Look at the colour of the oil, the condition of the chain, and a quick look on the inside of the fairing under the front sprocket to see if the person has cleaned all the usual areas up well. Condition of plastics (if faired) is also a good indicator if it was garaged or left out in the weather. Start the bike from cold, listen to the engine, and see how easy it starts, and what it warms up like. Ideally, take it for a quick spin to make sure all the gears engage properly and it rides smoothly with no strange noises/clunks. I will give it a quick rev (once warm) to ~1/2 revs and check for smoke also. If stands are available, put it on them and check wheel bearings/head stem bearings. You can also usually visually check brake pads to see how much meat they have on them.

    Without stripping bits off and doing compression tests etc, it's hard to know much more
  18. Visual aid:
  19. Best way to buy a bike me thinks. Like everyone said above, check the obvious (fluids, tires etc). I bought a 12 year old Ducati a couple of months ago with 5000 kilometers on it. Changed belts, fluids and it runs and looks like a new bike. Previous owner must have had it in the living room as an ornament!

    Do it!