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Hey guys and gals - a friend of mine is in the market for a bike. Another friend has told me that his family has a 1988 Honda VT800C Shadow up for sale. The bike is apparently in awesome condition with the only downside being the amount of time the bike has been sitting. What should we check for when looking at a bike this old? i assume the tires will need replacing right off the bat and someone else told me to look in the gas tank for rust, but what are some other pitfalls?

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If your friend buys the bike, an oil change is definitely first on the list. I'd check ther rear gear oil and check and lube all the cables as well. The air filter may need replaced too. Depending on how long the bike's been sitting, the carbs may be a little tarnished. That, along with the things you mentioned should cover the basics. If it's a good price, I'd say...go for it! The '88 800's are kind of a one of a kind bike. I used to have an '86 700 which is pretty much the same bike except for the motor. Honda punched the motor out for '88 and that was the only year made. I've never heard of any real problems with this motor, and '86 & '87 parts should interchange for most of the bike. There may be some things I'm forgetting but I hope you find some of this usefull.
 

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the vt800's are great bikes (but I'm biased) - I'd: change the oil and filter, bleed the clutch and brake, lube the choke and throttle cables, change the final drive oil, change the fork oil - in that order of importance. You could also flush the coolant.

Also inspect the tires - like you said, it's likely they are somewhat cracked/dry rotted. If its sat long enough, the carbs may be gummed up and need to be removed and cleaned, but if its just running a little rough, try throwing some seafoam in the tank at each fill up during the season this year. Also manually inspect hoses and rubber for cracks and the tank for rust.

How long did it sit and did it sit inside or out?

Like GWS said, they are almost identical to the 86-87 vt700's, except for the 4 speed transmission, 100 extra cc's, some cosmetic differences, and a few other minor things.

They usually go for a decent amount more than their vt700 bretheren, because they were only made one year. In the last year, I've seen 3 really clean stock examples sell on ebay for 3,700, 4,300, and 5,700 (belive it or not!). Average good stock condition usually nets between 2,500 and 3,500.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me.
 
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