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Older Bike Maintenance and Repair

2615 Views 16 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Kathy M
I've been looking the past the past few months for my first bike. I've been looking at early to mid 2000 Honda Shadows, Yamaha V-Stars etc... I happened upon an earlier thread on this forum discussing dealers/mechanics not wanting to work on older bikes for certain reasons. Should this be a concern? If I get an older bike, how hard will it be to get someone to work on it? While I'm OK turning a wrench, I've never worked on a MC before. Do any on this forum ever host or participate in wrenching parties for the less skilled to help build the necessary skills needed to maintain one's own bike? If not working on older bikes is the norm, is it any brand, or a Honda thing? Thanks.
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Anything built in the last 15 years shouldn't be a problem to get a dealer to work on. As slow as the dealers are around here, they'd probably take any work they could get.

Older bikes are going to be a problem getting parts for and getting one to work on.

You're best bet? Work on your own. If you can work on a car, you can work on a bike.

It wouldn't hurt to call your local dealers and independent shops to find out what they do or don't work on.
I just bought another "old" bike, a 1987 vt1100c and would do it again, and again. They are simple to maintain, and have already lost the depreciation the newer bikes lose for years. As long as you check it out before the sale, its hard to go wrong with an "older" bike.-------Metalguy
I wouldn't call any bike from 20.. anything OLD or older. That said I also would treat a 2011 used bike the same as a 1980 bike. The older the bike is the more maintenance I PLAN to do, before I will trust it. I do not use a shop except in emergency cituations. With a manual and a cleared kitchen floor, a first timer can do almost anything in a weekend.
Thats old?

I've worked on all types of bikes all my life and over the years, there's been many changes in how stuff is manufactured. I stay away from computer fuel injection just for the simple fact that I'm an old school carb guy and like the simplicity of the older style fuel systems which are easier for me to figure out when tuning them.
I figure an "old bike" is one that's hard to find parts for (or still has drum brakes in the front) Most popular brands (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki or Kawasaki or even Harley) still have most parts readily available and can also be found used in most cases if money is an issue.
In all cases, the first thing I buy for a bike when I get one is a Clymer or Haynes shop manual and go from there. That should give you all the information you need to turn a wrench on them. I rare cases, there's always internet forums that help alot also.
old? you call that old? i would put my old bike up against any bike half it's age. of course i did have to get 3 of them to insure a parts supply. it is fun to rip it apart and put it back together, hop on and ride it like you stole it then repeat.
Anything that isn't ten years old or older isn't really considered "old", especially since most bikes have very few miles actually put on them.

It's just dealers do not like to deal with old bikes because:
-sometimes parts are hard or impossible to find, unless it comes from another junk bike.
-the labor costs of fixing an old bike can easily exceed the value of the bike.

Now, if you're just paying them to service a bike (no matter how old, really), they won't give you any flack for it. And for the year range you're shopping you, you should have no issues finding a shop to work on it should you need one.

But in all honestly, working on a bike is many times easier than working on your own car. If you can turn a wrench, you can do most maintenance ever required of a bike.
I have a 78 Goldwing I have rebuilt. Yes most shops will not work on one that old unless they are specialty shops like Randakk. But I do all the wrenching on my bikes anyway. That is my getaway. The wife can have her dance shows... give me some good music, a wrench and a bike and I am in my zone. Anything from 15 to maybe 20 yr old shouldn't be a real problem unless you are dealing with a real jerk.
Put it this way, as long as the bike you are looking at is still in production or was in production recently, parts will be relatively easy to find and dealers will still work on your bike.

Bikes like the older Goldwings, CX's, CMX's, CB's (most of them), Nighthawks, Magnas, older Shadows, etc., are generally getting harder to find parts for and therefore most dealers won't work on them outside of regular maintenance.
One thing to remember is to check how long that model was produced, On the Shadow Spirit 1100 I was looking at a 2001 and a 2002 for the same price, I chose the 01 because it had some extras on it. But they are the same bike and very little on them if anything at all gets changed, I think in 97 they where changed to a different tank and some other changes and a different transmission, but all the way to 2007 when the stopped making the spirit 1100 there all basically the same and use most of the same parts, so even though I have a 2001 there are plenty of parts because the model was stopped only 4 years ago. The ones that are harder to find parts for are the 80's models but there are so many out there most parts can be found on ebay anyway, but some things are harder to find. On 2000 and up models, parts will be around for a very long time from now.

Bikes with long production runs will have plenty of used parts available. I would check with eBay to see if parts are available. Some old bikes, especially the '80s bikes, are rock solid and reliable. You may need to find a smaller shop to work on your bike, or learn to do it yourself.

In general, bikes are simpler than cars.
Thanks all. That's reassuring to hear. Now I just need to find a bike that someone doesn't think was molded out of gold. I think I picked the wrong time of the year to find a bike. I'm not a scrooge but I am conscientious with my money. I don't want to overpay for something if I can help it. I know there are some deals to be had; just need to find one closer to home.

Texson: I'm with ya! If my wife watches one more reality show, I'm going to perform a frontal labotomy on myself. My garage will become my permanent home. Come to think of it, that might not be too bad.
If I look on eBay for parts for my 28 year old bike, on any given day there over 20 pages listed. The early cruizers sold like hot cakes. Mechanical parts aren't too hard to find. It's the cosmetic parts you have to dig for. Put it this way, old dirt bikes are even harder to find parts for. I was able to restore these with original parts...

1984 Kawasaki KX125C

1979 Yamaha IT175F
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Thanks all. That's reassuring to hear. Now I just need to find a bike that someone doesn't think was molded out of gold. I think I picked the wrong time of the year to find a bike. I'm not a scrooge but I am conscientious with my money. I don't want to overpay for something if I can help it. I know there are some deals to be had; just need to find one closer to home.
It is definitely harder to find good deals in the spring and summer. First two bikes I bought were in the late fall/early winter, both sold because the previous owners were in a bind and needed money fast. If you have the patience to wait, you can come across some really good deals. But that's easier said than done. Good luck in your search :mrgreen:

Edit: Not sure where you live, but sometimes there are better deals to be had if you look in nearby large cities on I don't know what it is about larger cities, but bikes generally sell cheaper there (I guess because there is more competition from other owners). Some will even arrange to meet you halfway or deliver to you depending on how much you offer, etc.
I find bikes get way cheaper when they are broken. The added benefit is that you get to really check the bike out while it is disassembled, and by the time you are done, any future mechnical work you do won't seem so intimidating.
Agree with everything said. My local shop initially didn't want to touch My BMW due to its age, until they saw it and realized it was in good condition. All's I needed was the front fork seals replaced, 'cuz I didn't want to do it myself. After seeing and working on the bike now, though, they're good to go if I want more work on it. I did everything else myself, it's not that hard. Lots of parts still available for the bikes that had high production numbers.

One bonus to waiting 'til toward the end of the season, if you have to, is that you can spend the winter fixing it up and making it your own :) Repairing and customizing a bike also creates a wonderful Xmas wish list ;) You also really get to know all its nuances when you do your own work, and learn a ton in the process :)
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