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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone, so one of the things I'm also interested in over this coming summer is picking up an older bike as a side project. Probably nothing extreme in mind, just a simple rebuild if needed/a smidge of custom work. I'm on the prowl for something at least running to save a bunch of headaches, but I figure that tearing into a little project bike would be a great learning experience :D

I'm considering a Honda CB, Yamaha XS, Kawasaki KZ or Suzuki GS. No real brand preferences, but likely looking at late 70's through 80's as I'd rather have discs.

So onto the quasi question, anyone with tips or tricks to shopping for a used early model bike? One friend said to make sure theres no rust in the tank, just wondering if there are any other words of wisdom out there :D:D

Cheers!
 

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With bikes that are 30-35 years old you'll want to look for dry rot on any parts made of rubber, particularly oil seals, carb mounting flanges, and air box boots. Also, if you find a bike that looks to have potential I'd take a look at OEM parts availability for things it may need, as aftermarket parts availability tends to be somewhat limited for these older motorcycles. In some cases OEM parts also become obsolete, or NLA... but it is surprising how often you can still get many of the original factory parts, especially for older Hondas.
 

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overall condition. plus having availability in parts is very important

no matter how mint it is- you will have to replace parts eventually being an older bike
 

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I think its one of those things where you just have to do you r research. Look around at dealers who sell used bikes and on craigslist. Once you find one you think you like head down and check it out, but don't buy it on the spot. Check to see if there are enough compatible parts for this bike to be what you want it to be. I think it will become clear if a bike is a good choice for you if you just make sure to do the research and check for quality like these guys were saying before.
 

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well do research on the bike BEFORE looking for it.. dont go look for it and do research after. that makes no sense
Yea you can research the bike beforehand, I just don't like to buy things like this on the spot after the first time that I've looked at it. I like to weigh all my options first and maybe see a few different potential bikes before I decide on just one.

Have you checked around the used market yet? Are there a lot of options or is it a bit harder to find what your looking for than you thought?
 

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how hard is it to do compression checks on motorcycle engines? id imagine just as easy as on a car?
Depends on the motorcycle... on a single or twin cylinder it's generally much easier to do a compression test than on an inline four, due to easier cylinder head access.

Something to keep in mind when looking for a project bike, is that it costs a whole lot more to rebuild a multi-cylinder engine than it does with a single or a twin cylinder... some older used bikes may seem like a great deal initially, only to end up being a big money pit, and one in which you can never recoup what you put into it. For every relatively rare and sought after classic motorcycle* that is well worth restoring, there are dozens which are just plain old bikes and will never be worth very much... it's 'buyer beware' when it comes to the amount of cash you pour into these old 'non-classics'. There is that old saying "You can polish a turd all you want, in the end it's still a turd". ;)


* For example, putting money into restoring an a classic Honda CB750 is a much better bet than say doing the same with an old Yamaha Virago.
 
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It won't be about resale value for some people though, its just more about what they like. I would be more worried about the cost of working on the bike regardless of what the resale value would be, then I would what an investment the bike is. Obviously the ideal situation is to get a bike for a deal and then have it grow in value enormously, but in the end I think a project bike just has to make you happy, and hopefully that doesn't cost you an arm and a leg.
 

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Which goes for a lot of things like this, you always lose out, might as well focus on how much joy you can get out of it.
 

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I think that at this level if you are doing this for profit you have the wrong focus. A project bike is about working on the bike and the enjoyment of riding it after you've put work into it. You might get to sell it for more than you bought it for, but when you consider all the extra cost for parts and things that you've put into it, you'll never get it back.

How much money can you expect to sink into a project bike?
 

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I think that at this level if you are doing this for profit you have the wrong focus. A project bike is about working on the bike and the enjoyment of riding it after you've put work into it. You might get to sell it for more than you bought it for, but when you consider all the extra cost for parts and things that you've put into it, you'll never get it back.

How much money can you expect to sink into a project bike?
This is so true you're almost always at a loss here when it comes to these toys.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
thanks for the chip ins everyone! I actually went to go see an 82 KZ1100 over the weekend. Sounded like a great deal, guy wanted $1000, said it was plated last year. Unfortunately when he wheeled it out of the garage it was dusty as feck. Looked past that figuring could just be coincidence. Opened up the tank, no rust which was nice, it fired up but didnt idle clean, sounded like perhaps just a tune up was in order. It didnt have a headlamp or turn signals installed but the guy had the pieces.

The real issues showed up when you started examining rubber bushings and the like. Aged and cracked bad. Again not a MAJOR thing, the deal breaker for me was that it seemed too good to be true. Guy kept saying it needed next to nothing, kept saying it often enough that I figured he was trying to sell me something. Wouldn't let me test pilot either, even for a quick jaunt down his street. So I figured there may be some gearbox issues he was trying to keep quiet.

Oh well, the hunt continues :D
 

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thanks for the chip ins everyone! I actually went to go see an 82 KZ1100 over the weekend. Sounded like a great deal, guy wanted $1000, said it was plated last year. Unfortunately when he wheeled it out of the garage it was dusty as feck. Looked past that figuring could just be coincidence. Opened up the tank, no rust which was nice, it fired up but didnt idle clean, sounded like perhaps just a tune up was in order. It didnt have a headlamp or turn signals installed but the guy had the pieces.

The real issues showed up when you started examining rubber bushings and the like. Aged and cracked bad. Again not a MAJOR thing, the deal breaker for me was that it seemed too good to be true. Guy kept saying it needed next to nothing, kept saying it often enough that I figured he was trying to sell me something. Wouldn't let me test pilot either, even for a quick jaunt down his street. So I figured there may be some gearbox issues he was trying to keep quiet.

Oh well, the hunt continues :D
its when they say "it needed next to nothing" numerous of times that you have to worry a bit.

good you backed out of the deal
 
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