How Many Miles is a Lot For a Motorcycle? Buying a High-Mileage Motorbike

One of the first questions you’ll probably ask yourself if you’re in the market for a used bike is:

How many miles is a lot for a motorcycle?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. There are a number of factors at play when you’re buying a second-hand bike. The miles are just one thing to consider.

For example, it’s not uncommon to see bikes like the Honda Goldwing or Suzuki V-Strom for sale with 50,000+ miles. On bikes like these, that’s just getting them broken in. On the other hand, you could go look at a sport-bike with a measly 8,000 miles that’s all beat up and in poor condition.

high mileage suzuki vstrom
Can you see why it’s not all about the mileage?

Even with these examples, knowing what to look for when it comes to high mileage motorcycles will give you a better idea of the overall health of the bike. This will be the best equipped to find a well used motorcycle for a price that’s in your budget.

Don’t be afraid of a bike with high miles. Look at all the other indications of how the bike was cared for instead of focusing on a relatively arbitrary number.

However, we understand that mileage still plays a part in your used motorbike buying process. So we put together this post to make it easier for you to find the right bike, even if it has a lot of miles on it.

What is Considered High Miles on a Motorcycle?

yellow honda cb100

Just like in the introduction, it really depends on the bikes condition, how it was ridden, and how it was maintained.

Some people will consider 20,000 miles to be a high mileage bike. Other people would laugh if you were worried about a motorcycle with 50,000 miles. It’s a motorcycle specific process when it comes down to whether or not a bike has a lot of miles.

It’s less about the bike itself and more about how the bike has been treated, ridden, and maintained. The key to finding the right high mileage motorcycle is all about the maintenance.

Another aspect to consider is the type of bike.

Sport bikes, with their high-revving engines, tend to be ridden by less responsible individuals. These riders typically ride aggressively and aren’t sticklers for maintenance.

Compare this to touring bikes and cruisers that typically get babied during their lifespan. These bikes tend to be more expensive with riders that are passionate taking care of them.

When it comes to the longevity of any motorcycle, it’s the owners habits, the bikes history, and the available service records that are most important. These will give you the best picture of the current quality of the bike and the lifespan you can expect.

Service Records Are the Most Important

The best way to find a reliable used motorcycle that you can count on is to look for sellers with extensive service records. This would reveal that the bike has been properly serviced.

Unfortunately, not many owners will keep receipts or detailed records. Without them you have no way of knowing if the bike was properly maintained at the appropriate scheduled maintenance intervals.

That’s not to say that the owner didn’t do all of the proper maintenance on their own. In this case ask about receipts or records for the maintenance products they used. Look for a service manual and ask how the seller performed all of their maintenance.

Always Do Your Research

Even before going to look at any used bike with high mileage it’s a good idea to do your research. Check online to see what the manufacturer recommends for preventive maintenance. Also look for the schedule intervals to see what has been done and what needs to be done.

For example, many bikes will need a new air filter every 10,000 to 20,000 miles. Ask about the air filter, whether or not it was replaced, and pull it out to take a look. This alone will give you a good idea of how well the bike was maintained.

If it’s well after the recommended air filter change and the bike still has the original filter – walk away.

Despite all of this you don’t need to let a high mileage, somewhat poorly maintained bike scare you off. This could be a good learning experience for you and it’s possible you could snag a great deal on a used bike.

Don’t be afraid to offer less money or haggle for the price of the motorcycle you’re interested in. The only time you should pay full price is if the seller has been meticulous about their motorcycle maintenance and preventive care.

Tips for Maintaining Your High-Mileage Motorcycle

old yamaha motorbike

So you decided to pull the trigger and buy that high mileage motor bike you had your eye on.

Here are some helpful tips that you can use to keep your bike running like new!

Change the Oil + Adjust/Lube the Chain

It doesn’t matter what the seller said to you – changing the oil is the first thing you should do whenever you buy a new/used motorcycle.

Engine oil is the lifeblood of the machine and it helps keep everything running in tip-top shape. The oil lubricates the internal components and keeps the engine cool.

Starting fresh with a motorcycle oil change will let accurately keep track of this aspect of maintenance. Changing oil is easy, inexpensive, and your motorbike will thank you for it.

It’s also a good idea to inspect, adjust, and lubricate the chain if necessary. The following posts should help you out with this aspect of maintenance:

Follow the Service Manual Maintenance Schedule

Every motorcycle comes with an owners manual. If yours didn’t come with one they can easily be found online.

Inside the owner’s manual you’ll find a recommended maintenance schedule. This schedule tells you when different aspects of maintenance need to be performed on your bike.

For example, there are recommended intervals for oil changes, valve adjustments, air filter replacements, and everything else to do with how the motorcycle runs. Follow these intervals and you’re bound to enjoy a lifetime of riding with your high mileage motorcycle.

Check + Replace the Air Filter

This is a maintenance procedure that many riders overlook. A dirty air filter indicates that a bike was poorly maintained, especially if it’s well past the recommended replacement interval.

An air filter that’s clogged, dirty, or missing is letting dirt, debris, and other particles from the road get sucked into the engine. This can damage your motorcycle engine in the long term. It’s important to be meticulous about inspecting and replacing the air filter.

Even the smallest amount of dirt or debris getting sucked into the engine can result in engine failure or critical damage.

Check + Replace the Coolant

Coolant levels are another aspect of maintenance that’s often overlooked. This is important for liquid-cooled motorcycles.

Avoid using water instead of the recommended coolant. Adding water to the radiator can damage the internal components and lead them to rust or become corroded.

Motorcycle coolant helps to lubricate the internal components of your radiator and keeps it running as intended.

On any new (to you) bike it’s a good idea to drain, flush, and replace the coolant regularly. Always check the owner’s manual for the recommended intervals for this maintenance.

Failure to replace the coolant can cause the engine to overheat. It’s also possible for the water pump to fail if not properly maintained.

Stay on Top of Maintenance

Neglecting to properly maintain your motorcycle can lead to a number of expensive issues. Maintenance is one of the most important parts of motorcycle ownership if you want to keep enjoying worry-free riding.

Whether you want to do everything yourself or bring your bike to your local mechanic, always follow the recommended intervals in your owner’s manual.

The manufacturer knows best when it comes to helping you get the most out of your bike. You don’t need to be super exact when it comes to these intervals, but try to follow them within a few hundred miles.

Compared to a car, doing your own motorcycle maintenance is fairly simple. Even for a new rider, there are plenty of helpful guides online that make the maintenance process easier than ever.

How Many Miles Does a Motorcycle Last on Average?

old motorcycle meetup

It’s hard to give a specific number for how many miles a motorcycle will last on average. There are a few factors at play that will determine the average motorcycle lifespan.

In reality, most motorbikes will become permanently damaged in a crash, stolen at some point, or left unused and neglected. With proper maintenance it’s hard to kill a bike, especially for a safe rider.

Statistically, the majority of riders will never be able to ride their motorcycle longer than its lifespan. Every part is replaceable and maintenance can keep engines going, especially modern ones, almost forever.

It’s more likely that a bike will get crashed or left unridden for years before it reaches the end of its life span. There are a number of bikes that have been ridden hundreds of thousands of miles with no end in sight.

As long as a motorcycle is properly maintained, not crashed, and not neglected there’s no reason it can’t keep going and going.

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