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Old 07-08-2013, 09:59 PM   #1
HOFNAR OP
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Older low mileage bikes? Yay or Nay?

Tell me again why I should or shouldn't consider older bikes with low miles? There are a couple of BMW's I'm considering taking a look at. One is an 1150 gs that's about 11 years old with only 17k miles and an 1150rt thats about 9 years old with under 20k miles. I'd especially love to hear from real world owners who've done this and your thoughts on it. Thanks.

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Old 07-09-2013, 12:08 AM   #2
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I would check the number of owners as if there's a high numbers of owners and low miles it means know body wont to ride it.
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:22 AM   #3
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If the maintenance is current, and the bike's been garage kept, there's absolutely no reason not to buy an "older" bike.

BTW: I don't consider a 10 year old BMW to be an older bike, but that's just me.
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:40 AM   #4
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If those miles were put on in tyhe first year or two and the bike has sat ever since, there might be some issues. Things you should be thinking about that may have deterriorated due to time and dis-use include brake system, tires, battery, alternator belt and electrical switchgear. If a bike has been used occasionally, however, and the tires aree less than around 5 years old, you should expect no special issues. Depending where/how it's been stored, you might want to check for a mouse nest in the airbox or dirt-dauber wasp nests.
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Old 07-09-2013, 02:54 AM   #5
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constant stream of old BMW being brought back to life after sitting for 25+ years or whatever on Adv ...

only most BMW brought back to life after sitting a decade or more are Airheads. if bike was stored inside odds are in your favor.

hydraulics are almost always dead .. gasoline dried into gunk, rubber parts needs replacing, tires are toast, etc. etc.
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Old 07-09-2013, 03:53 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by slartidbartfast View Post
If those miles were put on in tyhe first year or two and the bike has sat ever since, there might be some issues. Things you should be thinking about that may have deterriorated due to time and dis-use include brake system, tires, battery, alternator belt and electrical switchgear. If a bike has been used occasionally, however, and the tires aree less than around 5 years old, you should expect no special issues. Depending where/how it's been stored, you might want to check for a mouse nest in the airbox or dirt-dauber wasp nests.
Less an issue for bikes, but garage-queens cars are known to be a bad bet to put back on street.

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Old 07-09-2013, 04:12 PM   #7
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All depends on why it has low mileage. I've resurrected many older bikes with said "problem," and luckily, all have worked out. Just do your homework and check for any visible motor or electrical damage (cracked cases, bad seals, burnt wires or connectors, missing parts, etc). Most older jap and BMW motorcycle can be made into regular riders with some know how and elbow grease. I have 3 different Yamaha TT500s that I have resurrected and turned into frequent riders, one practically a daily rider. Just be ready to have some patience and desire to "debug" them.
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Old 07-09-2013, 05:38 PM   #8
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:33 AM   #9
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Things to be aware of:
Rubber stuff (hoses, o-rings, seals, etc.) tend to perish over time, even if the bike has next to no mileage on it. Similarly, corrosion can be an issue if it has been neglected, but this is much more readily apparent. Other things to watch out for are seized parts (especially calipers, which it's not always immediately obvious aren't working 100%). Expect to buy a new battery in the not too distant future, particularly if the bike has been stood, unless there's evidence of it having been replaced.
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:29 AM   #10
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Riding older bikes is a non-issue to me. I'll take a good bike, regardless of what year it is.

Low mileage is a bonus, usually. I don't care for a bike that has spent years sitting, as rubber and vinyl bits self destruct quickly when left sitting (though they do just fine when ridden). And I'm always concerned about a bike being beaten to deal, but that's usually an issue more with sport type bikes.

Biggest hurdle I have with low mileage is the way the owner wants a lot more for the machine because of it, and I don't want to pay it.
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:41 AM   #11
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If you get it for a good price, and know how to work on bikes, why not?
Rust and bad paint is worse then gummed up carbs and crusty rubber bits for me.
Low miles would mean the motor is not worn out (most likely).

If it was really clean, and ran well, I might pay a premium over one that had a lot of miles on it and had dings/dents/rust.
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Old 07-10-2013, 12:02 PM   #12
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I rode my KTM 950A for seven years and 60k miles. It started to have little things go wrong with it, but nothing expensive. The fellow who bought it wrings its kneck. Meanwhile I have a 1998 Ducati Superlite FE with 11k miles on it. It hasn't been fired since 2005. My guess is it would need belts, carb cleaning, and head removal for inspection before it should be run. Probably over $1000k worth of work.

I wouldn't be afraid of that bike if you got it cheap enough to have it checked and repaired if needed.
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:22 PM   #13
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Part of the answer would depend upon your tolerance for fixing things. I can wrench when I have to, but don't really enjoy it. Some folks do enjoy it, and would be just fine with a bike that needed more attention than a newer one.

My personal cut-off is the ten year mark, for both cars and bikes, mostly due to aging of hoses, seals, and such. I think I'd rather have a higher mileage machine that had clearly been well cared for and was currently being ridden, than a low mileage one that had been sitting for some time. Machines weren't built to sit for months and years on end, and seem to not fare well when they do.

There's also the issue of parts availability, though that's probably not much of an issue at ten years. My first two bikes were an '82 and an '84. I'd love to have both of them again, but at 30-some-odd years old, finding parts could be a real pain. I probably would never trust them as daily rides.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:34 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by WDG View Post
My personal cut-off is the ten year mark, for both cars and bikes, mostly due to aging of hoses, seals, and such. I think I'd rather have a higher mileage machine that had clearly been well cared for and was currently being ridden, than a low mileage one that had been sitting for some time.
gotta disagree ... there are no substitutes for low miles, aside from a frame off restoration.

yes rubber parts do need replaced, all fuel systems need cleaned, hydraulics redone, etc. but major components where majority of costs happen, like engine, tranny, final drive, etc are usually fine.

if motorcycle was stored inside. they keep amazingly well. I'd take a low miles desirable model sitting for 25+ years vs a much newer model with high miles with known high $$$ costs like transmission, clutch, final drive, etc. coming at me.

just went through this with a 74 BMW R90S with 7,300 miles sitting 25+ years... besides my labor, spent all of $400 on parts (tires & windshield, diode board, brake master kit, etc) bringing R90S back to life.

now I've got a super coool R90S with almost no miles with ALL maintenance done and reliable enough to ride anywhere.


_cy_ screwed with this post 07-10-2013 at 08:39 PM
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Old 07-11-2013, 03:50 AM   #15
Ceri JC
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One important aspect is how willing/competent you are to work on the bike yourself, rather than taking it to the shop. A friend has just spent 1000 on a 10 year old 2T KTM EXC200, that has been raced and then stood for a while.
There are a myriad of 'small' problems with it, perished seals, leaking gaskets, missing switchgear internals, worn sidestand pivot, illegal (for the road) tyres, etc.

He has, over the past 3 months, been restoring it and making it road legal again (so it can be taken trail riding). Based on the amount of labour he has put in, I suspect it would have cost at least 1000, if not 1500, to have it all done in a garage. As it is, he enjoys tinkering and has sourced the necessary parts online himself and done a lot of little things (like replacing non-standard bolts with standard ones) to improve the bike. So far it has cost him just under 200.

My opinion is that if he had taken that particular bike to a shop to be restored, it would have been a bad buy: He could have gotten a more modern machine in better condition for that money here. As it is, he got a bargain.
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