How old is too old

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Drop_Center, May 18, 2018.

  1. Drop_Center

    Drop_Center Long timer

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    At what age does a garaged motorcycle become compromised in terms of reliability?

    Or in simpler terms, who is completely confident touring on their bike that is 20+ years old. Has anyone had a failure because of age?
    #1
  2. PK2

    PK2 Long timer

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    If its a reasonable decent size Jap bike thats had regular oil changes I'd have no hesitations at all.
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  3. AwDang

    AwDang Been here awhile

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    My race bike is a 99. :ricky
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  4. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Long timer

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    I toured coast to coast to coast in 2012 on a 1982 Suzuki GS. 8000 miles in 21 days. Zero issues due to the bikes age. I'd do it again in a heartbeat on an older bike that I've maintained and am confident in.
    #4
  5. LeMaitre

    LeMaitre Been here awhile

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    This story has been told else where on the site.

    I bought my '75 Honda CB550F Super Sport in the late 80's. I rode it for a few years and last plated it in 1993. It ended up sitting under a tarp for 20 plus years. About three years ago I drug it out of the raspberries. Pulled the plugs, squirted oil in each cylinder, let stand for a couple of days. The engine turned with the kick starter. Then started the rebuild. Did not tear down the engine. Fixed the seat, carb rebuilds, electronic ignition, tires, tubes, gas tanks and farkles added. Resulted in the rider pictured below.

    [​IMG]

    Last August 30th, I rode the bike around Lake Superior in a little over 21 hours to complete an Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000. If plans go well, it will be doing another SS1k or three later this summer. Bike currently has 25K on the clock.

    -Mark
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  6. Drop_Center

    Drop_Center Long timer

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    So when you acquire said "old" bike what do you look for and what can be done to preserve what you do have?
    #6
  7. viajero

    viajero Too old to be a nOOb

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    Cooling system hoses, vacuum hoses, if any, filters, bearings, wiring and connectors, stators, regulator/rectifiers, batteries, etc......
    #7
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  8. c1skout

    c1skout Been here awhile

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    Those cannonballers go coast to coast on 100 year old bikes! My newest "touring" bike IS 20 years old, the other one is almost 40 and I'd take either one on a trip.
    #8
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  9. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer

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    It really boils down to the bike. My 17 year old meticulously maintained '01 GL1800 sits now in the carport road ready except for the usual pre-trip tire check and once over before I go anywhere.

    Unfortunately, I have this need to work that demands my attention for the next 3 years and 10 days (until aged 66 & 2 months as of this posting). Otherwise, I'd leave going to Alaska on it tomorrow if time, money, and all other things were equal.
    #9
  10. husky390

    husky390 Been here awhile

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    I tour on a 1990 HD Ultra Classic with 74k miles that I bought last June with 71k on the clock. The only issue I had on the road was I sprung a leak in the primary, most likely due to overfilling it because I used some erroneous capacity information and a new circuit breaker failed. For the primary leak, I bought some oil and added a little every other fuel stop and for the breaker I installed the original one that I had and the bike fired right up.

    I've had to do a lot of maintenance to it but that's due to mileage and abuse from the previous owner. One thing I will suggest is plan to leave some down time between trips so you have time to go through the bike, identify issues, source parts (that's a big one) and repair.

    YRMV since it sounds like you're not looking at Harley's . But, parts may be an issue due to them being discontinued and old bikes are a trend. For instance, I'm resurrecting a 92 Suzuki GSX1100G and they've already discontinued the fuel filter assembly.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #10
  11. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Long timer

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    Last year I went touring on this:

    DSCF1190 (1).jpg
    100 cc 1997 Honda Dream..... covering about 1,500 km of highways and byways over about 10 days, and will confidently do a similar trip next month. It easily maintains 80 - 85 km/hr on highways, which is in keeping with the speed limit for heavy vehicles (reasonably well policed with GPS here these days), so I am able to keep up with traffic. My travel times are in keeping with suggested times on Google Maps. Fuel consumption is 130 - 140 mpg (US). On byways I tend to potter, stopping frequently to check things out, so speed is not an issue. For me, touring is not about the riding, its about exploring.

    The bike is the means, not the reason to travel.

    A couple of years ago I did this trip: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/north-of-thailands-south-6-days.1153732/

    The little Honda has done more than 274,000 km (170,000 miles), and is in regular use, mainly at weekends. Weekdays I use a bicycle to commute 1 km to work and for local trips within a 12 km radius of home. The bike is regularly maintained, with any repairs done promptly as required. The only preparation I do for longer trips is an oil change and a general once over; takes no more than 10 or 15 minutes.

    Having always owned older vehicles, I have learned that keeping up the routine maintenance is the secret to reliability...... Do that and you can be confident about touring on a well used motorcycle.
    #11
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  12. vsvn

    vsvn Been here awhile

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    Did a season of track days on a bike on a 1995 CBR600F last year. Commute daily on a 1992 CB250. No faults on both bikes other than those introduced by my lack of mechanical competence.

    Too old for me would be:
    - When parts are no longer easily available (mainly tires, sprockets and other consumables)
    - If the bike has fallen into such a state of disrepair that it falls into the "needs to be restored" category
    - If technology on the older bike differs so much from current standards that working on it is more "art" than "science". Not sure where to draw this line as it's difficult to find something that old to begin with...

    I usually get the service manual for said bike and perform all the service items. It's a nice way to take a good look at the bike and acquaintance yourself with it.
    #12
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  13. chasbmw

    chasbmw Long timer

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    I still tour and do track days on my 1975 R90/6..... [​IMG]


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  14. sleazy rider

    sleazy rider Retired

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    If it weren't for old bikes, I wouldn't have any! My newest is a 2006 with 113k miles. I bought it last year with 99k miles and hopefully will surpass 125k this summer. The dirt bike is a 1990 DR350S and going strong still. It's on my lift right now getting it's spring checkover and modifications to include an RM250 front end and custom built wheels.
    #14
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  15. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    Yes.

    Most were wear items. Things like brake shoes and such. But, sometimes, it's been a bearing or a tappet or such.

    I've had the odd breakage. Snapped swing arm, fractured wheels, things like that.

    Most of my bike failures, especially older bikes, have been electrical. Especially electronic. Sometimes a stator winding fails (usually from overload), and the occasional connection corrodes. But most of my failures have been in solid state components. They work until they don't. Regulators, rectifiers, ignition modules, coils.

    Regardless, I try not to take off on long trips I'm not familiar with and basically trust. If the engine is making strange scraping noises or intermittently stumbling, I'm not riding it cross country until it's fixed and ready.
    #15
  16. bodine003

    bodine003 Been here awhile

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    My 76 R-75/6 I bought in 2001 I did up grades and major service. Very dependable and roadworthy. I am fortunate to have the ability and home shop to do my own work.
    That is the key, if you must depend on ham fisted hammer and chisel "technicians" you will have issues. Most Japanese 80's inline 4's and Airhead BMW's have a good selection of where to get wear and service items. Any motorbike that's 20-40 years young will need $$ to get them roadworthy. Wheel brgs, neck brgs, rear fork brgs, brake systems are neglected.
    Carbs and charging systems, battery, and tyres can add big $$ to the get it on the road factor. There are some low mile well kept bikes out there priced right. do your homework before jumping in the deep end
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  17. little foot

    little foot Super Mediator

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    I thought I was going to sell my 08 GSA with 55,000 miles so I had the BMW shop replace all fluids. I replaced some plastics that looked questionable and it sat for 2 years without a ride. I decided to park the big tourer and I have been riding the shit out the 08. Oh and no issues.
    #17
  18. Andyvh1959

    Andyvh1959 Cheesehead Klompen

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    Da frozen tundra eh? 1.5 mile west of Lambeau
    My 94 BMW R1100RS has 190,000 miles on it and it is ready to ride any time, any day, any distance. My 76 BMW R100RS has "only" 65,000 miles on it and with some needed maintenance would be ready to go any day any distance. Years of age has no bearing on the road worthiness of a motorcycle (lets say any bike after 1970). Much more important is prep, maintenance and care.
    #18
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  19. bodine003

    bodine003 Been here awhile

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    If you go over to www.britbike.com there are more options to consider. Any BSA, Tri, Norton can be set up to long distance ride. They are great for running back/country roads.
    Parts are not a problem for those 3 major brands that came to the USA. Modern electronic ignitions, solid state reg/rectifiers and Mukuni carb kits all make them more modern and less of a fuss. Look through pixs & stories of the 3 State Mountain Ride. The latest this past weekend. Back in the day these bikes went all over. Even on the super slab with the right gearing will run 70-75 no problem. Seems like Colorado would be the bee's knees for riding vintage Brit Iron
    #19
  20. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    It's all about current condition, previous maint and previous use, not year built. Are you talking about "your" old bike you've owned for awhile and well aware of it's condition or you talking about buying an old bike you know knowing about other than what the seller claims? Big difference between "known" condition and "wishing/hopeful/claimed" mechanical condition. I've got a 47 WL I've had for 20 years now and if the urge/need strikes I wouldn't hesitate to run it x-country. Those guys running the Cannonball "know" their rides. The didn't buy'm on Monday and entered the Cannonball on Sat.
    #20
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