If you own a motorcycle or are looking to buy one, you are probably curious how long a motorcycle can last. If you are looking for one to buy, should you avoid any high mileage motorcycles listed?
So how many miles can a motorcycle last? A well maintained motorcycle can last several hundred thousand miles. This will only happen when consistently following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and completing thorough diagnostics of the motorcycle’s performance on a yearly basis.
If you look through used motorcycle classifieds ads online there are many older models on there that will have over 100,000 miles. This is completely possible, but only if you take extremely good care of it and follow the steps listed below.
How Long A Motorcycle Will Last Before Major Repairs
So, how long will your motorcycle last before it needs some major repairs? That is largely dependent on the way in which the motorcycle is taken care of. If the appropriate maintenance schedules are followed, if it is protected from harsh weather, and if the motorcycle is not frequently abused, engine components will wear much slower.
This will greatly help decrease the amount of time until there is a major breakdown. Later on, we will break down a little more of what you can do to properly take care of your motorcycle and make it last as long as possible.
Many of us do not like just hearing the answer “it depends on how you take care of it” and would prefer to hear actual mileages of when we can expect major engine repairs. The truth is that there are many motorcycles that can make it to 200,000 miles without any major engine repairs.
I have a good friend with a Suzuki Bandit that has about 200,000 miles on it and has never done any engine repairs on it. This is a result of him taking excellent care of his motorcycle. When proper care is taken, your motorcycle could likely outlive you.
A poorly maintained motorcycle will obviously need engine repairs much sooner. Many people begin to think of a bike as a “high mileage” bike once it has over 40,000 miles. A poorly maintained motorcycle will likely start to have major problems around this mileage.
These problems can end up being very costly and can potentially be more than the actual worth of the motorcycle. That is exactly why taking proper care of your bike is so critical to it lasting as long as possible.
Generally, motorcycles are ruined for one of three reasons. First, because it gets crashed. This one is the most unexpected and hardest to avoid. No matter how careful and aware you are, there is always the risk that someone else hits you. This can be the fastest way to destroy a perfectly good motorcycle that could have lasted you for years and years.
Second, is that the motorcycle is neglected over several years. This means that the owner did not properly maintain the motorcycle like they should have been. They did not change the oil when they should have. They did not tighten the chain regularly. When the engine started making weird noises, they ignored the noises and kept driving.
All of these are prime examples of common ways that motorcycles can be neglected. This is a very sure way to make sure that your bike does not last very long.
The third way that a motorcycle is ruined is by abuse. This means that the owner of the motorcycle wears out the internals of the engine and transmission quickly by the way that they ride it. There are a lot of different ways that you could do this.
Riding the motorcycle as hard as possible constantly and especially when it is cold are great examples of how people can do this. There is nothing wrong with pushing your motorcycle and having fun with it. Just be aware that constantly racing everywhere will put a much heavier toll on it than just calmly riding it around.
How To Make Your Motorcycle Last Forever
Just like any piece of machinery, your motorcycle will last longer if you take good care of it. The same thing applies to your car, your tools, and even your washing machine. If things are properly taken care of, they can avoid unnecessary wear and tear. If you take proper care of a motorcycle, it can last you forever. That’s not to say that nothing will ever break on it or need to be replaced, but those breakdowns will be minimized.
Over time and with more miles, the value of your motorcycle will drop. The costs to repair a motorcycle will stay about the same with time. As a result, the ratio of your bike’s worth to the cost of necessary major engine repairs will shift over time. When that ratio gets far too small, is when many people get scared of a motorcycle and no longer want anything to do with it.
It is not that the motorcycle itself is bad. It’s just that if the motorcycle were to need major engine repairs, the cost would exceed the value of the bike. This is a very valid reason for avoiding a motorcycle with high miles. Although, there are plenty of things that you can do when looking at a bike with high miles to be more aware of the need for potential major repairs.
The same also will apply to those who own a motorcycle and plan on keeping it for a long time. We will walk you through how to avoid these extremely costly repairs.
So how can you make your motorcycle last as long as possible? There are so many different answers to this question that are all good and valid. We will hit on the main ones. Generally, you make your motorcycle last forever by protecting it from the environment, following the proper maintenance schedule, and avoiding excessive abuse of the bike.
Protecting your motorcycle from the environment can be the most commonly overlooked item when it comes to motorcycle longevity. If you leave your motorcycle parked outside exposed to the environment, there are a lot of different things that can happen to it. Depending on where you live and what the climate is like there, there are different things that you should be aware of.
In very hot and sunny places, the heat load from the sun can be very detrimental to various components. It can quickly destroy plastics and leathers. If you live in a cold environment, the snow and ice can lead to rust. The cold temperatures also make all of the bike materials much more brittle which can cause them to crack or break easier.
If you live in a very windy area, the wind can blow sand and other debris at your motorcycle which can eat away at materials over time. That is why one of the most important ways to make sure that your motorcycle lasts as long as possible, is to make sure that it is protected from the environment. That could mean covering the bike or parking it in a garage.
The next most important thing that you can do is to make sure that the motorcycle is properly maintained. On every single motorcycle from every single manufacturer, they will provide recommended intervals at which certain maintenance tasks should be performed. Some of these are performed more frequently than others.
These can be things such as an oil change or a spark plug replacement. The intervals are determined by the manufacturer after months or even years of testing to figure out what is best to maximize the life of the motorcycle.
You should always follow the instructions given to you in your owner’s manual as it will let you know what the optimal schedule is. Then be diligent about following this schedule as closely as you can. Doing this will help your motorcycle to last forever.
The last thing that you can do to help the motorcycle last forever is to not abuse it. It is important that you understand what is meant by the word abuse. This does not mean that you cannot race your motorcycle. But a motorcycle that is almost constantly being driven at 12,000 rpms will obviously wear much quicker than a motorcycle that is cruising at 2,500 rpms.
If you know that you are one that likes to push your motorcycle much more frequently, you can still have a long-lasting bike. Just know that you will likely need to perform routine maintenance much more frequently and will have to repair various components more often.
Another common way in which motorcycles are abused is by pushing them hard when the engine is cold. To understand this, you need to understand how oil works. Your oil changes viscosity very drastically with heat. When cold, it is much thicker and flows a lot slower. Once it heats up, it becomes much runnier. When your engine is cold, the oil is also cold and cannot flow around the engine very quickly.
As combustion is occurring in your engine, there is almost instantaneous heat produced. This heat is transferred to the oil. If your oil ever gets too hot, it will then become too thin to lubricate properly.
When you push your bike very hard on a cold engine, there are parts of oil that are very hot and parts that are very cold. These each obviously have very different characteristics. This can result in metal-on-metal wear in the places where the oil becomes too thin.
What Is Considered High Mileage On A Motorcycle?
So, what exactly is considered high mileage on a motorcycle? The answer to this question varies from person to person. There are individuals who would consider anything over 30,000 miles as a high mileage motorcycle. Some might put that mark closer to 45,000 miles.
There are some who are not afraid of miles and don’t consider anything high mileage until it has over 100,000 miles on it. What you consider as high mileage could be very different than what someone else thinks.
It is very important to remember that motorcycle miles are very different than your regular automotive miles. 100,000 miles on a car is normal and not very impressive whereas the number of motorcycles that make it that far are not nearly as common. There are a lot of different reasons for this and we will dive into this later. For now, just remember that you should not judge a motorcycle with the same standards as a car.
Research Reliability Of Motorcycle Brands Before Buying
It is also important to remember that not all motorcycles will last the same amount of time. Some motorcycles are more reliable and longer lasting than others. That is why it is important that you do your research before purchasing a motorcycle.
To begin with, you can research particular motorcycle brands. In general, a brand will either be fairly reliable across all of their models or they will be fairly unreliable across all of their models. It is not very common that a brand makes one extremely long-lasting reliable model and a different model that will only last 20,000 miles, although this could happen.
Afterwards, it is good to research the specific model of motorcycle that you are looking for. It is good to see what other people have experienced with this model and what they thought of it. You can also find online sources rating things like reliability, performance, and comfort.
You can also see what common problems a specific model of motorcycle will have so you know what to expect. Using these tools, you can compare different models and determine which one is the best fit for you. Remember that the best fit for you may be a balance between reliability and performance and will not always necessarily be the longest lasting bike.
If you know anyone that owns or has owned a model that you are interested in, those are generally your best resources. They can give you a lot of firsthand experience and also answer any questions that you might have about the motorcycle. If they still own it, you can even take it for a ride and make sure that it is what you want.
There are also many available resources online. You can find thousands of reviews on any specific brand and model. There are also thousands of articles written about each model of bike. You can also dig into a wide variety of forums to see what people have said about that model. Using all of the tools available to you, you can find the motorcycle that will be best for you.
There are two brands that I recommend to everyone who asks me because they’re generally the most reliable of all motorcycle companies, and there are several that I would steer completely clear of. I’m not going to say them here because I don’t want to alienate people who own other brands. But if you want to reach out to me personally on Instagram @moab.kyle I can give you my personal opinion.
Motorcycle Mileage Compared To Car Mileage.
So, should you treat motorcycle mileage different than car mileage? The answer is yes; they are not equal. On average, a car is driven about 12,000 miles per year. Motorcycles are driven much less, averaging about 3,000 miles per year. As a result, your car will get to a much higher mileage much quicker than a motorcycle. Despite there being less miles on the motorcycle, the wear and tear as a result of aging still affects the bike.
As a general rule, your motorcycles mileage can be equated to a car mileage by multiplying it by 4. If you have 30,000 miles on your bike, that is more or less equivalent to having 120,000 miles on a car, which would be considered high mileage for a car.
It is important that you’re also aware that not all motorcycles will wear the same. For a sports bike, 20,000-30,000 miles may be considered high mileage. For many bigger road bikes, the high mileage range can be closer to 50,000 miles. These are all things to consider when looking for a motorcycle.