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Would you buy a 22 yr old bike?

Discussion in 'Moto Club' started by Patterson, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. Patterson

    Patterson Never Forget!

    Oct 5, 2005
    The Garden State
    This may be a dumb question for some, but I am shopping for a first bike on a limited income. I came across an '85 Shadow 500 with 23k miles that might satisfy my want for 2 wheels. I am hoping to use it to commute to work from time to time about 15 miles each way along some relatively sleepy backroads. The question is... is a 22 year old bike worth it? Would parts be available, etc? (I wonder about dry rot on rubber items, for example)

    My son tells me not to waste my money on some "old piece of junk" but to wait & save. In the meantime, I am busy keeping him in college with more kids heading off to college in a couple of years time (hence the limited budget), so it is tough to "save".

    While the seller is asking $1600 for a nicely re-painted bike which looks really nice, for the right price... maybe $900... maybe $1200... would it be worth it? Blue Book values are more in the $800 range.

    I'd appreciate the wisdom of my Glock/Moto brethern!

    KIDCOP Rifle Master Millennium Member

    In a nut shell, can you get parts, yes. It seems to me with the price of gas the older bikes are coming out of the wood work. I would have a bike shop check it out before committing however. Old gas can be a pita, but if it's been run once in awhile, this might not be a problem.

    I bought a 75 Kawasaki Z-1B 900 2 years ago. (it is my 3rd Z-1 with a 30 year gap from # 2) It had very low milage (6059) with the orginal rear tire made in 02/75. First thing I did was put new rubber on it and it's hard to find the proper sized tires. The front is not so bad but the rear is.

    The seat had been replaced with a King/Queen type, and the handle bars were pull backs. I found quality repos for both. The rear view morrors were bent up to fit the pull backs. I found NOS rear view mirrors. There are part houses who deal with older parts. Some are good, some are bad. The one I do most business with deals mostly with Z-1's and the parts seem pretty solid.

    I took the wheels in this last winter to have them checked for true and spokes checked. These were still in good shape. It was when I took the front forks in to replace seals and change the fork oil I ran into problems. I had rust on one of the tubes right where a seal went and I was able to get replacement forks on sale for $100.00 for the pair. I have the old fork tubes and will have them replated some day. A lot of the rubber mounts are old and hard so I order a few rubber parts when I need to order something else.

    Then there is E-bay. I currently have 3 complete Kawasaki NOS sets of points and condensers on the shelf which I bought at great prices. I can get oil filters from the local Napa store. I can order air cleaners without problems.

    I've been using e-bay to put parts on the shelf as I don't see myself selling this bike any time soon. A person does have to be careful however as there is junk out there. I've found correct fuel lines and clamps. I lost the horn button on the left control, but E-bay came through again and I have a Kawasaki NOS repair kit which I picked up for $5.00. My goal is to one day put the bike back to as close of show room as I can.

    I love riding this bike which also brings up yet another problem. I'm putting miles on it. I worked P/T for another PD just starting back up this summer. 2 gals of gas round trip sounded so much better than what my 4X4 would get. It was a nice mountain drive to boot.

    Now I'm looking very hard at the 08 Kawasaki Concours. I think I might wait until the 09 comes out if I can.

  3. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    You'll be amazed at how much availability of parts for older bikes from the salvage/junk yards. If the bike is in some sort of decent shape then why the heck not? You're only going to commute on it.
  4. 40Pirate

    40Pirate Renaissance Man

    Mar 23, 2006
    N Idaho
    I am currently riding an 86 Shadow I got a couple of years ago.

    I would highly recommend it. With their shaft drive, hydraulic lifters, etc... they are very low maintanence.

  5. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    Three years ago I bought a bike that was made in 1981. Runs better every day.

  6. Patterson

    Patterson Never Forget!

    Oct 5, 2005
    The Garden State
    Seems like some positive responses. I guess I am concerned that an old bike could be a money pit.
  7. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    Could be but not always. The bike I bought was in excellent condition, no rust, had 15K miles on it when I bought it, and was a single owner bike.

    The work I've done to it was new fork oil, caps, seals ($50); new front tire ($75), and need to get a new chain and sprockets (~$100-125). That isn't bad at all. Hardly a money pit.

    Shop around and you can find some good deals. The price for the bike you posted is high. I bet he is trying to recoup the cost of the fresh paint job pluse the actual value of the bike. Be prepared to walk away from this deal (not a "deal" actually:)). The paint job is a gimme.

    Ebay, craigslist, etc are good places. I got my bike off eBay.
  8. Patterson

    Patterson Never Forget!

    Oct 5, 2005
    The Garden State
    Here's the ad from Craigslist -

    I emailed the seller & he responded with the following:

    So, I am wondering if it is a decent deal. I haven't seen too many quality street worthy bikes for an under $2k.
  9. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    I would test ride it and give it a good once over. This guy seems like he can turn a wrench, but anytime someone gets a paint job right before they are selling it I wonder why. Are they covering something up or just freshening the view?

    From his responses it looks like a good deal. I would take a friend along who rides and knows cycle mechanical stuff to help out. I am always a skeptic at first.
  10. Patterson

    Patterson Never Forget!

    Oct 5, 2005
    The Garden State
    I agree with the skepticism. He does seem on the up & up. Further investigation shows that he or his brother owns a graphic arts co, The parents are local artisans. So, I suspect he bought a bike from a friend that ran poorly & decided to turn it around to make a some money. Painting was probably a family spnsored event. If I decide to pursue it, I will definitely "phone a friend". I was just wondering if others thought it was worth pursuing at a $1600 obo price. When I first contact him I low balled it with a $900 offer. This was his initial response:
    Now I have to decide if I want to dig deeper...
  11. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    That I can't help you with.:supergrin:

    IMO, any extras, be it helmets, jackets, saddlebags, cosmetics do not add value to me. I'm paying for the metal and rubber. The condition of such is a coefficient.
  12. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    He could be bluffing to try to get a higher price. Be leary of that too.
  13. spober


    Feb 22, 2005
    wendel n.c.
    back in 95 i bought a 1979 honda 750k.i putt a 4 into one exaust header and had the tank and side oil covers and rear fender painted candy apple red.with the chrome front fender and spock wheels .wow what a great classic 4 inline!got 3 years of joy then sold her to a freind who rode and then passed it on.
    i saw a late kawasaki 650 twin on the way to work last what a looker.i love the Japannes bikes of the 70s and 80.very kool.
  14. Personally I would NOT buy a 22yr old bike. Heck, I would hesitate buying a 10-year old bike. Newer bikes are so cheap, you could get a much newer Shadow 600 in the $2500 range. The newer it is, the fewer bucks you will need to dump into it. I would hate to buy a really old bike and spend what I paid for it just to get it running and looking decent.

    To me, a repaint = been dropped/wrecked, whether it's new or old. Calling it a "cutom paint job" is an attempt to make it sound nice or like it adds value.

    I have never taken a bike to a dealer, but if you're the type to do so... I've HEARD most motorcycle shops won't work on a bike over 10yrs old. I've read this on the Internet in multiple places over the years, but I do not have first hand experience with this so it may or may not be true.
  15. Lone Wolff

    Lone Wolff Tire World...

    Dec 17, 2002


    +1. On a older bike, I'd much rather see it in as close to orig condition as possible in order to better ascertain the actual condition. I don't want his, or his friend's word of mouth. I want visible, tangible evidence and the new paint raises more questions in my opinion. It doesn't raise the market value one dollar.

    Based on everything I've read here, I'd walk away. Keep looking, keep saving. Saving up a little more will put you in a much better place as there are a lot of much better bikes (better condition, reliability, technology, tires, replacement parts, etc.) available in the $2000-3000 range.
  16. Patterson

    Patterson Never Forget!

    Oct 5, 2005
    The Garden State
    I walked. I told the guy I might offer as high as $1300 if everything was as good as he claimed but he was set on $1500. I said that is just too much for a bike that old. The $200 difference would have covered my title, tax, registration costs. Since he would not budge I never even went to see it in person.

    So, I'll keep saving & looking... no hurry.

    (Incidently, while I am not in favor of a re-paint for the reasons that others have mentioned, in this case I felt it may have been OK since the owner has ties to a graphic arts & custom painting business & was just trying to make it more marketable.)

    Thanks for everyone's input.
  17. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    Sorry it didn't work out. There are other bikes out there. When you find one you like and need some validation of a good choice or just some advice, we'll be here for ya.:thumbsup:
  18. J.R. Bob Dobbs

    J.R. Bob Dobbs Nerd

    Oct 3, 2000
    McGaheysville, VA is a great resource when bike shopping.
  19. White Buffalo

    White Buffalo No Compromise.

    Dec 16, 2003
    Good choice walking on that, I wouldn't have offered over a grand for that bike. Then again though, bikes come and go outta my crew so fast, it's insane.
  20. Unbridled Rage

    Unbridled Rage Swollen Member

    Jul 8, 2004
    Vancouver, WA
    Old JAPANESE bikes are OK.

    I've owned a 1979 Yamaha 650 special II (in 1990-2), a 1980 Honda CM400 (in 1992-7), and a 1982 Suzuki GS450e (2003 to present).

    In every case, there were always parts available. I'm not a parts guru, I just know that if I needed a part, the dealer can order it, and it will (eventually) show up. OEM parts may not be the cheapest route for old bikes, but repairing, fixing, and upgrading an old bike is still better (for me) than having a bike payment via financing.

    I don't think the issue is part availability, it's getting parts cost-effectively. I've got over $800 in my GS450e that I bought for $275. New chain/sprockets, battery, brake lines, throttle/clutch cables, tires, fork seals (rebuild). Even after all that, I'm looking and rear shocks.

    As long as the engine and transmission are tight, I feel it's completely worth it to put money into it.