WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag: High Mileage Motorcycles

By James - 9/5/2007

Scott wrote:

Hi, I recently just got my motorcycle license, and I’m considering purchasing a 1998 Sportster 883 XLH…for what seems to be a great deal at $3,000. screaming eagle exhaust, chrome everywhere…(I’m in Rhode Island) However, it has 26,000 miles on it. What do you think? Is it worth $3k? Right now he is asking $3,500, but I wouldn’t pay that. Is it risky buying a bike with this many miles on it ? Any help is appreciated. thanks, newbie

This is an interesting question and one I have seen on a few forums recently. The proposition of buying a “high” mileage motorcycle is a mixed bag. On one hand, you are avoiding all the deprecation and costs associated with a brand new bike. On the other, a motor only runs for so long and an old bike can nickel and dime you to financial death. So is it worth saving a buck and buying a “high” mileage bike?

I would say it depends. In your situation, with limited experience a used entry level bike is perfect for you. You don’t know what will happen in the next year and you don’t want to hand over a wad of cash for a starter bike. You want a bike that is reliable, since as a novice you don’t want to have problems while you are riding it, and you probably don’t have the mechanical skills to fix a bike that breaks down. Your used bike will not have the cutting edge technology, the modern aesthetics, or the cool paint schemes that the new bikes have but as you ride you will figure out whether that is important to you. Once you have a couple years under your belt you will have a better idea of what kind of bike you want.

I love older bikes. If the engine still runs strong and smooth after 50K miles you can be sure it will run strong for another 50K with the right care. You also have to look at the person selling it. If they are doing wheelies and stoppies, the bike probably has a shorter life expectancy than if a retired auto shop teacher uses it on the weekend. If a deal is too good to be true, it usually is, so take someone down to look at the bike with you or take it to a mechanic. I hope you get a good deal and that you get a really good bike.


Removing the rear wheel from a V-Star

By James - 9/3/2007

My wife and I took a trip through the Southwest last year and unfortunately during the trip I developed a wobble. I tracked it down to the spokes and when I returned I put the bike in the back of the garage to deal with later. Well I was a bad owner and it was a year later when I got to it. So the battery was dead, I had lost the screws to the headlamp I was repairing and the spokes were still loose. So with Las Vegas Bikefest on the horizon, and me not wanting to ride the sportbike down there, I decided to get this thing back up and running. The shops that true spokes all wanted the wheel off the bike, so I had to learn how to do it. With the Clymers manual and my tools I figured it out. Here is how I did it. . .

You will need the following tools:

  • A motorcycle jack
  • Size 19 wrench
  • Size 19 ratchet
  • Size 14 ratchet or wrench
  • Size 12 ratchet or wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Allen wrenches
  • Lithium grease

Unbolt the torque arm (size 12 bolt) . . .

. . .and unscrew the brake rod from the drum.

Move to the other side and remove the four gearcase bolts (size 14).

At this point raise the jack so that the tire is still resting on the ground but all weight is off of it. This will make the next step easier. With a wrench holding the right axel bolt (size 19) . . .

and another wrench on the left side, loosen the bolt.

With the nut loosened you can roll the wheel backwards disengaging the shaft. Roll the wheel back until it hits the fender. Then lift the jack so that you can get the wheel out from under it.

To install the wheel, remove the U-joint cover and lubricate the splines of the shaft and U-joint and reverse the steps to remove the wheel. But finger tighten all the bolts before turning to the proper torque.

The torque specs for each bolt is . . .
Rear axle nut - 92 N-m
Gearcase bolts - 70 N-m
Torque arm nut - 20 N-m


Bought a bike no keys, no title . . .

By James - 9/1/2007

Stew wrote in trying to fix a predicament he is in . . .

Bought a bike no keys, no title, ignition cant find that either. Its fast as hell though. So ive heard, How do i get it started? Help me please……

Sorry to tell you Stew, chances are you bought a stolen bike. So there are two things you need to do. The first is get the title squared away and try to get your money back from the guy who sold it to you before he spends it on crack and Xbox games. Take the VIN to DMV and have them run it for you. Then fill out the form for a duplicate title. The second thing is to get the ignition re-keyed. Order another ignition and install it.

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