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There are many 2nd owner 10-15 year old cruiser motorcycles in my area (Vulcan 900 and C50T) with no more than 10k miles on them. These bikes are in the $3k-4k range and look like a great buy, but it is rare to find a bike with complete maintenance history. Most sellers claim maintenance was done but have no records to back it up.

I worry the bikes have sat in a garage for years without being ridden, and I've read that a motorcycle that sits for a long time is a problem waiting to happen. The owner can always say they crank them everyday, but how can I know if that is true?

Most people aren't willing to have their bike inspected, even if I offer to pay for the inspection. And if I have the bike inspected after purchase, the bike is mine and I'm on the hook for problems.

Should I roll the dice and go for it? Or bite the bullet and buy new?
 

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Welcome to the forum from North Carolina. There is nothing wrong buying and older motorcycle. It is obvious that these low mileage examples have sat and not ridden. Question is, did the owner have enough sense to run the bike every month. Did he put a fuel stabilizer in the fuel. Always look in the tank with a flashlight for rust. That will tell if the bike was used. There are some additional costs over and above the purchase price. Tires that are over 5years old have to be replaced. Oil and filter change, coolant change with hose replacement, fuel and vacuum lines, brake fluid change, clutch fluid change (if applicable), drive belt inspection and adjustment, lube all cables, clean and lubricate all switches, check air filter, and a few more items to be lubricated or adjusted. Is you have tools and some mechanical ability, you can do all of this yourself. Also this forum is here to help you along the way. If not and you must enlist a technician, the numbers add up pretty quickly. The tires alone will probably be in the $400 range. So try to buy a bike with recent tires. The rest of it is not that expensive and is not that difficult to do. Like I said we will help you. It will be an adventure and you can do it. It is rewarding to maintain your bike. There is plenty of motorcycles for sale due to the financial crisis caused by job loss related to the virus. I bought my 2009 900 Classic in mint condition with only 2500 miles for $2000. Between tires, windshield, windshield lowers, air horn, chrome goodies, crash bar, tachometer, oil, filter, hoses, coolant, handlebar risers, added $1200 to the cost and I do my own maintenance and repairs. Here is how to check tires. Look for the DOT stamp on the sidewalk. It is a 4 digit number embossed into the sidewall. The first two numbers are the week and the second two are the year of manufacture. If over 5 years or close, have to replace. So, find something you like and before you buy post back here or a new post with some pictures and we can discuss if the price is right in relation to the year, model, and condition. Be well.
 

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The reason being that a majority of bike owners to not ride more than 1000 miles a years.
They buy with good intentions and then it sits in the garage most of its life.
I bought my 1995 in 2012 with 12,000 miles on it.
I still have it with over 33,000 miles now.
AND trouble free miles I should add.

I have read horror stories about how gas sitting around for years will cause problems, not to mention if its ethanol laced.
Here we have had E10 since the mid 80s, and I have had zero problems with it.

My point being I think as long as it runs good when you're checking it out, it might be just fine.
And if its been inside a garage or shed rather than outside, that's much better.
At 10-15 years you have to expect tires to be questionable, but everything else will work itself out over the time you have it.
 

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Really depends on your skill levels .If you are familiar with working on bikes, and have a place to work on them, its worth taking a chance. If you need to go to the dealer for an oil change its probably best to go new.
 

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I can not speak to the C50 but the 900 usually holds up well. Rust in the fuel tank is typically the main issue and it kills the fuel pump. Take a flash light and inspect the tank at purchase, if there is rust offer 500 less. I would not be too worried buying a low mileage bike but would want at least 500 miles per year average. Expect to services all fluids and you will probably be okay. Oh and check date codes on tires, if they are older then 5 years replace them immediately.
 

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Well Vulcan Drifter, guess we will have to agree to disagree. Taking a Motorcycle for a monthly ride to get it up to running temperature will help keep the engine gaskets, seals, brake, tires, and suspension systems In better condition. Tires get flat spots when sitting too long. Engine gaskets require a lot of time to repair, so the best option is just to start the motorcycle once a week and let it run. This will lubricate and heat up the gaskets. Gaskets are a lot like rubber bands. If you just let them sit they'll get brittle and crack. Chains get stiff. Condensation builds up in the engine and fuel system. Unless you have taken all the steps for long term storage, it is better to run the bike and not just park it for months.

As far as tires. Most tire manufacturers advise replacing a tire after it's around five years old. You might not be able to tell the age by glancing at it, but if you notice cracks along the carcass of the tire, it needs to be replaced immediately. They get harder with age which effects the handling of the motorcycle.
Here’s what happens as tires age. Tires are subject to a process called oxidation, whereby oxygen interacts with compounds in the rubber causing them to harden and eventually become brittle. As the rubber oxidization increases over time, tire performance decreases. Thankfully, oxidation in tires is a relatively slow process, but it can also occur to a motorcycle that is stored improperly. Concrete will leech the moisture out of the tires and can speed up the oxidation process.
I am sure you can use tires longer and I have not heard any horror stories of blowouts from old tires. But we put so much into our bikes, spend hundreds on exhaust, seats, chrome, fancy wheels, handlebars, surely a few hundred more to be sure you are safe is worth it.
Be well.
 

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I have experienced a tire blowout due to dry rot. Luckily it was in a car and not a bike, but still scary enough for me to not take risks.
 

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I wouldn't worry about written maintenance records. If you find one that has detailed written maintenance records expect to pay a lot more.

I've kept up maintenance on all my vehicles for over 40 years and couldn't provide you a single record. I doubt one out of 10,000 other people could either !
 

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Most of the engine wear take place at start up when the lubrication is limited. Many years ago, I got a bike out that I had stored for 14 years. If I had run it monthly, that would have been 168 startup with limited lubrication vs the 1 startup with limited lubrication after 14 years. I have yet to find a gasket that leaks from sitting.

The notion of replacing tires after 5 years is a recent concept invented by manufacturers in order to sell more tires - it's unnecessary and it's bad for the environment.
 

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The notion of replacing tires after 5 years is a recent concept invented by manufacturers in order to sell more tires - it's unnecessary and it's bad for the environment.
Do you have some proof to back this claim? Maybe a scientific study or test performed by a lab.
 
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The average lifespan of tires is about 5 years. Beyond that point dry rot can and usually does begin to set in.
It is possible for tires to last longer if they are used on a regular basis and maintained.
The rubber compounds used in tires needs to be heated up regularly to keep them pliable. If you only ride a few miles a couple of times a week and keep them away from UV rays the rest of the time it is possible for them to last longer.

If you have tires older than 5 years you need to inspect them regularly for dry rot. It usually shows up in hairline cracks on the sidewalls of the tire.
 

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Why is it that the other side of the coin is always wrong???
You believe replace a 5 year old tire, he believes its still good.
WHY do you need to change/challenge his belief??

Some think you cant leave tires resting on the concrete during winter storage for "fear" of flat spots.
Tires are made of rubber. Rubber flexes. After 30 plus years of riding have I ever seen a flat spot even after 6 months of storage.

We all have beliefs we have developed over time.
No one OPINION is better than anothers!
 

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Do you have some proof to back this claim? Maybe a scientific study or test performed by a lab.
Ya. I'll provide that proof right after I see a scientific study or test performed by a lab (not from the dude tring to convince me to by new tires) showing tries expire after 5 years. :cool:
 

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The average lifespan of tires is about 5 years. Beyond that point dry rot can and usually does begin to set in.
It is possible for tires to last longer if they are used on a regular basis and maintained.
The rubber compounds used in tires needs to be heated up regularly to keep them pliable. If you only ride a few miles a couple of times a week and keep them away from UV rays the rest of the time it is possible for them to last longer.

If you have tires older than 5 years you need to inspect them regularly for dry rot. It usually shows up in hairline cracks on the sidewalls of the tire.
Did a 4000 km trip last summer with 17 of my closest friends on my 38 year old Honda that last had new tires installed in 1999. Those tires tire are still on the bike and there's nothing wrong with them except the rear does need to be changed as the tread is getting low. No dry-rot, no cracks.

In any case, I recommend everyone should do whatever makes them feel comfortable.
 

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Just to add a little more to the controversy, all of my car and bike tires that were old had tons of cracks on the sidewalls,but it never seemed to cause a problem. Oddly, one brand new bike tire I bought was full of cracks in between the tread.Never heard of that before. One old tire that still had plenty of tread depth was super slippery. Every time I took off the bike would fishtail. I had a blast till that one wore out
 

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I would not be too worried buying a low mileage bike but would want at least 500 miles per year average.
 

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Seems to me this is a study on evaluating various labratory testing methods that attempt to mimic tire aging

From the executive summary:
" The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a multi-year research program on the aging
of tires used on light vehicles (passenger cars, light trucks, and vans), which evaluated several
accelerated tire aging methods to determine their relative effectiveness in replicating the
characteristics of tires undergoing aging in the field. This report documents the findings from
that research. "

In any case, can you pinpoint where in the study it suggests motorcycle tires must be replaced after 5 years?
 

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Dude, at 5 years and one month they deflate on their own!!!
SO you cant ride and must get new.

It's kind of like your 5 years old helmet. Didn't know that after 5 years it fails to protect your head any longer, did you?
 
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