Picking your bike

Congratulations on taking the plunge into the world of vintage motorcycles! Here’s an outline to guide you in selecting the perfect first project bike:

1. Be Honest About Your Skills and Tools:

  • Mechanical experience: Assess your comfort level with mechanical tasks. Are you okay with basic maintenance or a full engine rebuild?
  • Tools and workspace: Do you have a dedicated workspace and basic tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets)? Bigger projects might require specialty tools.

2. Prioritize Availability and Affordability:

  • Budget: Set a realistic budget for the motorcycle itself, parts, and potential repairs.
  • Availability: Consider how easily you can find the specific model you want. Less common bikes might mean harder-to-find parts and higher prices.
  • Parts availability: Research how readily parts are available for your chosen model. Forums and online parts suppliers can be helpful resources.

3. Choose a Brand and Style:

  • Japanese vs European:
    • Japanese: (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki) Generally more reliable, plentiful parts, good for beginners.
    • European: (Triumph, BSA, Norton, Moto Guzzi) Often require more expertise, parts can be scarce and expensive.
  • Style: Consider your riding preference. Café racers, cruisers, scramblers all offer unique riding experiences.

4. Running vs. Non-Running:

  • Running condition: Easier to assess the overall health of the bike, but might be pricier.
  • Non-running: Potentially cheaper, but could require significant mechanical work. Choose a non-running bike only if you’re comfortable with troubleshooting.

5. Additional Tips:

  • Start simple: A common, reliable model with good parts availability is ideal for a first project.
  • Condition over looks: A complete bike with a rough exterior is usually better than a partially dismantled “beauty.”
  • Join online communities: Forums dedicated to your chosen brand or style can offer invaluable advice and support.
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection: For non-running bikes, consider a professional inspection to avoid hidden problems.

Remember: This is a starting point. Research specific models, compare prices, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a bad deal. The perfect first project bike is out there waiting for you!