When Is a Motorcycle Too Old? – Top Signs to Look Out For

We all love to own a vintage motorcycle, otherwise known as a classic. That, however, doesn’t compel us to go for an old one. So, when is a motorcycle too old to ride?

A motorcycle is too old to ride if it has exceeded its mileage, is in poor condition, has some missing parts, or is a model whose spare parts are hard to find.

If you notice such signs, then the bike is too old to ride, so you should explore other alternatives.

When Is a Motorbike Too Old to Run?

Motorcycles have an expiration date, even if it’s not apparent. If a motorbike is too old to run, it has reached the end of its usable lifespan.

The question is, how do you determine an old motorcycle? Well, consider the following aspects.

1. Mileage 

The average motorcycle’s annual mileage is 3,000 miles compared to a car’s 10,000-15,000 miles. The overall mileage, however, varies from type to type.

For example, a low-end sportbike averages 25,000 miles in its lifespan, while a high-end option can hit 50,000 plus miles depending on the maintenance. The typical high mileage for touring bikes and cruisers is 40,000 to 50,000 miles. 

If a motorbike has reached its highest possible mileage, it’s too old to ride. Don’t, however, be in a hurry to rule it out until you consider the factors below.

2. Bike Condition

A bike’s condition is critical when you find a high-mileage motorcycle that you would want to buy. Look for the following signs:

  • Defective parts
  • Corrosion
  • Un-roadworthiness (see the vehicle history report and inspection certificate).

You can even take the motorcycle for a test drive to see if the engine is working well. If it’s not, or you notice any of the above-highlighted signs, the bike is likely too old to ride.

3. Missing Parts

A motorcycle doesn’t have to have defects or be rusty to be too old to ride. Check it properly or get someone who knows the anatomy of your motorcycle type to help you determine if all parts are present before buying.

4. Spare Parts Are Too Hard to Find

No matter how good a motorbike is, it’s not worth getting if you cannot find its replacement parts. Spare parts may be hard to find if the bike has been discontinued or because the type is not common in your area.

How Old is Too Old for A Used Bike?

A used bike is too old to ride if it has outlived its mileage, which is about 20,000 for a low-end sportbike and 50,000 for a high-end option. Touring bikes and cruisers are considered old when they hit 40,000 to 50,000 miles.

A used bike is also too old to ride if it’s unroadworthy, including having missing or defective parts. You can even test-ride it to see if it feels comfortable to ride.

What is Considered High Mileage for Motorcycles?

The term high mileage varies in motorcycles depending on their size. Smaller motorbikes, for example, have a high mileage of 20,000-30,000 miles, while larger ones are considered to have a high mileage when they go past 40,000 miles.

Some well-maintained motorcycles can go up to 100,000 miles and more.

How Many Years Can a Motorcycle Last?

A motorcycle’s lifespan depends on usage and maintenance. The more regularly you use it and the less frequently you service it, the shorter the lifespan. But overall, the average motorcycle lasts for 10-15 years if it’s serviced regularly.

Can A Motorcycle Last Forever?

Nothing lasts forever, not even a motorcycle. However, a motorbike can outlive its lifespan, usually 10-15 years, if it’s well looked after. 

Looking after a bike well includes riding it carefully, regularly servicing it, protecting it against harmful weather elements, and cleaning it often. 

What Parts of a Motorcycle Grow Old Too Fast?

Some motorcycle parts wear out faster than others, depending on their exposure to acceleration, braking, and even bad weather.

Here are the parts that will undoubtedly grow old more quickly than others:

  • Tires, especially the rear tire
  • Brake pads
  • Exhaust
  • Spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Bike paintwork (may start peeling off)
  • Engine

Since these parts are likely to grow old fast, you should replace them often to keep your motorcycle in good condition.

What Can You Do to Stop a Motorcycle From Growing Old Too Fast?

You can only stop a motorcycle from growing too old fast by taking proper care of it through activities such as:

  • Replacing the filters and changing the engine oil as regularly as possible
  • Taking the motorcycle for expert servicing and tune-ups at least once in six months
  • Covering the bike when it’s not in use to protect it from weather elements, especially rain and sun
  • Replacing defective parts as soon as you spot them
  • Replacing the tires when they start to age
  • Keeping it clean after use

How Often Does a Motorcycle Need Maintenance?

It’s advisable to take your motorcycle for expert servicing after every six months of riding. That’s equal to 2,500-4,000 miles, depending on how often you ride.

If you don’t ride often, you should do it yearly. Remember, your motorcycle shouldn’t sit in your garage for too long as its metal could start rusting, and its tires could go flat and become brittle.

When Is a Motorbike Too Old to Tune Up?

A motorcycle tune-up is a detailed maintenance action, so a motorcycle can never be too old to tune up. The more you tune it up, another name for extensive maintenance, the more you boost its lifespan and performance.

Am I Too Old to Ride a Motorcycle?

Provided you can keep a motorcycle upright when you hop on it and take control, you are not too old to ride it. It’s also essential that you know the traffic situations around you and ensure that you are physically capable of maneuvering the motorbike.

You are only too old to ride a motorcycle if you can’t handle it well physically or can’t see properly.

How Old is Too Old to Start Riding a Motorcycle?

Riding a motorcycle is more dependent on your physical health and posture than your age. If you are physically strong with an upright posture and can see clearly, then your age cannot stop you from riding a motorcycle.

As long as your eyesight, strength, and health are good, you can start riding a motorcycle even at 60 when others are quitting. 

At What Age Should You Stop Riding a Motorcycle?

Most people stop riding motorcycles when they get to 60-85 years. Their physical strength starts to fade at such an age, and their eyes become less sharp. They also become less confident behind the handlebars. 

There is no age limit for riding a motorcycle, provided you can see well and are physically strong enough to do it.

What to Do When a Motorcycle Is Too Old to Ride

You can take different steps for a motorcycle that is too old to ride. You could:

  • Sell its most valuable parts or the whole thing if it’s a rare model on a platform like Craigslist or eBay
  • Give it to charity. Organizations like Car Donation Wizard can accept it.
  • Dispose of it
  • Sell it as scrap metal
  • Re-use its parts at home as decor, table stand, lamp holder, stationery holder, or just about anything suitable.

What to Do When You Are Too Old to Ride a Motorcycle

You can opt for any of these takes if you are too old to ride a motorcycle:

  • Sell the bike and invest the money in something else
  • Give the bike away to someone who’ll treasure it like you
  • Keep it for the sake of retaining the good old memories
  • Find someone youthful who can occasionally carry you on the motorcycle.


Now, you no longer have to ask, ‘when is a motorcycle too old?’ If your motorbike surpasses its mileage, has missing components, or its parts are hard to find, it’s too old to ride. Therefore, you should consider alternatives right away.

People Also Ask

Motorcycle riders, especially newbies, usually have many questions about their favorite bikes. We understand that we may not have covered everything above, so we have assembled the list of most frequently asked questions below.

At What Age Does a Motorcycle Become a Classic?

Generally, a motorcycle is seen as a classic when it’s 30 years old. If that happens, then you can get classic insurance for it. Note, however, that we’ve modern classics dated between 1991 and 2006.

What Happens When a Motorcycle Sits for Years?

Several things can happen if a motorcycle sits for too long without use, and they include:

  • Metallic parts may start to rust
  • Paint may begin to peel off
  • Tires may develop flats and become brittle
  • The chain may stiffen up
  • The battery may drain
  • Too much condensation may form in the engine

When Are Motorcycle Tires Too Old?

You can tell older tires from their years of manufacturing and their condition. Generally, they are too old if you have been using them for more than five years since they were produced.

Also, look at the condition of the tires. If they have lost their grip, suffer multiple flats, or become brittle, they are too old to use. So, replace them.

When Is a Motorcycle Helmet Too Old?

Motorcycle helmets, just like every other motorcycle gear, have an expiration date, even if it’s not engraved on them. You can tell an old motorcycle helmet from its deteriorating EPS (expanded polystyrene). That shows it’s no longer effective to wear.

You can also tell an old helmet from its year of manufacturing. If it was manufactured more than seven years ago (which you can tell from its sticker) or you have been wearing it for more than five years, the helmet is old enough to be replaced.

Which Motorcycle Holds Its Value Best?

All motorcycles are not the same. Some command much higher resale value than others depending on how rare they are, the brand reputation, and the build quality.

According to the Kelley Blue Book, here are the options that hold the best resale value, some as much as 90%.

How Can I Make My Motorcycle Last Forever?

Though it’s not possible to qualify ‘forever’ in terms of years, a motorcycle can last for many years if you do the following:

About Alex

Hi Friends! Welcome to Motorcycle Exploits. I'm Alex! If you ever had any personal hindrances or doubts about your abilities to ride a motorcycle, then you are in the right place, Mate! My desire is to help you overcome any fears and other personal struggles you have so that you, too, can celebrate your EXPLOITS!