How many miles will your bike last before it goes to motorcycle heaven and rides with angelic bikers?
It is a question that many people ask themselves when they think of motorcycles.
How Many Miles Do Motorcycles Last?
On average, motorcycles last 50,000 miles before they suffer major mechanical failures. Yet, a motorcycle can last anywhere between 20,000 to 150,000 miles and over, depending on the bike model in question and how well it is serviced.
A motorcycle ”death” can be sudden, like cracking a frame while riding over a pothole…
Welcome to the quality of the roads in Quebec, Canada.
But instant death aside, there will come a time that a bike will cost more in parts and repair than what the motorcycle is worth.
When this happens, it is usually the end of the road for any vehicle.
A catastrophic engine failure could aslo mark the death sentence of a motorcycle.
The logical thing to do then would be to send the motorcycle to the scrapyard or disassemble the bike for spare parts.
Or you could give your motorcycle a glorious warrior death and throw it in a volcano…
Going out in an epic way would work, I guess.
Here are the 4 most important variables affecting how long a motorbike will last.
1. What Is the Type and Model of The Motorcycle?
For example, performance sportbikes designed for tracks and racing won’t last as long as touring motorcycles.
It is not a fair fight…
It is like comparing a semi-truck designed for interstate travel all year long to a Lamborghini supercar.
They both can last a high mileage if adequately taken care of.
They are two very different machines, with different purposes and ”mechanical endurance”.
Their definition of ”high mileage” and how long they last between the two of them is different.
It is the same for motorcycles.
2. How long will a motorcycle last if properly serviced and cared for?
It is probably the most influential factor to determine how long a motorcycle will last.
Proper maintenance and care will make a bike last a long time.
But, neglect of maintenance and adjustment is the number one way to kill a motorcycle prematurely.
I saw some bikes with no other logical fate than disassembly or the scrap pile at 15,000 miles and below…
While motorcycles of the same models and year were still going strong on the road at 60,000+ miles.
It is not black magic; get your owner manual and follow the maintenance schedule. Your bike will last so much longer.
Inspect your motorcycle often for possible problems. Even a tiny oil leak you didn’t notice is dangerous given enough time.
If something suddenly feels weird on the bike, like a loss of power, don’t ignore it. Get your bike serviced to find the cause and fix it before it hurt your bike even more.
Also, basic care like washing your bike often counts more than you think. It will go a long way in the battle against rust.
3. How long will a motorcycle last if the motorcycle is driven hard by its rider?
The way a motorcycle rider rides their bike significantly influences how long a motorcycle will last.
A rider that goes all out on the engine RPM redline all the time should have AAA or another towing company on speed dial.
Repetitive hard acceleration and braking will shorten the life of a bike.
What type of road and condition the bike operates is also a factor.
Repetitive impacts like driving over potholes and uneven roads can also wreak havoc on a motorcycle.
Ultimately frequent impact could crack or bend a motorcycle frame due to accumulated metal stress.
If that happens…
Que the honorable thank you for your service R.I.P. ceremony for your bike.
4. In what environment does the motorcycle operate and ”live”?
Lastly, what kind of region and climate a motorcycle ”live” will shorten or increase its longevity.
Riding a bike in scorching California weather by the salty pacific ocean all day is incredibly fun and memorable…
But it will degrade the motorcycle big time.
Motorcycles do not like any of these:
- To ride for long period In Hot wheater due to engine overheating
- Salty ocean air due to accelerated rusting
- Wet and high humidity environment for the same rusty reasons
- Cold weather due to metal stressing the engine with cold temperature.
Motorcycles are picky and sensible creatures.
What Is a High Mileage for A Motorcycle?
On average, a motorcycle will be considered high mileage when reaching between 20,000 to 50,000 miles. Yet on some resilient motorcycle models, these numbers could still classify as low to midrange mileage.
What is considered high mileage for motorcycles depending on their categories?
Racebike High mileage 20,000. High performance, low mechanical endurance.
Sportbike High mileage 30,000. More street-oriented than racebike.
Dual sport High mileage 30,000. A street-legal version of dirt bikes.
Standard or Naked bike High mileage 35,000. A relaxed version of a sportbike.
Cruiser High Mileage 45,000. Designed for style, comfort, and longer riding.
Adventure bike High mileage 50,000. A touring motorcycle with off-road capabilities
Sport Touring High mileage 50,000. A cross between sport and touring bikes.
Touring bike High mileage 60,000. Designed for long-distance riding.
As you can see, what would be considered high mileage can significantly vary between motorcycle types.
It is reasonable, for instance, to claim a touring motorcycle will last 3 times longer, if not more, in terms of distance traveled than a racebike.
Of course, take these numbers with a grain of salt…
There are so many variables to consider to determine what is a high mileage from one motorcycle to another.
Is 20000 Miles a Lot for A Motorcycle?
20,000 Miles will be considered high mileage for some motorcycles while still reasonable for other bikes. Yet, the 20,000 miles milestone often marks the beginning of the end for any poorly maintained motorcycle.
Proper maintenance is the key to make your bike last as long as possible.
Skipping on a service schedule is the quick way to ride the fast lane to the scrapyard.
I found that the 20,000 miles is the ”checkpoint” that a motorcycle with ”bad health” will start to give out.
If you are interested in getting a used motorcycle and it is over 20,000 miles…
I would ask a LOT of questions to the owner about the bike history.
Here is my tactic to know if a motorcycle was neglected
Usually, if I want to buy a used bike and I want to debunk if it is poorly maintained, here’s what I do…
I will casually ask if I buy the bike, will it come with its owner manual?
If it doesn’t, because the owner doesn’t have a copy…
that is usually a red flag for me.
”If you don’t have the owner manual, how do you know you did the proper scheduled service on time?”
And no, googling it or looking it up in a forum is not a good answer due to misinformation, my dude.
”Only the owner manual is the true holy voice of truth here.”
Mind you referring to online sources or asking the dealer could be enough to keep the bike in good health, but that is not optimal.
Sometimes, the same red flag will come up even if the owner manual is thrown into the deal.
If I suspect the owner never bothered to open and read the book, that is a no-go.
Yet a motorcycle at 20,000 miles… it could be everything, or it could be nothing.
For most motorcycles that received proper care and extra love, it won’t even matter that much that it is over 20,000 miles. It will probably last much longer.
So if the owner of a bike over 20,000 miles still has the owner manual close by and ready to show… that might be a good sign that the bike was properly maintained.
Extra points if the Service manual is part of the deal.
And if the owner kept a detailed service record… Followed to the letter…
My man, you probably just found a rare hidden gem in this world.
How Can You Make Your Motorcycle Last Longer?
There are a couple of good habits a rider can adopt to make their motorcycle last longer. These include letting the bike warm up a couple of minutes on idle when starting up the motorcycle and not operating the engine at high RPM.
Apart from the obvious ”follow your owner manual recommendation” here are 7 tips to make your motorcycle last longer;
1. Let the Bike Warm-up At Start-Up
Oil is what lubricates all the internal moving mechanical parts of your engine, so it doesn’t size up or explode into metal confetti.
But, when a bike is cold, the oil will accumulate at the bottom of the engine and thicken due to the cooler temperature of a cold engine.
On start-up, it will take a moment for the oil to warm up and return to a more liquid form.
It will also take a minute to lubricate your engine correctly.
So Before you ride off right after starting up your bike, please give it a moment.
- 1 Minute in hot weather
- 3 Minutes in chilly temperatures
If you start up your bike and start riding right away, your engine will still have some dry parts grinding on each other and it will stress your engine.
It is especially true in colder weather when your engine oil is extra thick and takes more time to warm up and become liquid as it should be.
Give your bike 1 to 3 minutes to reach operating temperature on idle before your ride.
2. Properly Store Your Motorcycle
When you need to store the bike for any reason longer than a month, throwing a blanket over it is not enough.
If it is only a couple of months, don’t forget to put a stabilizer in your fuel and top off the tank as much as possible. Otherwise, don’t be surprised to find a rust orgy in your tank when you open the cap.
If you need to store the bike for longer than the winter season, have the motorcycle drained dry of any fluids.
Gas, coolant, oil, brake fluid get them all removed and get your bike dryer than a desert for long-term storage.
3. Learn to Do Basic Motorcycle Maintenance
There are many benefits to why you should learn to do basic motorcycle maintenance…
Such as saving money and the feeling of accomplishment to do it yourself…
But the main advantage is that you will build the knowledge to recognize and isolate a problem with your bike.
Recognizing a motorcycle problem and fixing it early will mitigate the damage it will cause.
4. Burn the Right Fuel
It doesn’t apply to carburated or low compression motorcycles, but did you know that you need high octane gas in your bike?
That the pricy gas at the gas station, by the way.
Refer to your owner manual for the true octane rating your bike need.
But if you ride a performance motorcycle like a sportbike, you most likely need high-octane fuel.
On regular 87 octane fuel, your engine could struggle with proper combustion and suffer damage in the long run.
5. Put the right fluid and parts in your bike.
Now here where working by yourself on your bike could bite you in the ass.
Please don’t put the wrong fluid in it.
Simple to say but easy to be confused about.
Yet again, this is why you need to get your owner manual
I know it is boring to read, but all the correct answers about what your bike needs are in there.
Otherwise, for third-party parts replacements, be careful around ”performance mods.”
which brings up our next point.
6. Don’t Modify Your Bike Except…For This
Fiddling with your motorcycle to squeeze a few extra horsepowers will probably shorten its life.
Except for a proper motorcycle tuning.
When a brand new bike rolls out of the factory, the chances are that the bike will run way more lean than it should,
Running lean means burning less fuel. But it also makes the bike feel like crap and could hurt the engine in the long run.
It is deliberately done to conform with environmental regulations imposed on vehicles manufacturer these days.
Motorcycles makers cheat by ”programming” their bikes to run lean.
So ”re-programming” to run at more optimal fuel and air mixture could be a life elixir for your motorcycle.
7. Stay Off the RPM Readline.
I will admit going all-in on the throttle and blasting the RPM is tempting and fun.
But over time, it will plague your engine.
If you push your bike to the limit all the time, there will come a time something terrible happens, and you will call the ambulance (towing).
Don’t be surprised when you sit in anticipation in the waiting room praying for a good outcome… but when the doctor (mechanic) comes to find you and tells you to take a seat to announce your mechanical love won’t make it…
I’m sorry. 🙁
Just remember that your bike lived an exciting life.
Emotional Final Words to How Long Our Motorcycles Will Last.
I wish any motorcycle would last forever…
But… enjoy their presence while they are alive and well to go for glorious riding with them.
And yes, I do allow myself to pretend motorcycles are ”alive” XD
(cue the sad music)
But inevitably, there will come a time that a motorcycle will go on its last ride…. and will put down its kickstand… for one… last time…
All we can do is pray that it soul will find its way and reach motorcycle heaven to serve as a noble mount for angels until the end of time.
Take care of your ride… it will take care of you…
PS – As absurd as it is…
No joke, I actually cried… a lot… writing the end of this post thinking of my first motorcycle…
Without too much detail I was in over my end into deep depression back then…and I bought that bike and riding it gave me a reason not to throw my life away.
Until we meet again in the afterlife, Vstar…
Aka – Big green…
…Thank you for making me love life again…
….Rest in peace…
Take care…All you riders out there, Ride safe.