Motorcycles have a special place in culture today especially when you consider the practicality and the swagger that comes with owning one. But, just like anything that comes with mechanical moving parts, a motorcycle isn’t built to last forever.
That’s why you have to be wary of our motorcycle’s age and make sure you take care of it if you want it to keep working right. So, how long do motorcycles last?
On average, motorcycles that have been maintained well and have not been through serious accidents can last for up to 15 years. But you can expect that number to go up if the motorcycle has not experienced any big breakdowns and has been maintained and cared for in the best possible way.
Of course, the overall quality of your motorcycle also matters in this discussion but it still is best if you know how to care for your machine really well. Still, there is no certainty as to how long motorcycles can really last but we are here to discuss their average lifespan and how to get the most out of it.
How many years does a motorcycle last?
Motorcycles are not cheap, and many riders know that. That’s why riders often try their best to look for the best possible motorcycle in terms of quality and longevity while making sure that they are able to maintain it well enough so that they could use it on a long-term basis.
On the other hand, there are also some riders that try to maximize what they can get from their motorcycles by constantly buying and selling before their bikes go beyond the usual age limit.
But how many years does a motorcycle really last and what is the usual age limit that most people put on them? Well, that really depends on a lot of things because you have to look at certain factors such as mileage, maintenance, storage, and usage in terms of how rough or how gentle the user is when riding it.
That said, most motorcycles will generally last for about 12 to 15 years on average if the user was able to at least follow the standards of care required of a motorcycle regardless of its brand. But that number can still go down or up depending on how the machine was maintained or used by its owner.
What is considered high mileage for a motorcycle?
When you talk about mileage for a motorcycle, it doesn’t always mean the miles that it has accumulated over the years. Oftentimes, it also doesn’t pertain to how old the motorcycle is in terms of how long has it been since it was manufactured. That’s because, like many other vehicles, there are plenty of things that go into the mileage of a motorcycle.
For a quick example, a motorcycle that may have been bought during the 90s but has been used sparingly, is maintained using the highest standards possible, was meant primarily as a collector’s item for a rider can have a mileage lower than that of a motorcycle bought two years ago but has been used almost every single day.
In short, longevity is determined by plenty of different factors, and the actual mileage of a motorcycle is only of those important factors.
Let’s try to explore more about what is considered high mileage for motorcycles:
1. Actual mileage
The actual mileage of a motorcycle is determined by the number of miles it has accumulated over the years. Most of the time, when a motorcycle has reached over 100,000 miles, it might be time for you to get a new one.
But that is only in theory because there are certain aspects that still determine how well a motorcycle has been maintained. For example, just because a motorcycle has reached somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 miles it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is in worse condition compared to a bike with only 10,000 miles.
In short, miles don’t always tell the entire story and, in some cases, they don’t even matter to certain riders. Even if the motorbike has reached 200,000 miles, there are still factors that are much more important in determining the actual limit of a motorcycle in terms of its age and usability.
First and foremost, proper maintenance is what makes the biggest difference when it comes to how long your motorcycle can last. It is the best way for you to extend its lifespan and it could also even be a double-edged sword because poor maintenance can actually also shorten the life of your bike.
The best way for you to maintain your motorcycle is by making sure you have it checked by a professional every now and then but you also have to make sure that you get its oil changed and that you keep it protected from the ill effects of different weather conditions such as extreme heat during the summer, snow during the winter, and moisture during the wet seasons.
Of course, cleaning your motorcycle from time to time is also one way of making sure it is well-maintained. Dirt, dust, and other sediments that may have built up over a long time of frequent use may very well affect the way your motorcycle runs especially when they get into the deeper parts of your bike.
The way you ride, use, or handle your motorcycle also makes a really big difference when it comes to its longevity. Naturally, those who are gentler with the way they ride their bikes are more likely to see their machines lasting longer than expected.
Meanwhile, those who are often riding their motorcycles in the hardest and roughest ways possible by constantly pushing the engine to its limits can very well expect their bikes to have shorter lifespans even with proper maintenance.
You should also consider the fact that riding your bike aggressively can lead to a higher risk of getting into accidents and breakdowns. Of course, the fewer accidents and breakdowns that a motorcycle has seen, the more likely it will last for a longer period of time.
There are also other external factors surrounding handling. For example, if you live in a region where the roads tend to be rough, the motorcycle won’t be able to last as long as you would want it to regardless of how gentle you are with it.
Meanwhile, those who live in places where the roads from their home to the places they frequently go to are smooth can generally expect their motorcycles to last longer.
Meanwhile, if a bike was barely used such as when it was bought for the purpose of being a collector’s item for the rider, it naturally will last for a very long time even though it has already been a few decades since it was purchased.
4. Engine size
Engine size also plays a role in how long a motorcycle will last and in determining whether or not it has reached its peak mileage. The larger and newer the engine is, the more likely it is going to last for a very long time compared to bikes with smaller and older engines.
For example, a 250cc engine on a motorbike that was manufactured during the 90s may have a lower mileage limit before it begins to give out. You could say maybe somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 miles is its limit. Meanwhile, a bike that has a 1,000cc engine that was made in the late 2000s will be able to reach somewhere close to nearly a hundred thousand miles before it gives you.
5. Overall quality
Just like any product and device, the overall quality of a motorcycle plays an important factor in terms of how long it will last.
Those that were made by more expensive manufacturers or brands usually use materials that are rated higher and are generally going to last longer compared to the ones that were meant to be budget-friendly choices to the riders who aren’t capable of paying huge bucks for the more expensive names in the market.
While it might be better off for you to go with brands that are more expensive and have been trusted in the industry for decades if you want to have a motorcycle that will generally last longer, it doesn’t hurt to go with a more budget-friendly bike as long as it isn’t at the lowest end of the budget spectrum and as long as you take care of it in the best way possible.
Motorcycle brands that last the longest
If you are looking for motorcycle brands that tend to have longer lifespans than most other brands, here are some of the names you should be able to trust:
Yamaha has been voted the most reliable motorcycle brand. The failure rate on a four-year-old bike is only 11%, which is best among manufacturers. Yamaha is very well known for its affordable and yet extremely reliable motorcycles. A great new Yamaha motorcycle would cost you about $5,000.
Honda is just slightly behind Yamaha in motorcycle brand reliability. Honda and Yamaha are very close in reliability, but there are some other factors at play, like maintenance costs and engineering. Honda motorcycles are known for their slightly higher than average maintenance costs. Still, they are a great choice.
Kawasaki, like most Japanese manufacturers, is known for its reliability. The failure rate on a four-year-old bike is about 15%. Even though the failure rate is higher than Yamaha’s, it is still well below the industry average of 24%. They are also quite affordable.
Suzuki motorcycles always rate high in reliability, right behind Yamaha. They are also known for their low maintenance costs and affordability. When you compare them to some other Japanese brands, most of them don’t look the sportiest. That being said, they are one of the best bikes for safe and reliable transportation.
Harley-Davidson is believed to be the most reliable American made motorcycle brand. It has a 26% failure rate after four years. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are usually pricier and they are associated with larger displacement cruiser type bikes over the years.
However, the brand has since diversified the model line which now includes smaller and more affordable model options.
As the name says, Triumph has been the most reliable British-made motorcycle since about 1902. The failure rate is about 29% after four years. Like Harley-Davidson, Triumph mainly produces larger displacement cruiser models and not really much for beginners.
These motorcycles are more expensive than the Japanese brands, as the prices usually start out at around $9,300.
Indian is one of America’s oldest motorcycle brands, and it is considered to be an iconic motorcycle. Polaris bought the brand in 2011 and they are known to be fairly reliable bikes.
The larger models usually need more frequent repairs, which also cost more than they would for a similarly sized Harley-Davidson. That being said, the smaller Indian bikes can outperform Harley-Davidsons.
KTM is an Australian brand, known mainly for its reliable off-road bikes. It has expanded to manufacturing street bikes. They are best known for how simple and reliable they are. Parts for a KTM motorcycle are readily available, and most owners are satisfied with their vehicles. Their dirt bikes are almost as reliable as those of a top Japanese brand.
Ducati is believed to be the most reliable Italian manufactured motorcycle brand. The brand had a reputation for a while for poor reliability and extremely expensive maintenance costs. But, in recent years it seems that most of those problems have been taken care of. You can get a Ducati motorcycle for under $8,000.
About the author: Michael Parrotte was the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, and a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, Sparx Helmets. In addition, he is the founder and owner of AGV Sports Group.