Quantcast

Why a £1500 sportsbike might be a bad idea

Read this before buying a 15-year-old 'bargain'


£1500 doesn't sound much when a bike looks this good

Today's motorcycle market is awash with cheap secondhand sportsbikes. The introduction of new models every year has taken its toll on secondhand values, driving them down to rock bottom prices. Scout around the web and you'll find an early 90s litre sportsbike for £1500, or even less, which seems bloody tempting for a 170mph corner-carving missile.

Take an early model Fireblade - desirable, iconic and still a competent tool in the right hands - but is a 15-year-old one a good buy or are you just asking for trouble? We take a closer look.

The typical example

Everyone has Walter Mitty dreams about finding a mint, low mileage, one owner example someone's had sat in a temperature-controlled garage for the last fifteen years but sadly finds like this are few and far between.

Expect a Blade of this age to have covered approximately 50,000 miles and been owned by around eight people. Chances are it will have been dropped, probably more than once and it's highly doubtful the service history will be complete.

If you're expecting this fifteen-year-old machine to ride like new then you're going to be in for a shock. Sportsbikes are finely tuned pieces of kit, which feel awful if they're not kept in tip-top shape, so you may need to spend a surprising amount of money to get the bike anywhere near how it felt over a decade ago. The total bill often amounts to more than you paid for the bike in the first place. If you've little mechanical aptitude, or don't enjoy fettling bikes then a tired old sportsbike can be a big money pit.

Bank on replacing all the bearings

Chassis

Over the years the head bearings, swingarm bushes and wheel bearings will have worn and will probably need replacing. Budget on spending around £150 to put the problem right.

A full suspension rebuild costs around £600

Suspension

A bike of this age will need a complete suspension overhaul if you want it to handle anywhere near its potential. This entails new springs, oil and possibly a revalve. Expect to pay around £600 for a decent job and double that if you're going for top end stuff.

New chain and sprockets? £200 to you sir

Chain and sprockets

Of the bikes we looked at, virtually all were in need of a new chain and sprockets. Expect to pay £200 for a decent set, complete with cush drive rubbers.

Brake hoses, pads and fluids

Hydraulic hoses usually need replacing every 20,000 miles or five years, so it's advisable to change the lot for some braided equivalents. Budget on spending £200 on a set, including fresh pads and fluids.

Old rubber is bad rubber - £250 to replace it

Tyres

Old bikes usually need a new set of tyres, especially if they've not been changed for a few years. A decent set of sportsbike tyres costs around £250.

So far we've spent almost £1500 and haven't even touched on potential engine, carburetion or exhaust problems - which can set you back another few hundred quid if you're unlucky.

So before you jump at the offer of a low cost high mileage sportsbike, like I did, just weigh up how much it's really going to cost you in the long run and whether you'd be better off spending your money on something newer. The £3000 you'll end up shelling out on buying and renovating a 15-year-old Blade would be enough to secure a 12,000-mile GSX-R1000K2 as a private sale.

Today's motorcycle market is awash with cheap secondhand sportsbikes. The introduction of new models every year has taken its toll on secondhand values, driving them down to rock bottom prices. Scout around the web and you'll find an early 90s litre sportsbike for £1500, or even less, which seems bloody tempting for a 170mph corner-carving missile.

Take an early model Fireblade - desirable, iconic and still a competent tool in the right hands - but is a 15-year-old one a good buy or are you just asking for trouble? We take a closer look.

The typical example

Everyone has Walter Mitty dreams about finding a mint, low mileage, one owner example someone's had sat in a temperature-controlled garage for the last fifteen years but sadly finds like this are few and far between.

Expect a Blade of this age to have covered approximately 50,000 miles and been owned by around eight people. Chances are it will have been dropped, probably more than once and it's highly doubtful the service history will be complete.

If you're expecting this fifteen-year-old machine to ride like new then you're going to be in for a shock. Sportsbikes are finely tuned pieces of kit, which feel awful if they're not kept in tip-top shape, so you may need to spend a surprising amount of money to get the bike anywhere near how it felt over a decade ago. The total bill often amounts to more than you paid for the bike in the first place. If you've little mechanical aptitude, or don't enjoy fettling bikes then a tired old sportsbike can be a big money pit.

Chassis

Chassis

Over the years the head bearings, swingarm bushes and wheel bearings will have worn and will probably need replacing. Budget on spending around £150 to put the problem right.

Suspension

Suspension

A bike of this age will need a complete suspension overhaul if you want it to handle anywhere near its potential. This entails new springs, oil and possibly a revalve. Expect to pay around £600 for a decent job and double that if you're going for top end stuff.

Chain to brakes

Chain and sprockets

Of the bikes we looked at, virtually all were in need of a new chain and sprockets. Expect to pay £200 for a decent set, complete with cush drive rubbers.

Brake hoses, pads and fluids

Hydraulic hoses usually need replacing every 20,000 miles or five years, so it's advisable to change the lot for some braided equivalents. Budget on spending £200 on a set, including fresh pads and fluids.

Tyres

Tyres

Old bikes usually need a new set of tyres, especially if they've not been changed for a few years. A decent set of sportsbike tyres costs around £250.

Conclusion

Conclusion

So far we've spent almost £1500 and haven't even touched on potential engine, carburetion or exhaust problems - which can set you back another few hundred quid if you're unlucky.

So before you jump at the offer of a low cost high mileage sportsbike, like I did, just weigh up how much it's really going to cost you in the long run and whether you'd be better off spending your money on something newer. The £3000 you'll end up shelling out on buying and renovating a 15-year-old Blade would be enough to secure a 12,000-mile GSX-R1000K2 as a private sale.

Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now