What is High Mileage for a Motorcycle?

| Last Updated: July 4, 2021

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If you are in the market for a used and second-hand bike, then you might be wondering what is considered high mileage.

Several 18,000-mile bikes are in wonderful condition, and you might wonder if that's reasonable mileage.

On the other hand, the mileage gives you a good indication of the actual age of the motor and the condition of the motorcycle

Motorcycle Mileage Terminology and Common Concepts

Generally, motorcycle mileage refers to the efficiency of the fuel in motorcycles. It refers to how far the motorcycle will go on one tank of fuel. If you want to know about fuel efficiency, you need to learn about the terminology surrounding it. 

When testing out a motorcycle, keep a note of the odometer of the motorcycle when the fuel drops to reserve level. Turn the fuel valve from on to reserve. The reading on the odometer can usually describe the mileage of the bike. 

  • Odograph or odometer is a tool that is used for measuring distance traveled by a vehicle like a car and a bicycle.

  • Fuel is the source through which its engine starts. It is gas or petrol.

  • Model and make refer to the year a motorcycle has been manufactured. 

  • Oil change means that you need to go for service to change the oil of the bike.

Does High Mileage Really Matter on a Motorcycle?

When you enter the market for buying or selling a motorcycle, you should know some of the common concepts surrounding it. Mileage is one of the largest factors that a purchaser considers when buying any bike. The majority of used motorcycles should not have a mileage of more than 15,000. 

If it’s under that, it should usually be in decent condition. Keep reading to learn more about why mileage is important, in addition to other factors.

Know The Numbers, But Look Beyond Them

For the majority of motorcycles, high mileage is between 20,000 to 50,000 miles. If looking at sports bikes, you can increase the number to 25,000. Touring and cruiser bikes come with high mileage in the 40,000 to the 50,000 range. 

Do You Know What Type Of Motorcycle You’re Getting?

Knowing the make and model of your motorcycle is one of the most important factors to consider when you’re looking around for one. You must know the make and model of your motorcycle. Sports bikes typically have more mileage in comparison to other bikes you might look at.

When High-Mileage Matters

Mileage is used to develop a better understanding of the book value of motorcycles. A motorcycle engine with 40,000 to 50,000 miles is known as a high mileage bike. If it contains a clean maintenance record and there is no damage or leaks in the engine, then it will usually be a good buy.

Many riders get hung up on the mileage when it comes to motorcycles because it plays a huge part in the book value of the bike. For the late-model bikes, mileage matters a great deal. When looking at a motorcycle, most people ask about high mileage, and they don’t even worry about the book value of it. 

Their prime concern is longevity and performance. When people buy a 2nd-hand or used motorcycle, they typically look at the mileage before anything else. A couple of other things people look into are:

  • Who was the previous owner?
  • How was it used previously?
  • What about the maintenance and repairs?

A qualified manufacturer or parts retailer will be able to tell you how long the parts on a motorcycle should last before you need to repair them.

Similarly, other factors, like how the motorcycle was stored and the make, model, and year, all play a role in the life expectancy of the motorcycle.

What is High Mileage For Motorcycle?

High mileage on a motorcycle all depends on the make, year, and model of the motorcycle. High mileage for one motorcycle might not be considered high mileage for another motorcycle. For sports bikes, high mileage is higher in comparison to cruisers. For touring and cruiser bikes. high mileage is in the 40,000 to the 50,000-mile range. 

What Type of Motorcycle Is It?

A touring bike may last ten times longer than an off-road motorcycle. It contains a low-revving engine that isn’t usually driven for high-performance situations. For this reason, a sports bike with 50,000 miles on it would be considered extremely high in comparison to a cruiser with 50,000 miles on it.

Is the Motorcycle Regularly Driven?

Motorcycles driven daily will always have higher miles than ones that aren’t. Sometimes you’ll see a motorcycle that’s barely ever driven in much worse condition than a motorcycle with high mileage. Factors like rust on the body and bad fuel economy are some of the issues you’ll find with motorcycles that have been sitting for extended periods. 

Do Riding Conditions Matter?

Next comes the use of the bike. Different owners use their motorcycles in different ways. How was it ridden? Did the owner floor the throttle every single time they took off from a red light? Motorcycles that have been treated with care have a longer lifespan than those that are not. 

What is the Maintenance History?

The maintenance history of the motorcycle is another factor to consider.  If you’re looking at a motorcycle without maintenance records, get it checked over.  The motorcycle might perform on an initial test drive, but you never know the lingering issues without a maintenance history in writing.

How to Tell If a High-Mileage Motorcycle is in Good Condition

There are several factors to look at when considering if a high mileage motorcycle is in good condition:

1. Check the Service Records

If you’re looking at a used motorcycle and it has a complete service record, then that’s a good sign. It means that the motorcycle has received all of the required services throughout its lifespan. The bike owner exercised preventive measures to keep the bike in good working condition. 

2. Are There Any Signs of Physical Damage?

If there is no sign of physical damage, you can consider another checkmark on the list. 

3. No Oil Leaks

Take a look to see if there are any oil leaks in the areas surrounding where the bike was stored. 

4. Condition of the Engine

Some people sell their motorcycles at a cheaper price because the engine isn’t repairable or not in good working condition anymore. You should always check with your mechanic to figure out the engine's condition before deciding to buy a motorcycle. If it is in good condition and there are no major red flags, then it is a good buy, even with the high mileage.

How to Increase High-Mileage Motorcycle’s Life Span

Many high-mileage motorcycles run just as smoothly as new models. However, they need more service check-ups and frequent maintenance. You can increase its lifespan in the following ways:

Break It In

An engine that’s broken intends to run more efficiently than one that’s not. When a bike has a rebuilt engine, you need to be careful to keep up with the motorcycle repair and service intervals. A standard break-in period for a motorcycle is around  500 to 1000 miles. During this period, you avoid aggressive stops and starts. 

You should also avoid using the highest gear when you’re initially trying to break a motorcycle in.

Follow Instructions

It’s always good to follow the user manual. That includes servicing the brakes, replacing chains, checking the valve adjustment, and keeping things lubricated.

Check the Air Filter 

Check the engine of your motorcycle routinely to see if there is any dust and debris in it. This can cause damage over time if you don’t notice it right away.

Use Coolant

If your motorcycle is liquid-cooled. You need to use coolant and water. It contains additives that lubricate and assist in preventing corrosion inside the radiator tubes. The standard recommendation is to change your coolant every two years.

Bottom Line

With motorcycles, try to avoid high-mileage ones, but they can be a safe selection in some cases. High mileage doesn’t always mean that a bike will be in poor condition. You have to consider the whole picture before jumping straight to conclusions.

People Also Ask

Here are some commonly asked questions about this topic.

Is 20,000 Miles a Lot for a Motorcycle?

20,000 miles isn’t typically considered a lot for a motorcycle, especially for touring bikes or cruisers. If it’s a sports bike, then that will be a little more than you’d want to purchase.

What is High Mileage For a Harley Davidson?

A Harley Davidson is starting to creep up into the high mileage category once it starts hitting the 40,000 to the 50,000-mile range.

What is the Average Annual Mileage For a Bike?

The average annual mileage for a motorcycle hovers around the 3,000-mile range.

Hi, my name’s Troy. I started riding motorcycles with Clay mid-2020 and soaking up his vast knowledge of bikes. I have been writing for a few years and decided it was a good time to start writing about what I’m passionate about - motorcycles. No matter how bad your day is, a bike will always make you feel better, that’s my motto.