Ask MO Anything: Is New or Used Better?

John Burns
by John Burns

Dear MOby,

I’ve decided it’s time to move up from my CBR250 first bike to a Triumph, I can’t decide if I want an old one or a new one? I don’t mean an old, old Bonneville from the ’70s, but an old new Bonneville from 2007. A friend of a friend wants to sell me his T100 for less than half what I’d be paying for a brand new 2017 Street Twin. It’s been garaged, looks like new and has 18,000 miles on it. I could swing the payment on a new bike, but I could also pay cash for the old one (after I sell the CBR). The real question is, I’m not much of a mechanic though I wouldn’t mind learning a little at a time. The ’07 still has carburetors. Are they going to be a constant problem? What are the other perils of a 10-year old motorcycle?

Torn Between Two Triumphs
San Jose, CA

Dear Torn,

The last year for carburetors on the Triumph Bonneville was 2007, and by then Keihin had the technology pretty well dialed. They shouldn’t be a problem. Carburetors look complicated in diagrams, but are basically simple mechanisms with a slide inside that moves up and down as you pull on the throttle cables. Your Triumph only has two of them and they’re easy to get to should you need to clean or futz with them. The rest of the engine, at just 18,000 miles, shouldn’t be a problem either. The main thing you’ll be missing is the “new bike” feel, as things like swingarm and steering head bearings and things loosen up over time. It also might be time for a new chain and sprockets soon – but all those are easy enough to adjust and/or ignore when the price is right.

The new Street Twin is lighter and tighter, though, and its big boost in torque down low more than makes up for the older bike’s slight horsepower advantage on top. The new one also gets better than 60 mpg in moderate use, its fuel-injected engine (with just one throttle body) won’t let you down on cold mornings, and its 270-degree crankshaft gives it a much gnarlier exhaust note than the old bike’s 360 crank. We liked the Street Twin very much when we tested it against a couple of other bikes last year. The 2017 bike is lighter, shorter of wheelbase and trail – and in general is a more sporty ride than the old bike, incorporating everything Triumph’s learned in 10 years of development. It’s really comfortable at the same time.

Yours truly got to attend the intro for the new Street Twin two years ago.

Having said that, if you’ve never ridden the new bike, you’ll never know what you’re missing if you buy the old one. I’m super happy with my paid-for 20-year old Jaguar XJ6, but probably only because I’ve never driven a new one (not that a new Jaguar is an option for me). Paying cash for the old bike means you can carry minimal insurance, and the fact that you’re not making a payment every month more than negates that the old bike doesn’t come with a warranty.

I guess it comes down to your finances. If you can easily swing the new Street Twin, it’s a better, more fun motorcycle and nothing beats new. If money doesn’t grow on a tree at your house, you’ll love the old bike too. And if you don’t, somebody else will. Used Bonnies are easy to sell. Good luck!

Send your moto-related questions to If we can’t answer them, we’ll at least make you feel temporarily better by thinking you’re talking to somebody who knows what they’re talking about, even if we don’t. It’s the thought that counts.

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John Burns
John Burns

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3 of 21 comments
  • DickRuble DickRuble on Jul 19, 2017

    Buy a cb500F for $4500 with 500 miles on it.. You'll find a few on craigslist... ABS, FI, what else do you need.?

    • John phyyt John phyyt on Jul 19, 2017

      Exactly.. Perfect choice. I agree.. Nicer ride and much lighter than older Triumph.

  • Alexander Pityuk Alexander Pityuk on Jul 19, 2017

    We buy new cars for long warranty period, because they became extremely complicated and expensive to repair. Also there is a lot of difference between new and used interior. Bikes have no interiors and no quadro-turbo-2000 bar-diesel engines, so why the hell would you want new? Better get 2 used ones!