Categories: Ask MO Anything
July 5, 2019
| On 4 months ago

Ask MO Anything: Motorcycle Sell-By Dates

Dear MOby,

I’ve seen model year bikes from 2013 for sale as new with 0 miles, and I’ve read of people seeing even older “new” bikes for sale. The question: is there a general guideline on how long things like seals/gaskets etc., last if a bike has been indoors and not run for its entire life? And what about all the metal not having been lubricated all those years?

Even if the bike is sold with the warranty intact (which most seem to be), won’t failing parts be a constant inconvenience at the very least? 

Walter Barlow
World Wide Web


Dear Walter,

Interesting question; I know we’ve bandied it about now and then in various MO Comments sections. Having plenty of left-over new models lying around isn’t a new thing for the manufacturers; I remember trying hard to scrape up the $1,999 or whatever it was for a new Suzuki GS750E circa about 1982 in the midst of that little “recession” – unsuccessfully. Even then, the Japanese and probably all the other OEMs had learned how to pack bikes and all sorts of other things for the possibility of long-term storage.

Engine internals in a new engine are still going to be protected by assembly lube and/or oil, even if there’s no oil in the sump. And if a light bit of surface rust does manage to appear on a brand-new transmission gear or something, it’s going to disappear the way rust on steel brake discs used to do the first time you use the brakes (or start the engine), to be caught in the oil filter and rendered harmless at the initial oil change.

Seals and gaskets last for decades now, and whatever rubbery trim pieces you can find on a motorcycle anymore should be fine if the bike’s been kept in its crate and/or in a warehouse out of the sun and not next to an ozone generator. Even tires should be fine if there are no visible cracks on the sidewalls. If the bike’s really been sitting in the same spot for years with low air pressure in the tires, they could be flat-spotted.  If you can see or feel flat spots, fresh rubber is an excellent thing to haggle about when you’re ready to make an offer.

We couldn’t help but notice Honda is still listing 2010 and 2012 ST1300s on its website. Surprisingly enough, dealers still want almost $16,000 for a new 2012; surely there’s got to be a lot of wiggle room in there. As for me, it could be an NC700X  when the time comes for me to buy my own motorcycle. Honda wants $8,899 for a new NC750X ABS DCT.

Meanwhile on CycleTrader.com, here’s a new 2014 NC700X DCT ABS, five years old, asking price $5,995. The new 750 is better, but is it almost 50% better than the new 2014? Hmmmm…

Here’s what our man Jon Seidel at American Honda says: “Talked to my service side guy, and he said as long as the bike has been stored properly there should be no issue with seals/gaskets, etc. If the bike is  out of the crate sitting you should check for flat spots on the tires and of course the battery taking a charge properly.

“In our PRE-DELIVERY SERVICE AND INSPECTION, the only reference to older bikes is, “If the motorcycle is more than two years old, hydraulic brake and clutch systems should be drained and fresh DOT 4 fluid added.”

There it is. Brake fluid absorbs water. When’s the last time you changed yours? Everything else should be fine. And if it’s not, maybe the best reason for buying a new old bike instead of a clean, low-miles used one, is that the factory warranty kicks in on the day you buy the bike. In the case of the NC, that’s one year and unlimited miles.


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