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Buyer's Guide to Motorcycle Parts

Welcome to the new Buyer’s Guide on For the Parts Section of the guide, I would like to quote the following from a previous article The GMS Exhaust System for the Yamaha YZF-R6, on the musings of your typical new sportbike owner:

The thought process might go something like this: Hmm, like bike, bike is good, ahh, stock pipe heavy, ugly, must do something, need more power, gotta look cool, what to do? Buy new exhaust! Yes! More air. Less filling. Taste great. Still got credit left on Amex. Buy. Buy. Buy.

Although it may seem a tad ridiculous, the majority of us mass consumers think just like the hypothetical rider above. In fact, some of you may be thinking, “how did they know??”

A guide to buying parts is a little tricky, but here are some basic points that might help you create the bike of your dreams.

Old Bike = More $$ (and probably more work)

An old model usually means that parts are harder to come by. Parts that are rare also tend to come with atrocious price tags. What’s the message here? If you are planning on restoring or working on an old bike, be prepared for a lot of searching and spending.


Stylin’ Your Bike

Easiest Route: rebuilding the bike to its original condition. The work is still challenging, but at least you know exactly what year and model you’re working with. This makes finding the right parts a breeze (ish)

Not-So-Easy: customizing to taste. Mmmmm…although more stylized, customizing is a little trickier. Most of the parts you’re working with will be original or aftermarket replacement parts, but those unique touches you want to add will mean extra work ensuring proper alignment, redefining angles, measuring new heights, etc. You’ll also want to be sure the frame can handle the stress of any changes you are making.


Three Things You Need:

1. A full rip-down manual for your bike. Almost every bike has at least one of these, so get the manual first, then start disassembling.

2. Put down that screwdriver! Now that you have your manual, take inventory of the parts you have and the parts you need to replace or rebuild. This is how you make your shopping list. Be wary of re-using old parts (ie: gaskets and bolts that take a lot of strain should never be re-used.)

3. Finally, more research. Pull out your shopping list and make sure you have part numbers for everything you need to replace. Check online catalogues to get these numbers and approximate costs.


Let the Shopping Begin!

Finally! Now, armed with your newly acquired knowledge and you shopping list, hit the Buyer’s Guide on If you have trouble finding specific parts, check eBay, Craig’s List, or even put a posting on the Forum – you never know who can help you out.



NOS – New Old Stock, made by the original manufacturer to original specs and standard.

Aftermarket – parts manufactured by a third party. May not fit as well as NOS.

Used – An old bike has been stripped and parts are for sale. Double-check quality here.


For articles on repairs and restorations, check out the How-To section.