My shop is in an over-sized two-car garage attached to my home. My work is a calling, in the theological sense of the word. Ethical and moral questions arise every day – they are hard, sharp, unambiguous and unavoidable.

Cheap bikes are not … cheap.

Posted: July 20th, 2010 | Author: Administrator | Filed under: Editorial, Engine, Motorcycle Repair | No Comments »

The following is a typical email inquiry from a potential customer:

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the reply.  I’m looking for something a bit cheaper.  Your prices sound fine, but I’m after a basket case, not because I really want to do the restore, but because I know it will  cost less, and I can do the labor.  If you run into something in the $200-300 range let me know.  I understand that I’m looking for a very low price, but I’m patient.

Thanks again



It is my hard-learned experience that rebuilding a basket case – cheap or free – always ends up costing more than buying a running bike.  For example, a $200-300 Honda CB/CL350 will almost certainly need a top-end rebuild – $200 for pistons/rings/wristpins/circlips – $50 engine gasket set – $120 to bore the cyls. for over-sized pistons = $370.  Are the cam lobes in good shape?  If not, add another $50 for a good used cam. The cam chain and cam tensioner rollers should be renewed while the engine is apart – $75.  Might as well have the valves ground while you’re at it – $80.  That’s $500-600 in parts and machine-shop work.

Mind you, there are excellent non-monetary reasons to restore a basket-case – the satisfaction of bringing a funky/cool old bike back from the dead and riding a bike you have built yourself is priceless.  But it will not save you money compared with buying a fundamentally sound bike.

Existential Motorcycles
Alexander, NC

Leave a Reply