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View Full Version : starting a first time build looking for some advice on bike choices



dillion67
05-11-2015, 8:01 PM
everyone I'm new to your forum's and am interested in starting up a new project bike.
I am new to bike building "as in i have never done it" but not new to motorcycles i use to have a suzuki dr 650.
I would like something easy to learn on i have some knowledge with electrical so this might be helpful.
i was looking at a honda but the guy told me the wrong make and year after posting the pictures on a few different sites i came to the conclusion that what he was selling a cm400 maybe 82 or 83 attached is a pic
he is 5 hours away so i told him never mind as some other form members on the honda site suggested against this i also have a non running gs850g local that is 500 obo but dose not run they said it ran 2 years ago and that i might just be the battery*

here is the honda he claims it to be a honda cb400 first he said 82 then i asked about it and he said 83

60073

WhiteRooster
05-11-2015, 8:29 PM
look for a honda vt500 or vt600 they sound and ride great. and are easy to work on

deathmetaldan
05-12-2015, 4:20 AM
best advice is, dont be in a hurry to get a bike. If something the seller says sounds a little off or they cant keep the story straight, dont risk it. There are lots of people selling bikes everyday so no need to throw your money away at the first one you see. If you dont want to mess with the engine, make sure the bike runs and rides without issue. Get it warmed up and run it through all the gears and hopefully anything bad will show.

Take a flashlight when you go to look at it and look at every single piece, take out a spark plug and see if its all gunked up. If you have an inspection camera look at the cylinders. If the seller has nothing to hide there wont be an issue with any of this but if they get shakey you might find something minor that they are trying to hide and you could get a good deal because they feel embarrassed.

its usually a game of bullshit to see who will show their hand first, just because they have a price on craigslist doesnt mean thats what they will get..... give them a number, the worst they can say is no. If they are playing hardball and wont budge on price, just walk away and tell them to call you when they are ready to sell it.


in terms of picking a certain bike, look at what is around you that you are willing to travel to and then look at the price of parts online. With alot of older bikes you will only find used expensive parts, if you find a new part you better be ready to sell a body part.

EVILBLACKSABRE
05-12-2015, 12:10 PM
best advice is, dont be in a hurry to get a bike. If something the seller says sounds a little off or they cant keep the story straight, dont risk it. There are lots of people selling bikes everyday so no need to throw your money away at the first one you see. If you dont want to mess with the engine, make sure the bike runs and rides without issue. Get it warmed up and run it through all the gears and hopefully anything bad will show.

Take a flashlight when you go to look at it and look at every single piece, take out a spark plug and see if its all gunked up. If you have an inspection camera look at the cylinders. If the seller has nothing to hide there wont be an issue with any of this but if they get shakey you might find something minor that they are trying to hide and you could get a good deal because they feel embarrassed.

its usually a game of bullshit to see who will show their hand first, just because they have a price on craigslist doesnt mean thats what they will get..... give them a number, the worst they can say is no. If they are playing hardball and wont budge on price, just walk away and tell them to call you when they are ready to sell it.


in terms of picking a certain bike, look at what is around you that you are willing to travel to and then look at the price of parts online. With alot of older bikes you will only find used expensive parts, if you find a new part you better be ready to sell a body part.Good advice there.

One thing I was taught is- never buy a bike that was warm when you got there.

What that means is, you want to see how the bike starts cold. This can reveal issues. A bike will often start and run a lot better if it's had plenty of time to get warmed up. Like if you call the seller, make an appointment to check out the bike, and he has plenty of time to plan ahead, get the bike started and warmed up, ride it around the block a few times, and when you get there, it appears to start and run just fine. A warm bike can hide issues.

When you call to schedule a visit to see the bike, tell the guy that you want to inspect the bike with a cold engine, and that you want to see how the bike starts cold. If he refuses, then he's probably a douchebag and I would look elsewhere.

Like Deathmetaldan said, bring a flashlight. Among other things, look inside the gas tank for rust. Rust in the tank is going to mean a lot of work and money to get the bike right.

deathmetaldan
05-12-2015, 12:58 PM
yes, i forgot to mention the cold start.

Look on and around the bike in general to see if anything was done to make it seem better than it is. Look for puddles underneath it or near it, take note to the smell of starting fluid. People are douche bags and once you sign the legal paper work all his problems become yours

dillion67
05-12-2015, 4:21 PM
thanks for all the advice guys so do you think i should buy a bike that already ones i just found this for 500 he said first to come gets it but its not running https://lasvegas.craigslist.org/mcy/5021312836.html

deathmetaldan
05-12-2015, 6:53 PM
the ohio title thats being sold in nevada seems kind of fishy, but if you can get it put in your name without a third party it isnt an issue. This would mean going to the dmv together and accepting nothing other than the notary getting you completely set up.

as far as not running, you have to accept the fact that the motor might not be any good. The guy says it was a project he never got to, but why did he shelve it?

So if you can deal with the title issues and have the resources and the desire to do a whole engine rebuild if it comes down to it..... nab it.

EVILBLACKSABRE
05-12-2015, 7:54 PM
Buying a pre-owned bike is always a gamble. Buying a pre-owned bike that doesn't run is a MAJOR gamble.

It could be a great deal that requires only a little work to get it running. Or, it could be a money pit that you would have to pour lots of money and work into to get it running. Or, it could wind up being a total piece of junk.

The fact that it doesn't run puts the whole bike in question. Like for example, the electrical system. If the electrics are bad (like if the bike were ever submerged in a flooded basement) it's going to be a lot of work re-building that electrical system.

Besides deciding how much of a gamble you are willing to take, you have to ask yourself how you want to spend the summer. Do you want to spend it riding, or do you want to spend it rebuilding a bike.

Unless you are a very skilled motorcycle mechanic, like one who can completely rebuild a bike (including the engine), I would advise that you focus on running bikes.

A motivated seller can be a good thing, or it could mean that the owner knows it's junk and just wants to get rid of it fast. If I were selling a bike and knew it had real value, I'd want to sell it for as much as possible, and I'd be willing to wait for the right buyer. I would also be willing to put in a bit of time and effort to get it running so I could sell it for more. But that's me. If it's so easy to get it running, why didn't the owner get it running so he could sell it for more.

Maybe I'm just a suspicious and cynical bastard. Or maybe I've seen too many people get screwed by buying junk bikes. Either way, I wouldn't buy a bike that doesn't run. But that's me. I'd rather save up a while longer, pay more, and spend more time riding than wrenching (or rebuilding).

Never be too eager to buy a bike. Eagerness often leads to heartache. Good luck with your search.

dillion67
05-12-2015, 8:10 PM
thanks for all the helpful information guys im going to save some extra cash and look for a running bike with a clean title that i can make small changes to hear and there i am glad i found this forum keep the bike suggestions coming something that has plenty of extra parts available

deathmetaldan
05-13-2015, 6:00 PM
whats your budget? I get bored and could look around on your local CL for awhile. I love a good bargain :)

JetBlackII
05-15-2015, 12:56 AM
Something to learn on... for mechanics? Any air cooled(no raditaor) twin cylinder they are about as complicated as an old push mower(not at all complicated) pretty much bullet/fool proof, unless you fuck up the electrical or fuck up setting the timing... they are also pretty cheap and parts easily obtainable for most models.

For chopping? Pretty much anything with a running power plant is fair game for a beginner. Best to get a cheaper running bike to play with, and put most of the buying bucks towards tools and parts you wanna slap on that shit. This is one of the reasons I go for basket cases... cheap as fuck and more fun firing over something that hadn't ran in years... something you don't want right now unless you're meticulous and know kinda what you're doing like my last acquisition:

Norton N15 wearing a peanut
https://scontent-atl.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpt1/v/t1.0-9/11008555_1597809573797429_2326221388965136908_n.jp g?oh=cc8f087b064bc91fb37cfbdddcdc4f77&oe=559B7911

What do I want pretty fenders and shit if all that could change? Yeah you can flip the parts for build cash, but I usually stock pile old take offs for other projects... just because the tank on it might not fit the lines I want on this bike... they might be just the thing for one down the road.

PeanutHead
05-15-2015, 9:53 AM
VERY good advice from everyone. My 2 cents are if you end up finding a bike that "will run with a new battery," take a battery with you and see. But for a first time build look for a running bike.

Dieselchanic
05-15-2015, 11:50 AM
If you have no previous mechanical knowledge I agree with everyone saying you should try to pick up a runner. That way you can get a feel for the bike and change things as you go... I've always had a natural mechanical ability so I hunt for the basket cases... I've never bought a bike that actually was roadworthy and I've brought quite a few back from the grave. I'm like a magnet for screwed up hardtail bikes... I seem to attract the ugly crap everyone else leaves for dead. Just go back through my Instagram feed and you'll see what I mean..

dillion67
05-15-2015, 12:04 PM
thanks guys I'm definitely going to look around for something running as for price i was wanting to keep it under 1k but i might have to go 1500 what do you guys think about the rebels or shadows looks like there would be plenty of aftermarket parts available and semi easy to chop plus i see them all over craigslist

JetBlackII
05-15-2015, 8:38 PM
I'd personally go for the Rebel as a starter build, definitely not knocking the shadow but the Rebel is a better candidate between the two for many reasons... especially, if you decide to flip it though at 1500... you're not going to turn a profit, unless you do stellar work on it. Many see the Rebel as a starter bike; male and female and well who doesn't want the prestige of a home build chop as a starter when just eager to get into some shit, and when they are? They are eager to snatch it up.

As others said don't let the money and desire for one burn a hole in your pocket, and make you pull the trigger too soon... cause it is guaranteed as soon as you just grab that just available... the one that fits exactly what you were really looking for, pops up to bitch slap your impatience, so do yourself a favor after buying your project... don't fucking go back on there for a least a month looking :p. Camp Craigslist every fucking day and hit it up every two hours... you'll nail a good priced bike from camping it out, and be ready to drop everything have the cash and go snag it... I lost out on an Indian by not being ready to jump as soon as I saw the ad, and it still haunts me to this day. Also make sure it has a title btw and the numbers match... no reason to jump extra pain in the ass hoops if you don't need too.

deathmetaldan
05-16-2015, 11:54 PM
that last bit of advice from jet is crucial. Get a title and make sure the numbers on the title match the numbers on the frame. Remember, people are assholes.

a rebel or a savage would be a pretty nice start. Both are super simple, they are everywhere and usually are pretty cheap.

I hope you arent doing this with the plans to flip the bike right away. Most people fail to realize that its only on a very rare occasion you get back what you put into it. If you have a rich friend that likes your work or you end up taking the bike to shows that end up getting you media attention and awards.... you should be able to break even.

Build it for yourself to enjoy and to learn, if some douche bag has more money than sense and you arent too attached then is the time to sell it :)

deathmetaldan
05-17-2015, 12:06 AM
here is a gs1100 for 800 thats worth checking out. Ad says it runs and it looks pretty rough, could be a good start.
https://lasvegas.craigslist.org/mcy/5024024430.html

dillion67
05-17-2015, 11:21 AM
i deffently don't plan to try and flip the bike i just want something to cruise around town on and fix it up as i go i had a suzuki dr 650 before but it wasn't really my style so i let it go
i saw that gs but isn't it belt driven? this might be harder to work with?
check out this one i found its been on there for about a month maybe i could pick it up just below a grand
https://stgeorge.craigslist.org/mcy/4998175710.html

dillion67
05-17-2015, 1:14 PM
just found this on another site 82 yamaha xj550

dillion67
05-17-2015, 1:30 PM
he said 400 and its mine clean title the battery is dead but he said we could jump it
its the first pic not sure why the second pic is in there

60263

dillion67
05-17-2015, 1:32 PM
its the first pic not sure why the second one came up

deathmetaldan
05-17-2015, 3:46 PM
xj bikes are fun. I know there is a good forum for them because i was on it for a time. 400 is a good deal for sure if its running and in good condition. Make sure it rides without issues before you hand over cash.

belt is no harder than chain and can be changed over easily. Shaft drive can be a little tricky.... it just takes a bit more thought.

dillion67
05-17-2015, 5:37 PM
how are they with aftermarket parts i would definitely want to change the handlebars, the headlight, tail lights, side mount plate, and maybe even the tank

dillion67
05-18-2015, 8:18 AM
just asked about the miles he said it has 95k on them no wonder he is selling so cheap

deathmetaldan
05-19-2015, 4:33 AM
i havent looked for aftermarket parts for a very long time. I would still check out the bike with 95k, find out if he ever got it tuned up or anything.... You have to figure that engine has been around for many many years so racking up miles is expected, if it had only 15k it would have sat around forever.

Check it out and listen to it. If its doing a bunch of chattering and popping its a for sure pass. You can look up running videos for almost any bike on youtube and also find videos people uploaded of problems, good way to help figure out what you are hearing.

dillion67
05-19-2015, 6:51 PM
i went and checked out the bike today he is getting a new battery tomorrow and im bringing some gas with me to see if she fires up the bike looked in good condition a little rust in the tank will this be a problem if i ride it home tomorrow? i told him i would pick up the battery cost and we settled on 350 so hopefully tomorrow i start up a new thread about my first time build

EVILBLACKSABRE
05-20-2015, 1:40 AM
i went and checked out the bike today he is getting a new battery tomorrow and im bringing some gas with me to see if she fires up the bike looked in good condition a little rust in the tank will this be a problem if i ride it home tomorrow? i told him i would pick up the battery cost and we settled on 350 so hopefully tomorrow i start up a new thread about my first time buildI hate to be a downer and sound discouraging, but if there is any doubt about the bike starting and running, it doesn't sound like a "running" bike to me.

Rust in the tank is a very bad sign, it tells me the bike has been neglected. And that can mean all sorts of problems. It can also be a sign that the bike has sat around for a long period of time. And when a bike sits for a long time, seals and gaskets inside the engine, and throughout the bike, can dry out and deteriorate. And they all need replacing. Among other things, this requires an engine rebuild. And this begs the question- are those parts still available for that bike?

Rust in the tank can also mean rust throughout the fuel system (fuel lines, fuel pump, filters, carbs). And that can mean a lot of problems, a lot of work, and more money. Rusty gas is very bad for a bike.

And between the age of the bike, and if it's been sitting for a long time, the carbs will likely need to be rebuilt (new seals and diaphragms. are those parts still available?).

One piece of advice- before you put gas in the tank or try to start the bike, disconnect the fuel line from the petcock. Then put about a gallon of gas in the tank (with the petcock turned to "off"), then shake the bike side to side. Then open the petcock and catch some of the gas in a clean cup or jar. Then take a good look at the gas that came out. If the gas is dirty, you might want to reconsider the purchase.

A 33 year old bike, with rust in the tank, that may have sat for a long time, sets off all kinds of alarms for me.

But I haven't inspected the bike, and I don't know it's history or how it has been cared for, so I could be wrong. I wish you the best of luck.

deathmetaldan
05-21-2015, 2:45 AM
If the tank has flakey rust in it... stay far far away. That would mean it hasnt had gas in it for a long time and has been sitting by its lonesome. The gas could have been drained by the owner or it went some where not intended.... best to ask. There could be a hole in the tank or the gas drained into the engine which is very bad.

Like evil said, take the tank off and try a clean out/inspection and go from there. Putting an inline fuel filter between the tank and the carb is always a good idea. Use your judgement and look at the signs... just keep in mind that any victory or failure is only yours.

dillion67
05-21-2015, 9:23 AM
thanks for all the good information i rescheduled to meet on Saturday so here is a little back story of what he told me when we met last

he bought the bike when he moved out here a year ago because he needed a second vehicle his wife never learned to drive there car so he never really rode the bike
there was rust in the original tank so he bought 2 new tanks off eBay along with some side plates the tank he has on there now from what i saw when i looked in looked like a little bit of surface rust not flaky "but i will defiantly check again to be sure"
maybe i can rig something up to stick in the tank and see if i pull anything out "maybe a cote hanger with some duck tape on it"
he said it runs just needed a new battery which he has picked up already i did not look in the second tank yet

motoboy
05-24-2015, 2:57 PM
update?

dillion67
05-24-2015, 3:39 PM
the guy got some gas told me it started up but the carbs started to overflow probably the float valve but i just found another bike an 86 xv that looks pretty good they say it needs a petcock rebuild and a new battery not sure which direction to go

motoboy
05-24-2015, 3:51 PM
Dood, 702 is loaded with 250's that are screaming to be chopped. Have you considered this? Low miles, running and rolling.

dillion67
05-24-2015, 3:55 PM
did you post a link? im trying to stay under 1k for my first project bike

deathmetaldan
05-24-2015, 4:03 PM
What size virago is it? The 1000 and 1100 both had fuel pumps so there is no petcock. You can delete the fuel pump or put in an aftermarket one but both of those options can be very frustrating at times. If its a 750 or smaller a petcock isnt an issue since its just a normal piece.

viragos are gaining alot of steam, both the first and second gen. The 250s would be ok if you are a pretty small guy and want to scoot around town but dont expect much of anything from them.

dillion67
05-24-2015, 4:10 PM
its a xv700 with like 7k on it 1986 here is a asking 500 zsaid he would take 300 its been posted for a month pic60513

EVILBLACKSABRE
05-24-2015, 10:38 PM
A 29 year old bike with only 7k miles on it has been doing A LOT of sitting.

I think it's safe to assume that just about any bike that can be bought for under $1k is going to need a lot of work. And I don't mean polishing and cleaning. I mean all kinds of internal/mechanical stuff.

Another thing to consider when buying an old bike that has been sitting around is- you're very likely going to need to buy new tires (people generally don't put new tires on bikes that they leave sitting around). Tires have a date on them (year and the week of the year they were made). If the tires are 5 years old or more, they should be replaced (maybe sooner depending on their condition, like if they are dry-rotting). Of course, when a bike has been sitting for years, or decades, it's often pretty obvious that the tires need replacing.

Sometimes it's possible to find a good deal, like an older bike that has been ridden regularly, and is being sold cheap, but you've got to look around, keep you eyes open, and be patient.

Something else to consider is- if a bike has been listed for sale for awhile, at a low price, and no one has bought it, there might very well be a good reason for that. Like it's either junk, or it's dead and is going to take a lot of work and money to get it running and make it roadworthy. Like the old saying goes- if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

The simple truth when it comes to used bikes generally is- the lower the price, the more work and money you are going to have to put into it.

Westboundbiker
05-25-2015, 2:44 PM
A 29 year old bike with only 7k miles on it has been doing A LOT of sitting.

I think it's safe to assume that just about any bike that can be bought for under $1k is going to need a lot of work. And I don't mean polishing and cleaning. I mean all kinds of internal/mechanical stuff.

Another thing to consider when buying an old bike that has been sitting around is- you're very likely going to need to buy new tires (people generally don't put new tires on bikes that they leave sitting around). Tires have a date on them (year and the week of the year they were made). If the tires are 5 years old or more, they should be replaced (maybe sooner depending on their condition, like if they are dry-rotting). Of course, when a bike has been sitting for years, or decades, it's often pretty obvious that the tires need replacing.

Sometimes it's possible to find a good deal, like an older bike that has been ridden regularly, and is being sold cheap, but you've got to look around, keep you eyes open, and be patient.

Something else to consider is- if a bike has been listed for sale for awhile, at a low price, and no one has bought it, there might very well be a good reason for that. Like it's either junk, or it's dead and is going to take a lot of work and money to get it running and make it roadworthy. Like the old saying goes- if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

The simple truth when it comes to used bikes generally is- the lower the price, the more work and money you are going to have to put into it.

Where you're buying makes a huge difference. I used to live in Indiana, bikes were priced ok... then I moved to Minnesota. Bikes are dirt cheap. You can easily get a running bike for under $1k, with no work needed on it. The GS450 I'm building now I got for 550 bucks, and it was in pretty good shape for its age, dents not withstanding.