Dirt bikes are strong, durable machines designed to take a beating and keep going- that’s why we love them! When looking for a used dirt bike, it’s important to understand a few other factors besides mileage count when evaluating its condition.
Anything over 20 000 miles would be considered high mileage for a used dirt bike. Since a bike runs about 3000 miles per year on average, you can take the total miles and divide by 3000 to get an annual usage and then determine what kind of running the bike has done.
Because mileage alone doesn’t tell the whole story and there are a few more things to consider regarding the bike’s true condition. Some low mileage dirt bikes may be in worse condition than others with higher mileage – let’s look at those in a bit more detail.
Tough Mileage VS Easy Mileage – Terrain Makes A Big Difference
One of the single biggest considerations to take into account is where most of the mileage was accumulated. Twenty thousand miles on easy flat pavements or light sandy roads is NOT the same as twenty thousand miles over rough rocky terrain.
Considering this, ten thousand miles on arduous terrain would leave a dirt bike in worse condition than twenty thousand miles of easy riding trails and roads. The mileage only really tells a part of the story.
The wear and tear through exposure to elements where the bike has been ridden through rivers, mud, steep and rocky trails will be far worse than if the bike has been molly-coddled and used only in good weather and over good smooth terrain.
Before you consider buying, get a good idea of where this bike has been and how long as mileage alone does not tell the full story.
Hours Vs. Mileage On A Dirt Bike Counts
Aside from the terrain usage, the hours spent on a bike will also give you some indication of the condition, and while the mileage may be low if the hours spent were at high revs and under competitive or tough conditions, this will impact the condition.
If the bike has been stored in the garage and is only ridden every few weeks or so, that is a bonus to start with, but if that same bike were hammered when even when being ridden every so often, that would tell another story.
Many people believe that mileage is the sole indicator of durability and longevity of the dirt bike, but this is not the case as mileage is not a measure of quality or lack thereof. Another crucial factor to consider is the maintenance and owner’s history.
Dirt Bike Maintenance – Why The Service History Matters
Dirt bikes are great for fun, adventurous riding as they can pretty much go anywhere, under or over anything, and through most obstacles, nature has to offer. Low mileage dirt bikes are appealing as the thought is that it hasn’t had a lot of punishment, so it should be a good buy!
While the lack of mileage on a used dirt bike is a good start, you need to have a little more information on the service history, as this will tell you much about how the owner has treated the bike during its tenure.
If there is no service history, then tread with caution. This is not to say that the bike is not in good condition as perhaps the owner has serviced the bike himself and not kept official records.
You are well within your rights to request pertinent information on the history of its usage and the service history.
If there is no service history and you may not know how to inspect and assess the bike yourself, then taking it to your bike mechanic for an assessment would be a good bet. He can analyze the parts of the bike to get a good indication of the wear and tear and advise of any risks or damage that has been incurred during use.
If the seller would not permit an inspection by you or a mechanic, that is a major red flag to say, “thanks, but no thanks,” and walk away.
You can also quickly ascertain whether the bike has any recurring mechanical issues like the gearbox, suspension, etc. This will indicate whether the bike has risks for you in any major mechanical areas and how well ( or poorly) the bike has been looked after.
If the owner has well maintained the bike, then even if it does have higher mileage, it may still be a machine in great condition that will deliver performance for you going forward for years to come.
A bike that has been through a few owners may not have been as well maintained as one bought for a specific intention. As a rule, older owners tend to look after the bikes better, as younger riders tend to push performance to extract the maximum experience from riding.
Check These 8 Points To Evaluate The Bike’s Overall Condition
- Air Filter – if it’s dirty and clogged, this indicates that not much maintenance has been done and check for dust on the intake tract.
- Check the body – Check the bike and frame thoroughly for any cracks or dents.
- Check the controls – If you find a bent handlebar or the grips are torn, and the throttle movement is rough, then you can assume the bike was not looked after
- Chain & Drive – A worn chain and hooked sprockets are an indicator of heavy usage and neglect.
- Wheel bearings – With the bike on a stand, see if the wheels wobble when you move them; if so, the bearings are worn, and check the rims and spokes as well.
- Compression & Starting – You should feel compression in the engine when you crank the kickstarter down. If the bike starts hard, then you may have tight valves or a clogged carb jet.
- Check oil and oil leaks – If you can, check both engine and trans oil. Thick, dark oil indicates neglect, and a frothy cocoa-type appearance shows a water leak. Check for oil leaks on the floor and under the bike as well.
- Suspension – Ask when the suspension was last serviced and check for oil on the bottom of the fork lugs and shock shafts. Suspension with worn bushings and old oil won’t perform well.
As with any vehicle, mileage does not tell the whole story, and you need to ensure you have the full picture before buying or walking away- either way, knowing what to look for and asking the right questions is 90% of the process
While 20 000 miles is considered high mileage for a dirt bike, there is far more to the condition than just the numbers on the clock. Checking for these issues and having a good idea of the operational conditions and service history could mean the difference between a real gem and a total dud!