How Many Miles Will a Motorcycle Last?

How Many Miles Will a Motorcycle Last?

How many miles can a motorcycle last? Simply put, gas mileage varies across different types of motorcycles. It really comes down to factors like the type of motorcycle, how it is used, and how well it is maintained. Most motorcycles would last 20,000 to 90,000+ miles.

Let’s go over some of the mileage estimates and discuss key factors that you should consider when getting a used motorcycle. We will also cover some important tips that can help you boost mileage.

What Is Motorcycle Mileage?

driving motorcycle through the tunnel

This refers to how many miles your motorcycle can cover at high speed using just one gallon of gas. If your two-wheeler travels for 310 miles on 5 gas gallons, then the mileage of the motorcycle would be 62 miles for one gallon of gas. 

You could define mileage as the reading on your odometer. An odometer is a gadget on your motorcycle that indicates the miles the machine has covered so far. So, if a two-wheeler has been ridden 25,000 miles, then that, in miles is the motorcycle's mileage.

How Many Miles Can a Motorcycle Last?

Motorcycles, just like cars, start to break down when they hit a specific number of miles. So, it makes sense to want to know how many miles a motorcycle can lastbefore investing in one.

showing motorcycle odometer with mileage used

On average, a motorcycle would last 20,000 to 50,000 miles. At about 50,000 miles, most motorcycles can be considered old. But this doesn’t mean that they are done for at 50,000 miles. Some high-end machines like the BMWs and Honda Goldwing have recorded up to 90,000+ miles. 

The actual miles a motorcycle can last depends mostly on the type of machine, how it is used, and how it is maintained.

How Many Miles Are a Lot for a Motorcycle?

This is a very important question to figure out if you are planning to buy a motorcycle that has already registered a certain number of miles on the odometer.

Let’s say you are shopping for a used car and that car had 40,000 miles on the odometer. Is that a lot of miles? What if it’s a motorcycle? Is that a whole lot of miles for a two-wheeler? It depends. Forty thousand miles on a machine like a Honda Goldwing isn’t a lot of miles. You might be surprised to come across some Honda Goldwings that have lasted 100,000+ miles because they are built for longer engine life.

sportbikes in a parking lot

But, if you are buying a used sportbike with 40,000 miles on it, then that may be a lot of miles. This is so because sportbikes are designed to get the most power from the engine. They run at higher RPMs and the engine gets overstressed. All the acceleration and horsepower come at a price, which is a shorter lifespan.

This means you need to know more about the type or model of motorcycle that you are interested in to find out how many miles you can expect from the machine. 

What Factors Determine the Number of Miles a Motorcycle Can Last?

Let’s start by saying that the odometer reading is normally overhyped. You might be wary of the 20,000-mile mark. But if you were to ask riders about the mileage of their motorcycles, you will be surprised to find motorcycle owners who have reached and exceeded the 20,000 milage. 

Key factors that determine how long a motorcycle will last are:

Who Rode the Motorcycle Before You?

man riding a motorcycle with a cloudy sky

A motorcycle used by someone for a long time would last longer compared to a machine that has been owned by several individuals in a short period.

This simply means that the rider has been taking good care of the machine for it to last as long as it has. A two-wheeler that has been used by several riders has a high chance of being poorly maintained.

People who are middle-aged and older tend to provide superior maintenance for their machines, compared to younger people would. Some young riders are usually reckless and some of them may not have enough budget to always keep their motorcycles in peak condition.

What Kind of Motorcycle Is It?

Touring motorcycles may be way better compared to offroad models. They deliver more miles because of their superior fuel efficiency. 

A touring motorcycle has a low-rev engine, which is good because it works well without overstressing itself. The mileage would include instances when the motorcyclist was riding smooth highways, but the stress exerted on a touring bike is usually minimal on a smooth highway.

The same cannot be said with a motocross or supercross motorcycle. They are normally ridden hard and need a lot of power. These types of motorcycles usually crash and get cracked, or wrecked. Not to mention that the condition of the motorcycles is affected by the type of terrain they tackle.

The water, dust, dirt, and sand can get into tiny spaces, which can easily affect the longevity of the machine. These foreign objects can get into the engine, affecting bearings and transmissions. This could force your engine to age prematurely.

The structure of the motorcycle also contributes to the number of miles the machine can last. Motorcycles have different engine structures and layouts. Some have inline-six or flat engines, which don’t vibrate as much as V twin engines. Air-cooled engines usually have a limited lifespan because of the stress they undergo on hotter days.

You also should consider the chassis design. If the motorcycle has poor suspension, it will allow the shock to get to the chassis. Lightweight motorcycles also miss some important features. In most cases, lightweight machines tend to be inferior in terms of quality and durability. 

Has the Motorcycle Been in Use?

This question may be confusing for some people, especially when the reading on the odometer is low. But here is the thing, the reading is low because the machine has not been in use.

You can only know for sure if a motorcycle has no pre-existing problems by putting it on the road. If a machine stays a long time in the garage, the parts may gradually lose their efficiency. 

Moisture can get into vital parts and destroy them. The tires may degrade and seals dry out. However, if the motorcycle was prepared for long-term storage, it may not have such issues.

A motorcycle with high mileage can still perform better with fewer issues if it is properly taken care of, compared to a low mileage machine that isn’t in use.

How Was the Motorcycle Used?

Do you have a way to find out how the motorcycle was used? Did the previous owner use it with utmost care? Was the motorcycle used for racing? These are the questions and factors that can reassure you of the expected lifespan. 

What If the Odometer Reading Is Wrong or Fraud?

Have you ever thought of such a possibility? It’s possible for the mechanical units to be tempered with. Some odometers may be faulty, giving incorrect mileage readings.

There are a few things you can check to confirm if the odometer reading is wrong. Start by looking at the overall condition of the odometer as opposed to the rest of the motorcycle. If the odometer looks brand new and the motorcycle looks a little bit used, then that should tell you it’s a fraud.

Check the retaining screws or bolts on the odometer housing. We suggest you look for turn marks. If you find any, then it means that someone has tried to take the odometer off. Inspect the speedometer connecting screw or bolt for turn marks.

Check for brake pad wear. Brake pads usually go bad at around 15,000 miles. So, if the machine has a reading of fewer than 15,000 miles on the odometer but the brake pads are worn out, then that is another sign that the motorcycle has high mileage. 

Where Was the Motorcycle Parked?

How and where you park or store your motorcycle matters as far as mileage is concerned. Paint and chrome can bubble and peel off. Not to mention that the steel can rust. 

The temperature of the parking area can also affect the condition of your motorcycle. Things like moisture, precipitation, and dirt can adversely affect your machine. During the winter months, the motorcycle should be winterized to keep it in top condition. 

Was the Motorcycle Properly Cared For?

A refurbished motorcycle that has been properly maintained will last longer compared to one that is not damaged but not properly cared for. A used motorcycle that has been rebranded with major parts would last more miles. 

The overall appearance of the motorcycle is also important in determining how long it will keep on riding smoothly. A shabby-looking machine is probably high mileage and not worth the trouble. 

The Bottom Line

How many miles can a motorcycle last? You can expect a motorcycle to last about 20,000 to 90,000+ miles. But the longevity of a motorcycle depends on its type and how well it is cared for. A poorly maintained machine would hardly last its expected lifespan.

Should high mileage on the odometer be a discouraging factor when looking for a used motorcycle? I don’t think so because high mileage alone isn’t enough to decide whether you should get the motorcycle or not. Base your decision on facts, such as the ones we have discussed in this post.

joshua mattie

Joshua D. Mattie

My motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. I rode motocross as a teenager & into my 20's when I worked as a mechanic. This helped me to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now I'm building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels!