How many miles is a lot for a motorcycle?



When it comes to buying vehicles of any kind, mileage is something you should always consider. But the question is, how many miles are too much for a motorcycle, and is that a cause for concern? 

If you’re looking for a used motorcycle or just wondering if your bike is past its best days based on its mileage, this article should help.

We will discuss exactly how much mileage is considered high for motorcycles, as well as other factors that you should keep in mind when gauging its potential lifespan. We’ll also share tips on how to prolong the life of a high-mileage bike.

How many miles are a lot for a motorcycle?

Smaller motorcycles can reach a mileage of 20,000 to 35,000 miles, which is usually considered high for their size.

Larger motorcycles like cruisers are deemed to have high mileage once they cover 50,000 miles. But mileage is only a small part of the bigger picture when assessing the health of a motorcycle. There are other factors just as important, if not more so and we’ll discuss them shortly. 

The average annual mileage of motorcycles

The average motorcycle drives fewer miles per year than a car. The average car drives between 10,000 and 15,000 miles per year, while motorcycles travel about 3,000 miles per year on average. This can be lower for certain types of bikes. 

How important is looking at the mileage?

A motorcycle’s mileage can help gauge its value but doesn’t necessarily suggest if it is worthy of investment or not.

This is because motorcycles with a high mileage number can still provide you great value, especially if they are well-maintained throughout their life. Factors like the type of bike and the way it was ridden are also important indicators of how much more life it has. 

How to evaluate if a high-mileage bike is in good condition?

This section will run you through all the factors that you need to keep in mind to assess if a high-mileage bike is in a good condition or not. 

Check the motorcycle’s history

Most of the time, a bike’s lifespan boils down to how well it has been maintained by its owner. So it shouldn’t surprise you that a bike can cover 100,000 miles if it receives the proper maintenance needed to go the long haul.

Bikes that have high mileage without complete service records suggest that it has changed owners multiple times, which is not ideal.

Motorcycles that stay with one owner and have a complete maintenance history are often in better shape than bikes that change hands frequently. A single owner is more likely to take better safety precautions and avoid accidents like falls or drops than multiple owners who each have their own unique approach to riding.

So it’s good to look for a motorcycle with fewer miles on it, but you shouldn’t completely overlook a bike with higher miles if the previous owner has kept it well maintained and serviced. Look for consistent oil changes, fluid refills, and regular health checks.

You will be surprised just how much more life a bike has if it checks all these boxes. 

The type of the bike matters too

Motorcycles will also differ in their longevity depending on their year, model, and make. Motorcycles for beginners may not last as long as those made for more experienced riders. 

For example, cafe-racers and off-roaders will generally not go past the lifespan of touring bikes. This is because touring bikes have engines that don’t require a lot of revs. They don’t have to work too hard and run most miles on easy highway roads rather than the city roads which require more braking. This, in turn, means its maintenance requirements are less. 

On the contrary, off-roaders require a lot more power and are more prone to crashes and drops, which take a toll on their overall life. 

Similarly, bikes that are lighter in weight are also prone to wear out quicker since they use lightweight materials like plastic as compared to some of the bulkier ones which are mostly made from steel and metal.

How often was it ridden?

Here, we don’t exactly mean the mileage but rather the frequency of the travel.

Bikes that sit around for weeks can have problems with worn-out tires, broken seals, rusty parts not to mention clogged-up carburetors. Generally, a bike with high mileage that is ridden regularly will pose fewer problems than one that lies idle and doesn’t have a lot of miles to show. 

How did the previous owner handle the bike?

It’s also important to understand how previous owners treated the bike. Was it properly stored or was it exposed directly to extreme temperatures? Did it carry excessive weight on a regular basis? Did the rider go past the rev limit frequently?

You can also take into account the age of the previous bike owners. Older owners are more likely to do regular maintenance and ride the bike on smoother rides. Younger owners may be more inclined to be aggressive on the throttle and the clutch and neglect maintenance as well. 

Keeping your bike in top shape

When owning a motorcycle with high mileage, it is important to take appropriate measures to keep it in good shape. Here are some tips to help you do that.

  • Following your manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations is the best way to make sure that your motorcycle runs as well as possible for as long as possible. You can schedule service appointments with different dealers to ensure everything is working as it should.
  • Check your air filter regularly. A clogged air filter can lead to poor performance and less power in your bike. So, perform regular checks as per the recommendations in your owner’s manual.
  • Keep the final drive of your bike well maintained. As the engine turns the crankshaft, power is transferred from there to the final drive via a clutch. This final drive is where a chain connects the engine to your rear wheel, which makes it move forward. So whether it’s the chain, driveshaft, or the belt, the cleaner it is, the longer you’ll stay on the road. 
  • Your motorcycle runs best with the recommended coolant (motorcycle-specific – not car coolant!). Change it when needed and you’ll find that your bike will last longer.


High mileage isn’t necessarily a bad deal if you are familiar with the bike you are looking at. It is important to consider the purpose it was built for, how often it was ridden and how well it was maintained.

Take the time to look at all these aspects before taking the final plunge.

Also, see what is high mileage for a Harley Davidson?