maintaining a vintage motorcycle


Motorcycles have come a long way over the decades, with advancements in technology, safety protocols and improved parts. Motorcycle enthusiasts have more options for bikes than ever before. However, a specific group of motorcycle enthusiasts take pride in owning vintage bikes in today's age. A vintage bike is simply a motorcycle model that is no longer in production, but is still used by the owner. These types of bikes can go as far back as decades in terms of age. The general age for a bike to be classified as "vintage" is at least 25 years old. While owning a vintage bike can be a fun experience, performing maintenance on them is a challenge in itself. 


The reason why maintenance is different for vintage bikes, compared to modern bikes is due to a plethora of reasons, including certain replacement parts may no longer be in production, materials are more delicate and overall, the bike is easier to break down. However, that doesn't mean it's impossible to maintain your vintage bike. This article will go over tips to care and maintain your vintage motorcycle. 


  1. Oil changes: Unless you have a new engine installed on your bike, you will have to get it serviced more frequently for oil changes. Motorcycles produced today are built with more efficiency and engineered for higher tolerances while on the road. While engines on older motorcycles can last a long time if taken well care of, the requirement for more oil usage will eventually go up, as well. 
  2. Storage: While the storage process is important for all bikes, it is especially important for vintage bikes. Older bikes are not coated with protectants compared to newer bikes to protect them from the elements. Weather such as rain and snow can cause your bike to rust at a faster rate. It's best to place it in an area such as a storage unit or a garage. 
  3. Battery: Older bikes are more susceptible to dead batteries due to parasitic drainage. Parasitic draining results from wire issues that slowly draw power from your battery, even when your bike is off. The first solution would be to fix any wiring issues you may have. Furthermore, using a battery tender or a trickle charge will help prevent drainage.
  4. Ethanol-free gas: Since most vintage bikes have a carburetor on them, you will need to use ethanol-free gas. Ethanol has the ability to clog your carburetor and cause problems for older bikes. It is essential to use ethanol-free gas that is no lower than 91% octane rating. 
  5. Carburetor cleaning: It's unavoidable to go without a carburetor cleaning on a vintage bike. Even if an owner never uses ethanol gasoline, natural deposits will still build up over time, requiring you to clean it. Carburetor cleaning is a step in maintenance you simply can't skip if you want your bike to run properly. Without cleaning, your bike won't get the proper mix of air and fuel that it needs in order to start. 
  6. Bearings: For vintage bikes, anything that rotates is going to need the proper amount of grease to operate properly. Your bearings are no exception. Your front and rear axles, along with your rear swing arm and triple clamp all need to be greased to run as expected. Forgoing this could potentially lead to accidents and wear on your engine faster. 


Owning a well-maintained vintage bike comes with its own pride. Sure, you may have to perform a more significant amount of maintenance than your modern counterparts. But it's usually well worth the work you put into it, knowing that majority of riders don't own your specific model. These tips will help keep your bike and your bragging rights going for the long haul. For more resources on motorcycle information, visit 


In the event that you or a loved one has been hurt in a motorcycle crash, the experienced attorneys of Hupy and Abraham may be able to help you. We will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that you are treated fairly, provide you with the personal attention that you deserve and use our experience of helping more than 5,000 injured riders make successful recoveries. Our personal injury law firm is the largest in the Midwest, with offices located in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. Our motorcycle attorneys have secured a number of motorcycle settlements in excess of a million dollars. 


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Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.