cruiser motorcycles

What is Considered High Mileage for a Cruiser Motorcycle

What is Considered High Mileage for a Cruiser Motorcycle

Cruiser motorcycles are extremely popular for their timeless styling, comfortable riding experience, customizability, and touring capabilities. From powerful engines to sophisticated suspensions, high-end technological features, robust chassis, and eye-catching aesthetics, the modern cruiser motorcycles offer a unique blend of comfort, power, safety, and style.

With motorcycle manufacturing companies like Harley Davidson and Indian focusing a bigger chunk of their energies into cruiser design and production, a cruiser motorcycle has become a staple American two-wheeler. Aware of the ever-increasing demand for cruiser motorcycles, Japanese motorcycle manufacturing brands, such as Honda , Suzuki , and Kawasaki , also launch different cruisers in their new lineups. 

Unfortunately, there is one drawback of the modern high–tech and powerful cruisers; they are too expensive. Consequently, many motorcycle enthusiasts opt to buy second-hand cruiser motorcycles instead. This purchase decision is less taxing on their budgets, keeps them safe from initial depreciation, and also gives them the benefit of low-cost motorcycle insurance programs.

When buying a used motorcycle, many potential owners are typically in search of a motorcycle that has been ridden less number of miles. A bike that has a low mileage on it is considered fairly new and in a decent running condition.

To be sure that you are buying a well-maintained cruiser motorcycle that has a low number of miles on it, you first need to know what is considered high mileage for a cruiser. This article delves will help you better understand mileage on a motorcycle, so you can make informed decisions and ensure longevity of your purchase. 

1. What Does High Mileage Motorcycle Mean?

What Does High Mileage Motorcycle Mean?
Meaning of High Mileage for Cruisers
Cruiser Size Utility Low Mileage High Mileage
Small Cruisers City Rides Only Up to 25,000 Miles Over 25,000 - 30,000 Miles
Mid-Sized Cruisers Urban Riding and Occasional Highway Rides Up to 30,000 Miles Over 30,000 - 35,000 Miles
Large Cruisers Urban Riding, Commutes, and Touring Up to 40,000 Miles Over 40,000 - 50,000 Miles

Mileage is an important factor that can influence the performance, running condition, longevity, and value of a motorcycle. Mileage is the total number of miles a two-wheeler has been ridden. Each motorcycle category be it a cruiser, touring motorcycle, standard bike, sports bike, adventure touring bike, or a dual sport has its unique number of miles that is considered high, average, or low.

In general, a motorcycle that has been ridden for less than 10,000 miles is considered a low mileage bike. If the mileage is anywhere between 10,000 - 35,000 miles on a cruiser motorcycle, it is considered average. Usually second-hand markets have a large number of motorcycles in this mileage category.

A motorcycle that has been ridden more than 40,000 miles is considered high mileage. Sports bikes that are nimble tend to deteriorate much faster the more they are ridden. As a result, the high mileage of a street or a sport bike is 15,000 - 25,000 miles.

Additionally, a large cruiser motorcycle that is capable of touring, such as a Harley Davidson cruiser, may have a high mileage range over 40,000 or 50,000 miles. While small cruisers that can only be used for commutes and occasional highway rides, their high mileage range is above 25,000 - 30,000 miles. 

2. Does High Mileage of a Cruiser Motorcycle Means More Damage?

Does High Mileage of a Cruiser Motorcycle Means More Damage?

Though high mileage is a factor that can help buyers estimate the amount of wear and tear a motorcycle may have experienced, it is not always an accurate gauge to determine the running condition of a cruiser motorcycle. Though rarely, you will find high mileage cruiser motorcycles on the market that are better maintained than a low mileage bike.

Especially if the motorcycle is a Honda cruiser, such as Shadow Phantom, Rebel 500, Shadow Aero, and others. Honda cruisers are well-known for their robust frames and engines, longevity, and low-maintenance character. Therefore, when planning to buy a second-hand motorcycle, it is advised not to overlook a motorcycle immediately after seeing the number of miles on it.

3. Why Are Low-Mileage Cruisers Prefered Over High Mileage Cruisers

Why Are Low-Mileage Cruisers Prefered Over High Mileage Cruisers

The number on the bike’s odometer often stops the buyers from investing their money on it. According to them, the two-wheeler will be moved to the junkyard after a few years. Here are some perceived benefits of low-mileage cruisers over high-mileage ones. 

3.1 Value

Searching for a low-mileage cruiser motorcycle is the same as hunting for treasure. These cruiser motorcycles are basically as good as new and don’t come with the baggage of initial depreciation. After buying a used low-mileage cruiser, if the owner maintains it properly, the bike can retain its resale value quite well.

High mileage bikes, no matter how well-maintained, tend to have a low resale value. Other factors such as location, demand of the bike, and model of the bike can also affect the resale value, but the generalized concept is that if a motorcycle has more miles on it, it is more aged, and as a result, less valuable. 

3.2 Reliability

Reliability and longevity is another benefit of a used low-mileage cruiser motorcycle. Motorcycle enthusiasts prefer cruisers because they can be easily customized with practical and useful aftermarket parts , are versatile and can be used for different riding purposes, including touring, city rides, camping trips, and commutes.

For each riding purpose, reliability is important. If a rider is always concerned about mechanical breakdowns, he will never be able to enjoy his purchase and the riding experience it offers. Therefore, a low mileage motorcycle offers the peace of mind that most used motorcycles don’t. High mileage motorcycles if not well-maintained have many mechanical issues that arise from time to time. Therefore, owners refrain from using them for long-distance rides, daily commutes, night rides, and adventurous explorations. 

3.3 Customization

Well-maintained, low mileage motorcycles help owners save money on immediate repairs and replacements. They can instead invest that money into customization and install sissy bars , crash bars, fairing , backrests , luggage racks , and other accessories to convert a cruiser motorcycle into a chopper, tourer, faired bike, standard motorcycle, etc. A high mileage motorcycle often requires some maintenance immediately after purchase, hindering the owners from focusing on motorcycle customization projects. 

4. Is Mileage All You Need to Look When Buying a Cruiser?

Is Mileage All You Need to Look When Buying a Cruiser?
Photo Credit: Cycle Trader

Look Beyond a Cruiser Motorcycle’s Odometer!

  • Check whether parts are available for the owner to repair the bike as needed.
  • Ask about the owner’s riding style and overall use of the bike.
  • Conduct research to find out about the bike’s involvement in any accidents.
  • Check for the owner's diligence for the cruiser's maintenance.
  • Ask how long the owner usually stores a bike.
  • Ask for receipts of replaced parts and maintenance records.
  • Test the cruiser’s road performance.
  • Also see whether the owner is a knowledgeable and experienced rider.
  • Consider the model of the bike you are interested in.
  • Determine whether low-mileage is due to lack of use or simply because the model is fairly new.

The real condition and value of a motorcycle has nothing to do with its mileage. It is a common misconception among cruiser motorcycle enthusiasts that a cruiser with low mileage is the only good purchase and the only vehicle capable of carrying them to far-away scenic locations. While checking the number of the cruiser’s odometer is one aspect of buying a used cruiser, there are other factors that you must consider to find out the complete story. Here are some factors that you must consider before ignoring a high mileage cruiser.

4.1 Whether the Repair Parts Are Readily Available

All used motorcycles will need parts replacements eventually. Some motorcycles are highly reliable and ensure longevity regardless of the number of miles on them. However, their repair parts are becoming extremely difficult to find or are just too expensive. Vintage cruisers can be especially challenging in this regard. Before you purchase your dream bike, it is important to survey the market and see whether its repair parts are easily available.

The OEM parts of Harley Davidson cruiser motorcycles are readily available, which makes them a worthwhile investment. In the same vein, if the repair parts aren’t available, it is nearly impossible for the owner to maintain the bike timely and use it regularly. Therefore, low mileage on a motorcycle whose parts are not readily available is certainly not a good sign. 

4.2 How Well Was the Cruiser Maintained?

One of the most accurate factors that help you gauge whether a bike is worth buying despite the number on its odometer is its maintenance and running condition. A high mileage cruiser motorcycle that was well-treated will last for a greater number of miles compared to a low-mileage cruiser that was barely taken to the dealership for an oil change. For many people, a motorcycle is one of their most prized possessions and an expensive investment. As a result, they care for it and spend on it as needed to keep it in good condition and running properly.

In the same vein, a damaged second-hand cruiser that was restored is better than a cruiser that never got damaged but also wasn’t serviced lavishly. It is important to understand that a cruiser motorcycle that is high mileage and suffered some kind of damage is often a better deal after rebuilds than a low-mileage cruiser. If a bike lasted long, it means it received many new parts, paint jobs, and upgrades to work properly throughout this time. That’s the reason they look so good and often just run as beautifully.

A high mileage cruiser after several repairs, replacements, and rebuilds may look completely different and better than other cruisers of its lineup or generation. In such a case, the mileage of a bike can be easily ignored. Glossy paint, new wiring, a new battery, shiny chrome parts, new tires, and other new OEM parts invalidate the significance and importance of the odometer reading. So look at areas other than the odometer to determine whether a motorcycle is worth your money. 

4.3 Odometers Don’t Always Tell the Truth

Odometers can be replaced or tampered to change the number of miles a bike has been ridden. Therefore, there is no guarantee that the low-mileage bike you are considering is actually a well-maintained and relatively new bike. Therefore, always be a little suspicious about the odometer reading you see and look beyond that. Some modifications can also change the odometer reading, affecting its accuracy. For example, tire size larger than the factory installed tires tends to reduce the odometer reading. Similarly, aftermarket sprockets can also influence the odometer reading, underreporting the actual number. 

4.4 Check the Cruiser Type

Cruiser motorcycles with a larger engine capacity are designed to cover more miles before the need for their recommended service intervals arise. As a result, these motorcycles naturally have a large number of miles on their odometers. However, if the owner has demonstrated through maintenance history and receipts that he has been on top of the cruiser’s maintenance, then it is worthwhile investment. A motorcycle designed for longevity, long-distances, and reliability will serve you the same way it did its previous owner, provided you are also willing to spend on occasional maintenance, repairs, and replacements.

Cruiser motorcycles with a smaller engine capacity may reach their “high-mileage” limit sooner, but if they too are maintained timely and properly, they will not cause any trouble for you and may last longer than a low-mileage touring motorcycle that never went to a motorcycle repair shop. 

4.5 How Was the Cruiser Used?

When purchasing a high-mileage cruiser, it is important to discern whether the bike was used or abused. A high-mileage cruiser motorcycle that was consistently but gently used is worth your time, consideration, and money. To acquire this relevant information, inquire with the seller about their riding style, whether they engage in adventure rides on twisties, their typical speed on winding roads and twisties.

You can also ask whether the cruiser was ridden solo or with a passenger, if luggage was ever mounted on the cruiser, whether any long-distance or week-long trips were undertaken on the vehicle on display, if the motorcycle was exposed to salty, wet, dusty, or sandy riding conditions, how frequently the cruiser encountered stop-and-go traffic, and how much time the owner allowed for the bike to warm up properly.

Directly asking these questions may give you some insight about the condition of the bike and confirm the veracity of the owner’s claims, but you would also have to adopt other methods. These include requesting the seller to provide documented maintenance receipts and other record of maintenance history; thoroughly inspecting the bike yourself; asking the owner to let you get the bike professionally inspected by a trust-worthy mechanic; looking closely for any signs of wear and tear that were covered with new a paint job, accessories, and cleaning. Additionally, you can request the owner to allow you a test ride.

The same option is not available if you are planning to buy a used cruiser online, but you can try and convince a private seller to give you a test ride. Test riding can help you assess the bike’s performance and how it was used by the owner. You can also acquire an accidents and ownership history of the cruiser using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

4.6 How Long Was the Cruiser Stored?

High mileage often indicates regular use, while low mileage indicates lack of use, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Motorcycle that has a low mileage may have more problems than a bike that was ridden regularly. A machine is designed to be used regularly in order to function to its maximum potential. A motorcycle that has been stored for a longer period may have degradation issues.

No matter how well you store a motorcycle, it is still affected by dust and moisture. Moreover, the fluids stored in different motorcycle parts also cause corrosion and deterioration. Engines can get seized, air filters and fuel systems can get clogged, fuel tanks can accumulate rust due to stored fuel, and tires can also get damaged.

A motorcycle that has been stored for a while or has not been in use is not a good investment despite low mileage. If you prefer it over a high mileage motorcycle, you may have to face more challenges in terms of unforeseen mechanical breakdowns, expensive repairs, and reduced resale value than what you bought it for. 

4.7 Whether the Owner is a Beginner or an Experienced Rider

Cruiser motorcycles with smaller engine displacements, such as the Honda Rebel 500, Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, Royal Enfield Meteor 350, Harley Davidson Sportster 883, and other similar small-capacity cruisers, are usually owned by beginners. In contrast, experienced riders tend to invest in larger, more powerful, and heavier cruisers, such as Harley Davidson Heritage Classic, Harley Davidson Softail Low Rider, Honda Rebel 1100, Indian Chief, Suzuki Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S, and others.

Most cruiser motorcycles owned by beginners usually have fewer miles on them; however, these bikes have also experienced the most accidents, falls, drops, scratches, missed service intervals, and other mishaps. On the other hand, seasoned riders who ride powerful and expensive cruisers are more diligent when it comes to maintenance and riding etiquette. Therefore, when looking at a high-mileage bike, try to consider the owner, their personal inclination for the bike, their riding experience, their reason for selling, and how knowledgeable they are about motorcycles. 

5. What Kind of Repair Work Does a High Mileage Cruiser Requires?

What Kind of Repair Work Does a High Mileage Cruiser Requires?

Those who consider buying a high-mileage cruiser motorcycle often struggle with the question: how much repair do I need to put in a high mileage cruiser? The answer is highly subjective and can range from anywhere between a change of tires, to a suspension upgrade, or engine reconstruction. A high mileage motorcycle is rarely completely useless. Even a completely beat up motorcycle can be kept running with some amount of maintenance work.

The problem arises when the amount of small and big repair works starts to accrue into a heftier sum. Eventually, the cost of repairs will exceed the value of the used cruiser. This is why a high-mileage motorcycle is considered a huge financial loss in the long run.

But it is also worth acknowledging that the need for maintenance will reduce or become less frequent over time. A motorcycle powered by a two-stroke engine breaks down way faster than the liquid-cooled motor of a touring motorcycle. However, the former is way easier to repair and less expensive compared to the engine repair work of a touring motorcycle that does not need any maintenance for several miles but when the service interval arrives, it is always difficult to pay for.

Similarly, the model year, price of the cruiser, and market demand should also be considered when deeming a motorcycle high mileage or of little value. A well-maintained motorcycle that has a lot of miles on it with a price less is much better than a poorly-maintained motorcycle with less miles on it. Therefore, if you see potential buyers flocking to low-mileage used motorcycles, don’t follow suit. The number of miles on a bike’s odometer is often a poor indicator of its mechanical condition. A thoughtful buyer will always choose a motorcycle that was used and maintained daily over a bike that was parked in the garage for the most part of the ownership years, suffered neglect, and requires frequent repairs after resale.

6. Last Words

In conclusion, it is safe to say that the odometer reading of a high-mileage cruiser is never too high if you are willing to look at other aspects of the cruiser available for sale. From maintenance history to motorcycle age, model, use, ownership, accident records, and performance, there are many factors that influence the value of a high-mileage cruiser motorcycle and provide accurate indications about the bike’s performance status.

In fact, in most cases, the odometer reading proves to be the least accurate measure of the cruiser’s condition and performance. Therefore, it is advised to always have the cruiser you want to buy checked by a trustworthy motorcycle mechanic, conduct research about the cruiser using the vehicle identification number (VIN), and also ask direct questions from the owner about their riding style and experience to make informed decisions and a worthwhile investment. 

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