If you've recently bought yourself a project bike, you may find yourself wondering where to even start when it comes to looking for old motorcycle parts. They say that they don't make them like they used to - but is that true of parts for classic motorcycles?
Let's take a look at how you can get your hands on motorcycle accessories for older models.
Why Are Some Motorcycle Parts So Difficult To Find?
The simple answer to this question is because the manufacturer no longer makes the parts. This is usually because there is either a limited amount of the particular models on the market, or the manufacturer found the parts uneconomical to produce or stock.
However, just because there are no new OEM parts available, it doesn't mean that you can't pick up an aftermarket part from a different manufacturer.
Few steps before you start looking for new products
1. Identify correctly your bike model, including the year of production - This can be done by using the VIN number imprinted on your engine and frame
2. Obtain a specific motorcycle parts list for your model - It will make it much easier for you to locate spares if you know the correct OEM part number. Many motorcycle parts lists are freely available online for download.
3. Make a list of parts that you can salvage and a list of those totally necessary to replace. Do not dispose of anything until you are confident that you have found a suitable replacement. Keep the old part at hand when searching for new, so you can double-check the dimensions and specifications before purchasing a replacement.
The Best Places To Buy Replacement Parts
Motorcycle parts shops
One of the best places to buy quality motorcycle parts from is a part shop. Your first point should be an authorised dealer in your area, such as Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki or other. Even if your model is decades old, many hard to find parts have an up-to-date OEM alternative still available on the market. If not in stock right away, many stores offer back orders or notification services.
Alternatively, you can visit many of the internet based pattern parts stores on the Internet. Often, you'll be able to match the original part number with an aftermarket or generic part where an OEM part has become obsolete.
Buying new parts from a part shop will ensure you'll get the top quality items. Many stores will have no hassle returns policies too.
Private sellers may be a good place to source parts and motorcycle accessories that are no longer in production and there is no aftermarket equivalent available. Sites like Preloved and Gumtree are good places to look for classified ads from individuals selling old bike parts.
If you have a rare model and need lots of parts, you might want to consider buying another incomplete bike of the same model and combine the two.
eBay remains one of the biggest online marketplaces, with bike spares being one of the largest growing areas. Here, you'll find a large range of new and used parts from a variety of private sellers and businesses. There are several types of parts available, each with a specific abbreviation. For more details, see the FAQ section on our homepage.
When buying on eBay, only buy from sellers with a high seller rating and that has a consistent stock levels. You want to be sure that you're buying from a reliable seller.
Also remember that eBay and other marketplaces are global sites and there might be additional fees to pay, such as customs & import charges. These will make returning items very difficult, so double check what you are ordering or contact the seller to make sure that the specific part is the one for your bike.
Clubs and Forums
There are massive benefits of joining owners clubs and forums specific to your bike model. Most importantly, they are a great way to source out spare parts.
Many club members have owned and worked on their motorcycles for many years and have a detailed knowledge of the insides and outs of their specific models. They can provide valuable knowledge and advice to new members, such as where to obtain the hard to find parts, but also how to fit them, or how to overcome problems.
If you are struggling with a particular part of your restoration project, asking on the forum or on the clubs' website can be the easiest way to find a solution, since you can be almost certain that someone else has had the same problem before.
There are now specialised Facebook groups as well. Some are specifically designed for trading and selling spare parts, others are more for leisure and interaction with fellow motorbike owners.
Either way, joining a group that specialises in your particular bike model can be as beneficial as joining a club. You can share your achievements and pitfalls, ask for help or advice, or trade parts.
Though paperback magazines are slowly going out of fashion, they should not be overlooked. They all have a classified adverts sections with either private sellers or numerous motorcycle dealers advertising their shops within.
They also contain contact details for some speciliased trades that you might need, such as chrome platers, powder coating companies, engine rebuilding experts etc.
What To Consider When Buying Motorcycle Spares And Parts Online
If you're looking for an OEM part, authenticity is crucial. Look for the manufacturer's branding on the packaging and on the part itself. You should read descriptions carefully before purchase, and also ensure you understand the terminology properly.
Remember that NOS (new old stock), means that it is a new replacement part, but it may have been sitting in on a shelf for 40 years! Depending on the use and function of the particular part, you might want to consider buying an aftermarket one, especially if proper function can be affected by the ageing material.
Restoring a classic motorcycle isn't cheap, so you'll want to save as much as possible. But price should never come above safety. Consider carefully where would you like to save money.
Small items such as grommets, dampers, gaskets, bolt, etc. don't have to be OEM. You can source out reproduction or aftermarket equivalents at a fraction of the cost.
Where you should certainly not be saving money are essential parts such as engine seals, brake components, clutch parts etc.
Always consider the age, quality and function of each component before you decide to go cheap or more expensive!
New or second hand?
Ideally, you would want to buy new motorcycle parts. If you can't buy an OEM, find a high-quality aftermarket part for your motorcycle. Failing this, a generic part that matches the fit and specification can sometimes be used.
If your parts are not in production anywhere, you may need to buy used or restored parts. If you are looking for a Yamaha rubber part that is unavailable anywhere else, make sure you email us as well. Who knows, we might just be looking into getting it reproduced ourselves!
Age of parts
Over time, parts will deteriorate. Some more than others. Metal parts can usually be salvaged and repaired. Chrome parts can be polished up. However, the soft parts such as gaskets, seal and small rubbers will generally need replacing.
It's always best to try and buy new spare parts wherever possible. This will ensure your motorcycle is safe and comfortable to ride as well. Newer parts will also last longer on your motorcycle and if bought from a shop, they will come with manufacturer's guarantees.
If you're buying from an online shop, check out review sites such as Trustpilot. This will help you gauge whether a company is to be trusted or not. You can also check their reviews on Google or social media. Either way, you want to ensure that you are buying from someone that cares about product quality and thus customer safety!
If you're buying from a private seller on a marketplace such as eBay, make sure you check out the seller's ratings before you part with your cash.
Finally, make sure that the parts you're buying can be shipped to you, and that shipping won't cost the earth. With larger retailers and eBay, there might also be a free shipping option available.
Many online motorcycle parts dealers are located in the United Kingdom. With UK leaving the European Union, there might be some additional charges for you. Take that into consideration when purchasing parts.
Is it risky to buy second-hand motorcycle parts?
When buying second-hand parts, you'll need to think about safety. The last thing you'd want is for a defective part to cause an accident.
One of the best ways to remove the risk when buying second-hand motorcycle parts is to buy directly from a reputable company. By buying from a second-hand parts supplier will mean you can check out reviews from previous customers.
Do manufacturers still make new parts for vintage bikes?
Often, the original manufacturer will have stopped making parts for vintage motorcycles. However, that doesn't mean that nobody else has picked up the gauntlet. With motorcycle restoration being such a large market, it is possible to buy aftermarket parts from different manufacturers.
Which motorcycle brands can you buy replacement parts for?
According to Still On the Road, there are 408 makes of motorcycles currently on UK roads, with the most popular three makes being Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki. Japanese brands are some of the easiest to buy aftermarket parts for.
Where can I learn how to repair my motorcycle?
The best way to learn how to repair your motorcycle is through practice. Buy the Haynes manual for your make and model, watch YouTube tutorials such as these on the Classic Motorcycle Channel, and watch mechanics at work on your bike.
There are also many online groups and forums for restoring motorcycles. Here, you can post questions and receive tips from other enthusiasts.
Have you found our tips helpful? Where else did you look for hard to find motorcycle parts?
A few months ago, my cousin bought a motorcycle at a really low price, but it looks like it came with a high cost in the end since it requires new parts. I'm glad you elaborated on finding authentic motorcycle parts and how we'd do it, so I'll give my cousin a call and explain what your article says. I appreciate your insight on checking a motorcycle part manufacturer before buying one. https://jes-customs.com/
Another well done and researched article Jackie. It's great to see advice from suppliers helping the newer people to restorations.
Hello Colin, thank you very much for your feedback! I'm not in position to give detailed technical advice, but I can certainly try to motivate and spread the passion for the classic bikes.
Insightful article. I might add motorcycle salvage or "junk yards" I used to pop down to my local yard on a long lunch hour. Unsure if you have them in the UK but guessing you call them breakers.......which are waves pounding the shoreline on this side.
Hello Gary, yes, scrap yards are great places to get old bike parts, I have comletely forgotten about them. Thank you!