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An auto shop technician working on a motorcycle.

Restoring a motorcycle is often a lifelong dream for those who love the beauty of a bike. When it’s finally time, it’s easy to want to hurry and get to it. However, patience will pay off as you search for the perfect bike to restore. Beyond the mechanics, following some tips on how to organize, get support, and of course choose your motorcycle will make the restoration process enjoyable.

How To Choose Your Motorcycle

There isn’t a magical motorcycle out there that will make restoration super easy with no headaches—but choosing the wrong one could make it miserable and deter you from finishing. Consider some thoughts on how to choose the right motorcycle.

What Motorcycle Should You Look For?

The verdict is out on this one because as you can imagine, motorcycle enthusiasts have strong opinions about what’s best. Harley lovers love only Harley motorcycles. Some would say you should restore a Japanese motorcycle because parts are more affordable. You’ll have to weigh the options and choose between affordability and your passion.

How Much Restoring Are You Willing To Do?

There are bikes that need restoring and then there are bikes that need restoring. How much work do you want to put in? Do you want to rebuild an engine? Do you expect the motorcycle you’re restoring to start without repair, or do you want something that needs everything new?

Much of your decisions are personal and can’t be answered for you, but these are a couple of things to think about before searching for the right motorcycle to restore.


Whether working with a salvage dealership or buying from a previous owner, strongly consider motorcycles with paperwork only, as opposed to those without it.

If you can’t prove ownership and where the bike came from you might be dealing with a stolen motorcycle. Who needs that? Paperwork may not seem like a big deal at first—but then it’ll come time to register and insure. Paperwork is vital to have.

Do You Have the Space?

Of course, no one is going to go through the trouble of purchasing and restoring an old motorcycle if they know they don’t have the space. Still, it never hurts to double check. Maybe you can squeeze the bike into the garage—but have you played out scenarios to make sure you can comfortably move around while restoring a motorcycle?

It takes more than simply squeezing the bike into your existing space, though. Tools, parts, and your body will all need room too.

Consider a Lift

Lifts vary greatly in price and are worth looking into for your restoration project. You are going to be looking and working under the bike quite a bit. Your back may give out before your patience does.

Getting your motorcycle off the floor and at a more comfortable angle for working will possibly make the lift one of the best purchases you’ve ever made (besides your restored motorcycle).

Hunt Down the Manual

If you are lucky, the motorcycle will come with the original manual, thereby saving you hours of work. A manual will label everything and tell you all about the parts of your particular motorcycle, which will help you greatly when ordering new parts.

If you’re not so lucky, hop online and start searching. You’ll be surprised at the information you can find out. You may even be able to order a missing manual.

Clean and Organize

You’ve got the bike and set up shop. Now it’s time to start tearing the place apart, cleaning it up, and getting organized.

Have a designated spot where parts will go as you remove them. It’s best to have a designated “dirty” area to put parts as they come off, then a “clean” area after they’re clean.

Clean the parts and the entire bike as you go, even if you aren’t sure yet if a part will be reused. For now, clean everything and ask questions later. Underneath years of dirt and grime, you might be pleasantly surprised at a shiny, well-maintained engine. Or just the opposite—there may be so much rust hiding under there that restoration is going to require more replacement parts than you planned.

Make a Plan

Everyone has their own opinion and style for the way things should be done. When it comes to bike restoration, there’s somewhat of a wise order on how to proceed. The condition of your particular bike may change things up, but this order makes sense and can be loosely followed as you go along.

  1. Battery
  2. Carburetor
  3. Gas Tank
  4. Spark Plugs
  5. Electrical
  6. Lights
  7. Oil Change
  8. Chain and Sprockets
  9. Brakes
  10. Tires
  11. Exhaust
  12. Customization


It may sound silly at first, but joining a motorcycle restoration forum online is a great way to find other enthusiasts so you can bounce ideas off of each other.

Camaraderie amongst bikers and restorers runs deep. It may be the extra encouragement you need some days to keep the project going.


Restoration is a journey; most people don’t set out to rush through it but rather enjoy the adventure. Still, when nearing completion, it’s easy to become anxious and simply want it to be done. You’re waiting for that moment you get to stand back, gaze at the restored bike, and know you’ve completed a really tough project.

Go into the restoration with the mindset that it will probably take longer than you planned. Unexpected circumstances will happen as life gets in the way. Be patient, enjoy the journey, and eventually you’ll enjoy the ride.

Personalize It

There are endless ways to customize your restored bike so it’s like no one else’s. As long as you’re in control of restoring the motorcycle, use it as a chance to make it unique. The options are endless. A few ideas are:

Ask for Help

Last but not least, don’t frustrate yourself to no end because your pride won’t allow you to ask for help when you need it. Sometime, a small area can drive a restorer nuts as they try to figure it out. If someone you know has experience with restoration or you know a great mechanic, reach out to them. Most people love using their skills to help others. You can offer your expertise in other areas in return.

AE of Miami is your trusted source for all salvage vehicles including salvage motorcycles for sale to get you started on your dream of restoring a motorcycle. Contact us and let’s make the dream come true.

Top Tips for Restoring a Motorcycle