Best Motorcycles to Restore

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If you’re new to motorcycle restoration, selecting the right bikes to work on is an important decision.

We’ve already covered on how to find and buy the perfect project bike. Basically, you’ll want to select something that’s:

  • Easy to work own.
  • Common.
  • Cheap to repair.
  • High availability of parts (aftermarket, OEM, NOS).

If you’re still scratching your head on the best motorcycle for you to restore, we’re here to help with some specific models.

What are the Best Motorcycles to Restore?

The quick answer: Japanese motorcycles with model years in the 70s and 80s are going to be some of the best bikes for beginners to restore.

Many of these older Japanese bikes can be found for around $1,000 or less on local classifieds and Craiglist pages throughout the country.

These bikes are easy to work on with simple tools – most even came from the factory with tool kits included.

Additionally, the detailed, original shop manuals are often easy to find online for free.

Best Motorcycle Makes & Models to Restore

Some of the best motorcycles manufactures for project bikes to restore are:

  • Hondas.
  • Yamahas.
  • Kawasakis.
  • Suzukis.

Some of the best motorcycle models to restore include:

  • Honda CTs
  • Honda CBs
    • CB350, CB500, CB550, CB750
  • Honda Gold Wings
  • Honda Super Hawks
  • Kawasaki KZs
    • KZ400, KZ500, KZ650, KZ750, KZ1000
  • Kawasaki Z1100
  • Yamaha SRs
  • Yamaha XSs
  • Yamaha XVx
  • Suzuki GSs

What Makes a Good Project Bike for Beginners?

If you’re just starting your first motorcycle project or don’t have much experience yet, setting yourself up for success by selecting the right project bike is key.

Japanese motorcycles of the 70s and 80s were some of the most popular and highest produced bikes.

This is a great combination for beginner motorcycle projects.

The bikes are commonly available, often for a fair price. And you’ll be able to easily pick up an extra donor parts bike if necessary.

Beyond that, NOS, used, and aftermarket parts for these common bikes are also widely available.

For most of the popular Japanese motorcycles you’ll be able to find countless parts on eBay plus a handful of make and model specific parts suppliers.

Along with their availability, these types of bikes are easy to work on and a great way for beginners to learn the basics.

Many of these machines feature all mechanical components that were designed to be tuned and serviced quickly and easily.

You’ll be able to not only figure out how to work on the bike (with the help of the shop manual), but you’ll also be able to gain an understanding of how a motorcycle works.

How Much Does it Cost to Rebuild a Motorcycle?

The total cost of your motorcycle project will depend on a few factors:

  • The bike you start with.
  • The level of restoration you want to achieve (full stock restoration vs. getting it running).
  • If you plan on adding any upgrades.

A great place for beginners to start is to just learn how to get the bike running and in road-ready condition.

For just getting the bike running and rideable, most motorcycles projects can be finished for under $2,000.