Motorcycle Restoration 101 - Sourcing Parts

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Cbarn


By Tom Mehren

Sourcing Parts

As you tear down a bike you're going to come across parts that need to be replaced, or don't even exist on the bike at all. Hey – what are those screw holes for? Hmmm, I wonder if that's where they mounted the turbo?

There are numerous ways to source these parts so lets look at a few.


As we discussed in chapter three, Developing Your Resources, a few dealers to draw from will be necessary. Depending on what year bike you're restoring, many parts may still be available for it. If it's more than 25 years old, you might be pleasantly surprised at certain parts that actually still are available from the manufacturer.

While tearing down make a wish list of the parts you'll need to replace and then spend some quality time with the parts person at your local shop. Most likely you'll be contacting this person numerous times during your restoration so be nice and bring him or her some cookies now and then.

But as you find your way you'll soon learn that everything you need is not available any longer. And so you make your way to…

The Salvage Shops

Salvage shops are nothing more than motorcycle graveyards. They have the same grimy vide inside, feature many of the same greasy smells and often feature a fairly gritty staff. With the advent of online auctions, prices have gone sky high at salvage shops, but I haven't seen anyone remodeling as a result lately.

Are you getting the idea I'm not a big fan of salvage shops? Right. But sometimes they have that one important part you've been searching for over 3 months and you'll never actually know if it's there unless you suit up and dive in.

If it's your first trip to the salvage shop plan to spend a few hours there getting to know your way around. Begin at home by putting on your best salvage shop wear, like the same blue jeans and black tee shirt you wear when you're working on your bike.

Be absolutely certain you stop off in your garage on the way out and grab a few pairs of those latex gloves. Most Salvage shops don't clean parts up before they throw them into deep plastic tubs where you get to dig for them. Looking for a blinker, have at this plastic tub. Looking for a petcock, look in this one over here.

And make sure you've got those old shoes on too. Often it's not easy to get around in the aisles at these places. You may have to step over a few bikes and stand on one to reach that tank you think might fit your bike.

You can also expect to be haggling price at these places. Some put prices on the parts, others don't. Bring an arm and a leg, or get ready to haggle. If you're not to good at haggling, book the next flight to Tijuana and brush up on your skills. It's best to know a general ballpark on what the part is worth before you buy it.

Shop on site when you can. I once bought a right side cover for ten dollars walking into a salvage shop. I called another shop two states away and was informed it would cost me one hundred and twenty five bucks for the left side cover. I hung up before I could ask if I got free shipping. Had I walked into that shop and seen the part, I probably would have walked out paying a fair price.

Online Auctions

Online auction sites may turn out being your number one source for parts, which I why I spend the next chapter discussing this resource in detail.

While it may be so that your dealers still have access to certain parts, standard nuts and bolts will always cost more there, then down at the mega-hardware store. Hardware stores such as Lowe's and Home Depot carry humongous selections of nuts, bolts, washers and other standard fittings.

Motorcycle Restoration 101 is an ongoing series of tips about restoring motorcycles. The entire 10 part series is available on CD-ROM from the Sound RIDER! Store .

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