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4 comments

Good Economics or a Midlife Crisis? (The Salvaged Bike Odyssey - Part 2)

Posted August 14, 2008 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

If you read the first part of this epic journey about getting a salvaged bike back on the road, you know it started when repair costs to my old '84 Honda Magna VF700 became cost prohibitive. So I decided to take the money I had and shoot for the stars. The problem with shooting for the stars, however, is that you have a greater risk of crashing. My goal was to get a motorcycle that was significantly younger than what I already had and at a price that I could afford - without taking on another loan.

That left the option of buying a bike that had been designated as a salvage. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about motorcycles and have been riding for a little more than one year. So getting into something like this was nerve-wracking because I had to break the bank (savings wise) to get this done. My original intention was a more economical means of commuting than my Dodge Ram. With the Ram getting 13-14 MPG and the '84 getting 37-39 over the same roads, it was worth it.

Rising Costs of Fuel Equal Rising Costs of Bikes

It's amazing the difference a year can make in terms of the prices of motorcycles. Apparently, I am not the only one looking to shave fuel expenses. In early summer of 2007, lower-cost bikes that were mechanically sound (and cosmetically past their prime) were plentiful and could be had for under $1,000 - or even $2,000 if you wanted a newer, nicer-looking one. A year later, prices had jumped by upwards of 50%. I saw bikes similar to what I purchased in '07 going for $1500 - $1800, compared to the $650 I shelled out a year earlier.

Taking the Plunge

I really like my old Magna. All the Magna owners I've talked to love theirs as well. Would I have liked to buy a Victory Kingpin? Sure. But the 2001 in my town was going for a "bargain" price of $6900. I was looking at a ceiling closer to $2000. That didn't leave too much within a reasonable driving distance that fit the bill. So, I ended up setting my sights on a 2002 Honda Magna VF750. The only reason it was even in my price range (around $1750 when I found the listing) was that it was designated as a rebuilt salvaged bike by the State of Texas. According to the listing, it had been bought privately by the current owner and the former owner had purchased it from an insurance company. The listing also added:

"2002 750 Honda Magna with a Texas Rebuilt Salvage Title…When we bough the bike the odometer and turn signals were broken. We replaced the odometer with a EBay set with 29,000 miles on it, but bike has 3,000 actual miles on it. The turn signals are from a 2006 Honda VTX. We also added a Honda Line Read Back Rest and a luggage rack. Saddlemen Bags were also added...New Corbin Gunfighter Custom Flamed Seat- Also new chrome kick stand. We had the bike professional painted black. The bike runs and drives perfectly...needs nothing to cruise down the road...This bike is in excellent shape. I can assure you that you won't be disappointed."

So I read up on what I would have to do to get the bike registered and heard that it could be a long process. But since the bike looked and sounded like it was in good shape and the owner assured me that there was no damage to the frame or drive train, I bid my tail off and won the bike for $2700. And then I thought to ask CR4 about it.

Lesson #1: CR4's dedicated readers and writers are made up of a diversely knowledgeable and experienced people. And many are excited to offer suggestions and advice. One forum post netted, in the first 48 hours, 279 views and 57 comments (including my responses). If you ask them, they will come. That should have been the first step before I put a bid in. And I waited until the last half hour to start my bidding so I had plenty of time if I had thought to do it!

Related Readings:

Part 1 - The Salvaged Motorcycle Odyssey
Part 3 - Taking the Plunge is Not for Everyone
Part 4 - On the Road
Part 5 - Show Me the Money
Part 6 - Series in Review
Part 7 - The Anti-Theft and Salvage Inspect Unit
Part 8 - The Final Odyssey

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#1

Re: Good Economics or a Midlife Crisis? (The Salvaged Bike Odyssey - Part 2)

08/14/2008 11:44 AM

Have you picked up this bike yet? If I remember, it was a distance from your home.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Good Economics or a Midlife Crisis? (The Salvaged Bike Odyssey - Part 2)

08/14/2008 11:49 AM

I did. I am in the "waiting for anti-theft and salvage inspection" stage. Paperwork went in last Tuesday afternoon. No word from the DMV yet.

I am spacing out the blog entries (7 or 8 in all - depending on how things go) on an every Thursday basis to make up for the gap between picking it up and being able to ride it (although I did take it around the neighborhood - sans plates - a few times).

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#3

Re: Good Economics or a Midlife Crisis? (The Salvaged Bike Odyssey - Part 2)

08/18/2008 1:04 AM

I am curious as to why you believe EBay is the best place for parts. Have you surfed the net to comparison shop? Also, I noticed the OUTRAGEOUS quote for steering head bearings. Do you have a service manual? If you can change a muffler on a car, you can replace the the bearings. My guess on DIY is probably less than $40.00. Have you checked into Magna Owners Clubs? They are a wealth of information, support and parts as well as a chance to make new friends with like interests. Good luck, I hope everything turns out well for you. "It's not the destination that matters, it's the ride"

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In reply to #3

Re: Good Economics or a Midlife Crisis? (The Salvaged Bike Odyssey - Part 2)

08/18/2008 8:19 AM

RPalmer,

I am sure that Ebay is not the best. I joined a Magna owner Yahoo group and have been given some suggestions now on CR4. At the time, I felt that some of those repairs were over my head, but I have been building some DIY confidence, thanks to the CR4 users who are steering me in a good direction.

Thanks for the head's up. I appreciate the support.

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StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
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