Restoring an old motorcycle can be one of the most rewarding and exciting projects a rider can take on. There’s something novel and therapeutic about taking a 20 or even 40-year-old bike and getting it back on the road again.

Every step of the restoration process is exciting, from finding the right bike to sourcing parts, the months you put into the restoration, and chatting with like-minded classic motorcycle enthusiasts about the project.

We’d love to be part of the excitement of your restoration journey. In this guide, we’ll discuss the different factors to consider when restoring a motorcycle, how to find the right project, and the best motorcycles to restore.

Things To Consider When Restoring A Classic Motorcycle

Classic motorcycle restoration

Restoring a classic or vintage motorcycle is a huge decision but also an extremely rewarding one. There’s no feeling quite like riding a bike that took hard work and sweat to rebuild and restore.

Workshop space

Before purchasing a restoration project, it’s important to consider your workshop space. You want to make sure there is ample enough room to move around the bike, good lighting, and the tools are well-organised.

Invest in a lift

When restoring a classic motorcycle, one of the best tips we can give is to consider getting a lift. It’ll save your back from strain, it’s safer, and it’ll make working on the bike easier. 

Budget

When planning out a restoration project, it’s important to consider your budget. You don’t want to take on a project that isn’t financially feasible. So, before investing your time and money into a bike, get an estimate on how much it’ll cost to restore.

Background check

This piece of advice extends beyond just restoration projects. Before you buy a motorcycle or any vehicle, do a background check first. Check the VIN plate (on the headstock) and engine number. Ideally a matching numbers unit is preferable for top value of the bike once the restoration is complete.

The last thing you want to do is spend months working on a bike and then discover that you don’t own it. Ideally, when you buy a restoration project, it should have a clean record and come with a history of paperwork. 

Get a manual

Working on a bike blind is like trying to find a needle in a haystack in a dark room. We recommend getting a Haynes, Clymer, or the manufacturer’s workshop effort. The documentation will assist you greatly in restoration.

Community forums

Fortunately, there are so many motorcycle communities filled with knowledgeable and friendly people. More often than not, you’ll also find with any restoration project, there are probably a dozen or so people who have had the same questions or concerns you’ve had.

Community forums are a great way to find like-minded people and get invaluable knowledge for your restoration project. Tapping into the wells of knowledge on forums is sure to make any restoration easier. 

Do your research

It’s so easy to forget, especially when you’re caught up in the excitement of restoring a motorcycle—but consider doing your research. Spend time finding the right classic motorcycle for you, and check that it fits within your budget constraints and that parts are easily accessible in your area.

Before purchasing a bike, make sure to spend time talking to the owner, find out more about the vehicle’s history, and conduct a thorough inspection. Make a detailed restoration plan and all the tools you’ll need, too.

Professional help

Before purchasing a restoration project, it’s important to consider if you need the help of professional motorcycle restorers. That way, you can plan ahead and set aside money for a professional mechanic to help or even source parts for you.

For example, while the internet may be a great tool for sourcing parts, especially for old bikes, sometimes a store with experience in restoring classics will be able to source them faster or at a better price due to connections.

They might also have a better-equipped workshop for some parts of the restoration. We always recommend speaking to a professional before starting a restoration project. They can provide invaluable insight into the availability of parts and the estimated time and cost of restoring a bike.

Best Types Of Vintage & Classic Motorcycles To Restore 

Classic motorcycle restoration

We’ve got you covered when it comes to finding the best motorcycles to restore. Whether you’re in the market for an old Japanese bike or a vintage American motorcycle from decades ago, these are some great entry-level motorcycle restoration projects to consider.

Yamaha SR125

First showing up in the 1980s, the Japanese classic Yamaha SR125 is a perfect restoration bike for beginners and experts alike. It’s easy to source parts, the restoration is inexpensive, and the design is straightforward.

The Yamaha SR125 has a small engine, at 125cc, but it’s a fun ride. It features an air-cooled system with an OHV 2-valve configuration, which is reliable and easy to work with.

Kawasaki KZ650

The Kawasaki KZ650 was first launched in 1976, and it features a design that is still cool even today. It’s a bike that’s retro but also offers amazing performance. It’s a popular choice for bike restoration projects.

Finding parts for the KZ650 is also fairly easy, whether you’re looking for original or aftermarket parts. This bike has a huge market around it and a strong community. 

Classic motorcycle restoration

Honda CB750

Dubbed the ‘original superbike’, the Honda CB750 is a great choice if you’re a Japanese motorcycle enthusiast. First made in 1969, it was renowned for its power and reliability. 

More than half a million CB750s were made over a decade after its launch, so it’s easy to source parts for. While the bike is a bit more complicated on the technical side, it’s a rewarding project and has a high potential for value appreciation post-restoration.

Finding the right bike for you

Ultimately, deciding on the right bike will come down to personal preference and budget. With that being said, if it’s your first rodeo restoring a bike, we do have a few tips.

We recommend restoring a Japanese motorcycle, as they tend to be much simpler in design. This is great for a first project, and parts for Japanese bikes are also cheaper and easier to source.

Restoring a bike that’s still running is also a good choice if you’re looking to ease into things. Rebuilding an engine might sound exciting, but it also requires a great deal of experience and can be expensive.

Experienced Classic & Vintage Motorcycle Restoration at Taverner

Classic motorcycle restoration

Motorcycle restoration isn’t a journey you have to take up alone. At Taverner Motorsports, our team are experienced in rebuilding bikes and custom builds. Our expertise also includes British, Japanese, and American motorcycles. 

Our team has over 50 years of experience in the industry and can help with simple restoration to full-blown engine and bike rebuilds. Whether you want help on a small part of your restoration project or extensive assistance, we’d love to help you bring a classic cycle back to life.

We can help find hard-to-source parts and components for authentic restoration. Our team also offers full cosmetic restoration services, including paintwork, upholstery, and polishing of chrome or other metal materials.

Start restoring a classic or vintage motorcycle today by getting in touch with the Taverner Motorsports team. We’d love to hear from you. Contact us today for a quote on our services.