Motorcycling can be pretty expensive, especially when you’re starting out. A used bike can be a great way of getting on the road without breaking the bank, but it can potentially cause problems with extra repairs and maintenance.
In this blog, we take a look at the bikes with reliable reputations so they last between owners.
Any of the Big Four Japanese manufacturers provide great value for money in terms of reliable used bikes. Many of their models are designed so they’re easy to repair, and there’s no shortage of spare parts for almost all models dating back years. Who makes the most reliable bike is impossible to state definitively, but, in our opinion, the Suzuki SV650 (pictured above) has to be one of the main contenders.
It’s been in production since 1999, and you can expect to pay around £3k for a 2005 model. As the bike was designed to cope with pretty rough treatment, even one from that year is likely to be in pretty good nick, and most problems would be relatively easy to repair. Any model from before 2005 has a higher riding position, so if you’re looking for a more comfortable ride, stick to buying a post-2005 bike. You should be able to pick a decent one up for between £4.000 and £6,000.
The TW200 is a dual-sport workhorse that is nigh on unstoppable. Since it was first launched in 1987, intrepid riders have taken it to the literal ends of the earth – and if you’ve ever travelled through the least inhabitable parts of the world, you know that to do this, your bike needs to be both reliable and easily fixable, which is testament to the TW200’s sturdiness.
You’re probably better to look for models from this century, as the switch to a fuel injection system in 2001 is the kind of improvement that makes it even easier to keep you moving. If you’re looking for a used bike, you won’t go wrong with a TW200 and you’ll needto shell out less than three grand.
Honda Super Cub
OK, so it’s a scooter, but it’s the most produced motorcycle in history and has been in production since 1958. It ain’t the fastest scooter and its 50s stylings might not appeal to everyone, but the Super Cub has proven itself as a fab second-hand bike over the decades that is highly reliable. It’s far cheaper than other big legacy scooters and built to be able to brush off pretty much everything the road throws at it. A decent model will cost around £3,000.
Pretty much everything made by Kawasaki is rock solid in terms of reliability. We could easily have picked the Ninja series, but the Z series just edges it out for value for money and reliability in the used bike market.
Not only does it have models suitable for riders of all levels, from 125cc up to 1000cc, but, as with other bikes from the Big Four, it’s been designed so it’s super reliable and cheap to maintain. If you’re looking for a fun, sporty ride at a reasonable price, you can find plenty of second hand Z650s out there, making it a great choice for the stylish commuter on a budget. You should be able to pick up a decent model of about two or three years old for less than £6,000.
According to some sources, Triumph is the seventh most reliable brand in the world, and the most reliable British manufacturer. Pretty much anything using one of the company’s famed Bonneville engines will give you years of reliable service, but the Scrambler is a great survivor thanks to its off-road heritage. It’s easy enough to find a used one a few years old for around £6,500, half the price of a new one, and it’s built to last.
Putting any BMW product on a used bike list almost feels like cheating, but nonetheless it still deserves to be here. While there are far more powerful bikes on BMW’s roster, the G310R is ideal for anyone looking for an urban transport solution with a second hand price tag and the quality German engineering that’ll just keep going. As its design is simpler than its more powerful siblings, it’s also easier and cheaper to maintain, which helps to drive down the overall costs of ownership. A good runner will cost between £3,000 and £5,000.
If you’re new to biking but have the urge for something at the sportier end of the used bike market, the RS125 will be right up your street. It is a surprisingly solid choice for the budding sportsbiker and avoids the stereotype of Italian bikes for their somewhat patchy reliability record. What’s more, because you will be following the tradition of other young bikers getting a tasty 125 and then selling it on after a few years, you’ll easily find plenty of second-hand options out there for around £3,500.
KTM 690 Duke
It also feels like cheating to put a manufacturer of adventure bikes like KTM on a used bike list. But an awful lot of those crazy people doing around the world trips choose them, so they must be up there in terms of reliability. And hey, anything that won 18 consecutive Dakar Rallies seems like something that can thrive in difficult conditions, so it’ll almost certainly handle 99% of roads in the UK without too much fuss.
The Duke is available in 390 and 690 engine capacities, and steady supplies of both show up regularly on the second-hand markets. So while you probably won’t need it to be able to go 70,000 miles, knowing that it can means you can be pretty confident about its reliability. The Duke will set you back from £4,000 to £6,000.
Did your favourite used bike make our list?
Motorcycle reliability is one of those subjects where everyone has an opinion, so if we’ve missed anything of note off this used bike list, then let us know.
If you are investing in a used bike just to get you to and from work, read our blog revealing the best second hand commuter bikes on the market.
Make sure to get insurance for your used bike
Whichever used bike takes your fancy, don’t forget to get a value-for-money motorcycle insurance quote from the experts at Bikesure. Call 0330 123 1028 for a fast and fuss-free quote.