Antique Motorcycle Parts Buying Guide

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Antique Motorcycle Parts Buying Guide

There are those motorcycle enthusiasts who derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from restoring antique motorcycles. The fulfillment may come from returning a machine from a bygone era to working order, or rebuilding an entire motorcycle from scratch. Those looking to restore antique motorcycles spend a lot of time scouring the Internet for those sellers offering antique motorcycle parts for sale. For a person taking on the task of restoring an antique motorcycle for the first time, the task may seem daunting, especially when it comes to searching for parts.

With enough patience, perseverance, and money, a buyer can find the right antique parts for his or her motorcycle project. Those buyers who want to add a classic look to their motorcycle should look out for antique-looking motorcycle parts. One of the biggest sources of antique motorcycle parts is eBay, where motorcycle enthusiasts from all over come to buy and sell motorcycle parts for a number makes of motorcycles.

Sources for Motorcycle Parts

Motorcycles have been around since the early 20th century. The term 'antique' is used quite loosely when describing motorcycle parts. This is because it is often used interchangeably with other terms like 'vintage' and 'classic.' In the realms of furniture and jewellery, the term antique has quite a strict definition. It means an item that is over 100 years old. However, when it comes motorcycles, antique could be used to describe parts for bicycles that are just 30 years old. There are a variety of sources for these antique parts and these range from boot sales to motorcycle restoration garages.

Motorcycle Repair Shops

Some repair shops carry and sell antique motorcycle parts. These shops are quite plentiful and the main advantage is that the buyer can examine the parts in person and ask for advice from the technicians or owner of the repair shop about what parts may be required for restoring a particular system on the motorcycle. Some specialty shops offer antique motorcycle parts catalogues, allowing buyers to order parts through the mail as needed. If the antique motorcycle is a particularly rare item some shops are willing to put the word out amongst their suppliers and other repair shops.

Boot Sales, Garage Sales, and Estate Sales

The motorcycle enthusiast should keep his or her eyes peeled on the local press for upcoming dates for boot sales, yard sales, and estate sales. These events can be a goldmine for someone looking for parts to restore an antique bike. However, these events are more suited for those who know exactly what they are looking for and can identify particular motorcycle parts by sight. The seller may just be looking to clear items from a garage and so does necessarily have expert knowledge about every item offered up for sale.

Online Marketplaces

Motorcycle enthusiasts are increasingly turning to online marketplaces such as eBay. Sites like eBay offer thousands of listings for motorcycle parts, both contemporary and antique. Buying from an online marketplace is the most convenient option because buyers can browse the listings for parts instead of having to visit repair shops and boot sales on the weekends. Along with individual sellers offering parts, some repair shops have online venues where they offer their wares. A buyer must be willing to do his or her homework before venturing online to search for parts. The buyer should ask the seller in a particular part is still in good working order. Usually the seller provides a detailed description of the condition of the antique motorcycle parts, including any flaws or whether or not any repairs were made. Not all parts offered for sale are used parts cannibalised from an old machine. Some parts are classified as 'new old stock' (NOS) or 'new on the shelf'. What this means is that the part in question sat on a shelf somewhere, possibly for decades, in its original packaging.

Professional Restoration Services

When all else fails, if pressed for time, buyers can always turn to a professional restoration company to take care of everything, from sourcing the parts to restoring the motorcycle. These services, however, do not come cheap and are only recommended to those who can spare a huge amount of money to restore a motorbike.

Summary of Where and How to Buy Antique Motorcycle Parts

The table below shows a summary of where to find antique motorcycle parts. It also shows how to get these parts from each source.



Motorcycle Repair Shops

Repair shops put old stock up for sale to clear inventory or parts derived from salvage; some offer mail order

Boot Sales, Garage Sales, and Estate Sales

Sellers looking to clear their garages; the buyer could also cannibalise an older bike for parts; appropriate for the buyer who knows particular parts on sight

Online Marketplaces

Order antique motorcycle parts from private sellers on marketplaces like eBay; one should ensure that the items are as described by the seller

Professional Restoration Services

Hire a professional to assemble the antique motorcycle; an expensive option

The table above is a good reference for those who are searching for antique motorcycle parts. It is most useful to those who are taking on such a project for the first time.

Motorcycle Systems and Antique Parts

Different systems on a motorcycle require specific parts. Before shopping for motorcycle parts, the buyer should first procure a parts list, or manual, for bike in question. The parts lists details the parts and parts numbers for every component and system. Parts lists can be hard to come by for older makes and models of bikes so a buyer should reach out online to other motorcycle enthusiasts who may be able to help the buyer with where he or she can find a parts list for a particular bike.

Electrical System

Antique motorcycle electric systems are not as complex as the electrical systems found in contemporary motorcycles. Before installing an electrical system, motorcycle owners must first rule out any electrical faults in the wiring. The battery on the bike may need to be replaced. The motorcycle owner should also check if the wiring harness, ignitions, lights, and switches are all in working order.

Engine and Transmission

Antique motorcycles may require either partial or full rebuilds of the engine and transmission systems. It is important to use original parts when rebuilding an engine and transmission to ensure that the motorcycle performs as it should. Buyers should check if the valves, pistons, cylinders, and crankshafts in the engine need replacement, too.

Fuel System

Gas tanks on older model motorcycles can rust and develop a milky coating or dark stains. The fuel tank either need to be cleaned and resealed or replaced with another antique gas tank that is in a better condition. The carburettor may need cleaning or be replaced.


To expose the frame of the motorcycle, the entire bike needs to be disassembled. On an antique motorbike the front forks, front sliders, springs, and seals need to be checked and may need to be replaced. It is a waste to repaint an antique motorcycle frame that still appears to be in good condition as repainting the motorcycle using a contemporary colour could change the whole look of the bike. Buyers should first try cleaning and polishing the body to see if that restores its appearance before trying a new paint job. If new paint is required, the owner should research the bike's history so that the colour appropriate to the period can be sourced.


There are brake kits available for antique motorcycles, although it is also possible to keep original parts such as drums, callipers, rotors, and the master cylinder. Levers can always be polished or re-plated but old brake lines and brake pads must be replaced for obvious safety reasons.

Wheels and Tyres

Tyres always need to be replaced as contact with the road causes tyres to wear out. However, rims may just need to be replaced with new spokes and the metal hub can be refinished or polished. Buyers may also need to purchase new grease seals and bearings. A combination of old and new components can be used to restore the wheels on an antique motorcycle.

Finding Antique Motorcycle Parts on eBay

eBay attracts different sellers from all over the country, and with a huge number of active sellers on the site, a user is sure to find just the antique motorcycle parts that he needs. Whether you are looking for antique motorcycle wheels, engine, parts, or parts for the electrical system, start you search on eBay's home page. On the home page is a search bar. Start by inputting a description of the part you are looking for. Depending on how specific your search query is, the number of results can vary from a handful to a few thousand. Use the refinements menu on the results page to filter the listings based on the make and model of motorcycle, the type of part and the part manufacturer.

Amongst the many sellers on the site, the top-rated sellers are your best choice. These sellers have a track record for excellent customer service, which is reflected in their high positive feedback scores and slew of favourable comments from their previous customers. Top rated sellers also tend to be the most knowledgeable about the merchandise they offer for sale. Remember to read the item descriptions very carefully. If you have any question for the seller, send them via the contact link in the seller's profile.


Building or reconstructing an antique motorcycle is a joy. It can be a way of returning a classic bike to the road. Sourcing the right parts for a particular bike can take a good deal of time. There are a variety of sources for these antique parts. Buyers can look in motorcycle repair shops and antique motorcycle shops for the parts. The advantage here is that the buyer can inspect the parts and speak to a knowledgeable professional. Other sources include garage sales, boot sales, and estate sales. Although with these options, the buyer should be fairly knowledgeable about motorcycle parts so that he or she can identify parts on sight.

Buyers who want total convenience can hire a professional to build or rebuild a vintage motorcycle. However, such a service can be pricey. The best starting point when searching for antique motorcycle parts is eBay. With so many sellers on the site, it can be a one-stop shop for buyers. When shopping online, it is important to examine listing carefully and to ask the seller detailed questions about the condition of the parts offered for sale.

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