What Is High Mileage For a Motorcycle?

High Mileage Motorcycle

What Is Considered High Mileage For a Motorcycle?

20,000 to 30,000 miles is on the higher side for sports bikes. For larger motorcycles, anything above 40,000 miles is considered high mileage.

With that said, we hope to convince you that mileage isn’t the only factor you should consider.

What Is the Average Motorcycle Mileage in the UK?

Unlike cars, a lot of motorcycles are used exclusively for leisure purposes. Because of this, the average annual mileage for a bike is between 3,000 and 5,000 miles, compared to 10,000-15,000 miles for a car.

How Many Miles Can a Motorcycle Last?

Contrary to popular belief, motorcycles can last well over 100,000 miles if cared for properly. 

There are even a handful of riders who have managed to clock up over 1,000,000 miles in the saddle!

With that in mind, what really determines the lifespan of a motorcycle?

Routine Maintenance

How often has the engine oil been replaced? Has the coolant ever been flushed? Have the valve clearances been checked?

The maintenance history of a motorcycle is a far better indicator of reliability than the number on the odometer! As with anything mechanical, using quality lubricants and replacing worn parts as required is the key to longevity.

If anyone knows your motorcycle better than you do, it’s the manufacturer, of course! Following the maintenance recommendations in the owner’s manual is a surefire way to keep your machine in tip-top shape.

Breaking-In Period

While some riders swear by the manufacturer’s recommended break-in, others are convinced that a more brutal approach is beneficial. Unless you’re actively trying to destroy your engine, you’ll be hard-pressed to do any real damage during the first few thousand miles.

The key to breaking in an engine correctly is varying your speed/rpm. Redlining a motorcycle straight out of the dealership isn’t a great idea, nor is being scared to accelerate. Ultimately, striking a balance between loading the engine and cruising along at low rpm is by far your best bet.


Has the motorcycle been garaged or forced to face the elements? 

Motorcycles that are stored outdoors will almost always exhibit more wear and tear than their garaged counterparts. This is mainly due to the fluctuation in temperature and increased exposure to dirt and moisture.

If this isn’t a good enough reason to convince your significant other that motorcycles should be kept in the front room, I don’t know what is!

Engine Size & Configuration

Small-displacement machines are often highly tuned for more power and ridden harder to achieve higher speeds. As a result, larger displacement motorcycles, usually more conservatively tuned, tend to last longer.

While there isn’t an outright winner in engine configuration, each variation poses different issues. For instance, V-twins tend to make more torque than their inline-4 rivals, increasing wear on the drive train. Inline-4’s, on the other hand, usually rev a lot higher, which increases engine wear over time.

Why do you think most of the high mileage heroes you hear about tend to be low-revving tourers?

How Often Was It Ridden?

Motorcycles that haven’t been ridden for long periods can often present problems when placed back into regular use. These problems include:

  • Battery/electrical-related issues
  • Dried seals
  • Flat spots & oxidized tyres
  • Rust & corrosion
  • Stale fuel

Generally speaking, a high mileage motorcycle that’s been used and cared for will be more problem-free than a lower mileage example that hasn’t.

How Was It Ridden?

It goes without saying that motorcycles used to the extreme (in any sense) are likely to pose more mechanical issues.

Has the bike been used on the track and spent most of its life at redline? Has it ever been involved in an accident? If it’s a touring motorcycle, has the suspension had to cope with a passenger and luggage?

Even things like allowing the engine to warm up before riding will drastically impact the longevity of your motorcycle.

Along with how the bike was used, it’s also worth considering who was using it. For instance, motorcycles owned by beginner riders are more likely to have been dropped or have increased clutch and transmission wear. Motorcycles owned by older, more experienced riders are more likely to have been ridden sensibly and well looked after.

How Does Mileage Affect Motorcycle Value?

As outlined in our used motorcycle price guide, mileage significantly impacts the value of a second-hand machine.

Lower mileage examples will almost always command a higher price tag, but are they worth shelling out for? Regardless of what sways your decision, making sure the motorcycle has been well looked after should be the priority!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Miles Is a Lot for a Motorcycle?

The number of miles considered a lot for a motorcycle depends on its type and size. For smaller capacity and sports bikes, 20,000 to 30,000 miles is considered high mileage, while for larger motorcycles, anything above 40,000 miles is regarded as a lot.

Final Thoughts

In summary, mileage alone isn’t the be-all and end-all that it’s made out to be. Motorcycles are there to be enjoyed, and we suggest doing just that without paying too much attention to the odometer!