The Buyer: Cheap bikes still exist

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You can still find good, MoT’d bikes for less than £500, you just need to hunt them down.

hat if you’re on a really tight budget? A grand or under? This week, and next, I’ll be looking at Dole Bikes: machines that are as cheap as chips to acquire, and that are equally cheap to run.
There’s only one ground rule here – no scooters or Chinese Cheapies. They can be a nightmare to get running and keep running. Let’s assume you want something reliable enough to go to work on, not a project (ie: it has to go and have a long MoT), and your budget is £500. So anything marked ‘barn find’ or ‘spares or repairs’ is out as well.

I churned through literally hundreds of bikes starting at a penny, and got to £300 before I found a Yamaha SR125. It looked in surprisingly good order, had a long MoT and apparently just ‘had trouble starting on the button’. The fix might be simple, but it might not. You’d need to take a mechanically knowledgeable friend along for that.
For £20 more, there was an old Honda CB Two Fifty: the Benly On Steroids. It was all there, looked OK (if filthy), was a decent runner and had a short MoT. Worth a look, definitely. And there was the usual crop of shabby-but-sound MZ 125s and Honda CD185/200 Benlys as well.

A real turn up was a fully running, cherished, long-MoT Kawasaki GPZ500 for under £400, which had obviously been cared for. Might last another 10,000 miles, might last another 100,000.
And then, at the top of the budget (£495), I found a 1998 Suzuki GS500 twin. It was the fully faired one, with just 12,000 miles and a new MoT.
Don’t tell me cheap bikes don’t exist. They do, if you’re prepared to take the trouble to look hard enough to find them.

The budget is £1000: that’s where things get really interesting.

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