How much to pay for a bike needing heavy restoration

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Jun 11, 2008
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Hi All,

Im interested in buying a Commando to restore and was wondering what prices these go for. Im looking for something which needs a complete rebuild from the ground up. Im thinking on not paying more than 1500 pounds, does this sound reasonable or should I budget more.
Welcome gunnag,

As you said "Pounds" then I presume you live in the UK?

£1500 in the UK, will buy you a basket case, or at least a Commando with a lot of parts either missing or in need of replacement?

And a "complete rebuild" without the cost of the bike, in that condition would be £2000-£6000 at a guess?
As it is going to vary greatly due to the bike's condition, and also on how much of the work you intend to do yourself, or farm out to others, like engine/gearbox rebuilding, engineering work, chroming, paintwork, wheel building etc.?

It is generally cheaper to buy one that's already been restored, because however much you spend on a restoration you will be unlikely to get all your money back if you sell it?
Thanks for the ansewe L.A.B, I am UK based and good point about buy or restore. I was wondering whether its better to buy an already restored machine or go down the rebuild route.

I do get a certain amount of fun from rebuilding bikes and if the cost is spread over several years then its not as noticeable. Also I get to know exactly what has been done and to what standards.

Mind you having a bike ready to ride in the garage also has its advantages :D
If you enjoy it, and you are likely to do much of the work yourself then you should certainly be able to keep the costs down a bit.

Most parts are available new with odd exception, and certain things like re-chroming you will no doubt have to get done by others, although the price of chroming these days it can work out cheaper to buy new parts!

If you do buy an old wreck, then some engineering work could be required, which would be likely to add a fair amount to the cost.

I think most first time Norton restorers drastically underestimate the cost of a good restoration. Along with the resto costs are the many upgrades one usually goes with. I know here in the U.S., you can expect to spend upwards of $10,000, excluding the cost of the original bike. Not for the faint-of-heart. I've come to look at restoring Nortons strictly as a hobby and disregard the cost vs. value.

Like most things, you can buy them cheaper than you can build them. Being you are a first timer, I would highly recommend buying a decent running (restored or original) Norton. After gaining some experience, then proceed with a restoration of a derelict bike. You'll find you can do a better and cheaper restoration once you become familiar with Nortons and Norton parts suppliers. If it's a basket case you are restoring, having a complete bike to refer to is invaluable. Not only that, but you can probably sell the original bike for considerably more than you paid for it, if you keep it for awhile. Nortons are now appreciating nicely. This will help offset that big $10,000 resto price.

What ever you do, good luck.
Unless you have parts purchased years ago when they were much cheaper, restoring a bike will be more expensive than buying a restored bike. You have to factor in the satisfaction of doing the restoration and decide what is best for you.

On the plus side, either way you go, the bike will be worth at least what you paid for it ten years from now. I would not buy a Commando solely as an investment, but as an example, my '99 R1100RS is now worth 43% of what I originally paid for it, but my 850 Interstate is worth slightly more than what I have invested in it (doing my own work and built from a pair of engine cases and a title) and my original, one owner '73 750 Roadster is easily worth 2.5 times what I paid for it in 1973. I love 'em all.
My recent experience here in the states is that it is better to buy a running bike and work through the issues. Buying it on e-bay or in pieces would set you back way too much$$$$$ Keep looking for that good deal but do not expect to see it on Ebay
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