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Salvage Bikes: An Introduction

Posted on 09 March 2017

A salvage bike offers one distinct advantage: it's the most cost-effective solution to owning a motorcycle that would otherwise be out of your price range. A salvage means repairing or restoring an existing damaged bike, and that simply means a huge savings on new parts.

But if you're considering going down the path of the salvage bike, you need to consider a few things.

1. You have to register the salvage bike
Unless all you want to do is salvage a bike and run it on the race tracks, you definitely have to register it as a vehicle, as if you're buying a new motorcycle. Different countries, and even within states, have different laws that apply to salvage bikes.

The first step to legalisation is likely the safety inspection – your salvage bike was probably involved in an accident so it needs to pass safety regulations to clear it off any defects (and to ensure your repair work was good) and qualify it as a rebuild.

To do that, you'll likely need a state title and damage appraisal as well as all the paperwork (receipts) done on your parts and repairs.

You don't want to spend all the time and money rebuilding a damaged 2005 MV Augusta thinking it only costs you an amount in cash when really you forgot to check that it was declared non-repairable by your neighbouring state.

2. Where do salvages come from?
After an accident or damage from natural disaster, insurance companies may deem a bike as non-roadworthy and consider it a total loss. The bike is then sold at auction, where it is typically snapped up by salvage bike dealers, scrap or junkyard owners and rebuilding shops. In the UK, M1 Salvage and Breakers is one of the largest along with HBC Vehicle, while in the USA, SalvageBid is one of the largest who then resells online.

3. How do I know not to waste any time or money on a salvage?
Always research the retail value of the model and use that as a base. Then, do a thorough cost estimate of the parts you need to buy and replace. Also, when choosing a salvage, scout around for the common Honda or Kawasaki bikes. Don't end up paying peanuts for a 2002 Ducati 998s Ben Bostrom replica only to find out its custom carbon fiber fairing costs a bomb.

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