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Discussion Starter #1
I am taking about a 1-hour drive in the morning to check out a barn find, a 2004 Marauder 800. The current owner admits it has been parked for a year (owner has health issues) and is filthy. Until yesterday the battery was down, but he has had it on a charger overnight and the battery has come back enough to light everything up and turn the engine; no start, but fortunately he drained all the gas not long after it was parked and I am taking a jump-starter, some fresh gas and starting fluid to see if we can get it to fire off. He states that the tires were new and had less than 200 miles on them when the bike was stored, so that's a plus, and he says there is zero damage to the machine -- just a thick layer of barn dust. He's the original owner, it has 3450 miles on the clock, and he says it was running fine when it went on the inactive list. So, my questions :
-- Any inspection tips beyond the obvious?
-- Anything I should take along beyond a tool kit, starting fluid, gas?
-- Assuming we can get it to start, any suggestion as to a fair price? Kelley Blue Book puts trade-in value right at $1800, but that is, of course, in running condition, which this is not right now, and at least reasonably clean, which I already know it isn't.


I am hoping a thorough cleaning and servicing will be all it needs to be turned in to a rider, and I am willing to put some time, elbow grease, and a reasonable amount of money in to it, but I don't need a money pit!
 

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I hope you like to work on motorcycles. Personally, I would take a soft pass. at 3,450 miles on a 15 year old bike is not so good. My guess is it has been sitting in the barn for much more than 1 year and who knows what has happened in that barn. I know me; I would rather ride a motorcycle than work on one for hour after hour. I do all my maintenance and have fixed things before to get back out and ride. But, if you like to work on bikes, it could be a lot of fun for you and a great ride at some time in the future.
Due to age and lack of use, be prepared for all new rubber hoses and tires. Due to time in barn and critters, be prepared to chase electrical problems and fix/replace wires. All fluids, obviously. Perhaps some gaskets that are old and brittle.

Price: $250.00 cash shown in the hand ready to give.
Investment to get running safely on the road: Who knows
 

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It may have only been a year since it was last ridden, but it's only been ridden an average of 350 miles per year. It's going to need a lot of work, even if it does run. You're probably going to need tires and anything rubber on the bike is going to need to be replaced. If you enjoy working on bikes you might enjoy it, but if you're just looking for a cheap bike to ride, you probably won't.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I went and saw it and, frankly, I came away disappointed that we couldn't reach a deal. It was barn-find dirty for sure -- I mean downright nasty -- but underneath all that accumulated dust the paint and chrome were intact. No sign of it ever having been crashed, nothing missing, tires fine with the little new-tire nubbies still on them. By the look of it I was highly skeptical that it would crank, but I fed it about 1/2 gallon of fresh dinosaur juice, checked the oil, turned the key, hit the starter -- took three tries, but then she fired right up! After warming up for 8 or ten minutes it idled nicely with the choke off, and revved willingly with no stumble.

I was eager to make a deal at this point but it was not to be. It is clear the gentleman who owns the bike will never ride again -- he's pushing 80 and in ill health -- and equally clear that his kids have zero interest in resurrecting the bike, but he just was not willing to come off of his asking price enough to make it worthwhile for me. I made him an offer that anyone in his right mind would consider fair, if not outrageously generous, but he would not budge. All in all, though, I enjoyed the outing and I had a good time talking to the guy.
 

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Just curious, what was the guy expecting for the bike? I picked up a 1999 VW cabrio that had been sitting in my buddy's Uncle's garage since he passed in 2014. It was completely covered in dirt, the top was ripped and all 4 tires were flat. But the engine was solid (only 84,000 miles) and the transmission was free and working. Chris wanted $2,000 and I paid $2,000 without hesitating. I put $800 into a new top, $700 into a new set of wheels and tires, $100 into the front brakes and another $200 in miscellaneous parts and fluids. The car runs like a dream and my wife loves her little convertible. If the bike was truly in the condition you indicate and only dirty, why did you not take the asking price?
 

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I don't care how good the tires look...they are 15 years old...new tires a must...figure that cost into your purchase...use that as a bargaining tool in future looks.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
If the bike was truly in the condition you indicate and only dirty, why did you not take the asking price?

It wasn't just dirty, for one thing. It was absolutely, mind-blowingly filthy, 1/2 inch-of-dust-and-liberal-bird-droppings filthy. Not a deal killer, true, but a BIG job. Next, yes, it cranked and ran -- but he admitted he had only drained the gas out of it the night before. I was astounded it cranked at all, but even so I well knew that before it could be truly roadworthy the carbs would have to be pulled and cleaned, perhaps rebuilt, then re-synced, etc. The fuel filter, petcock and fuel lines would assuredly need to be addressed, as well. To his knowledge, although it had only 3980 miles on it, it had NEVER had an oil or filter change, nor had the brake fluid ever been changed, nor the brakes serviced -- in 14 YEARS. All of that would have to be addressed, and rebuilding the master cylinder and caliper, plus installing a new brake hose (the old one was 14 years old, after all, and soft) would be the smart man's move. Twisting the throttle and pulling the clutch told me that at least lubrication of cables would have to be done -- he'd never done it -- and replacement would certainly be a possibility. The chain was rusted -- and I mean it would not flex at all. New chain an absolute must. Add in a couple of other factors -- he originally told me he was the original owner -- not true; he told me it had been parked less than a year -- obviously not true. The photo he posted in his ad, representing it as one of his bike -- I found it in a stock photo website online. Same model, same color -- not his bike.


His mind was set on $1800. That's Kelley Blue Book trade-in value -- a great sale price for a clean, roadworthy bike, even with 5 times the mileage. But that was most definitely NOT this bike. The bike has great potential, but by the time I spend the time and money this bike needs to be safe and reliable I can find one ready-to-go for no more money than I'd have in it, and that's not allowing a nickel for my labor. I offered him $1000, not wanting to insult him but not being completely insane, either. He was offended. I smoothed his feathers, explained I was a poor man, and wished him well. We parted friends. But he ain't gonna get $1800 for it. If you want to pay that much, I'll gladly put you in touch with him! But when you go to see it, take a machete so you can hack your way through the kudzu to the barn!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Original post said the tires had been replaced fairly recently and only had 200 miles.But still, sitting in the same spot for over a year, flat spotted.

Yeah, that's what he told me, and I will admit that they looked good. Still... questionable, at least, given other aspects of his tale. Hey, I'm an old guy, too. My recollections aren't always completely accurate, and I'll give him the benefit of some doubt. But, I ain't trying to hoodoo anyone, either...
 

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Here's the thing. The odds of finding that absolutely cherry barn bike for $500 is about even with dating Marilyn Monroe. Anything that's "been parked for a year" is older than is being advertised. It is expected that there is going to need to be some work to resurrect the bike and get it back on the road. Even being only casually interested, you were a mere $800 apart and you could have gotten the bike, if you wanted a project. Do I think you did the right thing? Well, yes. I always recommend people avoid barn bikes at all cost, just because of the expense of restoring them to running condition. If it is a rare or collectible bike, that's one thing. But a mid '00 Marauder - hard pass unless it is pristine.
 

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I can't argue that a bike ignore for any length of time can be a risk. I took that risk on my 2003 vl800 that I bought in 2013 with only 2300 miles. She hadn't been ridden in a few years. I got a great deal on the price, then invested in new tires & a carb fix. I have been very happy. Having said that, I would avoid overpaying for a questionable bike that you have to sink $$ into.
 
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