If you’re like a lot of people, sufficient funds can be difficult to come by when it comes to restoring or fixing up a an old dirt bike. Usually when we find the old ones, we like to fix them up and try to turn a profit. Or we fix them up and ride them for a while. Some dirt bikes can be restored on a small budget, if the engines are fairly sound that is. (That is the key, be patient if finding a fixer upper) I’ve learned a few methods over the years to transforming a dirt bike with little money by restoring what I can from the original components. Here are a few tips.
This post is specific to an old 2000 XR400R that I picked up for $1000. I’m kind of partial to these old XR’s, if you haven’t figured out by now. These bikes are bullet proof and parts are easy to come by. Of course different bikes will require different amounts of work, but hopefully this generates a few ideas to save a little money. This is more of a cosmetic makeover than anything.
Your time, but relatively cheap cost wise:
- Clean up exsisting plastics
- Remove old graphics
- Clean spark plug
- Clean carburetor
- Apply new seat cover yourself
- Change oil
- Clean air filter
- Lube cables
- Tear down of bike/put back together
- Check tire quality
- Check brake and clutch levers
*This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Products to BUY:
- Wipe New – for plastics
- Razor scraper – to scrap off grime and old graphics off plastics
- Seat cover
- Carburetor cleaner
- Motor oil
- Air filter cleaning kit
- Crossbar pad
- Hand grips
Cost to restore the bike under $200.
This picture shows the poor condition of the bike cosmetically. No hand-grips, rotted crossbar pad, ripped seat, and faded plastics.
Most of these fixes will use time more than money. And some will say, time is money. Although, as listed above, there will be some products that need to be bought, but are usually fairly cheap.
The front headlight needed a little work but nothing too bad.
First step to fixing up an old bike is to wash it and then tear it down a ways and get an inventory of the parts or fixes needed.
This seat needed to be recovered or the foam would have eventually gotten ruined also. If not protected, the seat would need to be replaced completely. Seat plastic and foam are more pricey than a seat cover. Seat covers are budget friendly for this bike.
This tank has definitely seen better days. It is very sun damaged. The original graphics have completely come off. The bike hadn’t been stored properly and the sun and years of gas spilling on it sure did a number on this one.
Look at this restoration, isn’t that amazing? Believe it or not, this is the same tank. Grime and dirt needs to be removed first, then the product Wipe New, will bring back the shine and color. This tank required taking a flat blade razor knife and carefully removing the thinker layer of faded plastic first and some fine steel wool second. The Wipe New product helps bring back the shine. It won’t remove the oxidation.
The process is complete. The plastics are original and look awesome. The seat has been properly recovered. Hand-grips are back on, and a new crossbar pad.
Other fixes I did that were essential, yet still budget friendly included: oil change, air filter cleaned, new spark plug, cables lubed, chain lubed, and carburetor cleaned. Let’s face it, what good is a good-looking bike if it doesn’t run correctly?
Last, the headlight was put back on in working order. Sometimes headlights can be tricky. On this project, I ended up finding out the bulb had to be replaced is all.
Dirt bikes can be fixed on a low budget. Don’t be scared away if the project seems to large. Most of the time bike flips take time and not always a lot of money. Of course, it takes a little knowledge to know what you’re buying beforehand, (see my other post on purchasing a used bike for things to look for) but the result can still be amazing! Dirt bikes can be expensive when plastics, tires, and after market products are purchased, but those things can be saved up for as well.
If you have any questions, let me know. And I would love to hear about and see your projects.