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Is it worth it?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Nation Theis, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. Nation Theis

    Nation Theis XS400 New Member

    Hi, I am new to this forum and am mainly here to see if it’s worth it to buy a bike that i am looking at. I found someone who has an xs400 that he wants to get rid of, but it hasn’t run in 4 years, so I don’t know what kind of problems I may run in to.

    As my first project bike, is it worthwhile to look into getting the bike and trying to get it running, or will it just be a money hole to try to fix it up?

    P.S. thanks in advance for any advice or input
  2. BBS360

    BBS360 XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    Four years isn't bad. Might be good with just a carb cleaning.
    What do they want for it?
  3. NewHavenMike

    NewHavenMike 1976 XS360C Top Contributor

    Depends on what you would call a tune-up. No matter what bike you buy, you will need to go over all the maintenance anyways.

    What is the condition? What year? SOHC?

    If it hasnt been run, I would skirt some oil in the cylinders before kicking it over. Kicking it over dry is never a good idea, especially if youre slamming the E-start button burning out the starter. Take the valve cover cap screws off and get oil on the valves

    You will need a new battery. You wont be able to use that old dead battery and its not really a good idea to keep it jumped to a car battery. Ive done it before, but I dont think I would do it again. XS400s depend on a good battery to start and run. You cannot start the bike batteryless, or a low battery.

    Now what I would do at this point,
    - Key in, power on. Oil and neutral light on? OK good. Keep the run switch OFF when not running or starting. Keeping the switch ON and engine not running will burn the coils out.
    - Ground the spark plugs on the block and see if they spark when you kick it over. Spark? good. Turn the run switch off, turn key off.
    - Pour some gas in both cylinders and put the plugs back in.
    - Now turn the bike and and try to kickstart it. Does it start? It should fire a couple rounds.

    If it fired, its good to go lol. Get it home, read the manuals and give the engine a full tune up. Clean the carbs and gas tank, get an inline filter. Do a compression test. At this point, address the rest of the bike, wheel bearings, lights, suspension, tires, brakes, hydraulic brake lines need replacement after a couple years.

    If no fire, you will need to do more work. Parts are a bit pricey at times and regular maintenance is a must. You cannot bring these bikes to a shop and have them fix stuff. They wont even look it at probably, or look at you like youre nuts, or charge an insane amount.

    Get photos of the bike. Photos...
  4. Worth it if you have time and desire to work on it. Pay accordingly. Hasn't run, unknown then you're talking few hundred US dollars here
  5. Nation Theis

    Nation Theis XS400 New Member

    He only said “open to offers,” so I’m not sure what he’d be hoping for (in terms of cost). What would be a decent offer for one that I don’t know if I can get to run?
    And on that note, if I do go to look at it what would be something to check for and look at for red flags and to get an idea of what I’m getting into?
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
  6. Nation Theis

    Nation Theis XS400 New Member

    It’s a ‘78 listed as “fair” condition, and I’ve only been able to see a few pictures from the ad.

    If I were to go look at it, what would be things to check and look for to make sure it’s not in too bad a shape? Also I’m not sure if it’s SOHC or what, as I am just getting into bikes, but from the pictures it looks like it’s SOHC.

    Also thank you for the rundown on checking the bike if/when I have it in my possession, super useful, so thank you for the detail and time.
  7. xschris

    xschris a lifestyle not a trend Top Contributor

    If you can post some pics of it so we can see. If the bike has been modified a lot I would be very hesitant to buy it unless it is very cheap. Fixing another person hack work can cost a lot.
  8. NewHavenMike

    NewHavenMike 1976 XS360C Top Contributor

    IMO, if it aint seized, its worth it...

    By the way, I bought my XS360 with a seized engine that required a full teardown and rebuild.

    A compression test is a big indicator of engine health. You will need to get the engine tuned up and let it run for a while to get an accurate reading. If compression is good, LEAVE IT ALONE! Do not crack the engine open just because you think its a good idea to replace all the gaskets, or that you just want to look inside..

    A lot of XS400, or just people that own older bikes, leave their machines by the wayside over simple stupid things.

    I bought my Sportster at a steal because the owner said it ran like crap... I asked if he has adjusted the points and he had no idea what i was talking about. I got the bike home and found the timing advance weights for the points were frozen. I fixed it and the bike rips..

    You will need to adjust, and eventually replace the points ignition. You will have to adjust the valves a couple times a season too. When these things fall out of adjustment, the bike will absolutely run like crap.

    Wiring can be a pain for myself, the original fuseboxes can be problematic too so dont assume the worst, but also assume the worst..

    The motorcycle will tell you when it needs these things when you ride it.
  9. WelderDave

    WelderDave XS400 Addict

    It all depends on its condition and what you want to put into it. You’re probably better off buying a known running bike before restoring a barn find. I got mine, non-running, for $400. If I had know the carbs were screwed because the previous owner I’d have paid less. I put $350 alone just for new carbs. Then there’s the wheel bearings, neck bearings, front forks overhaul, new exhaust because old one was rotting out (another $300), gaskets, tires, headlight, etc etc. had electrical gremlins here and there so pulled old harness out and completely remade a new one, new battery, added grounding block, did full tune up, brake lines, new petcock, in-line filter, new gas lines, brake pads, brake fluid flush, swingarm bushings.
    Not to scare you but stuff can add up. Mine was sitting for 2 years, looked to be in decent shape, but I bought mine as a learning experience. I basically did a restore on the bike’s maintenance and modified the bike. That was last year, this year I rode it and because I added larger tires, decided I want to change the gearing as it’s harder on the engine. So next year I’m ripping the entire bike apart for new paint, figured I’d add the new seat, new levers, braised steel brake lines, progressive front fork springs, change head gasket since it’s been leaking, etc etc.

    The point of all this is because I was in the same boat as you and now here I am, to give you a little bit of an idea. These are great bikes, some people invest more than others, but this forum is a wealth of information, and great people. These bikes can even be turned into a lot of different things if you want it. However, if I’d have known how much I would have spent, I would have bought the 650 that was 1k more with literally everything else done, all it needed was a few pieces but it ran and looked great.
    buztabuzt likes this.
  10. XSLeo

    XSLeo XS400 Junkie

    Look at over all condition. Does it look like it sat out in the weeds all those years. If so offer less If it looks like it sat in a garage with a cover over it offer more.
    How does the paint look? The rubber on the pegs and shifter. Any dings or dents? Bent handle bars, fenders turn signals. All these can mean it was dumped over The worse the scuff mark the faster it was going when it fell over.
    Open the tank, how does the fuel smell? Pull the dip stick and smell the oil.
    Any oil puddles under the bike. Oil on the forks.
    Does it have good paper? Keys? Tires, full of dry rot and cracks, Date code, even if they look good tires over 5 or 6 years old or bad tires.
    Most anything like this brings the price down.
    Biggie where I'm at Is good paper. Not easy to get good paper. No paper means parts bike. Offer accordingly.
    If it has paper and looks ok then offer a couple hundred. If he seems to shocked walk away. If he seems willing to dicker then do so. Try to keep your offers low, any thing you give him is money in his pocket. He wants it gone more than you want to take it.

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