What would you do with three grand burning hole in your pocket? You already know our answer: motorcycle. Buy a motorcycle of course.
But can we buy a decent motorcycle for $3,000 or less? For this kind of thing, I'd start with Craigslist, but I was feeling a bit lazy, and I wanted an easier, more comprehensive way to search, so Cycle Trader it is.
As of this writing, nationwide, there are 18,534 bikes listed for under $3,000. 5,169 are Honda, 3,842 Yamaha, and 2,810 Kawasaki. There’s 102 listing for Harley-Davidson, 78 KTMs, 33 Aprilias, and even 5 Moto Guzzis. Now I’m interested, who doesn’t want a Moto Guzzi for three grand. Don’t answer that.
I like older bikes though, so let’s start there. First up, this gem.
1963 Honda Dream 305 - $2,500
The name says it all doesn’t it? At under $3k, this 60s boat is the stuff made of vintage fairy dust. Private seller mentions it runs, and there’s a small oil leak. With a resurgence in rider interest over the past few years for old Hondas, remanufactured parts shouldn’t be hard to come by either. Just don’t strip it into a cafe racer; it’d be total shame to modify one of these in good condition.
1965 Sears 106 - $2,000
Yes, for a brief while, you could buy motorcycles branded by Sears. Branding is what this bike is, as it was designed and built by Gilera in Italy. In the 60s Sears Roebuck struck a deal to sell 106 cc Gileras in America under the Sears brand. Much like Gilera, Sears has long since ceased selling bikes, which makes this the kind of relic that’s total nerd chic.
1979 Honda CM400A - $1,250
Yes, the A is for automatic. And yes, Honda was building them back in the 70s. This one was called the Hondamatic, oh yes, that’s self-explanatory naming at its finest. The private seller mentions wanting to turn the presently all-original bike into a cafe racer, and you know, this is kind of the perfect bike for it. Have at it hoss.
1980 Yamaha MX 175 - $999
Made to play in the dirt, this two-stroke can be a total hoot. Built from the factory with a few performance parts, including exhaust, added to the dual sport DT models, the MX featured the same motor tuned for bit more grunt while having their lights, mirrors, and gauges removed. This one’s up for sale in Meridian, Idaho. Bonus points if you know where that is.
1992 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 - $2,950
Pipes, an S and S carb, but that rake tho… This single owner Sportster is claimed to have been dealer maintained and looks the perfect combination of tasteful customization. There’s even a backrest on the single seat. No pillion rides, sorry. Shoutout to Jason Marker for this pick.
2001 Victory V92C - $2,999
It’s not one of the rad 8-Balls from more recent Victory lineups, but the V92C is where it all started for the now defunct brand. This particular example looks to be in good shape, and could make for a decent daily ride. Plus maybe it'll be a collectors item... you know half a century or something from now.
2001 Buell X1 Lightning - $3,000
I’ve long had a soft spot for Erik Buell’s creations. So picking this one for exactly three grand was a no brainer. It’s got an aftermarket intake on it, and seems to have had the some of the frame and both wheels painted. Though the colour choices don’t quite mesh, it still looks the business.
2002 BMW F650GS - $2,999
A staple in the world of off-roading, the F650GS speaks to the very essence of adventuring for most. Truth is, the F650GS is a better road bike than an off-roader, but there’s still plenty to love on blacktop or green on board the baby brother to the venerable R1200GS (formerly R1150GS). For the price you even get a pair of hard cases, not a bad deal if you want to swing by Lakeville, Minnesota.
2004 Triumph Bonneville - $2,695
Sporting just 7,900 miles, and good tires, this all-original Bonneville up for sale in Ohio looks real promising. With both a full windshield, and saddlebags, it’s pretty much ready for it’s trip back home with me. I mean, it’d be a shame if it doesn’t come home with me. Excuse me while I go shake my couch out for change.
2006 Ducati Monster S2R 800 - $2,890
The stacked pipes, single sided swingarm, exposed... everything add up to make this one sharp looking bike. And while many buyers overlooked the S2R 800 for its bigger brother, this one would be good value at this price. No, it’s not in Michigan, this Monster happens to be up for sale in Coral Gables, Florida. There are 13 other sub $3k Ducatis for sale on Cycle Trader as of this writing, many that are in more, err, original condition than this one.