It’s the beginning of a new riding season here in the US in May 2023—at least, if you live in part of the country that has winter. No matter where you live, though, the itch to pick up a new-to-you bike is usually strongest this time of year. Since it’s 2023, though, and used bike prices have mostly trended upward over the past couple of seasons—can you still find a cheap used (but rideable) bike for sale?
Lucky for you, there’s some good news on that front. As of May 19, 2023, it is possible to find some promising bikes for less than $1,500, depending on what you’re looking for. The usual used bike equation applies here: If you spend less money purchasing the bike, it’s reasonable to assume that you may potentially spend more money fixing it up. Since different people buy bikes for different reasons, though, you could find that prospect very appealing if you’re a project bike enthusiast.
All that said, we tried to locate bikes that are actually rideable for this list. A few listings say that they need some work (things like oil changes and basic maintenance) but are running and in reasonable operating order. Besides, when you pick up a used bike, it’s a good rule of thumb to go over everything yourself anyway, and make sure the tires, brakes, lights, fluids, battery, and so on are all in good shape. Some people make it a habit to flush all the old fluids when they pick up a used bike, simply because it’s hard to know what kind of life it lived before it got to them. It’s a good rule of thumb to have for peace of mind, in our opinion.
You’ll find some vintage bikes, some newer bikes, and even some bikes for kids on this list. One or more may even surprise you, but we can’t say for sure—maybe you’re hard to surprise.
Engine: 97cc two-stroke single cylinder rotary-disc-valve engine
Location: Enumclaw, Washington
This is an old-school, early-70s Suzuki dual sport, complete with mirrors, lights, and turn signals so you could theoretically use it on- and off-road, as Suzuki intended. According to the photos offered by the seller, the bike does show its age—but it doesn’t look bad for being nearly 50 years old.
When it was new, the TC100 made a claimed 10.8 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, along with 8.43 pound-feet of torque at 6,000 rpm. It unsurprisingly relied on a kickstarter (no electric start), and sported a 19-inch spoked wheel up front and an 18-inch spoked wheel in the rear, both wrapped in knobby tires. Dry weight was 205 pounds, and this example still has the chrome luggage rack that it came with from the factory.
Now, old bikes tend to have old bike problems—maybe some parts will be harder to find than others. But old dual-sports like this were also made to take a beating, so they have that going for them. This could be a fun bike to get your hands on, as long as those hands don’t mind getting a little dirty now and again.
Engine: 491cc four-stroke liquid-cooled V-twin
Location: Provincetown, Massachussetts
While it’s clear from the photos that this bike has seen better days, it’s hard to go wrong with a Honda Shadow. With care and attention, this bike will probably run for many more miles yet to come. According to the seller, it started last fall—but is characterized as a fixer-upper.
The cushy saddle (both for rider and pillion) looks to be in good condition, although it helps to see things in person to get a true sense. It’s not clear if the front turn signals have simply been unscrewed and left to dangle for some reason, or if an attachment point is broken and needs repair. The photos show a single mirror, and it’s not clear if the other will come with the bike, or you’ll have to find a replacement if you want it. There’s some visible corrosion and pitting on the right-hand exhaust, but you’re probably not expecting perfection at this price.
Engine: 249cc four-stroke single
Location: Miami, Florida
The GZ250 is a simple, reliable, small cruiser. Many a beginning (or even returning) rider has put their faith in a bike like this and had good results. This particular one even comes with a rather nice (at least in the photos) custom violet and silver paint job with turquoise accent striping.
Overall, the photos show a bike that appears to have been cared for and looks to be in reasonable shape. Obviously, photos can’t tell you everything, including how it rides—but it looks promising for the right rider.
Location: Waukesha, Wisconsin
Mileage: Not available
If you’ve got a kid in your life who’s looking to get started on becoming the next generation of riders perhaps this bike might be just the thing. This is the smallest of KTM’s SX-E electric balance bikes, aimed at young kids with an inseam of at least 35 centimeters (or 13.7 inches). The bike weighs just 7.7 kilograms, which is just a hair under 17 pounds—so it’s not difficult to pick up, for kids or adults who are helping them.
It comes with three power selection modes: Low, Medium, and High, which range from top speeds of eight kilometers per hour to 14 km/h (or 4.97 miles per hour to 8.69 mph). For kids who are developing important hand/eye coordination skills, this bike could be extremely helpful. Since it’s electric, all you have to worry about is charging the battery—no liquid fuel to speak of.
Engine: 49cc four-stroke single
Location: Port Washington, Wisconsin
Mileage: 25 miles
This is another bike aimed at younger, newer riders—and Yamaha aimed to make it as easy as possible for them to get out and have some fun. While there’s a three-speed shifter, there’s no clutch to worry about. It also has an electric start, so no kick start worries here, either. According to the seller, this example has had exactly one owner—so the next owner is in luck with such low miles on this bike.
Engine: 100cc two-stroke single-cylinder
Location: Bettendorf, Iowa
This tiny little dirt bike comes with a kickstart, a five-speed gearbox, and a chain drive. It comes with a 16-inch spoked wheel in front and a 14-inch spoked wheel in the back, both wrapped in knobbies. According to the selling dealer, they did a full restoration on this bike so that it “runs and rides just as it should,” although the shop doesn’t list details of that restoration in its listing.
Still, if this type of mid-70s dirt bike has a special place in your heart, but you don’t want to have to do a lot of work to get one up and running, this could be a good fit.
Engine: 1,085cc four-stroke boxer engine
Location: New Milford, Connecticut
This R 1100 RS comes in a rather nice greenish silver color, and also comes with color-matched hard side cases. According to the selling dealer, this sport tourer both runs and rides, and they recently installed a new battery and fixed a quick-disconnect fuel leak before putting it up for sale. It’s being offered as-is as a “Manager’s Special.”
Engine: 805cc four-stroke V-twin
Location: Plantsville, Connecticut
According to the seller, this Vulcan 800 Classic runs well, but needs a tuneup because it’s been in storage for a few years prior to the sale. That said, it did apparently have a complete fluid change (oil, coolant, and brake). The seller also says that the tires are in “excellent” condition, although of course a buyer would likely want to look for themselves in person.
It has some scrapes and dents, including a dent in the tank that could perhaps be pulled by someone if they wanted to try it. While it isn’t perfect, it also isn’t bad—and with a little TLC and the right new owner, this could potentially be the beginning of a beautiful riding season.
Engine: 49.4cc four-stroke, liquid-cooled single
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Whether you’re looking for a little around-town scoot, a last-mile solution, or a potential canvas to live out all your Honda Ruckus customizing life dreams, this little scoot could be the answer. Style-wise, there’s nothing else quite like a Ruckus—and although they’re not rare, one of the coolest things about them is just how far customizers like to take them. What will you build with your Ruckus?
Engine: 1085cc four-stroke air and oil cooled boxer
Location: Rancho Mirage, California
If you’re looking for a reliable, turn-of-the-century BMW sport tourer with matching hard side cases and top box, this could be the bike you’re looking for. It starts up, runs, and sounds good, but according to the listing dealer, the ABS light is currently on. This bike needs some work, the seller says—but you probably expect that at this price. It comes with a cycle cover and a tank bra, but the existing seat cover and fork seals will need some love from the next owner.