Photo: Bill Roughton, Bike Tours UK

ABR’s resident expert of everything bikes answers your questions…

Back in the ‘80s I always lusted after a Honda Africa Twin or Yamaha Super Ténéré but couldn’t afford one. Now I have the time and finance I’d like to test out my meagre mechanical skills by restoring one. Am I biting off more than I can chew?

Charles Salt, Plymouth A.


Great idea, you’ll either end up with the bike you always wanted or a rusty pile of spares! But let’s look at the positives. In a few years, sorry, months, you could be riding into the sunset on an immaculate classic adventure bike.

The first thing you need to do? Obtain the workshop manual and parts list if possible, the cost of these will pay you back tenfold.

Do some research on the model you want. Internet owner’s forums are full of good information with many helpful members to answer questions.

When buying your bike of choice there are certain checks that will need to be done, regardless of which model you opt for. Pay particular attention to the plastic panels, if they’re damaged they can be almost impossible to source new or used, making any replacement a lot more expensive.

On old models the alloy wheel rims will likely be corroded and need replacing, even those that may look OK externally can be very bad on the inside. Refurbishing wheels can be a large portion of the final bill as rims, spokes, bearings and tyres/tubes can add up. Expect brake callipers to need a complete overhaul as long as the corrosion is not too bad. Worn brake discs aren’t cheap either.

Depending on your bravery levels it is easier to start with a working example as dead engines can be just too expensive to rebuild. A runner, even if it’s smoking and rattling, is still a runner and a better base to start from. If you can test ride to see if the gearbox still has the gears it started life with, all the better.

So now the heap is in your shed, where to start?

Perform a steady strip-down documenting each part that you remove, take lots of pictures as you go along as these will help with the rebuild long after the memory’s failed. Plus we love a rebuild thread with pics on the ABR forum. Decide which components you feel able to refurbish yourself and which to send off to a specialist where costs will be more but the end result is what counts.

Where to source the replacement parts?

Chains, sprockets and brake parts are best bought new and the internet has many specialist traders for the new parts. Autojumbles are not only good for new and used parts but a great day out, you’ll meet fellow restorers and find some very helpful stallholders with a wealth of knowledge.

But, a warning here, it’s possible to go to an autojumble with a small list of wants and come home with another bike, don’t ask how I know this! eBay has to be mentioned here, parts can be found but you’re often competing with so many others for the same thing, and that can push the price up beyond the actual value.

For ‘80s adventure bikes, eBay Germany is a good source, but before bidding send the seller a message asking if they will post to the UK. I look forward to seeing you at a rally on your mint steed.

Got something to ask Dave?

Send in your bike-related questions to [email protected] and if we publish yours you’ll get a free year’s subscription to ABR!