motorcycle motorbike parts engine accessories miserly expensive

Why are motorcycle parts so expensive?

Motorcycles might be at all-time affordable prices, but parts continue to be expensive, not just for premium brands, but even for some budget models.

So why are parts so expensive in Australia?

We asked various industry sources and found the issue is quite complex and varied.

One of the biggest influences on parts prices is the fact that Australia is a small market with high transport and staff costs as well as a falling dollar value.

Larger markets can hold more stock, lock in at better exchange rates, and operate on slimmer margins per part.

Parts sources

There are several sources for parts in Australia – authorised dealers, retail outlets, and domestic and overseas online sites.

While the cheapest may be online, there can also be problems with counterfeit parts, such as this latest warning on fake spark plugs.Riders warned after fake parts haul

Authorised dealers can often have the most expensive parts, but are guaranteed to have authentic parts that won’t void your warranty or cause a mechanical issue.

However, we have heard of riders ordering a part direct from the factory and getting it delivered cheaper than they can get the genuine part in Australia. Sometimes quicker, as well!

Owners can also get the same parts or generic parts of the same quality at a cheaper price from domestic retail outlets.

Parts profits

Retired industry veteran Stuart Strickland, 70, OAM, says one of the biggest problems is that some distributors push their dealers to only stock their parts.

“The exchange rate plays a part in pricing, but some manufacturers persist with regional pricing, not global pricing, which is ridiculous as we are in the global community,” he says.

“Many dealers are not making much of a profit from the sale of motorcycles, so they make their profits off parts and servicing.”

Not every distributor has expensive parts.

But if they are stockpiled in a national and/or state hub warehouse so they are readily available, they can be quite expensive.Parts Ducati Lamborghini parts warehouse cheaper

It costs a lot of money to store parts and for dealers to buy them and keep them on their shelves.

However, many distributors and dealers have now stopped storing parts.

Instead, they order them in as needed because air freight is quick and relatively cheap these days.

That hasn’t stopped some of them still charging top dollar, though!

Stuart says that in some cases dealers can access cheaper parts through a South-East Asian subsidiary of the parent company.

Delivery problems

Not only are parts expensive, but they can sometimes take a long time to arrive, even from companies that claim their parts are stored in domestic warehouses.

Stuart says the problem is that not every part is kept in an Australian warehouse, only those parts that are in high demand.

“Crash repairs are a real problem as the parts needed are often not held in storage,” he says.

Another industry source says central ordering and international supply of parts works well because of cheap and efficient air freight.

“Many bigger brands like Caterpillar operate like this and it works well, but in an incomplete and amateur industry like motorcycles, it has some inherent issues,” our source says.

“The manufacturers don’t take it seriously enough and assume the customer will put up with delays as they already own one of their products.”

He says delays can also be caused by a lack of attention to detail in some countries, as well as national holidays, different accounting systems, etc.

For example, don’t order anything from an Italian company during August when the entire country shuts down for holidays!

Parts price solution

Expensive parts motorcycle parts The Honda Shop WA
The Honda Shop WA

West Australian Honda Shop boss Eddie Peters says he is surprised more dealers don’t use the Partmart online parts-sharing community.

“Dealers can sell their part for whatever price they want,” Edddie says.

“Sometimes when you search for a part you find the same part in different counties for several different prices. You deal direct with the seller.”

It only costs a dealer $US3 a week to upload an unlimited number of parts and accessories on the website or $US2 a week for up to 5000 parts.

You don’t have to be a registered dealer to search and buy on Partmart.

Private buyers can also set up an account, upload 50 parts and use Partmart directly to buy and sell.

The Honda Shop has been using the website for a few years to buy parts from other dealers around the world and for their customers.

“We have also been able to sell heaps of our old, slow-moving and obsolete parts to other dealers,” Eddie says.

“I am surprised at how few dealers use the site as we all have heaps of hard-earned cash tied up in parts that no one knows we have.

“If we all had our parts listed on Partmart we would be able to help each other clear our stock and turn it into cash.”

Despite many dealers being tied up by contracts to buy their parts from the authorised distributor, Eddie says he doesn’t believe manufacturers would stop dealers using Partmart.

“I know Honda have told some dealers to check Partmart as they have told me that when they contacted us to buy a part,” he says.

  1. And yet parts are still ridiculously priced. How come a head gasket for an 81 Honda gl1100 gold wing here in Australia… Is $135!!..1 head gasket… That was the quote from Honda. Yet I can have it shipped from UK…. Genuine Honda…. For $70 landed. I needed brake rebuild parts for my restoration project… Had they been on par with pricing I’d buy local… But A: some parts not avail in Australia B: the quote I got from THS was twice the price for all parts except the one I couldn’t get here.. Rear master cyl rebuild kit.
    And I don’t blame the businesses in Australia.. I blame the government for taxing… And taxing again… Then taxing again.
    Then the exhorbatent costs of running a business… Insurances, power costs, payroll taxes… The government is not helping the businesses. And then…
    Interstate shipping costs… I had lined up a replacement tank from Victoria… Auspost wanted between $280(normal post) to $400 plus for express shipping… The couriers and other freight companies weren’t much better… So even with exchange rate and shipping rates from international suppliers… It’s still more economical.
    And its not just bike parts.. It’s everything. That’s why bike parts are so expensive… Not to mention the sheer greed.
    Wake up Australia.
    This government needs to be bloody shot… The lot of them! They only care about their pockets.

  2. I had a radiator replaced under warranty for my Benelli BN302 and have only just got
    my bike back after 7 WEEKS!
    Issues with inventory systems not kept up-to-date, lack of communication and then the part having to be put on back order. Dealer wasn’t able to give me a date I could expect delivery of part along the way either.
    I understand why stock is not kept in large amounts but if this is the case delivery times should not be this excessive. I’m hoping when I upgrade to a better known brand of bike this will be better.

  3. A lot of parts like bearings are merely readily available items but packaged
    with manufacturers logos and you pay premium..On many parts like carbs exactly
    the same carburettor is used on different makes..Dealers will often make you pay up front for a part
    that takes for ever to arrive..You might as well buy it online yourself..Buy a harley ,,just about everything you could possibly need is available for any year and at reasonable cost and quality…All aftermarket. And that explains the high price of original manufacturers parts….GREED

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