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Older motorcycles may fit into one of three categories: classic, vintage, or antique. I’ve found that some qualify for all three, while others barely qualify for one.

When you own an older bike, it’s essential to determine what category your insurance provider uses for that make and model. Understanding the differences can help you to save hundreds of dollars per year on your insurance needs or avoid usage restrictions.

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I’ve closely examined the three categories and what you can expect when contacting an insurance agency.

infographic to differentiate between classic, vintage and antique motorcycles

What Is a Classic Motorcycle?

A classic motorcycle is typically defined as at least 25 years old and maintaining its original design and features. These bikes are often sought after by collectors, enthusiasts, and riders who appreciate the history and craftsmanship of older models.

Classic motorcycles can vary in style and design, from vintage cruisers and choppers to sport bikes and racing motorcycles. Popular brands in this category include Harley-Davidson, Indian, Triumph, and Norton.

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How Do Insurance Companies Categorize Classic Motorcycles?

The insurance premium for a classic motorcycle will depend on its age, value, and condition. Some insurers offer specialized coverage for these bikes that includes agreed value coverage, guaranteeing the total insured value of the motorcycle in the event of a complete loss, and flexible usage limits that allow for occasional use and limited mileage.

Because of these variables, it is essential for classic bike owners to shop around for their insurance needs so that they get their desired coverage.

What Is a Vintage Motorcycle?

A vintage motorcycle is typically defined as one at least 30 years old or older. They are not required to maintain their original design and features, as they may have undergone modifications or repairs.

Vintage motorcycles are often used for display in museums, exhibitions, or private collections. Popular brands include BSA, Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Honda, and Kawasaki.

How Do Insurance Companies Categorize Vintage Motorcycles?

The same factors that apply to classic motorcycles are part of the insurance quote matrix used for vintage models.

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A vintage motorcycle is slightly less likely to be driven on the road but could require more comprehensive and collision insurance to protect its value.

If you have usage restrictions enabled, be sure to keep your mileage to that number to prevent unexpected charges or policy cancellation.

What Is an Antique Motorcycle?

An antique motorcycle is typically defined as one at least 50 or older. These bikes are considered rare, highly collectible, and may have significant historical or cultural value.

Owning an antique motorcycle is often considered a symbol of prestige and an opportunity to own a piece of motorcycle history. They often maintain their original design and features, as modifications may diminish their value as historical artifacts.

Some popular antique motorcycle brands include Indian, Harley-Davidson, Excelsior, Henderson, and Vincent.

How Do Insurance Companies Categorize Antique Motorcycles?

Antique motorcycles are classified by their rarity, age, and condition.

Suppose a specific bike has historical value because it was owned by someone famous or was part of a memorable event. In that case, the agreed value could be significantly higher than the same make and model without those attributes.

There could be more back-and-forth with an insurer when deciding how much to value an antique motorcycle. Remember to be patient with the quote process for the most accurate proposal possible.

I’ve found that anything above 30 years old should be categorized as vintage, but some insurers don’t treat some motorcycles that way. There could be a general “classic” category that might not protect your older bikes as expected.

Read your proposed policy carefully to ensure you can handle unexpected costs.

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Mike Navarette has more than a decade of experience in the auto insurance industry, but that's not his true passion. He loves getting on a motorcycle to explore roads he's never traveled. You'll find Mike in the garage working on something when he isn't helping clients or leaning into curves. It's sometimes a side hustle, more often a favor, but it keeps his hands busy doing something productive. Since the first time his father strapped on his helmet and took him for a ride, Mike has loved bikes. That passion, along with a desire to help others through a deep understanding of insurance policies, led to the creation of Motorcycle Ride Coverage.

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