A bit of history and some stories about vintage bikes for sale

antique motorcycles

1956 Suzuki Colleda

Picture 11Every now and then you find a little cool motorcycle, that well, is just a little cool motorcycle. This little Suzuki 125cc Colleda I found on ebay is exactly that. Not a whole lot of info on this bike, it was early in Suzuki’s history but it spawned one of the great bikes in their history the Colleda TT 250 which had some success in Grand Prix Roadracing.
The Colleda is a very simple motorbike, a 125cc single cyliner 2 stroke. Doesn’t get much more simple than that really. What it got when it came out was a much improved suspension (compared to earlier models, the 90cc version to be exact), a little more power and more modern styling.Picture 12

I found a nice unrestored model on ebay located in Bakersfield California. It is a runner, the seller rides it all the time he says. It definitely is showing its age but that’s just fine. It’s a little bike that would be fun to ride around town, maybe trailer to a rally somewhere and have people ask you “what the hell is that?”

Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures

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Picture 11956 Suzuki Colleda


1963 Junak M10

Picture 11I have always been a fan of oddball motorcycles…actually owned a lot of them, much to the bewilderment of family and friends. While doing my daily search of ebay for stuff I need and / or want, I found a bike I have never heard of before, a Junak?

In Post War Europe there were a ton of motorbike manufacturers, in Poland alone there were Twenty Eight, 28!!, between 1928 and 1972, the Junak is Polish. There is so much history in Eastern European motorcycle building its mind boggling. If you want to learn more about the Post War Eastern Europe motorcycling industry you will spend hours upon hours and days upon days at your computer and talking to motorcycle historians and then it goes back to Britain…and then….

Back to Junak. Junak was the first and only (at the time, post war) manufacturer of four stroke motorcycles in Poland. The best and most popular was the M10, a 350cc single cylinder that very closely resembled the Ariel single (with maybe a touch of BMW thrown in for good measure). Like I have said before, most of the Eastern Euro bikes had their basis on British bikes…who didn’t? Well, maybe the Italians?

Picture 7The Junak M10 is a very simple 350cc single that had many uses. It was originally designed for the military (was there an Eastern European motorcycle that wasn’t??), and for touring.The Januk M10 became a very popular civilian motorbike especially with a side car, but also had good success in cross country racing
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And, circuit racing (roadracing)
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I found a very beautiful example of the Junak M10 on ebay this morning. It is a 1963 with just 400 miles (610 KM) on the clock. It is a first kick starter (most of the time) and good runner. Interestingly enough spare parts aren’t all that difficult to come by, there are a number of sources that can still supply you with parts to keep this bit of Post War Eastern European motorcycling culture on the road. Cosmetically it’s really nice, going to need a few things here and there but nothing to be overly concerned about if you plan on riding it. The seller is asking nearly $10K for it…is it worth that much??? You decide.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures

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Picture 231963 Junak M10


1912 Thor

Picture 9I love looking at antique motorcycles. I have ridden one or two over the years and loved the adventure but would I want to own one? I don’t think so. They take too much work. I like to appreciate the work that someone else did to keep a wonderful piece of history running. The love and dedication that goes into restoring and then maintaining an antique motorcycle, not to mention the money ($$$$$) is truly admirable.

A couple of years ago I toured the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh New York and was enthralled by motorcycle makes that have been long gone, makes that lasted just one or two years, makes I had never heard of. They were all there. Some beautifully restored, others rusty and dirty as the day they came out of a barn in Iowa. It was beautiful.

Picture 6At the turn of the century (the 20th century) when fortunes were being made in the bicycle business a few started stuffing an engine into the bicycle frame and a new world was born. The world we love so much.

One of the company’s that was short lived also had an important part in one of motorcycling’s greatest legendary brands. Aurora Manufacturing in Aurora Illinois started making parts and tools for bicycles back in 1886, one of the companies buying these tools and parts was Hendee Manufacturing the makers of Silver King and Silver Queen bicycles…ringing a bell yet? it will.

In 1901 George Hendee sent Aurora an engine to be studied and parts and tools made for. Aurora went and produced the engine of Hendee’s design which was the basis for the beginning of the Indian Moto Cycle company. Is that cool or what? The deal was that Aurora would build the motors and sell motors to others (with a royalty paid of course) but they couldn’t build motorcycles to compete with Indian. No problem.

By 1903 Indian had its own manufacturing set up and Aurora was once again on their own. That same year Aurora founded the Aurora Moto Cycle and Bicycle Co. Thor Motorcycles was born.Picture 5

At that point, Aurora/Thor was basically just a catalog company…here’s all the parts, build it yourself. Not much different from what we can do today…I build cafe racers that way.

By 1908 the Indian apron strings had been cut and Thor was complete motorcycles. Aurora/Thor built singles and then big twins under the Thor name. They had some success in racing, but nothing really of note.

Thor shut down motorcycle production somewhere between 1916 and 1918. The reason I say somewhere is that on paper, production ended in 1916 but bikes were assembled with existing parts into 1918 and rumor has it that a few bikes were sold up until 1920.Picture 11

I found a really nice 1912 single on ebay today that would make a great restoration project. The reason I think this is great is because the bike is just about complete as it is! It’s not a basket case, it isn’t a rust bucket it just needs a few parts. Some you’re going to have to make yourself, some you might find on the internet. It is a 5hp single…not what you would call fast and not a bike that you could ride in the Cannonball Coast to Coast (even though it qualifies by age). The seller is not asking an unreasonable price for what you are getting. So if you have a desire to restore a very unique motorcycle with a pretty cool story behind it. Give this one a look.

Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

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Picture 161912 Thor


1961 Velocette Venom

Picture 39“A vintage motorbike that only an engineer should own”, is how one British magazine described the Velocette Venom. I don’t why he said that because the Velocette isn’t all that complicated, yeah its your typical British single…finnicky, requires very regular service (the old addage of ‘ride it for one day, work on it for two’ comes into play here) and parts aren’t all that easy to come by. Owning a motorcycle like the Velocette is truly love…or insanity, perhaps both.Picture 35

In 1905 Veloce Ltd built its first motorbike then in 1913 built its first 250cc two stroke and called it the Velocette (‘Little Velo’) and the name stuck.

Picture 32In the late 1950’s while other British bike builders were concentrating on twin cylinder bikes, Velocette continued developing the single, and why not? They could build a single that was as fast as many twins, handled better, lighter weight, cheaper to build and sell and for the owner, easier to maintain.

The Venom put out around 34 horsepower which was quite respectable at the time and just squeek over ‘the ton’, as a matter of fact, in 1961 a Venom set a world record of averaging over 100mph (just over) for a full twenty four hours. That record has yet to be broken for a motorcycle of its size.

Capitalizing on the Venom’s success in club racing, Velocette developed a higher performance version, the Thruxton. They also built an off-road model the ‘Scrambler’ which was mainly aimed at the U.S market. The Thruxton featured a full race designed head, a different carb and valve arrangement. The Thruxton is probably the motorbike people think of when they hear the name Velocette, but it was the Venom that was actually the backbone of the Velocette company.Picture 30
The Venom was built from 1955 until 1970 and Velocette closed it’s doors in 1971. The days of the single cylinder bike were over. Velocette hung in there and built their singles long after every other manufacturer had moved on. Today a Velocette is one of the most treasured motorcycles to have. I found a really nice 1961 model on ebay this morning that would take so little to get it roadworthy.

The Venom I found is in really nice condition, it shows it’s age but in a very graceful way. This is a bike that is not a museum or ‘collection’ piece, it is a rider. The motor was rebuilt a few years ago but has hardly been ridden since then, it needs new tyres and it’s got a typical oil drip under the primary cover (what do you expect…it’s English?!). There are a couple of really cool things I love about the Velocette, first is the ‘fishtail’ muffler…how can you not dig that!!?? and the other thing is how to adjust the rear suspension, you loosen the top bolt and then slide the shock up or down along the curved mounting bracket, so simple and so effective. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. It ain’t cheap but it’s also not out of the ballpark of reality.

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Picture 431961 Velocette Venom


1968 BSA Thunderbolt

Picture 5“Just as much at home threading its way through slow traffic with two up or ‘Thunderbolting’ up a steep grade”. That is how Motorcyclist magazine described the 1968 BSA A65 Thunderbolt. Some may disagree but I think the A65T was probably BSA’s best twin ever.

The A65 twin was built from 1962 to ’72 in various versions, the high performance Lightning and Spitfire models and the ‘touring’ model Thunderbolt. I rode a ’67 Lightning for years and loved it, but I also rode a Triumph Trophy, which I tended to ride more often (much to my step fathers dismay…it was his bike).

The thing about the Trophy was that it was actually easier to ride than the Lightning. The Lightning was faster no doubt, but the Trophy had better low end power that came on earlier in the powerband, which for me, made it easier to ride fast on the canyon roads near home. The BSA Thunderbolt feels the same way.Picture 3

When comparing the BSA Thunderbolt to the Lightning, it’s ‘the same girl just wearing a different dress’. Same motor (pretty much), same chassis, same brakes but it’s the small details that made the difference, mainly the change to the single carburetor. The bike was tuned to cruise comfortably at 70+mph all day and when your testosterone level is up so is the Thunderbolt…topping ‘the ton’ was easy. With the slight changes to the motor, the Thunderbolt didn’t vibrate as badly as the other BSA twins, nice for touring.Picture 9
In 1968 BSA made some really good changes to the Thunderbolt. A new, longer kickstart lever took some effort out of the starting ritual but the big deal was switching from the Amal Monobloc carb to the Concentric carb. The Concentric was much less prone to flooding and combined with the longer kickstarter, the Thunderbolt became much easier to start…hot or cold.

Picture 11BSA made some really good improvements to the motorcycles but had one glaring problem…poor workmanship. And truthfully, at this period in time, this is what killed the British motorcycle industry. That aside, the Thunderbolt is a wonderful motorbike. It is smooth, comfortable, fast enough for fun, excellent handling (of course, it’s a BSA!) and absolutely beautiful. As Cycle Magazine said, “One of the best designed motorcycles we have had the pleasure of testing”.

I found a beautiful 1968 Thunderbolt on ebay this morning that with some new tyres (english spelling) is ready to go. The motorbike has just 1763 miles on the clock, it is a bike that has aged quite gracefully and honestly is one of the better values I have found lately.

Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. And as BSA once said, “Move up to a mans motorcycle, move up to BSA”

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1968 BSA Thunderbolt


Old Motorcycle Book

Picture 24It’s a Holly Jolly Christmas, it’s a Happy Time of year…
Those of us in the Vintage Motorcycle World always know that one of our friends needs something for some project he or she is working on. Yes, there are a lot of women working on bikes and, doing a damn fine job I might add.

Some times knowing what they need or want is easy because they have been dropping hints since July, or you have ridden with them so many times and they have always had to borrow something from somebody that you know what they need. But, there is always that one person on your moto-gift list that you really can’t think of what to get them for Christmas. They have every tool known to man, more GPS units than they have motorcycles, heated insoles for their boots and a pre-paid entry to the Iron Butt Rally. You ask their significant other, you ask their kids, you even talk to his mother-in-law and nobody is of any help.

Picture 31Let’s think about this for a minute, your friend has spent hours in the garage working on a tiny little part… shaving 1000th of an inch off a cam lobe, rattling around a pound of ball bearings inside an old rusty gas tank, rebuilding a Mikuni VM34, its winter time and this what we do. It’s his love of old motorcycles that sends him out there, and now its time go inside, sit by the fire, have a dram of good Scotch and pick up a good book.

A Stephen King horror? no. Peter Egan’s Leanings? already read them. Jupiters Travels? maybe. Here is where you come in. You get your friend something completely off the radar. A book written about motorcycle travel long before we were born (well, at least most of us) that makes for entertaining reading while sitting by the fire with a good Scotch.

I found a cool book on ebay this afternoon that I think would be a great Christmas present for that friend. Written in 1912 it is a perfect sit by the fire read. And after you’re done reading it, pass it along. This should be a traveling book…traveling amongst friends for years to come.

Click on the pic below for a really cool present for somebody, even yourself.

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Picture 21Classic Motorcycle Book


1950 Cushman3 Wheeler

Picture 6Thanksgiving and Hanukkah (sp?) are just a couple of days away, people have been camping out in front of Walmart and Best Buy for days now to get the best deal on stuff that they say they are giving as presents but you and I know that most of those folks are buying up that stuff for themselves and…they actually think they are getting a great deal. However, you and I are a lot smarter than that, we use ebay and Amazon and shop in our jammies.

At this time of year we motorcycle collectors and restorers start thinking of friends that we would like to get a gift for and as we start this process we put our friends into the ‘naughty vs. nice’ list. The ‘nice’ list gets stuff out of the Aerostich/Riders Warehouse catalog, the ‘naughty’ group gets whatever piece of crap we can find at our local motorcycle boneyard or on ebay. Today I found the ultimate ‘Lump of Coal’ for someone’s Christmas stocking.Picture 5

We all have a friend that we just love torturing with junk, what we actually don’t think about is the effect it has on that persons significant other (somewhat tolerant wife), Oh well. A twenty year old fruit cake that has been passed from one friend (?) to another over the years is one thing but a vehicle dropped off in the driveway is entirely something different.

For that friend (?) you believe deserves a lump of coal I present to you a 1950 Cushman 3 Wheeled Rust Bucket. No motor, no trans, you’re gonna have to push it anywhere (out to the curb I would imagine) and hope that your neighborhood organization doesn’t send you some nasty letter and a fine.

If you have a friend (?) that has a very good sense of humor or that you would like to really irritate I’d contact the seller of this fine piece of Americana and ask him how much he’ll pay you to take it off his hands.
Click on the pics below for more info and a few more pictures. Have fun thinking of the one friend (?) that deserves this more than anyone else.

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Picture 111950 Cushman 3 Wheeler


1938 Indian Scout Junior

Picture 3A couple of decades ago a good friend of mine bought a 1937 Indian Chief, ten milk crates of parts and a frame. Ten years later he rode that ‘basket case’ Indian up to the front door of my surf shop with the biggest shit eating grin I think I have ever seen on anybody’s face ever. Roger had taken the time to bring the bike back to life without doing a museum level restoration. It was beautiful. Next thing I knew I was riding that Chief along the coast and the last thing I wanted to do was give it back to my friend. Alas, I handed back to my friend, but riding that bike sparked a love for Indian motorcycles.

Roger too came under the spell of Indian. One by one he collected old Indians…I believe he pretty much spent his 401K on his Indian collection. Other than his first ‘Chief’ his favorite was the ‘Scout Junior’ he found in a barn in Montana. It needed a lot, I mean ‘a lot’ of love. It wasn’t in milk crates but it could have been. Roger did get it running without restoring it and last I knew he was still riding it…faded paint, rusty bolts and a seat that is held together with shoe laces.

Here is what Indian said about the Scout Junior, “You can’t wear out an Indian Scout, It will wear you out first”. The Scout was Indians life blood through out the 1920’s and 30’s. It was popular with everyone from racers to women. Yes, in that time period a good number of women did ride motorbikes. The Scout Junior weighed just 350 pounds and was very easy to handle.

The Scout Junior’s main competition in the marketplace was the Harley 45 incher but even with a size disadvantage the Indian outperformed the Harley. Remember, this is a motorbike that in stock form at that time only produced 5hp!? The Scout provided Indian with the basis for 1000cc Chief. Sadly, the Scout was discontinued in 1942.

Picture 9I found a really nice Scout Junior on ebay this morning. It appears to be an older restoration but still really nice, I love the Firestone tires on the bike. The seller says it is a runner but needs a new battery, no big deal. This truly is one of the best Indian motorcycles ever built, light weight, reliable (for the time), and fun to ride. Owning an old Indian is not cheap nor easy but is certainly well worth it, just ask my friend Roger,
For more info and pictures of this nice Scout Junior, click on the pics below. There are a lot more pictures that reallt show how nice this bike really is.

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1938 Indian Scout Junior


1937 NSU Pony

Picture 10Those of us into ‘vintage’ motorcycles recognize the German brand NSU, but how much do we know about NSU? WOW…what a history! Here’s the ‘Readers Digest’ version. NSU was a little company making sewing machines in the late 1800’s, they moved on to bicycles and then in 1901 built a motorcycle powered by a Swiss engine. The first NSU was a 234cc, 1.75 HP model with a top speed of a thrilling 31MPH! Side note here, if you live in Southern California or New York City, 31 miles per hour is thrilling!!!

As the founders got more in to motorcycles, development moved faster. In 1905 they developed the first V-Twin with a 3HP motor, in 1909 NSU built the first 1000cc V-Twin. Then came WW1. During that period of time there isn’t much history I could find to fit in this ‘Readers Digest’ version, except that NSU started building cars in 1905 and in 1932 sold the auto business to Fiat. Then came WW2.Picture 9

Bikes that were built during that time were all sent off to war. After the war, NSU resumed commercial manufacturing. NSU was building cars and bikes. By the 1950’s NSU was huge. In 1953 they developed the first overhead cam pushrod engine, in 1955 they were the worlds largest auto manufacturer, they held four world land speed records (the first of over 200mph!). In the 1960’s NSU became the first to use the ‘Wankel Rotary’ engine in an automobile. There is a lot more to the NSU story and I’m looking forward to digging deeper.

What started this interest for me was this really neat 1937 NSU ‘Pony’ I found on ebay this morning. It has it’s own unique story. During that period the Nazi’s were confiscating vehicles from citizens to use in the war effort, this little Pony somehow escaped (the story is in the ebay posting), now, whether the story is true or not…who cares, it’s a cool little story. The ‘Pony’ is a simple little 98cc 2-stroke motorcycle with a 3 speed, hand shift transmission. It has classic styling, a pillion seat and looks beautiful. The seller says it’s all original…but??? It almost looks too good to be all original? It is a runner, it has all the original paperwork and ‘Third Reich’ license papers and plate…pretty cool.

If you need a bike to add to your German collection or even better want a really special bike from a company with a great history click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures.

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Picture 71937 NSU Pony


1959 CZ / Jawa Cezeta

Picture 4It’s no secret among my friends that I am a closet Scooter lover, I really want one. In my years selling motorcycles and scooters I have ridden quite a few and delivered a lot to customers. The most fun delivery I did was I rode the scooter to the buyers home and they took me back to the dealership. When I got ready to leave the shop, I plotted the longest way possible to get to their house and figured out how to ‘get lost’ on my way. It was a great delivery. On the way back to the shop, I told them what I had done, under the guise of starting the break in process for them…they got a big kick out of it.

The modern scooters are great but when I get one it is going to be a classic and the one I found on ebay today would be right up my alley. It’s funky, it’s weird and it’s really cool…a CZ/Jawa Cezeta 501.Picture 9

The Cezeta was a very futuristic design by the Czech company and technologically quite advanced. It was powered by the standard CZ/Jawa 175cc 2 stroke motor with a top speed of around 55mph, that will get you run over by little old ladies in Toyota Corona’s here on the Southern California freeways…hell, it’ll get you run over on most surface streets by kids on skateboards!! But, for 1959 it was plenty fast.

Other than being a bit underpowered for current times the Cezeta had many technological features that are being used today. The motor is rubber mounted to smooth the vibration, a dual exhaust added a bit of performance,and uses a single sided swingarm for handling and light weight. But, the most unique feature of the Cezeta scooter is the gas tank placement…it’s over the front wheel! Whether that did anything for handling, who knows but what it did do for the scooter was give it more storage space under the seat and give it the most unique style in all scooterdom. Cezeta owners joke that with the fuel tank up front if you ran into anything your bike became a torpedo…KABOOM! Lesson here…don’t run into anything.

I found a really nice Cezeta on ebay that was restored just five years ago and looks to be ready to ride. The scooter has a bit over 30,000 miles on the clock but the motor was completely redone,and the paint was redone to original. The scoot has only been ridden twice since the rebuild so chances are the carb needs a good cleaning and probably a new battery. But, this little Italian beauty looks ready to go.

If you are looking for a really cool scooter that you can pretty much assured that nobody within 500 miles has one like it, check this little Cezeta out. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. I wish I had room in my garage (and money in my bank account) to get this one.

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Picture 141959 CZ/Jawa Cezeta


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