We all know someone who deserves a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking…right? The person that leaves their motorcycle out in the rain because that’s the only time it gets washed, checks tire pressure only when they go out to ride and find a flat tire, oil changes happen as regularly as Congress actually does something (never), they come over to a barbeque and all they bring to the party is their appetite, they borrow a couple of tools to do a clutch adjustment and only one of them comes back…the list goes on but we all know that person.
Most of us have bought a motorcycle or two that we thought would be a good winter project only to find that it’s probably more work than it it’s worth, in so many ways. We end up finding a sucker…uh, I mean friend, that thinks he can make something good out of it (I have been that sucker more than once in my life..) and you are more than happy to send that two wheeled (if you actually have both wheels) was a motorcycle, off to new home.
Years back a group of riding buddies and I started this running joke of passing around a fruitcake at Christmas. It got mailed all over the country and after about ten years somebody actually opened it up. Surprise,surprise…it was just the same as it was when it started it’s all over the country journey.
A year or two later one of the band of merry men decided to resurrect the tradition but this time with a junk yard motorcycle. Ok, now this one didn’t shipped around the country it was just transported house to house here in So Cal. I was the first recipient of said junk yard P.O.S.
I awoke December 26th to a Suzuki something or other that had one wheel, a rusty gas tank, no seat and one turn signal(which was hanging by one wire) laying on my front porch. No one ever fessed up to being the one to start it but that almost rolling Suzuki ended up in someone’s Christmas stocking for the next ten years or so. Not a one of us ever did anything to it, we just laughed our asses off every time we dropped it off on a friends front porch with a bow on it.
Today I found on ebay a bike that you can buy and start a fine tradition yourself with your ‘friends'(?). It’s a 1975 Indian ML100. It is truly a classic Indian motorbike, well the seller thinks so. It is almost complete? so says the seller, it’s a rare find? Oh sure it may be missing a few parts but it has some extra rust to make up for that. And the best part is that the seller is willing to part with it for just under $1000 dollars…how can anybody pass up a deal like that to start a running joke with your riding pals. A good tradition isn’t always as cheap as a fruitcake, but how much do you like a good joke.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Also, a good laugh at what someone thinks something is worth. This is one Indian you know the Chief doesn’t want to admit siring.
East Buttcrack, Minnesota,
“Hey Eunice, It’s getting pretty damn cold around here, maybe it’s time we went and visited your sister and that dolt of a husband of hers down in Florida”
“Floyd, you don’t like my sister and her husband isn’t a dolt, he’s just a bit different?” “and besides that the Winnebago hasn’t run for a whole year, probably won’t even start much less make it all the way to my sisters” “And on top of that what are we going to do once we get there? You don’t play golf, you don’t fish and you’re scared of alligators”
“Well, we could buy ourselves a motorcycle and ride it around?”
“Floyd, last time you rode a motorcycle you were a senior in high school and your brother bet you five dollars you couldn’t make it to the end of the block before you crashed his…I was there, you didn’t make it ten yards…what makes you think you can ride around Florida?”
“Well, that was then, I’m better at things like that now?”
The real truth here was that Floyd was tired of being cold, Florida sounded good but being with his sister and brother-in-law was only just a bit better than being snow bound all winter
So the conversation went on but in the end Floyd won out…well, he was going to buy a motorcycle without telling Eunice. He did all the right the right things, he took the MSF course (telling Eunice he was going to the VFW hall for Bingo), got a bumper carrier for the Winnebago and bought he and Eunice a couple of spiffy looking helmets. Now all he needed was a motorcycle.
Floyd spent the next few days searching ebay for a motorcycle. He found a few that he thought he would like (his ego was well in place at this time…a GSX-R1000, a Honda Superhawk, he even thought about a Gold Wing?) but finally settled on a small bike that would be perfect to ride around town or a little out of town to get away from sister in law and dolt husband, (and Eunice too). It had to be light enough to fit on the bumper of the Winnebago and not scare Eunice.
I found the perfect bike for my friend Floyd this morning on ebay, a Honda CL125. This is a bike that will get you all around town and away from the family when you need to. The Cl125 is a super easy bike to ride, requires almost no maintenance save for changing the oil, lubing the chain, keeping the battery charged and making sure there is air in the tires. This little CL I found today, needs nothing except a new battery. It is super clean, new tires and spokes. This is a very cool little bike. It would also make a very fun little Cafe Racer. Click on the pics below for more info and a lot more pictures.
Recently my friend, racing and traveling partner Erik bought his wife a little 50cc Yamaha to ride around town and develop her riding skills. Well, as it turns out he is spending more time on that little Yamaha than she is. Why? because it’s so damn much fun!!
He put a tank bag on it so he can make ‘small’ grocery runs and even light weight Home Depot runs. He can ‘kickstart’ it with one hand, fills the tank about once a month, and has a giant grin on his face every time he rides it. What could be better? Well, something with more style.
Having owned a Benelli for a short period of time I have developed a slight affinity for the marque and am always intrigued when I find one on ebay, or anywhere else for that matter. And…I am a long time lover of small motorcycles, motorcycles that have a ‘high giggle factor’. I found a sweet little Benelli Fireball on ebay today that I think would be a blast to own.
A little history is required here though. This little motorbike was born in the Benelli factory but was sold through Montgomery Wards as a ‘Riverside’ brand motorbike. Back in the ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘Father Knows Best’, and Ozzie and Harriet’ days, both Sears and Wards sold everything including motorcycles. Most all were sourced out of Europe and sold rather inexpensively here in the States. This was at a time when small bikes were selling well as basic transportation and fun to ride. Motorcycling was growing fast and everyone (businesses) wanted to cash in. That happy time didn’t last all that long. Sears stopped the Allstate brand, Wards dropped Riverside even Western Auto stopped selling mini-bikes. Fortunately, a good number of these bikes have survived.
I found a really great example today on ebay of that time period. A Wards ‘Riverside’ 50cc motorbike. It’s a Benelli 50cc Fireball. A simple little two-stroke racebike with a head and tail light. This little bike is so cool. The owner went over the bike and removed all the ‘Wards Riverside’ logo’s and rebadged it as Benelli and it looks great. The seller says it runs good. There isn’t a lot of information about these bikes out there but there are a few websites that have info that you might want at a some time.
If you live in a city where getting around on a scooter works well, you’ll have a lot more fun on this little Benelli. And you’ll look a lot cooler too.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
Over the more than 100 years Harley Davidson has been building motorcycles they have dipped their toes into the waters of bikes other than big twins a few times. Their short lived love affair with Aermacchi, the horizontal singles and small two strokes came from Italy, and more recently a partnership with sportbike builder Erik Buell (of which I now own one, and much to my chagrin, I LOVE). But, The Motor Company always seems to come to it’s senses and goes back to what it sells best…big, heavy, twins that owners can make louder than a Led Zepplin concert.
Let’s take a short walk back to the early 1960’s and the world of scooters. Harley Davidson was doing everything it could to keep their market share here in the U.S of A while the British and more importantly, the Japanese, were whittling away at it. As mentioned before, the working with Aermachhi to enter the small bike market didn’t go quite as well as the bean counters in Milwaukee would have liked. What about building a scooter?? Could it, would it, work?? It didn’t matter, Harley was throwing money (money it didn’t really have) almost anywhere to keep selling motorcycles. Enter the Topper.
Harley Davidson built the Topper to cash in on the growing market of beginner riders and those that just wanted something fun to ride but wanted an American built machine. Well, the Topper went over like a fart in church. Harley built a medium sized 165cc, 9 horsepower, 2 stroke motor with a rope start (just like the one on your Craftsman lawnmower today) and top speed of about 46mph in a fairly modernistic designed, and…well, like I said ‘went over like a fart in church’. Harley kept it on the market for nearly 5 years but only sold about 3,000 of them and today only about 100 are still alive. That statistic alone gives it a very high cool factor.
So, today, I found one of the one hundred on ebay and it’s really cool. It’s no secret that I love scooters and I know that someday soon I’ll have another to ride around, a Harley Topper might just be more to my liking than a Vespa or Lambretta (is that because I now have a Harley powered motorcycle??…am I really headed to the dark side?? Oh Lord, please help me..). The one I found today is in great running condition with just a few small cosmetic flaws and only 6915 miles on the clock. It looks really great and would be perfect for someone who simply wants an around tow n grocery getter or a fun Sunday ride if you don’t have to get on the freeway.
If you are thinking about a vintage scooter that is very unique and quite rare, click on the pictures below for more info.
Believe it or not, often times less is more. Yeah, there is nothing quite like the rumble of a big V-Twin, the scream of a high revving two stroke triple, the roar of an inline four, or the thump of a big single. But, there are times that the song of a little (not even freeway legal) single or twin is pure music to your ears. Add to that a style that launched a whole generation of riders and you have the making of a true classic. Honda, better than anyone in the ’60’s, knew how to do just that.
THe Honda ‘Dream’ was a big bike by ‘then current’ standards, but Honda needed something in between the little ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda’ 50cc step-thru bikes and the ‘bigger’ 160’s and 305’s. The 90 was perfect.
The 90cc CA200 was light at just 188 pounds, put out a whopping 6.5 horsepower, could top 55 mph, get nearly 100 miles per gallon of regular gas and was quite stylish. Honda took the successful style of the ‘Dream’ model and the comfort of the ‘Benly Touring’ model and simply put a smaller motor in it. It worked!! The CA200 was one of Honda’s best sellers.It was the perfect transition bike for most riders of the time.
I found a really nice one on ebay today. Not too many miles, generally really nice condition…ok, it needs a bit of touch up here and there (the owner primered the top of the tank and there are a few dents here and there…) but, all in all pretty darn nice. This is the kind of bike that goes perfect on a motorhome bumper rack (it is that time of years ya know..), it’s also a very cool get around campus bike for the freshman at University in your family…chicks dig guys that don’t have big motorcycles to match their big ego’s. Well, maybe they do, but, I’m just dreaming here. I think the cool factor of this little Honda goes way beyond ego.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. This really is a very cool little motorcycle. And, reasonably priced I might add.
Well, here we are again looking at something way too cool, a ride that will give you a huge grin on your face for a bunch of reasons. First, it’s a classic scooter; second, it’s a Cushman (you don’t see those around every corner); third it is so strange looking that the cool factor is off the charts.
Cushman scooters were the epitome of sturdy, reliable, and trustworthy…the Boy Scout of scooters. Cushman built the scooter used by the military through World War 2 and beyond, the US Postal Service, schools for maintenance, hunters, golf courses, and anywhere you needed a trouble free utility vehicle. But Cushman wanted more, they wanted the general public to buy their scooters.
Cushman scooters were not what you would call stylish by any stretch of the imagination, clunky is the description I would use. But then Buck Rogers joined the design team. Welcome, the Road King. Jet age styling with Cushman low tech. Fun to ride and draws looks from everybody. The looks range from “what the hell is that?” to “wow, that is so cool”. I would love one.
Cushman brought the centrifugal clutch to the scooter world with their two speed transmission..twist and go. The twist was interesting though, you actually roll the throttle forward, opposite of normal motorcycles, took a bit of getting used to I would imagine. The Road King got an estimated 75MPG out of its 8Hp Cushman Husky motor and topped out at around 50mph. Can it get out of its own way? yeah, kinda but who cares, it’s just too much fun to ride.
I found a really nice Road King on ebay this morning that is a rider not a museum piece. It has the nicks and scratches that come with age but this scooter has aged very gracefully. The owner doesn’t state the miles but says it is a runner and has been gone over by a Cushman mechanic. It looks like it has a non stock muffler but that shouldn’t stop you from buying it.
There are quite a few Cushman websites and forums out there so finding parts, information, and support along with camaraderie will be easy. So, if you would like to have something that is truly unique and truly American, a Cushman Road King is something you should have. This is not your everyday grocery getter scooter, this is a Cushman Road King…too cool.
Click on the pics below for a bit more info and more pictures.
Now really, who amongst us that love vintage motorbikes wouldn’t love to have a bike that was designed to be parachuted out of an airplane behind enemy lines during World War 2? And how many of us have so many motorcycle projects filling the garage, evenings that are supposed to spent with the family, and money in the bank account, that have wives who would love to see us sitting on that bike falling out of an airplane….without a parachute? Raise your wrench, I thought so…pretty much all of us.
Next question, what if that bike was a scooter? Ah, not so many wrenches in the air this time. Come on you guys expand your horizons, think outside the gas tank. I’m not talking about your average Vespa or Lambretta (they wouldn’t handle being dropped off a curb much less out of an airplane), I’m going to something much cooler…a Cushman. Yeah, I know, Cushman made golf carts for a million years but they also made vehicles for the military. Cushman’s were strong and reliable, that was what was needed then ( it still is today when you think about it). Some models were touted as getting 100mpg but most got around 75mpg…at that time they advertised that you could ride a Cushman for less than a penny a mile.
There is a lot written about Cushman’s history and it’s pretty cool. Totally utilitarian but they also delved into the world of the futuristic with some of its designs in the ’50’s. Unique styling didn’t really help them then but today some of these models, especially the Road King model are highly desired by scooter aficionados.
The Model 53 also known as the ‘Airborne’, was designed to be parachuted out of an airplane to support the troops on the ground during World War 2. It had a number of uses during the war, the utility trailer that came with it could haul supplies to the troops and could even carry 50 caliber machine guns or 81 mm mortars. The Model 53 could forge a water crossing over a foot deep and climb a 25% hill…the Model 53 would go anywhere and do anything. Reliability was the key to its overall usefulness for the military.
At the end of the war there were still a lot of these models that had not gone to the government and were sold off as ‘Civilian’ models and could be had for a song.
I found a beautifully restored ‘civilian’ model on ebay this morning that would be so much fun to ride around town, the senior citizen trailer park or load it onto the bumper of your motorhome and hit all the National Parks. The owner has done a full resto on the scooter and shows only 1 mile? It should sell for a reasonable price and really would be an attention getter no matter where you ride it.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and a little more info.
We are told it is better to give than receive right? In some cases I agree. But, we also have to give to ourselves, nourish the soul…or just plain ol’ be a bit selfish. I believe in winter motorcycle projects, especially for those of you that have a shortened riding season. I believe in them for those of us that live in year round geographies as well. There is nothing more soul satisfying than come spring time after endless ebay searches, forum chats, begging and pleading for a treasured part, than to roll your project out into the sunlight for the first time.
As some of you know, I am working on a project bike to ride the MotoGiro California this next year and I have also helped a couple of friends find motorbikes that are appropriate. Today I found a great candidate on ebay…a Ducati Bronco.
The Bronco is a very simple little 125 cc pushrod motored motorbike with typical Ducati styling. It’s lightweight,only 227lbs, put out an arm stretching 6.5 HP and has a top speed of somewhere around 55mph (downhill with a tailwind…). The little Ducati was actually designed for some off-road duty so was equipped with 16″ semi knobby tires and a duplex cradle frame. It’s perfect for the Giro d’ California. Actually, if you’re really ambitious, do the MotoGiro d’ Italia!
The Bronco I found on ebay this morning could either be a pretty easy project or could turn into more. Overall the bike is in pretty good shape. It doesn’t run at this time and looking at the pictures it looks like it may need some electrical parts. The seller says it does turn over with good compression (?), he says it needs a kickstand but it looks to me that it needs a kick start lever? All in all it looks to be a neat little bike that should clean up nicely and hopefully with not too much work be a fun little rider. Click on the pics below for a contact.
To get parts for this Bronco or any other vintage Ducati check with my friend Steve Allen at www.bevelheaven.com
Little Throckmorton asked Santa for a motorcycle this Christmas. At first he wanted a dirt bike so he could go out on weekends with his dad then, he saw a roadracing picture. “That’s for me” he said…”dirt is for planting potatoes, pavement is for racing”. Now what are you going to do? You, dad, either switch to roadracing so you can spend weekends with your son or you do your very best to convince him he still wants a dirtbike…good luck with that one. I have an idea for you, get him a good used little mini roadracer and you keep your dirt bike. You may only have to give up one weekend a month but it will be worth it.
Mini roadracing is incredibly popular all over the country. Most mini or pocket bike races are held on go-kart tracks and are great family events. It is so much fun watching little kids and occasionally big kids (or adults that just act like kids) flying around the track on these little roadracers. Today while searching ebay for cool bike oriented Christmas stuff I came across this MV Agusta replica mini racer that would be so much fun for little Throckmorton.
The story behind the repli-racer is MV Agusta built a one off mini bike for Phil Read’s son. Phil Read was the factory MV rider that went on to win the 500 cc World Championship that year. Well, when the public saw the little bike, everyone wanted one. The bike was made in two versions, the 8″ wheel size for little tikes and the 10″ wheel size for bigger kids. Both versions were powered by a Franco Morini 50cc 2 stroke motor with a ‘Variator’ transmission (basically a single speed), I believe that there was also a 12″ wheel version also made that had a proper clutch and transmission. Nobody seems to know how many of these bikes were made back in the seventies but most are guessing around 2000?
The little MV I found today is a little rough and needs some love. It needs a windscreen, which might be a bit tough to find and if you really want to put the $$$ into it, repaint it. But…little Throckmorton is going to be racing this around so get a windscreen but leave the rest alone so that when it ends up on its side (which it will) you won’t feel too bad. It is a very cool little roadracer and certainly not your average pocketbike. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a little more info.
Attention all ‘Snowbirds’, and you know who you are. You’re sitting at home in Fargo, North Dakota or Way Too Cold, Minnesota and here is the conversation at the breakfast table…
“Hubert, it’s too damn cold here and I’m getting tired of looking at nothing but snow for six months”.
“Now Ethel, it ain’t all that bad”.
“Hubert, I’m telling you that if you don’t get me the hell out of here right now…”
So, Hubert, you go out and buy yourself a good used motorhome and decide to head to Arizona. You can stay at one of the KOA’s you’ve heard about, keep Ethel happy and save your marriage. Now the question comes, how are you going to get around once you’ve settled in to your new digs there in Tucson? You can’t tow your big dually pickup behind the motorhome and you spent all your extra money on the motorhome so you can’t buy another car…what’s a poor old frozen boy with a very cold wife (in so many ways) to do?? Hubert, the answer is easy, get yourself a motorcycle.
You need a motorcycle that you can put on the bumper, it has to be light and easy to ride and will give you an escape from Ethel when you need it. And, it’s got to be affordable because you’ve already spent your kids inheritance on the Winnebago.
I found the perfect motorcycle for you this morning on ebay. A really nice little Honda CB125. Now the little 125 isn’t all that fast (top speed is only about 65mph, fast enough though to get away when Ethel starts talking about how she misses the snow?), and it’s light and easy to ride. The Honda 125 is probably one of the most popular motorcycles ever made. I have seen the CB125 used by Police departments in Mexico, pizza delivery in Italy and college kids in California.
The little Honda I found is a 1974 model with only 2526 miles on it. The bike has been stored for quite a while and the owner has put all the work into it to get it back up and running. It will need a new battery and new tires and it is missing the side covers but hey, that’s all easy stuff. There is one thing about the little Honda singles, you need to change the oil at least every 1000 miles if not more like 700 or so, it’s just one of those things about this bike but when you’re only putting in a couple of quarts…no big deal, effort or money wise. It is showing a bit of ‘use’, there a few nicks and dents here and there but hey, you’re going to do more damage to it bumping into parking lot posts and gas station awnings, don’t worry about it. This seems a great little motorbike for the money.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. And tell Ethel, it’s something that even she can ride around the KOA and into town…for when she needs an escape from you.
And I can’t resist this…they make really cool cafe racers.
I have been a really good boy this year. I quit wetting the bed, I picked up my toys when I was done playing with them (most of the time), and I always ate my vegetables (I still don’t like peas). I didn’t talk back to my mom or dad (or my teacher), I didn’t interrupt them when they were on the phone (my mom is always on the phone), and I said my prayers every night. I was even nice to my big sister, even though I think her new boyfriend is a jerk, I would call him something else but my mom washes my mouth out with soap when I use bad language.
Anyway Santa, I only want one thing for Christmas this year, a motorcycle. See, my dad goes riding on his motorcycle with his friends almost every weekend and I’m stuck at home with my mom. I mean, I love my mom but, after a while…I mean, you know, I’d rather hang out with my dad and his friends cuz they do cool stuff.
Santa, if you bring me a motorcycle for Christmas I promise to be even better next year, I’ll even let my grandma kiss me…yuck Grandma kisses are weird.
ps, I know a motorcycle might be hard to fit in your sleigh but you’re Santa, you can do anything!
Well dad, there you have it, you know what you need to do. Little Throckmorton wants a motorcycle so he can be just like you. Scary thought huh?
So, you go to the local dealer and buying the kid a ‘new’ bike means you don’t get one this year, never a good plan. One of your riding buddies has a friend that has a cousin that wants to sell his kids old bike, which you know has been ridden to death, another bad idea. And, on top of all that, mom thinks Throckmorton is too young to have a motorcycle. What do mom’s know anyway. By the way, the picture to the right is how your son sees you…the coolest of the cool.
Well, I have found the answer to your dilemma right on ebay…it was so easy. I found this little Yamaha BW80, the BIG WHEEL 80. These bikes are so easy to ride. First and foremost it has a nice easy to use three speed transmission with an automatic clutch, so simple even Throckmorton can use it. Next, those big fat tires…stability city my friend. Third, these little bikes are so durable even your daughters boyfriend couldn’t kill it. Yeah, these bikes are slow but that is how you convince the wife to let Santa bring it.
The BW80 I found is in ready to go, will look great under the Christmas tree and you don’t have to do anything but figure out how to add one more motorcycle in the garage. Hey, it’s little and you will have a best buddy for life…’Santa’.
Click on the pic’s below for more info and more pictures. This little bike really is sweet and I would venture as good or better than new for a lot less $$$$
Those of us that love vintage motorcycles always have some sort of project going on. It may be as easy as just a major winter service on your daily rider, which in reality, always turns into something much bigger (read, expensive)…or, it may be fixing up the old bike that you set aside when you got your new / old bike, which again can get expensive…or, remember that basket case you bought from a friend of a friend of a friend ten years ago thinking you would bring it back to life and sell it for big bucks…you know, the one still sitting there in the far corner of your garage that your wife looks at it once or twice a year and asks (with a certain amount of cynicism / sarcasm in her voice) if you are ever going to do something with it.
By the way, for those of you not familiar with the term ‘basket case’, it is a conglomerate of parts that at one time or another was a motorcycle and could be again, if all the parts are there (mainly it just takes up space). And then there are project bikes that really need little more than some basic tune up parts, a good carb clean and some elbow grease. This is my kind of winter project…plus it gets me out of having to watch Dancing with the Stars with the wife.
Choosing a project bike comes down to only two things, how good are your mechanical skills and how much money do you want to invest. In my case both are minimal. My criterion is find a bike that is a runner (or was when it was put away), parts are available on ebay, craigs list, or your local salvage yard and you can get a service manual. Another good thing to have handy is a friend who is a better mechanic than you.
Currently I have enough projects to keep me busy for the next couple of years but I am always on the look out for something that is unique, fun to ride around, and small enough to bury in the back of the barn so the wife wouldn’t find it. Today I found just such a bike on ebay. It’s a Harley Davidson.
Most everyone thinks big, heavy, and lots of chrome when you say Harley Davidson but there was a time when ‘The Motor Company’ actually did build and sell little two stroke fun bikes…no kidding. Harley did build some of them here in the USA but then they switched to the Italian firm Aermacchi. It’s a long story and you can read some of our other posts to get that whole history. Anyway, Harley was trying capitalize on the growing youth market and those that were just looking for cheap transportation, the timing of all this is just about the time of the Japanese invasion of the motorcycling world here in America. If you are old enough to remember Honda’s “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ad campaign, you’ll see the similarities in Harley’s advertising.
Today I found a nice, not too difficult winter project for someone looking for a neat little around town or high giggle factor canyon bike…the Harley Davidson 125cc Rapido. A simple little two stroke from Aermacchi in Italy. I will say this about these bikes, if you are looking for quality fit and finish, reliable electrics and low maintanence..look elsewhere. But…if you would like a neat little bike that will put a grin on your face, the Rapido will do the trick, just don’t ask too much of it.
The bike I found today does need a few parts and a little love (Okay..a bunch of love) but it is a runner and for someone who needs a reason to be in the garage and away from singing and dancing shows, this little motorbike is an easy project. Click on the pic’s below for more info and pictures. The stamp artwork at the top of the page is courtesy of Alyssa Townsend, a very talented young artist from Oakland, Ca. You can find more of her work at http://www.etsy.com/shop/townzombie
This is such a cool little motorcycle. 106cc’s of all out Italian Stallion power. Ok, it tops out at about 60 mph (downhill with a tail wind) but those 60 mph’s are going to be a lot of fun.
Back in the 1950’s and 60’s you could could buy everything through the Sears catalog, even a car believe it or not…the Allstate version of the Kaiser ‘Henry J’. The car business was not the success Sears had hoped for, lasted only two years and they sold less than 2400 cars. Sears actually tried selling cars back as far as 1912, the Sears ‘Motor Buggy’.
But, we’re talking about motorcycles here. Sears sold a lot of motorcycles and scooters during that time period mostly from Puch and Gilera. You could get everything from a little 500cc moped to a 250cc Puch ‘Twingle’. One of the most popular was the Gilera 106cc SuperSport. It was light, easy to ride and cheap, new it only cost $389.00.
The 106 SS is a perfect little cafe racer platform, a great Moto Giro bike and really just a neat little motorcycle. As I was doing my research this morning, I found that there are a great number of user groups and forums about the Sears Allstate Gileras and parts are still pretty easy to find, so if you do find yourself the owner of one of these Italian Stallions, you’ll have a lot of help and support.
I found a good little 106ss this morning on ebay, it’s already in full cafe racer mode but needs a few things to make it street legal. It has been serviced and runs good. Honestly, these are unique and interesting motorcycles that are pretty crude in some ways even by 60’s standards, and at the same time incredibly capable and fun motorbikes. I love the simplicity of the Italian motorcycles of that era, they work so well. Maybe they are a bit crude but there is an elegance that goes along with it that make them so special. For those of us that like small motorbikes, these are almost too hard to resist.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and a contact phone number. This little Gilera could be a whole lot of fun for someone who wants something unique but doesn’t want to have to devote the next twelve months getting it rideable.
Here we are again thinking about a neat little bike to put on the front of the motorhome for your summer vacation, or stuff into the trailer full of camping gear. Maybe you just want a neat little bike to bop around town on. And…you don’t want to spend a lot of money and it would be nice if it ran. But at the same time you want a neat little classic. Not your run of the mill Honda Trail 90 or something like that, no…you want a bike that has a cool factor. I think I have the bike for you.
Yamaha has always had cafe racers in their blood, from little bikes ( I mean little) all the way through, and especially, the RD series two strokes. One of my personal favorites is the G6 S model. This little 60cc two stoke has very cool styling and scoots better than most 75 and 90cc models from other manufacturers. It’s super light so you can put it up on the bumper of the motorhome, you can park it next to the door of the local supermarket and nobody is going to get mad…”oh, isn’t it cute…”. The only thing negative about the G6 model…you can’t ride it on the freeway, and why would you want to? It’s too much fun just being a little buzz bomb with lots of style.
I found one on ebay today that needs some love but has great potential. The owner says it ran when it was parked, cosmetically it’s not too bad (the seat needs fixing) and I’d go through the carbs, slip in a new battery and put some newer / better rubber on it. Then my friend you have a perfect little all arounder. Probably gets about 80-90 mpg to boot.
For a little bit more info and a contact number, click on the pic’s below. Oh, the pictures are pretty low quality but you can get a feel for the bike.
The Honda CA72 Dream. 250cc’s of simple fun. Honda has produced over the years so many motorcycles with great names, the ‘Dream’ probably being one of the most memorable. Those of us that are of the grey hair generation remember the ‘Dream’ as a clunky looking piece of ‘Jap Junk’, but in reality it was the starting step to Honda’s bigger quest…not being known for just little bikes…well that, and world domination.
The 250cc Dream Touring was a mild mannered motorcycle based on a 20hp motor that started easily, ran reliably (compared to some of it’s European counterparts), required minimal service and was cheap. You could commute to work, take a weekend trip and so what if it wasn’t all that stylish…girls loved guys that rode motorcycles. Servicemen that had been stationed overseas were bringing these bikes back in droves. My motorcycling life began on a Honda 160 brought back from Japan after my fathers Marine Corps tour.
There were a couple of models of the 250cc model, the CA with it’s 20HP motor, square headlight, pressed steel frame and comfy seating position and then, there was the Super Sport version. Racier seating position due to flatter handlebars, a new tubular frame that incorporated the engine as a stressed member (better handling???) and…a hold on tight 24hp!! Which one was better selling, I’m not sure, numbers are hard to find but I’m betting on the SuperSport.
At that time, Honda was progressing rapidly and the 250 model soon became the 305. I believe it was the 305cc versions that really set Honda on the path to becoming the motorcycle manufacturer to start taking down the British Empire….another story for another time.
Being a big fan of small size Honda’s, I’m always looking for nice examples to either buy and ride, buy and sell, or help sell. I found a really nice ’64 CA 72 Dream this morning on ebay. This bike is really clean. Yes, it shows it’s age a bit, but…if it was an Italian motorcycle of the same vintage I would compare it to Sophia Loren (I don’t know of any Japanese actresses in that same category…sorry), a few scratches here and there but all in all a great little Honda. These bikes are so easy to live with, so much fun to ride (if you don’t push it too hard…but why would you? it’s a small touring bike from 1964…). So far the price is good, the only thing missing…the cool looking white wall tires they came with. Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.
So, you just retired, decided to hit the open road and bought yourself a motorhome or camper. “Ethel, we’re hitting the road, the kids don’t need our money…” Or maybe, you’re a hunter, fisherman and like to really get back into the remote areas where the huntin’ and fishin’ is the best. Your new camper is the perfect base camp but you need a way to get into the back country or, just to the country store down the road for some cold beer and more bait. The Honda Trail 90 is just about perfect.
The Trail 90 boasts an arm stretching 6.5 horsepower, an auto clutch, a dual range transmission and a step through frame design. What does all that mean for you? Two things, It will get you into the back country with no problems, and…you can send Ethel to get the beer. Yep, it’s easy for anybody to ride. However, Ethel may feel so good riding this Trail 90 that she may come back with a buck instead of the beer.
Really, the Trail 90 is probably one of the best little bikes you could possibly own. It could have sat for months (maybe years??) and still start right up. It’s a Honda 90! Pull the buddy seat off and you have a luggage (read firewood / beer) rack and there are a good number of websites that can help you with whatever parts or advice you may want or need for your new Trail 90.
I found this neat little Honda on ebay today, that needs a little love (not much) but it does have the ‘Buddy Seat’ accessory and the horn works…what more could you ask for? Click on the pics below for more info and pictures and a way to get Ethel to go get the beer. Or, bring back her young buck….
Do you like purple? Do like small displacement 2 strokes? Do you love having fun on really tight twisty canyon roads? Do you love easily motoring by big bikes through a tight corner and giving them a little ‘see ya later’ wave as you pass them? If you answered yes to at least three out of four questions, I have found the bike for you.
I found a cool little 1971 Yamaha CS3 200 on ebay this morning that would be a blast to ride. These little bikes were overshadowed by the RD series that came out but the CS3 200 was still a super fun ride. I spent a lot of my motorcycling life on Honda CB,Cl and SL 350’s. These bikes all put out around 22 hp and would top out at around 80-90 mph. Guess what…so did this little Yamaha!? The little Yammie was lighter and quicker and maintenence was minimal. What more could you ask for.
This little bike is a perfect candidate for the cafe treatment don’t you think? A set of lower handlebars, a tire upgrade, some fresh oil and maybe new springs in the front end and, if the budget will allow, get rid of the spongy items they passed for shock absorbers at the time. Now, regarding this particular bike, I have a couple of questions. Number one, why was the motor rebuilt at only 2070 miles? had it been abused or just because it had sat around for decades? Number two, pretty steep opening price. Reality check here, this bike is worth maybe a grand but not a starting price of $1450. Not to disrepect the bike or the owner but just to put a dose of reality in here. I think this a very cool little bike that would be a lot of fun to ride everyday. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a bit more info.
Yeah, I know it’s the middle of Winter. Here in Southern California that means the temp drops to a ‘bring out the parka because it’s only 55 degrees’. But there are those of you that live in miserable places, my friend Dean Adams (of Superbike Planet) lives up in Minnesota, or maybe it’s Wisconsin, either way he gets upset when I tell him I’m going surfing in the winter… and my inlaws are stuck in New York. All of you have one thing in common…”we have to get out of here”. Mississippi, Florida, Arizona, California…anywhere where it is warmer.
Now is the time to raid the retirement fund, buy yourself a nice motorhome, slap a ‘we’re spending our kids inheritance’ sticker on the back and head to warmer digs. But, when you get to the travel trailer/ motorhome resort, you need a way to get around. A nice little motorbike is just the ticket. You need something that you can hang off the front bumper, some thing that starts with no effort (hey, you’re not a kid anymore…), is quiet (so it doesn’t upset the other old folks during their nap), and maybe you would have to put gas in it once a year or so. A Honda Trial 70 is perfect.
This little bike is easy to load and unload off your home away from home (the RV), is as reliable as, well, a Honda Trail 70. It’s small enough for the little woman to ride, it’s got a luggage rack that you can load up with groceries,firewood and most importantly…refreshing evening beverages. The little Honda Trail 70 will go just about anywhere you need it to…just not on any freeway in the warmer parts of this country…stick to the campground. The handlebars fold in, so sticking on the bumper is easy…what more could you ask for?!
So, I found this nice little Trail 70 on ebay today. It’s a runner, it’s still got mud on it…the owner wants to show that it is a go anywhere do anything motorbike. Dude…just a thought here, clean the bike, it will sell better and for more.
This little Trail 70 been around the block a few times it appears, but like I said before, you can’t kill ‘em. It really is a perfect little around the campground go-fer. It is a runner, has had some serious service and the price isn’t all too bad. Come on, get out of your frozen neighborhood, come to the beach and bring your little Honda Trail 70 with you. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a bit more info.
Lately I have gotten very interested in Indian Motorcycles. New, old, American, English (yes, there were English Indian’s…), the mini bikes, it doesn’t matter, it’s where my Vintage bike mind is wandering nowadays.
My first real exposure to Indian motorcycles, other than seeing them in museums or bike shows, came from Roger Herbison of Ojai, California. Roger spent a number of years restoring a 1937 Chief. When he first got it running he brought it by my store with the biggest grin on his mustachioed face (and by the way, his handlebar moustache was almost as big as the handlebars on his Indian??!!). “You want to ride it??” he asked as it was sitting there idling in my parking lot. Before he could regret his offer I had my helmet on, was sitting on the bike and asking if there was anything I needed to know about riding it. “Nope, just have fun.” The next half hour was pure bliss. I spent twenty minutes of that half hour thinking of a way I could convince Roger that a roving band of desperado’s hi-jacked his motorcycle, then I had to think of where I could move to with the Chief where Roger would never find us. Alas, I rode back into the parking lot and gave Roger his Indian back. Little by little the Indian legend and mystique started building in my sub-conscious thanks to that short ride.
Indian Motorcycle simply refused to die. There had been a couple of ownership changes and yeah, at one point they had the ‘look’ of an Indian but were powered by a ‘catalog’ motor…close, but no cigar. Before they (the Indian motorcycle company in Gilroy, California) ran out of money though, they start replicating the Indian ‘Power Plus’ motor. Good looking, plenty of power and truly an Indian.. But, like I said..they ran out of money and Indian again was lost.
Fast forward a few years.
A friend of mine owns a multi-line motorcycle dealership featuring Harley Davidson, Husqvarna, Husaberg and Victory. Paul is a dirt rider at heart but he does love riding his Harley every day. When word came out that Polaris (maker of Victory motorcycles) had bought up Indian Motorcycle. I instantly called Paul and asked if he was excited about the news. He told me that he was already in negotiations for a new building across the street so he could spread out and give Indian a place to live.
This last December, Team Motoworld (myself and staff photographer Heather) went to the Long Beach motorcycle show and got a chance to see the new Indian motorcycles. Truly beautiful. I have never been a ‘Cruiser’ type of person but there was / is something about an Indian motorcycle that makes me want one…badly, (“Dear Santa….”). But, I want an old one. Will my banker (staff photographer Heather) go along with that idea?? I wouldn’t take those odds to Vegas. So, I’ll be content, for the time being, reading about them. That is where I came across these books and magazines about the Chief I would love to own.
Cruising through ebay this morning I found a nice little collection of Indian literature that would help anyone restoring an Indian motorcycle or would just like to know more about America’s first motorcycle. Click on the pics below for more info.
You know, Indian motorcycles has probably one of the most convoluted history’s of any motorcycle brand name I can think of. From being the first American motorcycle company, 1901, to little Taiwanese mini bikes and everything in between. There is so much in Indian Motorcycle history available here on the web. Because of my love of vintage and unique motorcycles (I own a fleet of one year only type motorcycles, read; hard to get parts for…), I spend a good deal of time searching the web and talking to riders that have these motorbikes.
Indian went from being the winningest racer on the track in it’s earlier lives, to a British made motor (either Matchless or Royal Enfield), tucked into an Italian frame. Interestingly enough however, other than the Taiwanese mini bikes, Indian motorcycles have always been well received by magazine types but not so much by the motorcycle buying public. Police departments were particularly fond of the various Indian models, including the one we are talking about today.
Indian motorcycle stopped production in the original Springfield Mass.factory. From 1955-1959 Royal Enfield’s were marketed as Indians. Production finally ended in 1960. In 1961 everything went back to Royal Enfield.
The 700cc Indian is actually based on the Royal Enfield Constellation twin was at the time was described as the first ‘Superbike’. In 1959 Indian motorcycle took the ‘Constellation’ and stretched out the frame and built up a much stronger gear box…that’s why the cops loved them so much. Sturdy and steady.
There is so much in Indian history that is so fascinating. Harley Davidson maybe the American ‘Lifestyle’ motorcycle but Indian is truly the iconic American Motorcycle. What is great at this time is that finally Indian Motorcycle has found a home (Polaris Industries, makers of Victory motorcycles) that will give the love and respect that this brand deserves. And maybe, just maybe, Indian will now be with us for another 100 years.
I found this really nice 1962 Indian Chief on ebay the other day and and I think it’s a great bike to add to anybody’s collection. As long as you go out and ride it!! Now, there is an interesting thing I found out about this motorcycle, it is titled as a 1962 but…it is probably a 1959 model? If you remember, back in the late 1950’s and the early 1960’s many motorcycles were titled the year they were sold, not the year they were actually made. This is the model that has the stretched frame and the ‘New and Improved’ gearbox. It only has 5504 miles on the clock and the clock is the optional 150 MPH speedo…a little optimistic but really cool to have. This bike has been stored inside for more than the past twenty years of it’s life…So, it looks it’s age but is in easily restorable / rideable condition. There were only about 800 of this particular produced so it falls into the ‘rare’ category really nicely.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info about this really cool motorcycle. This is one the bikes that make me really want a bigger barn. And…a bigger bank account.
From American Motorcycling Magazine August 1963; “Designed and engineered specifically for the sportsman who wants to do a lot of ‘off the road riding’. “The Mountaineer, with it’s rugged construction and knobby 16″ rear wheel will appeal to the hunter”
I love finding odd motorcycles, for this website and for riding myself. The quirkier…the better, that’s my motto. Unlike other stories I have written about bikes that I have personal connections to, this little Ducati is a complete stranger to me, but I really like it.
Come to think of it though, I actually do have a connection to it, rather convoluted however. For a short period of time I had a little Suzuki 90cc trail bike that looks strangely familiar to this Ducati. Besides both having a 90cc 2 stroke motor, look at the styling…imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery.
We only had the Suzuki for about six months but it was a blast to ride around the neighborhood and the really big vacant lot behind our house. I was tempted to ride it in a ‘Family’ Enduro once but that thought quickly passed as I opened the second beer and my step dad was rolling on the floor laughing. If I had had the Ducati Mountaineer, well, maybe he wouldn’t have been laughing so hard?
So this little Ducati is really unique. For one thing most people don’t equate Ducati with small two strokes nor trail bikes, but at that period in time, Ducati made a lot of small displacement motorcycles.
The Mountaineer and it’s street going compatriot the Cadet, were available in two different versions. You had your choice of the basic 5HP model or, the mind bending, arms stretching, neck straining 7HP model. Think of all you can do with 2 extra horsepower. The Mountaineer had a steel Duplex Cradle frame (compared to the Suzuki’s stamped, might as well be tin foil frame), re-inforced handlebars and a dual rear sprocket set up, very reminescent of Honda’s dual ratio set up on the Trail 90. The little Ducati trail bike had a three speed tansmission and weighed in at only 115lbs. With 5 or 7 horsepower, you only need 3 gears!
Here’s the really cool thing about this little motorcycle. It had a turbine like fan to cool the motor so that no matter what RPM you were running in any gear, the engine had air running over the cylinder to keep the temperature down. Italian engineering at it’s most creative.
My daily perusing of ebay landed me on this little Ducati and the fun began. The seller has a story to go with this bike, selling it for an estate, the owner had passed away, it’s been sitting for a generation. The seller says it has only 83.7 miles on the odometer. The story attached to that is that the original owner bought it new, rode it around a bit, crashed it into the brush (or something like that), and from there on was afraid to ride it and parked the bike. Ok….look at the pictures. It looks to me that there is more wear than from just one little crash and then sitting through the ‘Summer of Love’, the Vietnam War and dozen Presidential elections. The ad also states the speedo cable is disconnected, Hmmmm. And, was the crash bad enough rip off the front tire? Nonetheless, for somebody looking for a really unique Italian motorbike, this might just fit the bill. You know, this could be a neat little bike for the Moto Giro California next year.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and the full story. A great resource for information about this Ducati would be the Ducati Bevelheads list, I know this isn’t a bevelhead but these guys are knowledgeable about most any vintage Ducati. You can contact them through my friend Steve Allen at www.bevelheaven.com
The Moto-Giro California is a few months away, but this is the perfect time to start planning and I have a great place to start. A 1966 Gilera 106. It fits right in the rules and will be perfect.
Back in the 1960’s Sears Roebuck and Company sold just about everything…refridgerators, mattresses, tools, everybody’s ‘back to school’ clothes and yes, motorcycles. The Sears catalog was the retail bible. What kid didn’t spend the entire month of November looking over the toy section, dad looking at tools and mom checking out all the Kenmore appliances? And there were those (the weirdo’s among us) looking at lawn tractors and motorcycles.
From 1951 through somewhere around 1969, Sears sold motorbikes from Puch, Vespa, and Gilera. Inexpensive imports that suited the American buying public. Now, I know I have written before that Americans always believed that bigger was better and small displacement bikes were basically the red-headed step child in the motorcycle sales world. But, think about this…the Honda CB350 is still the best selling motorcycle of all time.
Interesting thing here; though Sears sold bikes from various European manufacturers under the Allstate brand, the Gilera’s were sold under the ‘Sears’ badge. The Gilera 106 sold well but it was the 124cc model that actually sold better, but for some reason is more rare on the used market?
Basically the 106 was looked at as simply a little commuter bike. An arm stretching 9hp and, a top speed of somewhere a little short of 60 mph, it’s not something I would try riding on a Southern California Freeway, it’s not even legal on most use Interstates. But, country backroads or around town, way too much fun.
At a retail price back then of a wallet flattening $385, this little 106 Sears Gilera was a great value.
So, I found this really nice little Sears / Gilera 106 on ebay and it looks like a really good deal if you’re looking for a small bike that needs little work. The ebay ad says it only has 604 miles but if you look at the odo it really has 6043 miles, so…you may need to do a little service on the bike. Parts aren’t all that difficult to find, there is a great resource at Yahoo groups ‘Sears Motorcycleclub’. Find the tank badges, do a basic ‘go through’ of the bike and you’re ready to go. But…
…Like I said at the beginning of this little story, this Gilera is perfect for the California Moto Giro. Rides through the Northern and Central California countryside with like minded moto enthusiasts, read crazies, is way too much fun. This is a motorcycle that will put you in a very special club of riders. A club of riders that love motorcycles that have a bit of a story.
So, here is the story of this one. A young lady bought this little Gilera, she is a novice rider and simply decided it wasn’t for her. Her loss is your gain. All in all, if you are into small bikes that are runners right now, and reasonably priced…call this woman. And than get your self ready the MotoGiro…Italy or California. I’ll see you at the California Giro next year on my Benelli..
Click on the pics below for more info and a contact number. It is a really neat little bike at what I feel is a great price.
I love little bikes, it’s no secret. Small bore motorcycles are so much fun to ride. They’re light, accelerate rather briskly (for their size…), you can park them on the sidewalk and nobody will get pissed off and they generally handle surprisingly well. I have seen many good riders on little bikes blow by bigger sportbikes on twisty canyon roads.
The YL1 Twin Jet from Yamaha is probably one of the most fun little, little bikes you could ride. A number of years ago I was out riding up in the Santa Monica Mountains on the ‘Mighty 350′, (my ’72 Honda CB350) having a great ride. At the intersection of Mulholland Highway and Kanan Road, heading down to the Rock Store, I came upon a pretty good size group of riders all on small size Japanese 2 Strokes. Some were pretty stock, some were cafe’d out and some…I was really surprised were actually running and on the road!!??
When we all got down to the Rock Store I spent a good amount of time visiting with the guys, and ladies, riding these little ‘Two Smokers’. They all enjoyed the lightness, the easy handling, and the just plain fun of being different. ” Yeah, I can afford one of those expensive Ducati’s or Harleys, but then I would look like most everybody else here”. This was a common thought amongst the group, me included.
So, when I came across this little Yammie Twin Jet 100 on ebay I got inspired to go out to my barn and start (again) pondering my ’74 Benelli 250 2 stroke project. But then, sanity kicked in and I came back inside to learn more about this little Yamaha.
The Twin Jet 100 came stateside with a whopping 9.7 horsepower. Not 9, not 10, but 9.7…big difference. With a good tail wind you reach a top speed of maybe 100 KPH (about 60 mph), it did have oil injection (a good thing…made life much easier for the average commuter buying small bikes world wide) and it was pretty racy looking.
The YL1 actually was born out of Yamaha’s Grand Prix racing experience, just look at it. The tank is shaped for laying on, the bars are a little lower, and you’ve got this little high RPM screamer motor…a perfect little racer.
Ok, so I found this neat little YL1 on ebay and for anyone looking for a high giggle factor small bike, check this one out.
Overall, it’s in good condition, just needs some love. It has just shy of 5000 miles on the clock, which, for a little 100 is a bit, so even though it is a runner, it may need some internal service (re-ring), the seat needs to be recovered (no big deal) and a good amount of elbow grease to make it shiny again. It’s got a set of chambers on it versus the stock exhaust and it looks to me that there are no silencers on the stingers so you might want to find something in the aftermarket (there are plenty of sources for 2-stroke silencers) or your ears, and your neighbors, are not going to be happy. A little twin cylinder 100cc screamer…ear piercing.
It’s not freeway legal here in California, not even safe on a freeway here, but…in the tight and twisty canyon roads we have around here…oh baby, BIG fun in a tiny package. Click on the pics below for more info, so far it’s a good deal.
Hey, it’s cold outside. And…all those Christmas bills are piling up. Time to unload a motorcycle or two. Each morning after my first cup of tea and the first round of the news cycle, I sit down at my computer, check the racing news, see how my favorite riders are doing in the Dakar Rally, and then cruise through ebay. I need a few parts for my various Cafe Racer projects, the Benelli 250 that I received as a gift the other day, and to see what might be interesting to pass on to you.
This morning I found a bunch of bikes covered in snow. This got me to thinking / questioning, when is the best time to sell a motorcycle? There are a lot of answers to that question and it mostly depends on what kind of motorcycle you are trying to sell. My day job as a motorcycle salesman…one step ahead of a used car salesman and insurance agent…gives me a bit of insight here.
During the winter, the bike (street or dirt) is sitting there, you haven’t ridden it for a while, maybe a long while, and you’re thinking “I gotta pay off Christmas bills” or, “My wife says I have to clean out the garage”, or, “I need more room in my basement for that vintage BSA I want to slide in here without the wife knowing…”. Whatever the reason, this is the second most popular time to sell a motorcycle.
Lets look at this from another angle, the buyers angle. Somebody looking for a motorcycle or a winter motorcycle project sees this as the best time to get a bargain. They’re right…and the seller knows that too. Buyers do have the upper hand this time of year, but that will end in about sixty days. When that first good thaw hits, it becomes a sellers market again. There are some great values out there, now, so this is a great time to buy a snowbound motorcycle. You can pick up that winter project that will keep you from having to watch American Idol or, if you live in an area that is not snowbound you can pick up a cool scoot to ride ride now at a really good price.
So now you’re asking yourself, “if this is the second best time to sell a motorcycle, when is the first?” When the first flowers of spring pop up through the snow and riders get excited about riding again, then my friends the price of that new dream ride of yours just went up a few hundred dollars.