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

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1979 Harley Davidson Cafe Racer

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 7.01.15 PMA while back I applied for a job at a Harley dealer. The general manager, the owners wife and I were having a good interview until I said the only Harley I really wanted to own was an XLCR. If you put your money on me not getting the job, you win.Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 6.58.39 PM

I remember when the XLCR showed up in 1977. It was Wille G Davidson’s first design job and I, being a Brit bike guy, was stoked! We all know that the AMF years were not Harley’s finest (mechanically) but we did get the XLCR and the original ‘Superglide’. Not too bad. But really, the bikes were junk. “Hardley Abelson”, “Hardley Driveable” and other names were applied that I can’t print here, but it was a good design time. Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 6.59.02 PM

The XLCR was a modified Sportster…same lump of a motor, some slight chassis changes and some cool styling. But…according to the purists it wasn’t a Harley. It was the Redheaded stepchild. Thats why it only lasted a couple of years. But, I still want one. I got the next best thing…a Buell.

I found a really cool 1979 XLH Sportster on ebay this morning that a guy, who just like me wanted an XLR, built a better one. This is one sweet Harley Davidson. Good upgrades, a beautiful tank and tail section…all of it. Yeah, you’re going to have pay attention to it…there is an old adage about vintage British bike, “Ride it for one hour…Work on it for two”, well this bike is probably right in there as well. But I think it will be worth it.

Click on the pics below for more info and pictures

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Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 6.39.22 PM1979 Harley Davidson Cafe Racer

1978 Honda Gold Wing Cafe Racer

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.09.28 AMSometimes I just can’t help myself. I love Cafe Racers. Simple. A purpose built/modified machine that can get from here to there quite fast in high style. A cafe racer is a function before fashion machine but…the fashion is definitely there too.

A good friend of mine has recently discovered Cafe Racers. He started his life on a Harley Davidson Sportster, all blacked out, then moved on to a Street Bob (a big twin Harley), again all blacked out and loves it. He is a part time member of the “Harley Culture” but he is expanding his views. My subtle hints and sending pictures of cool bikes seem to be working!Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.53.58 AM

I was living in Las Cruces New Mexico when the original Gold Wing was introduced. The GL1000 was at first thought of as a big bore Sportbike, but as we all know, it became the Supreme Leader in touring bikes. Why the change in thought? The original was a touring bike to go up against the Harley Davidson Electra Glide, but the molds for all the touring accessories were accidentally destroyed so the bike was brought out naked and American Honda tried to market it as a Sportbike. Well, the aftermarket (in particular Craig Vetter) had a field day with accessories. In no time at all you could make a Gold Wing as comfortable as a Winnebago. It is the motorcycle that changed touring motorcycles forever.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.56.31 AM

I rode it back in 1975 and thought it was rather Ho-Hum (I was riding a Kawasaki H2 750 at the time). Fast forward a few decades when I bought my father his Gold Wing, I came to realize just how good this motorcycle is. I started looking at Gold Wings as more than just an ‘old man motorcycle’ but as a platform for some serious fun. Granted, you can’t convert a modern Gold Wing to anything other than what it is but get an old GL1000 or 1100 and the fun begins.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.03.34 AM

I found a very nicely done Cafe Racer ‘Wing’ on ebay this morning and it looks very appealing. A little too blingy for my taste but very well done. Pretty low miles for a bike it’s age…my wife says the same thing about me. NOT. Some really nice upgrades and like I said, a little on the ‘Blingy” side for me but nicely done.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a very cool bike.

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Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 7.58.11 AM1978 Honda Gold Wing Cafe Racer

1981 Honda GL500 Silver Wing

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 8.47.11 AMMy motorcycling life started with riding my dad’s Honda CB160 into the back end of his new Chevy Impala…I hate when that happens.

After that he decided it was probably safer to head back to Vietnam than teach me how to ride a motorcycle. He was a helicopter jockey in the Marine Corps.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Dad decides he wants to ride a motorcycle again. No matter how hard I tried to talk him out of it he wanted to ride. So, I found a Honda CB350 in somebody’s back yard for a hundred bucks that needed some love and gave it to Dad for his birthday. And from there everything went downhill….he loved riding.Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 7.45.15 AM

After about a year and 5000 miles later he wanted something bigger so he could travel with me. I found a really nice Honda GL500 Silver Wing and again another birthday present. He and I did the Three Flags Classic (Mexico to Canada in 3 1/2 days) three or four times and he put about 50,000 miles on that Silver Wing. I rode it as well ( a tour of the Four Corner States) and absolutely loved it. Had to replace the rear air shock in Gallup New Mexico, deal with electrical issues in Glennwood Springs Colorado…but other than that, change the oil, put gas in it and go. Anywhere.

The GL500/CX500 is a really great motorcycle. I have written before that it takes the MotoGuzzi V-twin twists it around a bit to make it work Honda style, and then Honda put a Turbo charger on it, pumped it up to 650cc and then twisted it a bit and again made it bigger for flat track racing. It really is an incredible motorcycle. And in my opinion, an excellent platform for a Cafe Racer! Does that surprise anyone who knows me? No.

The Silver Wing Interstate is a wonderful middleweight tourer. The luggage is easy to use and big enough for one person to travel across the country with no problem.

The one I found on ebay today is in good shape, is aging nicely and has pretty low miles. The asking price is a little up there but not unreasonable. This is fly there fill the luggage and ride home.

Click on the pic below for more info

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Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 7.39.12 AM1981 Honda GL500 Silver Wing

1966 Pannonia T250

How cool is this!!!Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 7.24.41 AMI have never heard of a Pannonia and history is a bit hard to come by. Here is what I have learned and it’s quite interesting. Pannonia is a Hungarian company that is actually called (or was at one time) Manfred Weiss Steel and Metal Works. It changed names a number of times over the years. Motorbikes came from there under the names Cspepel and Danuvia as well.

Pannonia is actually the geographic region where the bikes were built. more exactly, it’s in Csepel a neighborhood of Budapest which is located on an island on the Danube river. Enough of your geography lesson for the day…there will be a quiz in the morning.Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.42.32 AM

They started building bicycles (as many motorcycle builders did) in 1928. In 1931 they built a 100cc motor and attached it to a bicycle frame, again not uncommon in the early days. True motorcycle building didn’t begin until 1947, after World War Two. The bikes were actually quite successful in Eastern Europe at the time. Motorcycle production ended in 1975.

Now, the Duna sidecar was made by the Hungarian Boat and Crane Co. Looks way cool and comfortable. I really dig the nose of the car.

The bike I found on ebay this morning has had a recent restoration and looks absolutely beautiful. It runs and rides great. It’s only a 250cc but you know what, for running around town, a casual Sunday ride…just great.

Click on the pics below for more pictures and info.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.35.47 AM1966 Pannonia T250

1967 Harley Davidson Sportster

If you’re not picturing Elvis and Ann Margaret on this bike you’re too young to buy it, go to another website. Unless, if your parents have brought you up properly, you can stay.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.43.49 AM

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.39.16 AMI love Sportsters. I love the free revving, the quick throttle…Sportsters are just plain fun. Thats what they were designed to be in 1957. Think about it, the Sportster has been around for nearly 70 years. It has evolved but at its heart, a Sporty is still a Sportster. My daily ride is a Sportster powered Buell…I love it! Well, the electrics kind of suck but a couple thousand dollars later and…nevermind, I love the motor.

Over the decades Harley Davidson has tried everything to increase their market…Italian singles (I still want a Sprint 350…what a great Cafe Racer platform!), off-road two strokes (I really did love the Baja 100…what a blast to ride!!), the little Hummer two stroke (post world war two) and the partnership with Porsche for the V-Rod. But, the basic design, the feel and the ride since God was a child (no blasphemy here…) is what makes a Harley Davidson a Harley Davidson. They know their market.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.39.32 AM

I found a super cool Sportster on ebay this morning. It needs some love but not much I hope. It’s a runner, looks great and would be a great ‘Sunday Go to Meetin’ ride. Honestly, this is just a very cool bike…I love LOVE the white seat!!!

Click on the pics below for a bit more info and the pics. Oh, and yeah I know the picture of Ann and Elvis aren’t on a Harley but you really can picture can’t you?

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Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 7.52.51 AM1967 Harley Davidson Sportster

1932 Indian Scout

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.35.12 AMThe Indian Scout. When it first showed up in 1920 it was light, it was fast and for it’s time it handled great. Some called it the most important Indian model after the Chief. Starting in 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression, Indian like all other manufacturers were looking for ways to save money and keep going. What Indian did was set up their three models, the Scout, the Chief and the Four to all fit in the same frame. It was cost effective for sure and while it didn’t harm the Chief or the Four it certainly didn’t help the smaller Scout motor.

The new for 1932 Scout became less rider friendly. With the new chassis the bike didn’t have the same agile feeling of the previous Scout models. The new Scout was a 430 LB, 22 HP, 3 Speed Handshift model. But still, a great motorcycle. What many don’t know is there was also a 600 cc version. Not too many were made and it wasn’t a profitable project.

The Scout model has been resurrected by the new Indian Motorcycle Company and looks to be a great bike, one that should surely live up to it’s heritage.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.35.43 AMI found a really nice Scout on ebay. Mechanically sound and ready for restoring or ride it as it is. Me, I’d ride it as it is rust and all!
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. It ain’t cheap…but well worth it!

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Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.40.21 AM1932 Indian Scout

1975 Honda Gold Wing with Watsonian Sidecar

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 6.11.31 PMI really dig Gold Wings with Sidecars. My favorite by far is a ’75 GL1000 with a Vetter Terraplane that I saw at the Griffith Park rally a few years back. Picture a Cafe Racer sidecar rig…it was perfect!

So today I found a more sedate (classic) rig on ebay. A nice ’75 Wing with a Watsonian Sidecar. Now, it is really pretty cool. It’s got a couple of different covers, to handle different weather conditions ands a very comfy seat. The bike has been given some good love but needs a bit more, not much but a little.Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 6.13.47 PM

If you have never driven a sidecar rig (and the proper term is driving, not riding), what a blast! Your whole view of the motorcycling world changes instantly. Flying the car first time, makes you pull over and check your underwear. The first time you fly the car with some one in the car…well, you’re both checking your undies and your passenger is calling a cab. By the way, ‘flying the car’ means the sidecar is off the ground as you go around a right hand turn. Great fun seeing the look on your passengers face when all of a sudden they feel like they are on a carnival ride!
It’s funny, but when you are driving a Sidecar rig, everybody looks at you differently. You’re not a biker anymore and your cool factor just went up 100%Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.34.17 AM

This is a nice rig, a little pricey but cool factor doesn’t always come cheap. Click on the pics below for more pictures and info

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Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 7.49.45 AM1975 Honda Gold Wing with Side Car

1934 Matchless Sport 250

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.46.59 AMThere is a lot of history when it comes to Matchless, much like all British makes. Most builders seemed to start out building bicycles then added motors. Some built their own motors, others sourced motors from outside. I have written much about Matchless here before so I’ll be brief this time.
Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.51.39 AMMatchless started in 1899 and kept producing bikes through 1966 (some were sold as 1967 models). Matchless was really well known for their single cylinder machines (of which I have a great affinity for) and the last of the singles were sold in ’67. The G50, the G80…classic machines that won the Isle Of Mann TT in 1907 and then again in 1909 and 1910.
Matchless was started by Henry Collier and later his two sons started racing the machines. 1907 Charlie won the Isle of Mann TT Singles race and then brother Harry won the 1909 and 1910 TT’s.
Besides all the history around Matchless and the marriage with AJS is that Matchless supplied the V-Twin motor that powered the Morgan 3-wheeler! Cool.Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.41.28 AM

I found on ebay this morning a wonderful example of the beauty of simplicity. The 1934 Matchless Sports 250. It sported a stunning 2.46 HP and had a top speed of somewhere between 50 and 55 MPH!!! My lawnmower has 10HP and could maybe go 5 MPH?! I guess its all in how you gear it and what you want it to do, but I am truly amazed at the speed that 1934 2.46 HP motorcycle can attain. Now here is the interesting thing about this motorcycle when it was new…you paid extra for the horn and the speedo. I guess at that time, you just rode past someone yelled at them, flipped them off and didn’t care how fast you were going. Ah, the beauty of simplicity.

This Matchless is truly beautiful. It looks like it has been gone over very nicely and in my guesstimation is selling at a very fair price. Click on the pics below for more pictures and some more info

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Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.50.29 AM1934 Matchless Sports 250

Vintage Harley Davidson Mother Lode

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.35.49 AMI don’t quite know where to start here…what an amazing collection of bikes and parts. I mean, really, if you are into old Harley Davidson’s either for your own use (now that requires a full psychiatric evaluation) or you own a motorcycle salvage business (which may also require professional counseling…my daughter is a licensed therapist her number is **&^%$U&% she can help she has been around this sickness long enough) or lastly you build custom Harley’s. I mean you get all these parts and complete bikes and the 20′ container they are stored in. It doesn’t get any easier.Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.37.25 AM

Honestly, it’s a lot of money to buy this container but from what I have seen on the market lately, so far, it’s a hell of a deal.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. This really is somebody’s idea of heaven!

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Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.22.45 AMVintage Harley Davidson Mother Lode

1948 Hiawatha Super Doodlebug

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.46.26 AMIt’s Spring and a young mans fancy turns to…a Doodlebug? What the heck, why not? If it’s got two wheels and a motor it’s gonna be fun!
I’m a big fan of motorbikes that make you smile the minute see them or sit on them. Motorbikes that remind you of when you were a kid, or the one that you rode to and from school or took a girl on her first motorcycle ride.Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.50.15 AM

Those of us that grew up in the 50’s and 60’s remember minibikes all too well. Taco, Mustang, Bonanza, there were a bunch back then. Kits to build your own were advertised in Popular Mechanics and Boys Life magazines. If you wanted one, you take the money you made on your paper route and buy the one the kid down the street had (and let you ride a couple of times…without your mom knowing) but has outgrown, or your dad would build you one from scratch with an old lawnmower motor. However you got one, you rode it all over the neighborhood. Through Mrs.Wilsons flower garden, did doughnuts in Mr.Jones perfectly manicured front yard and practiced your wheelie skills. And, you only got brought home by the police once.Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.52.33 AM
I found this neat little Doodlebug on ebay this morning and started thinking about finding Ozzie and Harriet or Leave it to Beaver episodes on Netflix. Instead, I did some research. Doodlebugs were manufactured between 1946 and 1948 by Beam Manufacturing in Webster City, Iowa. The idea was to create a cheap form of transportation following World War 2 and to compete with the Cushman model sold at Sears and Roebuck (under the Allstate name).
Beam sold the Doodlebug under the brand name Hiawatha through Gambles Department stores for a whopping $69.95! For your $70 you got a 1 1/2 horsepower giggle. They were also through Western Auto stores under the brand name Western Flyer.
It’s estimated that are probably only about 1000 Doodlebugs left in the world and yet they have a very popular following. The Doodlebug Club of America has an annual reunion that seems to grow bigger each year.Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.51.44 AM
The Doodlebug I found today has had a complete restoration and looks great. At first I thought the asking price was crazy, but through my searching I found that it was right in line with all the others on the market. So…if a 1 1/2 horsepower high giggle factor bit of two wheel history and fun blows your skirt up then click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. And then have fun letting your grandkid ride through your neighbors flower garden!

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Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.58.58 AM1948 Hiawatha Super Doodlebug

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