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

Latest

1975 Suzuki GT500 Cafe’

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.07.24 AMHere’s the deal with the GT500 from Suzuki. It was really designed as a ‘Sport Tourer’. Throw a set of soft saddlebags off the back, convince your girlfriend that a trip to Utah was a good idea and away you go. Well, somewhere along the way you came to the realization that this bike would make a a perfect cafe racer! The girlfriend wasn’t really all that thrilled with riding a bike just to see the Mormon Taberernacle Choir anyway.
So after jettisoning the saddlebags and the girlfriend jettisoned you, time to convert the Suzi. This is your bike.

The GT500 or Cobra as it was called in Japan or the the Titan here in the States, is a really great motorcycle. For a big two-stoke it was quite smooth, had easy to use power (compared to my Kawasaki H2) and could be coaxed into a great canyon carver. And yet, it was and is still, a great ‘Sport Tourer’. Make a couple of suspension upgrades and leave the rest of the bike alone. It is a great motorcycle. This bike along with the Yamaha RD series bikes have us wishing that the EPA never stuck their noses into motorcycling!

The GT500 was also a really great platform for a road racer. Again, suspension upgrades a little tuning work and you had a great bike to go club racing.Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.08.16 AM

I am a big fan of the GT500. Simple, good looking, plenty fast enough for fun and by the way, probably one of the best front drum brakes in motorcycling. It is simply a great motorcycle. Suzuki did a great job with this bike.

I found a nice Cafe job on ebay this morning that I like a lot. Not over done just nice. I really like the tail section. It’s selling for a reasonable price, has been gone through very well and really is a ready to ride bike.

This is a high fun factor motorcycle that honestly, you could spend three times as much at the dealership for a new bike and have half the fun. Check this bike out. Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 7.56.21 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 7.57.46 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 7.56.59 AM1975 Suzuki GT500

1982 Yamaha XV920RJ

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 8.22.06 AMOK, I’ve said this before…I need a bigger barn. And a bigger bank account. But I have to say this is one bike I would really like to have. I almost bought one back in 1981 but for some reason I bought a Honda CB750F. I don’t regret that at all, but somewhere in my heart that XV920 still lingers. My good friends Eric and Ken also have this affliction for the XV and between the two of them I think they have five or six! Some run, some are donor bikes and a couple are, well, the best way to describe them is ‘Frankenbike’.

When I first saw the XV920 at Van Nuys Yamaha I was taken by the shape of the tank and seat, the big 8″ headlight and the enclosed chain drive (which I was used to on my Bultaco Matador). The only thing about the bike that I didn’t like was the funky looking tail section. I was given the opportunity to test ride it and I liked it a lot. The suspension was a bit weak, the tires were skinny even by the standards of the day, but those were things that could have been fixed. Still to this day, I wonder why I bought the CB750 instead? Price? maybe. But in reality, the Honda handled better and was faster, but there was still something about that Yamaha, that to this day holds my interest.

The XV wasn’t really designed to go after the big four cylinder bikes from Kawasaki, Honda and Suzuki of the time but more the Europeans, Ducati and BMW. Hence the styling and general power. The XV didn’t have a lot of horsepower but it did have torque by the boat load. The mid range of the bike was amazing. Back to my choosing the CB750 versus the XV, it was that blast of power once you hit the higher rev range, which is exactly where the Yamaha ran out of steam. But still, in the real world, mid range is where you need the power.

The XV920 was not a good seller for Yamaha and it only lasted two years in the US market. The cruiser styled Virago continued for many years. The American style. The XV920 is a really a bike that you ride cross country easily and comfortably. A few tweaks to the suspension and you have a great Sunday morning Cafe racer. The bike is wonderfully reliable (typical Yamaha), great looking (in my view) and you probably won’t see one at your local Sunday morning hangout. It is unique and I still want one.
Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 8.24.01 AM

The XV lends itself to all kinds of customizing and parts still available at your local friendly Yamaha dealer.
Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 8.24.57 AM

I found a really nice one on ebay today that is selling for a really good price. Yeah, it needs the basic level of love (maybe a little more…) like a battery, carbs cleaned and electrics checked over but it is stock and looks good. It’s not the send a check , fly out and ride it home bike (besides it’s sitting the snow) but for a few extra bucks you can have it freighted home , spend a few days working on it and you’ll be ready for Spring riding.

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

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 7.39.17 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 7.39.33 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 7.40.18 AM1982 Yamaha XV920 RJ

1970 BSA A50

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 8.15.36 AMFor some weird reason I apparently am on a BSA kick. I started my road riding life on a BSA, I restored a BSA C15 (which got stolen out of my garage while I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) and my friend sold his BSA to another friend who then sold it to another poor unsuspecting soul. Such is the life of vintage (old) British motorbikes. BSA’s being hugely popular for some reason never reached the same level of sainthood that Triumph did???? I don’t know why.
I rode a 1969 Triumph Daytona 500, much like the BSA A50 but with better handling. Here is what I figured out about BSA motorcycles. They may have not had the quick, light, agile, quick handling of the Triumph (same company by the way) but the BSA was the sturdier of the two.
Think about this for a moment…when Triumph came out with the X75 Hurricane (which I lust for each and every day) it was the BSA motor. Craig Vetter made the perfect pairing.

So, back to the A50. This is a great motorcycle. This is a bike that I would have no problem throwing on a set of soft saddlebags, a tank bag and going for a nice long (2 weeks or more) ride. well, the saddlebags would however have to have a quart or two of Castrol in them….

500cc is plenty enough to get you anywhere you want to go. Most of the world rides around on 125cc! Your Pizza and mail in Mexico gets delivered on a 125cc motorbike! Robert Persig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance…which I still think is a crappy book and I don’t understand why people hold it in such high esteem?) took a cross-country trip on a 450 cc motorcycle two up. 500cc is really plenty.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.59.02 AMChampionships were won on BSA’s…Dick Mann, Jim Rice, Keith Mashburn all winners on BSA’s yet BSA seemed to be the ugly stepchild compared to Triumph. BSA took chances that Triumph didn’t. Remember the ‘Ray Gun’ mufflers on the Rocket Three? The kinda flat gas tank and the grey frame on the Lightning? Still, BSA lead the troops but some did not follow. Too bad.Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.01.39 AM

I found a really nice BSA A50 on ebay this morning. Low miles, great condition (for its age) and a bike that would be so much FUN to ride.The seat is ugly but it can be changed easily enough, other than that…buy it and ride it.
Click on the pics below for more picture and more info. This is a very cool motorcycle

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.19.53 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.21.23 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 7.20.57 AM1970 BSA A50

1970 BSA Lightning 650

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 8.14.17 AMI started my street bike life on a Lightning 650. It vibrated, it leaked oil everywhere (we called it marking it’s territory…or also remembering where you parked it), and it was a bit unreliable. Some days it would run great, others…well, not so much. But…I loved the bike. Up until the day I traded it in on a Kawasaki H2. My step dad was not all that pleased (I think he was a high priest in the British motorcycle community back then) but he did give me some sort of a blessing?

The 650 Lightning was and is a great example of British Motorcycles. It may not have the name recognition of the Triumph Bonneville but if you put them head to head or wheel to wheel the BSA is right there. Just ask Dick Mann.Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.59.02 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 8.12.31 AMBSA actually started out as a Gun Manufacturer..Birmingham Small Arms.In the later part of the 1800’s BSA started building bicycles it was just a natural expansion of their industrialization, from there it was motorcycles.By the mid 20th century BSA was the worlds largest producer of motorcycles! Also at that time BSA owned Triumph, Ariel, Sunbeam…they were huge. Busses, farm equipment weapons…an industrial giant. Then it all fell apart. But, BSA hung on until it no longer could. Most people I know in the Vintage Bike world would probably choose a Triumph over a BSA very time. The Triumph is quicker handling thats true but, the BSA is truly a roadworthy machine. A bit smoother, more comfortable and a chassis that is designed for riding distances.

I found a very nice A65 Lightning on ebay this morning that has a very good selling price and is in quite good condition. It has been gone through pretty thorouhly so should be an instant rider. Although, I would instantly get rid of those horrible ‘Buckhorn’ handlebars and put something far more appropriate, like a set of Euro Touring bars.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info about this very clean BSA Lightning

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.45.58 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.45.15 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.45.41 AM1970 BSA Lightning 650

1981 Yamaha XJ550R

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.53.56 AMThis motorbike is an absolute blast to ride. It does everything almost perfect! Fast enough to keep you out of trouble, and fast enough to get you into trouble! What more could you ask for?

In 1981 a couple of friends and I were going to Laguna Seca for the USGP as we had been for a couple of years. This trip one of the guys showed up on a brand new Yamaha XJ550, I mean ‘Brand New’! He brought it home from the dealer the day before. Beautiful bike. But, Since the rest of us were riding well broken in 750’s and 900’s we were wondering how well Roger would keep up. Turns out we were the ones keeping up!

After Roger picked up his bike he rode it to Monterey and back the same day, did the oil change that night, threw some clothes in a backpack (we weren’t into fancy motorcycle luggage back then) and met us for breakfast. Roger had already run the route so we knew where the parts of Highway 1 were good and bad. That little 550 proved to be a flyer. Roger didn’t baby it by any stretch of the imagination. Footpegs dragging and cornering like it was on rails. It needs to be added here that Roger was, and probably still is, an incredibly smooth and skilled rider and made the most of that Yamaha. After I( had my turn riding it I was tempted to trade in my CB750F. Tempted, but kept the CB.
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.51.18 AM
I have seen some customized versions and some that are still stock. The XJ550 is reliable and fun. What more could you ask for?!

I found a very nice one this morning on ebay. Low miles, all stock, in nice condition for it’s age and with some standard TLC should be a great ride. The seller says it’s rare…it’s not but that doesn’t take anything away from it. I believe the XJ550 is one of Yamaha’s great bikes because it did everything so well. There were a couple of guys I raced with at Willow Springs on the 550 and were quite successful. One guy actually rode his 100 miles to the track, took off the street stuff (light and blinkers), raced all weekend, put everything back on and rode home!!! A great bike.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.48.09 AM
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.10.17 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.09.44 AM
Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.09.16 AM1981 Yamaha XJ550R

1949 Indian 63D 3 Wheeler

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 8.14.52 AMI put this in here today because I have a friend that I work with who lives in a ‘Retirement‘ community and does property management there. He likes vintage motorcycles but needs something a bit cooler than his golf cart to get around the community. I think this is the perfect vehicle.

There is a lot of strange and interesting history when it comes to Indian motorcycles, way too much to put here but I love it. At this period in time, post WW2, both Harley Davidson and Indian were trying any and everything to keep sales up. Small bikes, which both companies pretty much failed at, service vehicles (which Harley did a much better job at) and even scooters.

Indian partnered with Lowther Scooters to build up the 63D model. A three wheel service vehicle that was easy to drive, very functional and inexpensive compared to the Harley Servicar. In truth, the 63D didn’t even come close. As a matter of fact only 8 were built. The 63D had an either 4 or 6 hp motor, a centrifugal clutch, the 63D had a differential for 2 wheel drive, If you had a small farm or ranch (or a modern retirement community) it was probably just fine but as a true service vehicle…nah. However it is pretty cool.

Lowther Scooters built some of the craziest most futuristic scooters ever…check these out…
Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 8.16.01 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 8.17.33 AM

I found a 63D model on ebay this morning that is a good runner starts on the first or second kick, shifts through the gears just fine and the lights work. This particular model is the ‘high horsepower’ model….all 6 horses are there so it’s going to be quite a handful! It needs some love for sure but nothing too serious.

It ain’t cheap but it is really cool. Click on the pic’s below for a lot more info and more pictures. It is a very interesting peice of Indian history and now I’m really interested in Lowther Scooter company history. More to come.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 7.53.02 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 7.54.30 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 7.54.07 AM1949 Indian 63D Three Wheeler

1983 Suzuki GS 750E

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.38.54 AMIn 1983 I was working in a Suzuki / Kawasaki dealership in Southern California and business was great. This was due largely in part to two particular bikes, the Kawasaki Ninja 900 and the Suzuki GS750. We had at least three models of the GS750, the T (a standard model), the ‘E’ with a Bikini fairing and and the ‘ES’ with with a frame mounted half fairing. The ‘E’ model was the best seller of the three. Why? Because it was the best of both worlds. Sporty styling and very comfortable.

The 1983 GS750 was a one year only model and had some very significant changes from the previous years. For one, the bike was around 28 pounds lighter!! The front wheel went from 19″to 16″ which was the current trend to quicken steering response (shortly thereafter everybody went up to 17″ which is still the standard today). The front fork got a size increase and anti-dive. Anti-dive was popular for a very short period of time and we actually did a lot of disconnecting it, but the increase in fork size was very good indeed…though it seems tiny by what is being built today. Granted, that was when a 750 had a whopping 75 HP and a Flexi-Flyer chassis.

I was lucky enough to have a GS750E to ride for three months and I have to tell you that it was one of the most fun motorcycles I have ever ridden. The motor was not as peaky as the Ninja, didn’t vibrate much as the GS1100 (which I also really loved) and the chassis was far more stabile and responsive than my CB750F. The GS would handle daily commuting duties, spirited canyon riding and was quite comfortable on a five day tour criss-crossing the Sierra passes. The GS750E was, in my book, a just about perfect motorcycle. It was a super easy to ride motorcycle and it was great looking too!

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.24.06 AMThe GS750 was the base platform for an incredible racer. More than one National and World Champion got there with a GS750. When Superbikes were 750’s it was between Honda’s Interceptor and The GS750 and when Superbikes went to 1000cc it was all Suzuki.
Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.18.22 AM

I found a really nice one on ebay this morning that has less than 10K miles, is all stock and super clean. This is truly a, pack your riding gear, a set of saddlebags, a stack of maps…fly to wherever the bike is and ride it home. Well, unless the bike is snowbound like in Minnesota?!
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. This is a really cool bike.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.16.00 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.16.37 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.16.18 AM1983 Suzuki GS750E

Hodaka Super Rat

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.44.13 PMThere isn’t a motorcycle brand out there that delivers as much fun and giggle factor (in so many ways) as Hodaka. The Dirt Squirt, Road Toad, Thunder Dog, Wombat, Combat Wombat and of course the Super Rat. These are names that live on both in good memories and in infamy. Little bikes that brought so many people into the world trail riding and even racing.

Hodaka’s were reasonably priced, well built and above all, fun to ride. Having cool names didn’t hurt either. A long time friend of mine has probably around 12-15 Hodaka’s in his barn in Northern California and wouldn’t part with a one and he still rides a few of them..when he’s not surfing.

The Super Rat got its name when it came to America as a bored out Ace 90 (now 100cc) with the letters SR on the air box cover. The ‘SR’ moniker was actually for “Special Racer”, the guys at Pabatco (the importer) asked if the ‘SR” stood for Super Rat? The name stuck. These bikes sold for around $500, what a deal! So much of a good deal that they sold almost 20,000 of these little bikes!!! They were inexpensive, fun to ride and low maintenance (especially compared to my Bultaco!). Because they were so popular lots of companies made hop-up parts for the Hodaka’s.

This one I found on ebay this morning is a great bike for a good price, might just a tiny bit of TLC and then you’re off riding a really fun bike.

Now a short side story here about my first experience with a Hodaka, I don’t think it was a Super Rat but at the moment, from my vantage point, all I recognized with the chrome tank. It was during a ‘family enduro’ sponsored by the Sportsman Racing Association in Southern California, I had taken a bit of a tumble and was laying in a small cactus patch. As I was pulling cactus needles out of my body an older lady, could have been my grandmother, rode up looked down the edge of the trail and asked if I needed help. After I said I was OK, she rode off finishing the enduro with a better score than me.
Click on the pics below for more info on this really cool little Motocrosser

hodaka super rat 1Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 8.51.02 AM
Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 8.50.42 AMHodaka Super Rat

Honda Monkey bike

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.43.15 AMWay too much fun. Here’s the deal with the ‘Monkey Bike’. It’s just a blast to ride. You can load it into the back of a station wagon and take it on a family camping trip, you can hang it off the bumper of your camper or motorhome and head to wherever, you can teach your kid or your wife to ride on this bike and it won’t scare the crap out of them. When you’re at the RV park you can ride to the little store they have there and get some ice or firewood, and you’ll go through a tank of gas about once a year (remember to put Stabil in the tank). There are all kinds of hop up parts for this little bike…you can make it loud, you can actually make go around a go-kart track pretty fast, you can make a little pack mule out of it, but mostly, you’re going just have fun on it. This is truly a ‘high giggle factor’ little motorbike.Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.42.16 AM

I found this one on ebay this morning and it is exactly what it should be…ridden, shows it’s age and has been taken care of. Like I said at the beginning, way too much fun. This is two wheel fun at it’s peak.
Click on the pictures below for more info.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.18.28 AMScreen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.18.42 AMHonda Monkey Bike

1975 Kawasaki Z1 900

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 7.42.01 AM

The 1969 Honda CB750 Four is generally considered to be the first Japanese ‘Superbike’. I beg to differ. Yes the CB750 broke ground with electric start, disc brakes and a wonderful engine. But… in my humble opinion, Kawasaki really led the way into ‘Superbike’ with the 1969 H1 Mach 3. The Mach 3 also known as ‘The Blue Streak’ (due to the blue stripe on the gas tank) was less than a Superbike in all but one category…horsepower. Power to weight ratio. It handled lousy, braked marginally, would scare the crap out of mere mortals (and some immortals)…it truly was a motorized ‘Flexible Flyer’. But we all loved it!

In 1972 Kawasaki came out with the 750cc H2, the Mach 4. This motorcycle was capable of mach speeds  and then some. It handled better than the Mach 3 and with some modifications it actually handled pretty well. In a straight line nothing on two  wheels (and most four wheel vehicles) could beat it. I paid my rent for a year or so racing cars with my H2. I thought I was King of the world until my friend Mike Kaller bought King Kong…The Z1.
The Mighty Z1 really did bring the term “Superbike” to life. Big motor, Big power, and beautiful styling.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 7.37.32 AMMy friend Reg Pridmore won the AMA Superbike Championship in 1977 aboard a Kawasaki, the first for a Japanese manufacturer…along with the help of Craig Vetter and Keith Code.

I found a really nice ’75 Z1 on ebay this morning. It has been set up nicely with 1974 body work and livery (paint scheme) and repro exhaust. Here’s the the thing about the ’75 versus previous years. It’s better.

For 1975 Kawasaki gave the Z1 a better frame, better suspension, brakes that could actually stop King Kong, tuned the motor to be a bit more friendly and got rid of the chain oiler (the chain oiler was maybe a good idea but sure made a mess of the rear wheel…). The down side of the Z1 was that it chewed up chains, sprockets and rear tires. Well, manufacturers of those parts weren’t prepared for a bike like ‘The Mighty Z1′.

The seller of this particular Kawasaki Z1 has done a nice job of making the bike look right. It does need some basic service work..as in go through the carbs, check the electrical’s but from there, you’re going to have a fabulous motorcycle.
My suggestions though….upgrade the rear shocks, new springs in the front (along with Race Tech emulators), a set of GP touring bars, better brake pads, some sticky tires and hang on.

Another thought here, The Z1 also makes an incredible ‘Sport Tourer’. The motor is strong enough to pull you and a passenger, along with your luggage, the seat is surprisingly comfortable for long stints in the saddle, and honestly, The KZ900 is a great all around motorcycle.

Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures. This is a really great motorcycle to have.

 

 

 

 

<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1975+Kawasaki+Z1+900&icep_item=111362860979&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Image

Image

1975 Kawasaki Z1 900</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1975+Kawasaki+Z1+900&item=111362860979&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94 other followers