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

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1974 Benelli 250 2C

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 2.23.54 PMA number of years ago I came home late at night to a motorcycle sitting in my driveway. I was wondering who came to visit. Nobody sitting on the front porch waiting for me, nobody sitting on the back patio and I didn’t recognize the motorcycle. Upon closer examination of the motorcycle I realized it didn’t get here under it’s own power. Somebody dropped this somewhat rusted, parts missing piece of junk in my driveway. What do I look like, the motorcycle version of Sanford and Son? Well, if you look inside my barn, that’s not too far off.

The bike was a 1974 Benelli 250 2C. No key, seat cover rotted out, tires rotted, side covers bungee corded to the rotted seat, no air filters…the list goes on and on. Oh, and the front tire was pretty much flat. Pushing that bike 100 feet UP my driveway to my barn was not fun…even if it is only a 250.

Two days later I get a phone call from my oldest friend in the world (time wise not age wise) ” Hey, do you like the bike?” The bike was left with him 10-15 years ago, it sat outside next to his house (much to the dismay of his wife) all that time. He knows I collect old motorcycles so…you’re beginning to see the picture.
I was in the middle of two other projects and decided I didn’t want to take this one on. So off to ebay it went. Now, I regret that decision.Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.54.56 AM

Here’s the thing about the Benelli 250 2C, it didn’t have the exileration of the Benelli SEI, the feel of the Tornado, heck it was not much faster than the Yamaha RD125! But…the 2C had all the right stuff and I mean all! I’m saying this next part second hand..when the guy that bought my Benelli picked it up (for a mere pittance). loaded it into his van said to me ” yeah, it’s not as fast as any Jap two stroke that’s for sure, but no Jap two stroke can match this bikes handling”. From there he schooled me on all the various parts the 2C had right from the factory…amazing. I wanted take the bike back, but… Off he went into the sunset basically telling me I was an idiot to sell this bike. I shlepped back into my shop and went back to work on a Honda CB350.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.55.36 AMI found a nice 250 2C on ebay this morning. It is in much (I mean MUCH) better condition than the one I sold. It is a runner, good runner as a matter fact, just needs a little cosmetic help…nothing major. This is one of those bikes than can easily embarrass a bigger bike on a tight twisty road.
Click on the pics below for pictures and info. This motorbike has FUN written all over it!!!

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Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 2.19.23 PM1974 Benelli 250 2c

1972 Chang Jiang w/ Sidecar

Everyday I find something interesting on ebay. Some motorcycles are waaaayy overpriced and some are values you can’t pass up. How do you choose? Hows your 401K doing and how understanding is your wife? or Bank?
It seems that lately I have been on a sidecar kick…I love sidecar rigs, what can I say. This morning I found a very beautiful Jawa 350 with a Velorex sidecar but…at an asking price of $16,000??? Give me and everyone else a break. Then, with a little more searching I found a really clean Chang Jiang rig for 1/4 of the price.And now you’re asking…Chang Jiang?
Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.52.29 AM Who is Chang Jiang? A Chinese manufacturer producing motorbikes for the Peoples Liberation Army. The Chang Jiang is a somewhat direct descendant of the 1938 BMW R71 but more closely to the Russian M72, which is a decendent from the R71 with a few Russian modifications. It’s a bit convoluted but all three are basic Boxer twin/ shaft driven motorcycles with side cars. Germany is BMW, Russia is Ural and China is Chang Jiang. Here is the interesting part…BMW has progressed, Ural has progressed (kind of), Chang Jiang…not so much. It’s pretty much a 1938 BMW. Well, it works for them I guess. Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.53.20 AM
In 1966 they made some upgrades, they went from the type 1 to the type 2. Here’s the fun part, when a type 2 needed to be serviced they (the Chinese military) would use left over Type 1 parts…makes sense to me.
Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.55.52 AM Here really is the most interesting little tid bit…did you know that the Chang Jiang 750 is the longest running production motorcycle? 68 years! With virtually no modification. In a weird way thats pretty cool.
Click on the pic below for more info
Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.34.12 AM1972 Chang Jiang w/ Sidecar

1976 BMW R75/6

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 8.15.16 AMAll of us that ride motorcycles have riding friends that are devoted to the bike they ride. More than just their own bike but the brand as well. I ride with friends that bleed black and orange, some Italian red and some German…what color do they bleed? And the Brits..well, thats a horse of another color. But the point here is that we all have, for whatever reasons, our favorite and we become somewhat fanatical about our brand. I have owned all of them and loved all of them, almost equally. Well, my Ducati was a pain in the ass to work on…
Oddly enough most of my riding friends speak German, particularly vintage German.BMW to be specific and to be even more specific, R75’s.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 8.16.58 AM Having owned an R90 I do understand the affinity. The BMW does everything you want a motorcycle to do. Comfortable, good handling (that is part of why the police departments like them so much), and above all else…reliable as at the day is long. A vintage BMW is a motorcycle is a bike that when you put that second tank of gas in during a ride, you’re planning the third.
Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 12.16.58 PMI found a great classic today on ebay that honest to goodness is a fly there with your riding gear and ride this bike home. It has the luggage racks but no luggage..you can easily get them. This is a great bike at a good price. Really, fly to Virginia and spend the next two weeks riding home.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. Nice bike!

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Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 7.51.34 AM1976 BMW R75/6

1970 Harley Davidson SX models

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 8.17.12 AMOver the years Harley Davidson, “The Motor Company”, has done everything they can to increase their market share around the world. They have had Aermacchi (HD bought 50% of the company in 1960) of Italy build bikes for them (the Baja 100 comes to mind as well as the Sprint 350 (also known as the “Spaghetti Hoglet”…of which I still lust after). The V-Rod, a collaboration of Harley Davidson and Porsche, but none of them have created the sales of the basic Harley Davidson motorcycle.
But, the odd-ball Harley’s were really cool. Light, unique, fun…I mean really, in the ’60’s and early 70’s what more could you ask for? Harley had fun advertising, the bikes were great, but…?
Harley was really reaching out to young adults, women, African Americans, Latino’s…it was all part of an “Outreach” Program. Sales just weren’t there.Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 8.16.33 AM
This morning I found a couple of SX two stroke models on ebay that if you have the time, some money and more importantly the patience….these could be fun bikes to have. Yes they have what is politely known as ‘patina’…rust, they need all kinds of love but I’ll tell you what, I have seen and bought bikes for more $$$ than these two.
These two bikes could maybe be made into one really cool little cafe racer? or just fixed up for a daily ‘around town’ bike, a Sunday go to meetin’ bike? All I know is that I found them kinda cool.
Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 7.52.34 AMFor those of you (us) that are a little on the motorcycle nerdy side, you have a lot of spare time, have a weird sense of humor and want to leave them in your best friends driveway (behind his wifes Mercedes) or think that AMF (American Machine and Foundry…aka Adios Mother Fu*&^R) was the best thing that ever happened to The Motor Company, which goes back to leaving them in your friends driveway, these are the bikes for you. You know, the more I think about it, all of us that have collected (bought after having one too many Mai Tai) have spent more and gotten less. These could be fun.
Click on pics below for a few more and very little bit of info.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 1.58.29 PM1970 Harley Davidson SX models

1942 Triumph BD250

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.30.24 AM99% of us know Triumph as a British motorcycle company. Another 75% of us know that they started by making bicycles (very common in early motorcycle manufacturing) in the late 1800’s. 5% of us know that Triumph was started by two German brothers.
I was not part of the 5% until today. I found a very interesting old Triumph on ebay this morning. As I was reading the description it said it was German. OK? I looked at the pictures and noticed that the logo on the tank knee pads was different than what we are used do. Time for research.
1886 Bicycles in England, 1902 Motorcycles in England, 1903 Motorcycles in Germany (homeland of the brothers that founded Triumph). Then here comes World War One. In 1913 the company diverged.Triumph Germany became TWN; Triumph Werk NuremburgScreen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.30.53 AM
Triumph Germany mainly developed 2 stroke motorbikes while Coventry focused on 4 strokes. TWN built military motorbikes through world War Two. TWN used the ‘Twingle’ motor of which the bike I found today.
Twingles are really interesting. Two pistons in one cylinder. There are two separate bores, one for intake and one for exhaust but they share a common combustion chamber, a very efficient design. Sears and Roebuck sold Twingles (made by PUCH of Austria) under the Allstate brand for a number of years.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.29.56 AM
Back to the BD250. It was mainly designed for the military and was equipped with hardware to mount a sidecar, important during the war. It was also quite fast for a 250cc, again important in the war.
The one I found today is really nice and would be wonderful fun. It has had some renovation work done, not museum level (I like that) but looks great. It will probably need some work to become rideable but there again is part of the fun of owning a bike like this. A little side note here, the was nicknamed “the Hedgehog”.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.15.00 AM1942 Triumph BD250

1972 Vespa with Sidecar

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.10.52 PMI love scooters and I love sidecars and when you can get the best of both worlds, what could be better? I found a very cool little set up today on ebay and got me to thinking back to a few years ago that a friend of mine and I went to the big Sidecar rally in Griffith Park California. There had to have been at least half a dozen scooter sidecar rigs there and I loved them all.
Most scooters that are out there are not freeway legal here in California but for getting around town and playing on country roads you just can’t beat a scooter. Some of them get nearly 100mpg (pretty important here in Cal), easy to ride, lots of storage space and a VERY HIGH cool factor. Not to mention a very high “giggle factor”!Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 8.21.56 AM
Scooters can make life so easy in urban areas and add a sidecar to it you can take your dog with you or do a full Costco run. Well, maybe not a FULL Costco run. Even though I have done a pretty full Costco run on my Buell Ulysses (with all the luggage).
We all know about the “lifestyle” culture in motorcycling. If you ride a Harley you hang with the Harley crowd and wear black. If you ride a Ducati you hang with the Ducati crowd and wear red, the BMW group you wear BMW gear. But…the ‘Scooter World’ is all over the place.
From guys in shorts a T-shirt and flip flops (thinking “I’m on a scooter I can’t get hurt”), to vintage English “Mods” style to classy women wearing dresses and high heels. A scooter is totally non discriminatory…just twist the throttle and go. There are scooter racing organizations (these people are having way too much fun!!)Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.52.35 AM

If you haven’t ridden a scooter you truly don’t know what you are missing, it is a great part of the two wheel experience we all love. You can get off your 200mph Hayabusa, your ground pounding Harley, your turn on a dime Ducati and get on a scooter and I promise nothing will give you the giggles a scooter can. The world slows down to 45mph and everyone smiles when they see you.
So, I found this really nice set up on ebay today. It’s in good shape has a really cool sidecar…too much fun.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.09.21 PM
Click on the pics below for more info

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Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 6.03.38 PM1972 Vespa with Sidecar

1951 Indian Chief ‘Blackhawk’ with Sidecar

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 9.13.57 AMAll too often I find motorcycles for sale that are way over priced. The seller bought a bike put all kinds of Chrome on it, or every high performance mod you can make, a $3000 paint job or thinks that just because it’s old it’s worth five or ten times the original price. The sad part here is that there are people out that buy them at silly prices. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean its classic…it’s just old.

And then there are motorcycles that can actually justify going to the bank and mortgaging your house for…provided you’re single or have a very understanding wife. I found one today on ebay, (bike, not wife) this absolutely beautiful 1951 Indian. Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 8.44.26 AM
I have developed an affinity for Indian Motorcycles, OK, I do own stock in the company…got to say that for full disclosure. But my love of the bike came when back in the late ’90s when my friend Roger Herbison let me ride his newly restored 1937 Indian Chief. Everything about the bike was wonderful. The look, the feel, more things than I can describe.
In Newburgh New York there is Motorcyclepedia, an incredible motorcycle museum. If you ever find yourself on the East Coast you really need to go. At Motorcyclepedia, there is an entire room dedicated to Indian Motorcycles.They have bikes from every generation of Indians…for better and worse. Models from the first year to service vehicles to Clymer era mini bikes. Everything Indian is there.Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 8.46.45 AM
Early on there was a great rivalry between Indian and Harley Davidson, mostly based on racing. Win on Sunday…sell on Monday. There were plenty of other American motorcycle manufacturers in the early 20th century but most fell by the wayside and eventually Indian did too. Indian went through many changes over the years and most of them not good. Today, Indian is in good hands. Polaris Industries (builders of Victory motorcycles) have brought Indian back. The classic style and feel are all there but with modern reliability.
But this website is all about Vintage bikes and I found one classic Indian that is well worth it.
First, I love Sidecar rigs and this 1951 Indian has a beauty. Here’s the deal with this bike and sidecar, it has modern upgrades but it also comes with most of the original parts. How cool is that.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and details. It was one of the rare bikes that I find that are worth the money asked.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 8.00.13 AM1951 Indian Chief w/Sidecar

1971 BSA Thunderbolt

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.23.35 AMThere are a couple of motorcycles I regret selling or trading in for something else. One was because of youthful exuberance, the other, well I still am not quite sure why. The youthful exuberance was trading in my BSA Lightning 650 for a Kawasaki H2 750. The fastest thing on two wheels. When you’re twenty years old, you chuck the old mans bike and go for pure speed. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved my H2 for a lot of years, but today I wish I still had them both.
The Lightning was temperamental, leaked oil and the electrics were, well…there is a reason why Lucas Electrics were called the ‘Prince of Darkness’ and the joke “why to the English drink warm beer? Because Lucas makes the refrigerators…”
Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.32.10 AMOk, there were lots of things you could do to deal with the electric issues, the marking it’s territory…oil leaks…not so much. None of that really mattered. The British Twins… BSA, Triumph Norton and others have a certain ‘Soul’. I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s because my formative years were spent on Brit Bikes and I know deep down what they feel like….for better and worse. The Germans, a little (?) sterile, the Italians, maybe a touch too macho and the Americans…just plain old King Kong pound your chest brash. I love them all, but my heart and soul still say “God save the Queen” And then I ride off on my Triumph.
BSA basically designed the Thunderbolt as a ‘Touring’ model. Compared to the Lightning the Thunderbolt was rather tame but in truth that was really a good thing. A little more relaxed steering, a more comfortable seating position, and a longer kick start lever (which made starting the bike easier) made the bike really quite comfortable. But, the real differences were in the engine itself.
Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.09.56 AMTake some of the performance aspects of the Lightning (the cams) and then simplify it with a single carburetor. smoother acceleration, lower maintenance (dialing in one carb is a lot easier than balancing and tuning 2!). But really, the single carb made the Thunderbolt a really easy motorcycle to ride. Plenty of power for it’s time, great handling what more could you ask for?? Well, that’s where it all falls apart.
Enter the Honda CB750. Twenty more horsepower, better braking (thanks to a disc on the front vs. the single sided drum off the older BSA Gold Star 500), electric starter…the list goes on. The Japanese manufacturers were here and way ahead of everyone else.
But still…the CB750 with all it’s attributes can’t match the soul stirring feeling of a British Twin. Bikes that move with just a thought, motorbikes that feel the road underneath you, a motor that gives you just enough vibration to let you know that it is alive. A BSA 650 is a bike that demands attention. Over the years there has been a running joke that if you ride a British twin for one hour, you have to work on it for two. It’s not true…but not too far off. But the time is well worth it
For most all of us that want a classic British motorbike, a Thunderbolt is a great choice. I really like the single carb..smoother power delivery than the twin carbs, a little less vibration but still that great feeling that a classic bike gives you.
I found a really nice one on ebay today. A 1971 that is not all original but is a runner according to the seller, looks good and the price is not too out of line in the real world. The Thunderbolt is a great bike…much easier to own than the Lightning of my youth.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pics

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Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 8.33.11 AM1971 BSA Thunderbolt

1971 Honda SL350

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.46.30 AMFor those of you that have read my posts over the years know that I love (and have a fleet of) Honda 350’s. I am a big fan of small to mid-size motorcycles and the Honda 350 is my favorite. Well, I love Yamaha RD350’s, Suzuki X6 Hustler, Kawasaki KH400’s…but, the Honda 350 has my heart. And my wallet.
In 1968 I started my desert racing life on a Bultaco Matador, then a Pursang, next was an El Bandito. The Pursang and the Bandito went away but the Matador stayed because I became addicted to Enduro’s. For Enduro’s the bike had to be street legal so the Matador fit the bill. I rode that Matador to school most days (when I wasn’t riding a Triumph or BSA…the family norm) and then the day came that the Matador was too tired to keep going. Time for a new bike. Enter the SL350.
I did keep the Matador running for off-road events but needed a good reliable bike for everyday use. I bought a new SL350 because it suited my needs, I liked the way it looked and it was only $850. Life is good.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.08.40 AM
Fast forward just a few months and the Bultaco died of a massive stroke…or lack of stroke? In the course of one day, the SL350 became my new off-road weapon. Jettison the blinkers, the stock mufflers, manufacture a decent skid plate (thank you Mike Bast of Bast Brothers Welding), change the handlebars, Curnutt shocks, proper knobbys installed and it was ready in time for an SRA Enduro. And I was back to riding a BSA on a daily basis.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.44.29 AM
Now, let’s fast forward again. I have been riding Honda 350’s consistently since those days. Both my kids learned to ride on a CB350, my dad got back into riding (after 35 years or so) on a CB350 and I have built a couple of Cafe Racers based on the 350…one on the CB platform and the best one on an SL. Why the SL is the best?
We’ll start with the chassis. The double down tube frame is stiffer and offers greater handling accuracy. The motor is slightly different from the CB/CL (different carbs being a big difference) but also, the electric starter was removed…lighter weight! Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.52.53 AMThe SL series from Honda from 75cc to 350cc, there isn’t a motorcycle more fun. Heck, even the ‘Duke’ rode one.
This particular SL350 I found on ebay today is so perfect (but not too perfect…) and the price is reasonable, that really somebody needs to snap this one up now !!! Heck, the mufflers themselves are worth the price of admission. The SL350 is a bike that can do everything every time. Low maintenance, easy parts availability and it is a perfect platform for anything you would want to do with a mid-size motorcycle!
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info

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Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.42.43 AM1971 Honda SL350

1968 Manco Mini Chopper

“Hey Ethel, look what I found at the swap meet today!!! I think Bubba Jr. is gonna love it! It’s a mini chopper, looks just like my real chopper!” “I know he’s only seven years old but like I’ve always said get ’em started early…kinda like me and you”

I remember riding Byron Snedakers homemade minibike as a kid, we’d blast that little thing all over the neighborhood (that’s back in the day when you could). His dad literally modified a Schwinn Sting Ray bicycle frame to hold a lawnmower engine and designed (or bought) a chain drive system and a throttle. It was waaaayy too much fun. We were nine years old and it was summer vacation. That next Christmas Santa brought Byron a genuine Taco minibike…he still believes it was Santa that brought him the bike. A couple other guys in the neighborhood had mini’s and as you can imagine, races became the norm. I rode the ‘Sting Ray Lawnmower’ a few times until the frame broke.

I found a Manco mini chopper on ebay this morning that just cracked me up. This guy some good money and time into and as mini choppers go, did a great job. Now, Manco, also known as Yellow Jacket, was actually better known for its 4 wheelers. Off road vehicles and go carts. The mini bikes it seems were more of a side business? They were powered by a 3 1/2 hp Techumsa engine and were pretty standard. But, a lot got modified…all minibikes back then did.

So, if you think Bubba Jr. at your house would love to be like Bubba Sr. then this is a perfect summertime play toy. Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Could be fun.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 2.02.43 PM1968 Manco mini bike

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