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

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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

1970 Moto Guzzi Ambassador

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 7.56.22 AMMy old friend and racing partner Steve Allen of BevelHeaven.com (vintage ducati parts) used to own a Guzzi Ambassador and loved it. Knowing me as he did, he wouldn’t let me ride it…I don’t blame him. However, I did convince his wife one day that while he was working on my Ducati it would be okay that I took the Guzzi to run a couple of errands. What a motorcycle! It was completely stock and ran beautifully. Having ridden British twins forever and Italian twins for a few years the Ambassador was a pleasant surprise. The somewhat gentle side to side rocking of the motor while idling and the definite torque twist when accelerating was a wonderful new feeling. But what really got me was the general smoothness of the ride. It is a motorcycle that instead of going Coast to Coast in 3 days, you’re going to want to take your time and really enjoy “The Ride”.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 7.50.41 AMIn 1968 Moto Guzzi upgraded their V700 to 750cc to get more of the American market, you know us Yankees, Bigger is better! In 1969 Guzzi set out to prove how good this motorcycle was by setting a number of speed records in both the 750 and 1000cc classes. Top speed for the stocker was 115mph, not bad for the time. But…what happened was that Police departments all over, including here in the USA, liked the reliability, the good handling and the overall strength of the bike.

When Moto Guzzi designed the new Ambassador they gave it a longer wheelbase, changed the steering head angle and braced it, a bigger gas tank (6.1 gallons), better lighting, and now had a separate speedo and tach. Basically it became a great long distance tourer. Cops liked it because it was strong and reliable could carry all their equipment and you know what…same goes for travelers.Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 7.51.28 AM

I found one on ebay this morning that is one of those, fly in, buy it and ride it home. It’s in beautiful condition and according the seller a good runner. Strap a duffle bag on the back and enjoy your summer vacation on a Moto Guzzi Ambassador.
Click on the optics below for more pictures and information about this bike.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 7.54.56 AM1970 Moto Guzzi Ambassador

1960 Cushman Eagle

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 8.08.06 AMNow, I love Scooters! Scooters of all sorts. My father rode to and from work on a Lambretta. I have owned a 1959 Honda CA102 for it seems like a hundred years. When this little motorbike was designed it was built to “be easy in your hand” and that it was. That was the bike bike that my daughter learned how to do wheelies on. Yes, you can do wheelies on a 1959 Honda step through. I have sold Scooters and taught new riders how to handle the streets of Los Angeles on a Scooter. I love Scooters!

But this is all about a Cushman Eagle. The Cushman Scooter company decided that even though they had been known for traditionally styled scooters (step through, full body work, auto trans, etc) ands then more Buck Rogers style… they wanted to get a more ‘motorcycle look’, here comes the Eagle. After World War 2 returning soldiers we’re buying motorcycles by the thousands, but economics as they were, often times a Scooter was was much more cost effective. Cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and cheaper to maintain! Cushman capitalized on that market. But it had to have the look.Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 8.06.09 AM

The Cushman Eagle had a more traditional ‘Peanut’ gas tank, standard looking frame but was it really the same Scooter they had been selling for years…the same Scooter that was used for mail delivery, pizza delivery and parking enforcement but the Eagle was much cooler.

The Eagle was without a doubt the most fun you could have with just 9HP. The Eagle came out in 1949 and was in production for 16 years. A 318cc single cylinder and a two speed transmission. The first of the ‘naked’ scooters. Sears sold them under the Allstate brand for years.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 7.43.14 AMNow more fun stuff from Cushman…I have never thought about going Sky Diving. Why jump out of a perfectly running airplane??? Get me three feet off the ground and I want stewardesses, jet engines, movies and cocktails. However in WW2 Cushman built the Airbornes! Scooters that were parachuted out of airplanes!!! I don’t think the rider was on it?? What a ride that would be!!!

Nowadays, most Cushman’s you see are on the Golf Course, yes Cushman did build Golf Carts, but I did find a really nice Eagle on ebay this morning. It doesn’t need a thing except a rider.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. More importantly…have fun!

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Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 7.55.08 AM1960 Cushman Eagle

1974 Bultaco Mercurio

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 7.15.09 AMSo here I am again going on about my love hate relationship with Bultaco motorcycles. I love Bultaco’s despite the fact that I was left stranded in the desert a few times, I had to rebuild the top end more often than I changed my underwear…wait a minute…my El Bandido caused quite a few underwear changes!But I digress.

My motorcycling street life started on a Bultaco Matador. A 250cc street legal dirt bike. I also started my racing life on that same bike. A Bultaco of the time was not what you would consider overly reliable in the deserts of California, in the mountains of Spain in Trials competions…oh yeah. In Roadracing…again, very successful. My only thought that was Bultaco’s didn’t like sand…me neither.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 8.59.33 AMA bit of Bultaco’s road history, top five finishes in the Spanish Grand Prix, the Dutch TT, the Isle of Mann and in 1960 set the Speed record in France for 12hrs in both the 175 and 250cc class and then the 24 hour record in 175, 250 and 350 classes!!!

In 1973 Jim Pomeroy won AMA National races on a Bultaco Pursang (which is the bike I raced in the Barstow to Vegas race…well, not Jim’s bike just my own Pursang). The great Angel Nieto, who won 13 Roadracing World Championships in just about every class rode a Bultaco. And, MotoGP racer Sete Gibernau is the Grandson of SeƱor Bulto!

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 7.20.10 AMOne of my dream bikes is the Bultaco Metralla. The dealer that helped support me during my dirt bike racing years always had a Metralla in the showroom (sold a number of them too), every now and then there would be a Mercurio. The Metralla was a bit racier but the Mercurio (being 50cc smaller) was just about as fast! In the tight canyons where I live, that 175 could easily embarrass much bigger bikes. And the “Giggle Factor” compared to “Pucker Factor”…the Bultaco wins every time!!

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 7.15.53 AMI found a perfect Bultaco Mercurio on ebay this morning seems to need nothing except a new owner that will ride it. Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. And more than anything…have fun riding this great little motorbike!!!

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Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 7.59.43 AM1964 Bultaco Mercurio 175

1975 Kawasaki KH500

I have owned so many motorcycles over the years that I have probably forgotten some of them, but one I have not and never will, is my 1972 Kawasaki H2 750. I have written before about how I came to owning this bike before so I won’t bore you with the story again. That Kawasaki Triple was the motorcycle that first really touched my soul. The H2 was the first motorcycle I took a long (to Canada) trip on, the bike I street raced cars on (for rent money…I almost always won), the bike I had so much fun modifying and spending money on and the motorcycle that could scare the sh*t out of me. Evil,Wicked,Mean and Nasty is how most everyone described the Mach 4. A reputation well earned. The H2 was, if nothing else, a pure adrenaline rush and when you’re in your twenties, what more could you ask for?!

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 8.06.41 AMI love the Kawasaki triples. I have ridden every size. From the 250 to the 350, 400, 500 and 750 and loved them all. As the line of Triples evolved they also became more civilized, still exciting but not the hooligan bikes they once were. It was also the end of an era for two stroke motorcycles. The Mighty Z1 and later the KZ500 and 650 put the nails in the coffins of the Triples. Well, the EPA had a lot to do with it as well.

In 1960 Kawasaki took over Meguro motorcycles, in 1961 came out with a 125, in ’62 brought out the 250cc Avenger, this was the bike that got the attention of the American public. I have ridden the Avenger and WOW!!! Granted a later version, but still a high WOW factor. The 350 Samurai was even more impressive. Now think about this, Kawasaki’s first four stoke was the 650W1, pretty much a copy of a BSA A10. The Samurai 350 was as fast as the bike nearly twice it’s size! Since that time Kawasaki has tried to bring back the W650 a couple of times with very little success. Too bad, because it was and is a great machine.

So anyway, back to the Triples…Wheelie prone? Yes. Ill handling? Yes. Poor gas mileage ? Yes. Too much fun? OH YEAH!!! Kawasaki did civilize the triples over the years but they were and still are a lot of fun to ride. On the 500, if you romp on the throttle, at 3500 RPM you’re looking at the sky. Can that be cured? Do you want it to be?
There are all kinds of things you can do make these great bikes handle better. Some are easy and cheap and some take a bit of engineering, but it’s worth it.

I found a really nice KH500 on ebay and the price is reasonable, has lots of new parts and is ready to ride. Yes I would make a few changes, only because of my experience with these bikes…but thats just me. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
There is a raw excitement that comes along with riding a Kawasaki Two Stroke Triple no matter what size that can’t be matched by any other series of motorcycles.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 7.27.15 AM1975 Kawasaki KH500

1952 Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.19.56 AMThe first motorcycle I ever crashed was a 1952 Triumph Thunderbird. Well, wait…I did ride my fathers CB160 into the back bumper of his new Impala but all that was was an ‘OOPS’…no real damage except to my 14 year old pride.

The Thunderbird was my step dads pride and joy and I did a pretty good job of causing he and me quite a bit of work…and money. There went my next two months paychecks. Besides learning how to fix old British motorbikes (including how to cut your own cork clutch plates) I learned to love British bikes. I still have one.

After the crash my stepdad actually let me ride it again and again until I could afford my own Triumph. Over the next few years we went through a couple of Bonnevilles, a BSA or two and a T100R Daytona that I kept for years. He kept the Thunderbird until he passed away just a few years ago.Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.20.59 AM
The Thunderbird was a grown up version of the very popular 500cc Speed Twin. At this point in time Triumph was working hard at a gaining a marketing foothold in America. They had to compete with Harley Davidson and Indian. The 500 didn’t have the same ‘stuff’ the big V-Twins had. The down low grunt, the sound and the look.

When the 5T was pumped up to 650cc it gained enough horsepower to be quicker than the big twins and that was very appealing to the American market. Triumph was also using the ‘Sprung Hub’ rear suspension which was a huge improvement over the regular rigid frame that was common on most motorcycles of the time. Nowadays we are so spoiled with the suspensions we have available to us!Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.13.17 AM

Most of us of a “certain age” have seen the 1953 movie “The Wild One” with Marlon Brando. This movie was about a motorcycle gang that rides into town and wrecks havoc. All in good fun??? Well, in this movie Marlon Brando is riding a Triumph Thunderbird and it was the first time a motorcycle logo / brand name was shown in a film…pretty cool huh. Though it may not have been the image Triumph wanted to portray or maybe it was good marketing. Oh, here’s another cool thing. In the movie, Marlon was riding a Black Thunderbird, Triumph didn’t make a black T-Bird. After the success of the movie, for a very short run, Triumph made a black bike and called it the Blackbird. Always have throw in a bit of useless trivia. Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 9.15.17 AM

I found a 1952 T-Bird on ebay this morning that is going to require more love than God gave the Isrealites. I have shown you basket cases that I thought would fun to put back together and I’ve shown you bikes that just needed some simple love. But…to get this one rideable could take as Led Zepplin would say, “A Whole Lotta Love….” Now you can keep this bike as a ‘Bobber’ style, you can turn it into a very cool Cafe Racer or if you’re incredibly ambitious return it to stock. Good luck. I would imagine that finding an original headlight nacelle with the instruments in it would be , well difficult to say the least. Maybe not though?

I wrote about this today because of my personal connection to a ’52 Thunderbird. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a little info.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.26.32 AM1952 Triumph Thunderbird

1947 Harley Davidson Custom

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 7.33.48 AMThere are times you remember that are still stuck in your mind decades later. Some are good and some you regret. One that I regret was a first date with a beautiful girl way out of my league. I was a senior in High School when the movie Easy Rider came out. My car was all clean and shiny, the interior was vacuumed, and I was showered and shaved. I was ready!

Now here is the ‘DFU’ moment came in, I took her to the Sepulveda Drive-In theatre to see Easy Rider. I don’t know what kind of movie she thought it might be, but it sure wasn’t what she hoped it would be. The thought of any back seat romance went out the window (the one that held the speaker) and I took her home before the movie was over.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 10.41.21 AMI found an old school ‘Long Bike’ on ebay today and it is what brought back that memory. If you think Saturday Night Fever was the best movie made and the Bee Gees the best musical group..then this is the bike for you. If you love ‘Tuck and Roll’ interiors and metallic paint jobs on classic cars…this bike is for you. If you want a motorcycle that would be painful to ride but you look cool…this bike is for you.

A little history here…you knew that was coming. In 1936 Harley Davidson replaced the ‘Flathead’ motor with the new OHV (overhead valve) motor. An interesting part of this story is that development of the new motor was all done during the “Great Depression”. The Flatheads came in two sizes 74 and 80 cubic inches and produced between 30 and 36 HP. Not bad for the time.Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 7.35.37 AM

When the new OHV motor came out it was only 61 cubes but produced 40HP! Smaller motor but more power, what more could you ask for? Well, riders did ask for more so in 1941 it pumped to 74 Cubic inches and a bit more power.

The 1947 Harley Davidson was the last of the “Knuckleheads” It was called the ‘Knucklehead’ because of the way the head was shaped and the valve cover. Later on The Motor Company changed some components and put a different valve cover on and the bike became the ‘Panhead’. The thing is is that the Knuckelhead lasted only 12 years but the same ‘basic’ design is what still powers your new HD Ultra Glide CVO Classic today.

Now back to the bike I found on ebay today. You gotta dig metal flake, you gotta think long bikes are way cool, you have to be a massochist and more importantly, you want to look cool!!!
This is a bike that will draw attention no matter where you go. Because of it’s size, you will always a parking spot to yourself, you will get more attention than a Sports Illustrated bikini model (well maybe not that one…), and you’ll be seeing your Chiropractor on the Monday after riding on Sunday. But, it will be worth it.

This is a very cool bike just because. It’s had a bunch of work done on it and looks great for a period piece. Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 7.26.22 AM1947 Harley Davidson Custom

1976 Moto Morini 3 1/2

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 8.33.12 AMThere are motorcycles that have a smile factor, a giggle factor and then there those that have a HIGH giggle factor. The Moto Morini 3 1/2 is in the latter class.

In the 60’s and 70’s Italian motorcycles were generally described as quirky, temperamental, unreliable and too expensive. Having owned Italian motorcycles of that vintage I have to say…yep. But, along with those less desirable attributes came personality, soul and performance that made you put up with what you didn’t like about the motorcycle. The sound and the feel when you started up an Italian Single or Twin (when it started…) woke you up from the inside out. Looking at Sophia Loren couldn’t give you the same feeling. Well, maybe.Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 8.45.46 AM

A few years back my Ducati Darmah was part of a Vintage Ducati exhibit at The Moto GP race at Laguna Seca. I met Chris Hammond who was there with a beautiful Ducati 750 SS. While we were talking he was telling how much he liked his SS but his favorite bike and the one he rode the most was his Moto Morini 3 1/2. His enthusiasm was just overflowing. I have loved many of my motorcycles but, compared to Chris I had nothing. He had more pictures of his 3 1/2 in his wallet than he did of his wife and kids!Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 7.53.41 AM

The 3 1/2 was designed by Franco Lambertini who came to Morini from Ferrari. The engine design was unique for it’s time. Not that it was a V-Twin but how the internals worked. There is more information online that if you’re interested you research it yourself. It is very interesting. The 3 1/2 came out in 1973 but didn’t reach America until 1977 it was immediately compared to the very popular Yamaha RD350. An easy comparison to make. The RD was quicker but the Moto Morini had the handling. When I finally got the chance to ride one I fell in love. I understood my friends enthusiasm. Handling is precise, intuitive and easy. The motor has enough power to keep you entertained and was easy on your wallet when came to fuel up. I see it as a very good around town bike but come Sunday, find the tightest twistiest canyon road you can and put bigger bikes to shame and giggle your way by them. This motorbike is one of the highest giggle factor rides I have ever had.

I found a nice one on ebay this morning. It needs some love, but bikes this vintage generally do. It has not been restored, it is a runner. The seller says it starts on the first kick. It will start on the first kick once you get the hang of it. A big thing there, make sure the battery is always fully charged…makes life a lot easier.

Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. If you’re looking for a really fun and very unique motorbike, this could be your next ride.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 7.46.24 AM1976 Moto Morini 3 1/2

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

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