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

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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

1965 Hodaka ACE 90

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.19.51 PM“LUUUUCCCCYYYY…it’s time to go!!!” “But Ricky, the RV isn’t ready and we don’t have any way to get around once we get to the KOA”
“Lucy, we have everything we need in the RV…what else do you want?”
“I may want to go shopping? I don’t want to have to carry bags of ice and firewood…I want to have fun!”

It’s that time of year again. We’re all getting ready for spring and summer vacations. Those of us that have Medicare and RV’s are planning one thing and our kids are planning something entirely different that usually ends up on the internet and they have to explain it to us when our fellow church members tell us about it. Question…what are our fellow church members doing looking at those sort of internet video’s anyway??? Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 12.30.22 PM

Ok, back to Lucy wanting a motorcycle, what you need to get around the KOA, get some ice for margaritas, a little stack of firewood or a quick jaunt into town for a new polka dot skirt is not a big touring bike, you need/want is a fun little bike that will fit on the front bumper of your truck with a camper or the back bumper of your motorhome,(hell, even inside your motorhome!) You need a bike that is easy to start, easy to ride and more importantly is as cool as you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Hodaka Ace 90.
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I can’t think of one rider that when you mention Hodaka motorcycles they don’t start smiling. It may be because of the name, it may be that someone they knew had one, or maybe they themselves had one. People that have been around motorcycles since before ECU’s, TractionControl, Wheelie Control,ABS and every other electronic doodad to make riding a motorcycle more fun (?) know the joy of just riding a motorcycle.

Hodaka is often credited with creating the ‘Trail Bike’ craze here in America. And you know what, probably so. Yeah, there were small bikes that were fun to ride before the ACE 90, but there was just something about that little bike that just clicked with everyone.

Was it the chrome tank? The easy start motor ? The Red frame? Who cares. It was a great motorbike and the company went on to create a whole bunch of fun bikes to ride. My old racing buddy and friend Ted rode a Thunderhog to and from work everyday. And chances are still does…mainly because it’s more fun than his Triumph Trident!

I found a really neat little ACE 90 on ebay this morning that would really be great on the front or back bumper of your motorhome this year. Get around town, do some sightseeing… Actually it would be more fun under your butt everyday. Better yet, go do one of those ‘Family Enduro’s’ on it. I have a story about that sort of incident on my website blog somewhere.

The ACE 90 here is in really great shape, its ready to ride right now. It has been gone through, has some improvements and really, if you’re looking for a fun little motorcycle to ride around town, do some casual off-road riding, you really can’t do any better than this. There is a HUGE online community devoted to Hodakas. These are truly the most fun motorcycles ever built. I don’t know why…but they are!!!

Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a very cool little bike

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Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.57.52 AM1965 Hodaka ACE 90

1971 Speedway ‘Widow Maker’

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 7.41.12 AMA mini-bike called the “Widow Maker”…yep, 80cc can certainly do that…make sure your life insurance policy is paid up. OK, all sarcasm aside, an 80cc mini-bike is a hoot to ride but…can it truly live up to it’s name?
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For those of you that have watched the movie “On Any Sunday”…probably so many times your wife and kids are sick of it (and if you haven’t you should) you have seen the Widow Maker Hillclimb in Utah. 80cc probably wouldn’t make it that far up, especially one with a single speed transmission…100 feet? Ok, again, no more sarcasm.
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I actually started my dirt bike career on an 80cc Yamaha. Truthfully, the first 30 minutes on the homemade track in Malibu that little bike scared the crap out of me but then….the rest is history. It was more of a motorcycle than a mini bike bit mini bikes are sooooo much fun. Pocket Bikes, mini Road Racers (my good friend and old road racing buddy Erik) rode a pocket bike for a year or two on the Willow Springs Go Kart track and he had way too much fun. Small bikes are supposed to be fun!!! And this Speedway looks the part.

Speedway was manufactured during the early 70’s in Ohio, they were trying to give Rupp mini-bikes some competition. Rupp was the King Kong of the Mini World…I had a Taco mini-bike for a while, I thought ‘they’ were the Mini Kings?

I found this neat little Speedway Widow Maker on ebay this morning. It’s a very cool little mini dirt bike. It’s gonna need some TLC but, if you have a young kid at home, got a big back yard or a neighbor that does, and you’ve got the time get this little sled running and looking good…the fun factor is way up there. The sad part is you’re going to have to wait till your kid goes to school or bed to ride it!

Clock on the pics below for a bit more info (not much) and a bunch more pictures. Got a Five year old kids birthday coming up? A favorite nephew or your own…this is a great way to start!

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Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 7.23.49 AM1971 Speedway Widow Maker

1960 Marusho Lilac

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 9.09.29 AMHave you ridden a Marusho? Have you ever seen a Marusho at your local Sunday ride breakfast stop? Have you even heard of Marusho? Well, I have heard of Marusho, I have never seen one and I haven’t ridden one. But damn, they look really cool or is unique the right word?

Very typical of Japanese motorcycles of the time (the 1950’s and 60’s) they were copies of either European or British bikes. Small to mid-size bikes and truthfully, marginal quality control. Make it, make it cheap and sell ‘em. I imagine that many of you remember the term ‘Jap Crap’. Made in Japan was almost the kiss of death…especially if you ever had to extract a really cheesy screw out of a Honda CB350 clutch cover!! But I digress into personal history with early Japanese bikes….Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 9.02.34 AM

Marusho has a pretty interesting history…interesting enough to make me want to find one. Maybe.

Masashi Ito worked for for Soichiro Honda (Honda motorcycles) from 1930 to 1935 in his auto repair shop. After World War Two, Ito san started his own auto repair shop but was really more interested in motorcycles. In 1950 he built his first motorcycle. A 150cc single patterend after the German Zundapp of the time…it had a shaft drive which was a bit different, I would guess from his automotive experience.

Marusho built motorcycles from 1950 to 1967. During that period they built 31 different models and all but two were shaft drive. Every model I have seen is a derivation of a Euro model, which is typical of the era and the evolution of the Japanese motorcycle industry.During that time period Marusho built somewhere around 50,000 motorcycles.

They wanted to compete with Honda, but it was not in the cards. Honda went on to not only build motorcycles but cars , that actually were powered by motorcycle engines. We got the first one here in the states as a 600cc (the N600) in 1970 but they were also available in Japan as 350cc cars?! Crazy.Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 7.35.09 AM

And here is a good ‘Bike Night’ bar trivia question for you to get somebody to buy you another beer…first one, did they ever hear of a Marusho? If they did, why were they (the motorcycles) actually named ‘Lilac’? It was Ito san’s wifes favorite flower.

The really nice Marusho Lilac 250 V-Twin I found on ebay this morning is really nice. This is a bike that was inspired by the German Victoria Bergmeister. It is a horizontal V-Twin (kind of Guzzi-ish) and in beautiful condition. As much as I like to envision bikes as really fun cafe racers…this isn’t one of them. I would want to ride this one just as it is.

Hold the phone!!! Get back Jack! Look at this bike…do you see a future Honda? I do. Does the CX500 come to mind? HMMM…somebody is bound to email me with the fact that it came from Moto Guzzi or Victoria Bergmeister, yeah, yeah I know that but…Remember Ito worked for Soichiro Honda and built the V-Twin long before Honda came out with the CX model.

Nonetheless…this is a very cool bike that seems to be selling for a very reasonable price and would be a “buy it and ride it”. When you stop at your favorite motorcycle hangout on a Sunday morning other riders are either going to walk by because they have no clue as to what they are seeing or you are going to have guys taking pictures and wondering who owns it because that want to know about it.

Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures. This is a very interesting motorcycle.

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 8.23.51 AMOk, I lied, I or my friend Erik, would turn this into an awesome Cafe Racer. Keep the tank, the logo and let people wonder.

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Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 8.12.00 AM1960 Marusho Lilac

1977 Ducati 860 GT Cafe

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 7.43.58 AMMy first introduction to Ducati motorcycles was in 1981 while living in New Mexico. A small dealership on Rio Grande Boulevard (yep, just across the street from the river) Rissman Motors, was just a little hole in the wall but I had to stop in just to see. In the showroom sat two of the most beautiful motorcycles I had ever seen. A Ducati 900SD Darmah and the MHR (Mike Hailwood Replica). The replica was much more expensive but I thought the Darmah was far more beautiful. Over in the corner of the shop sat a very lonely and a bit dusty copper colored 860GT.

The reason it was in the corner…it was the ugly duckling of the Ducati family. The Copper headed stepchild.The Darmah and the MHR were basically the same bike but designer Giugiaro somehow DFU’d on that particular bike. Too angular and the shape just didn’t work.Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 7.40.45 AM

The 860 motor, a square case Bevel drive 90 degree L-Twin is a wonderful machine. I finally bought the Darmah I lusted after somewhere in the mid 90’s and became intimate with that motor thanks to help from racing friends Steve Allen (www.bevelheaven.com) and Trevor Dunne of Ducati Santa Barbara (www.ducatiofsb.com). The Square Case motor may not be the fastest in Ducati’s history but it has the torque of an Italian locomotive. Are there Italian locomotives?

Sadly, the 860GT,the GTS and the GTE were no match for the for the Big Four from Japan. The CB750, the Z1, XS650 and GT750 all were faster than the 860 and considering that America was into speed and horsepower numbers at that time…well no wonder that one old dusty 860 was sitting in the corner. The 860’s top speed was just a touch over 100mph while the others were all pushing 125mph and more. What the 860 had that it’s Japanese counterparts didn’t was handling.

The 860GT was a perfect platform for customizing. I found a beauty on ebay this morning. Tasteful in all respects. Everything about this bike is right. I love the original Euro shift pattern (means its on the right…which does take a bit of getting used to…I have had on occasion downshifted instead braked! The bike has a very Vincent look to it and the motor is unadulterated. This is a beautiful bike and should be just wonderful to ride. It actually is making me now wish I hadn’t sold my Darmah.

The owner / seller of this bike somehow took an Italian ugly duckling and transformed it into a beautiful British swan.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. And the picture at the top of this page, really makes the 860 GT look a lot better!

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Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 7.32.20 AM1977 Ducati 860GT Cafe

1957 Squariel…Ariel Square Four

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 6.17.08 PMA long time ago my step dads friend Stanley acquired an Ariel Square Four And for some strange reason he let me ride it. Now Stanley lived in a very remote area of Southern California where the roads were empty and all you had to contend with were deer and cows crossing the road at the most inopportune time…especially on a bike that had Fred Flintstone brakes!!!
My experience on bikes at that point had been desert racing on a Bultaco and going to and from school on a BSA 650…by the way, that BSA made me one of the cool guys pulling into the parking lot. After that the cool factor went away in about 26 seconds.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 6.16.19 PMMy memory of Stanleys ‘Squariel’ was that other than being a four cylinder bike that was almost as old as me, compared to my Beezer, was pretty boring. It was smooth, had a boatload of mid-range torque (which the BSA had plenty but nothing like the Ariel) and it looked pretty cool.

Here’s some basic facts…it had a whopping 40HP, some estimates put it a bit higher but my experience with bikes of that vintage…40 was probably about right. When I rode the Ariel it topped out at just over 100mph. Plenty fast enough for a bike built in 1957. The bike was really comfortable, easy to ride and the more miles I put on it that day the more I just simply enjoyed it.

The Square Four didn’t require any extraordinary riding skills (if you were used to riding older British bikes), yeah the shifting was clunky, the brakes were…well, 1950’s British drum brakes…you really had to plan ahead for a stop and the handling was nice and easy.
Ariel was in some ways going after the Vincent. A bike with speed that literally left everyone in its wake. The Vincent had speed. The Ariel had easy ride-ability. The Vincent won that war. The Ariel however had so much torque that you could start from a stop sign in top gear and never change gears all day long. I even tried that. And while not entirely true…pretty damn close.

In 1958 Ariel was part of the BSA group and the Square Four was dropped in favor of a lighter weight 2 Stroke. That didn’t last long. In 1971 the Healy brothers took over Ariel and built 28 of the Fours between then and 1977. 28, that’s all. It put out 52 HP, top speed was a bit over 125mph and was actually lighter than a Honda 250. It may have had all that going for it but it couldn’t compete with the Honda CB750, the Kawasaki Z1 or the Suzuki GT750. All the history, the mystique, the heritage…it didn’t matter.

Interestingly though, square four motors did do quite well in GP Racing? The Yamaha OW60, AKA the RZ500. Unusual, yes. Successful? Yes But it was a stop gap measure to the V-4 motors. The problem Yamaha had with the RZ was not a problem Ariel had. The Ariel was easy to ride everywhere, the RZ was only good on the race track, hence the RZ never made it to the streets of the States…other than in the grey market.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.26.33 AM

So, back to the Ariel I found on ebay this morning. Really, really nice. Very original and ready to ride. This is a bike that if I just wanted to have nice 100 mile ride on a Sunday or a casual getaway with the wife over a weekend…this motorbike would be on the short list. Actually on the long list…it ain’t cheap but for a bike with kind of heritage and cool factor…well worth it.

Click on the pics below for more pictures and info.

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Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.40.52 AM1957 Squariel..the Square Four

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.

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Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 7.56.59 AM1975 Suzuki GT500

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