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


1981 Honda CB750 F

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 7.15.29 AMI spent a lot of miles on a CB750F…a lot. Quite a bit north of 100K. From Mexico to Canada and all around the Western US. It never failed me. I failed it a couple of times but it was a good soldier. When I bought mine (my daughter was just 3 weeks or was it 3 days old?) I also ordered the ‘European Sport Kit’ Lower handlebars,reset pegs and I think something else?. I loved the bike. Over time I upgraded the suspension, put a Kerker exhaust on (the standard of the time) but honestly, it didn’t need anything else. Honda did a great job with the CB-F series, 750,900,1100. It didn’t do anything great, it just did everything very,very well. The series was a bike that you could think about your riding and not the bike. Tank bag, saddlebags and around the world you go. Well, maybe.Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 8.13.40 AM
I found a very interesting CB750F model on ebay today. The seller has done some very interesting changes to the bike. Kawasaki suspension. A bit more modern and probably adds a lot to the stability/handling. This bike does need a little love but not enough to make it undesirable. Price seems fair…so far. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
My experience with this series of Honda’s was absolutely wonderful. It really is one of the bikes I regret not having today.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 5.34.49 PM1981 Honda CB750F

1941 Harley Davidson Flathead

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.50.36 AM Years back a friend decided he wanted to live “Off The Grid”, I think that at sometime in life quite a few of us have thought of that. Then reality hits. A wife, kids, going to PTA meetings, and how far away is the nearest grocery store? Dan decided to wait until PTA meetings were over and kids were off to college before he headed down the path of “Off The Grid”.
Dan had spent years planning this transition in life (much to his wife’s dismay and consternation) and then the day came…”Honey, I found us a piece of land in Arizona that would be perfect for getting out of the Rat Race.
Now I’ve known Dan for years and over those years he acquired quite a motorcycle collection, some were pieces of junk (we all have those) and some were very special. He sold ’em all to buy this piece of land and an Airstream trailer to plant on it. Again, his wife just sat there shaking her head and wondering what kind of medications could help her husband. Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.18.39 AM
Fast forward about a year…This “living off the grid” ain’t all it’s cracked up to be and more importantly Dan missed his motorcycles. Sell the land, the Airstream, move back to town and buy a motorcycle. This time he decided on a classic bike instead of something modern.
How ‘Vintage’ is vintage, how ‘Antique’ is antique? Dan opted for Pre-war American. Indian, Harley, Excelsior??? Dan found a beautiful Harley WL model Flathead that needed some love. A few months later, and about as much money as he paid for his Airstream he had a big smile on his face and his overly tolerant wife was happy to have central air conditioning.Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.50.24 AM
The ‘Flathead’ design motor was very common throughout motoring history. Dating back to the early 20th century it was used in cars, tractors, pretty much anything motorized. The design was simple, dependable and relatively cheap to manufacture. However, it’s design did limit its power output, there are always trade offs. The WL Model Harley Davidson was a 45 cubic inch model that eventually found itself doing service in World War Two for not only the US troops but also for the Russian Army, they bought nearly 30,000 of them. After the war, the WLA model (A was for Army’) was very popular with returning GI’s. There is a lot more history available out there about the Flathead Harley’s and it’s quite fascinating. When it comes to Flatheads though there is nothing like the sound of a Ford Flathead to wake up you soul!
Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.48.12 AMI found a really beautiful 1941 Harley WL model on Ebay this morning. Earlier in this story I talked about my friend Dan and his Airstream. He paid nearly $30,000 for that trailer, he sold it for about the same. After he finished all the work he had done on the 1940 Harley, he could have bought back his trailer and given his wife a dish washer and air conditioning. It didn’t matter, he loved the bike. The bike I found on ebay this morning is a deal!
It is ready to ride. It does show it’s age and that is just great. If you’re not the adventurous type or a skilled mechanic you may not want to ride the bike across the country, but for weekend outings, it’s perfect and well worth the money.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. There’s an old saying out there “God rides a Harley”…there is another one that goes along with it, “If God rides a Harley, God rides slow”. On this bike, slow is just fine.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 5.31.19 PM1941 Harley Davidson Flathead

1974 BMW R90S

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 5.26.41 PMA few years ago I bought a 1976 R90S that had been sitting in a garage under a blanket, a piece of carpet and a few boxes for 17 years.It had only 15,000 miles on it. I got it for a song. It needed the standard stuff…all the fluids changed, new tires, clean the carbs, go through the wiring, new battery flush the brake system and get the mouse nest out of the air box.
After all that it was time for a shakedown run, a couple hundred miles ought to do it…as long as I had my AAA card. Well, the ride went perfect and I was in love with my BMW. It did everything I asked of it and with no muss or fuss. The next week the missus and I headed off to tour Utah and again, all was well.Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.02.08 AM
Over the few years that I had the R90 I had put about 70,000 miles on it with almost no issues. Easy maintenance, comfortable for two up riding, with a couple of suspension mods it handled pretty great, but then one night an evil spirit (Tanqueray Martinis and my friend (?) Erik) convinced me to sell it and buy an Adventure bike.
Well, word got out that I had sold the BMW and instantly I got an email from a good friend telling me that I needed to seek the help of a mental health professional. First I sold a Ducati Darmah, then my R90S all to buy a Buell Ulysses? They were right, I did need help. Do I regret selling my R90S? yes. Do I like my Buell? Yes. Do I love it ? No. I’d really rather have my R90S back…or something similar. Ah well.¬†Hindsight is always 20/20.
The R90S showed up on these shores in 1974, at that time is was basically a bored out R75 with a few suspension upgrades, different carbs, a higher compression ratio and very cool bodywork including one of the most beautiful paint jobs and a nice tight little bikini fairing up front.
BMW really wanted to upgrade or modernize its image and the S model was the ideal platform and the best place to showcase that…the racetrack. Enter Reg Pridmore. Canadian racer Reg Pridmore took the Butler and Smith (the US distributors of BMW at the time) to the first ever AMA Superbike Championship in 1976. Fuddy Duddy BMW was now a very serious racer…The R90S is not your fathers BMW.There is a vast amount of good racing history about the R90S in that period and reading it makes me wish I had mine back.Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 5.28.31 PM
The photo above is three BMW’s leading a race. These bikes and even the street version are no slouches.
I found an especially nice S model today on ebay that is truly a fly /buy and ride/ Well, maybe the ride part might be a bit sketchy…only because of the weather across the country. Hey wait, you’re a good rider…some snow, a tornado or two and golf ball size hail won’t stop you. Will it?
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Honestly, this is a bike ready to ride. A lot of new parts, some nice additions (the Ohlins shocks and the Corbin seat) The price at this time seems reasonable, but we’ll see. It is a fabulous motorcycle. If you were ever looking for the perfect vintage sport touring bike, the R90S is without question the best you will ever find.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info

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Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 7.53.23 AM1974 BMW R90S

1948 Nimbus

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 5.57.35 PMHow many of us have heard of Nimbus motorcycles? Not too many I imagine. It might be one that you have seen in a motorcycle museum, or in the pages of Motorcycle Classics magazine but probably not on the road. Too bad. It’s a wonderful machine built by a vacuum cleaner company in Denmark. Interesting thing here…this company built the first vacuum cleaner in Europe!
Around 1910 one of the founders of the vacuum cleaner company decided he could make a motorcycle and by 1918 he had. That was the year the first prototype was built, in 1919 they built two more, mass production didn’t begin until 1920. The new Nimbus was a 746cc air-cooled, shaft driven inline four. The Nimbus put out a whopping 10HP and had a top speed of just short of 55MPH and that was with a sidecar attached.
As advanced and wonderful as it was sales were poor, mostly due to a poor economy so production ended in 1926.But, in 1932 the founder of Nimbus and his son started designing a new motorcycle and in 1934 it debuted. There are a great number of changes to the original design except for the inline Four motor and the shaft drive. Horsepower had upped to 18 and a little later to 22. The new Nimbus acquired the nickname of “The Bumblebee” because of its exhaust note. One of the things I find most interesting about this engine is the exposed valve springs…very coolScreen Shot 2015-11-03 at 5.54.15 PM
The model ‘C’ sold well particularly to the Danish police, the postal service and the military. In 1939 as WW2 was winding up the military bought the majority of ‘C’ models. But as the war went on, getting materials to make the motorcycles became more and more difficult, less than 1000 motorcycles were built during that time. After the war new engine designs were developed but, because Nimbus was already selling everything they could make they decided on minor upgrades instead of retooling the factory.
Nimbus continued production until 1960. The Police stopped using the ‘C’ model in the late 1950’s because it couldn’t keep up with faster cars and motorcycles, however, the Postal Service continued to use the Nimbus until 1972.
I found a really nice 1948 Nimbus on ebay this morning. Mechanically this bike been gone through with a fine tooth comb. The rebuild modernized the bike without taking anything away from its soul. This is honestly one very unique motorcycle that you want to ride, not , I repeat NOT, park in your living room or hide under a blanket in your barn. Yeah it’s a little pricey but when you look at what has been done…it’s worth the Kroners (Danish currency). I only wish it had a sidecar as most Nimbus did, but you can find one.
Click on the pics below for a few more pictures and a boatload of information. And look closely, there is a serious resembelence to a very famous American motorcycle…which one?

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Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 6.02.54 PM1948 Nimbus

1969 Kawasaki Mach 3

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 7.18.17 AMMore ‘Juevos’ than Brains…that described most of us in the late 60’s and through the 70’s.Give me horsepower, give me “jerk the handlebars right out of my hand” kind of power, “I don’t care about anything else”.
Lets go back a little ways. Kawasaki, aka ‘Kawasaki Heavy Industrties’ was in the business of building big steamships to ship Japanese goods all over the world. Kawasaki also built locomotives to transport people and goods all over Japan and Asia. Kawasaki also built the first Bullet Train. Kawasaki is also in partnership with Boeing for the 777,787 and more airliners. This is a company that is into machines that GO!!! It is a very interesting history.Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 7.18.42 AM
Over the years there have been motorcycles that have defined a generation, for me it was 1969. Honda brought the CB750. Sophisticated, powerful, disc brakes… a gentleman’s motorcycle. Kawasaki took another approach, brute power. “Lets build something that will blow everything else into the weeds, scare the crap out of the rider but put a huge grin on his face”! Here comes the H1.
Kawasaki was the first to develop the 3 cylinder 2 stroke motorcycle (Suzuki came in right behind). It was all about power in your right hand. These motorcycles were built for one thing and one thing only…straight line speed. Sixty horsepower out of just 500cc in a motorcycle that weighed less than 400 pounds…big fun. However…going around a corner was another thing.
The H1 was designed for the rider with good ‘straight line’ skills. Terms like ‘wobbly, vague, scary and “OH Shit!!” perfectly described the Mach 3 when riding a twisty road. A chassis that was more flexible than a rubber band, brakes that wouldn’t stop a mule cart, and a suspension that…well, didn’t. And there you have the Kawasaki Mach 3. But still it is a very fun motorcycle, within it’s limits.
I found a beauty on ebay this morning. Whats cool about this one is that is not a restored version. There have been a couple of fixes, just cosmetic but it’s basically a very original 1969 Kawasaki H1. The down side is the same thing I find all the time, it’s over priced. This is a motorcycle that sold for less than $1000 new, now the seller is saying that others have sold for over $20,000. It is an iconic motorcycle no doubt, but…the bidding is already at nearly $10K. You can buy it, put it in your collection, look at it once and a while or you can find one that has risen hard and put away wet, do the upgrades and go have a lot of fun for a lot less $$$
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Yes, I think it’s overpriced but it is a really cool motorcycle from one of the best era’s in motorcycling.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 7.14.24 AM1969 Kawasaki H1 Mach 3

1966 Bultaco Metralla

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.49.19 AMThere are motorcycles that have a “High Giggle Factor”, the Yamaha RD 350 comes to mind, and then there are Vintage motorcycles that have a very high “Cool factor”, 1969 Sand Cast engine Honda CB750, the Harley Davidson XLCR (Ok, that is my own cool, wish I had one ‘cool factor’ bike) and then there are those that combine both and the Bultaco Metralla is just that.
The Metralla is the motorbike that knows what you want to do before you do.It’s like the headlight is your own eyes that can see farther than you. This is a bike that the lightest pressure on the bars sets the bike on the path you want to go…perfectly. The Metralla does have a bit of a peaky powerband but nothing like the Pursang motocrosser. It does take a bit of time to get used to how quick handling it is, if you’re used to hustling modern 1000cc super bikes through the canyons, this little bike will blow your mind. Carrying speed through the corner versus point and shoot…BIG FUN!!
The Metralla was very successful as a racing machine as well having won the 1967 Isle of Man TT 250 Production class. The little 250 put out around 27HP, not bad for a 250 (considering a Honda 350 only put out 22), the Japanese two strokes of the time were more powerful but didn’t have the handling of the little Spainiard.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.50.29 AM
I found a beautiful Metralla on ebay this morning. This is not one of the “Fly, Buy and Ride Home” bikes, well it could be if you’re of the very adventurous type, but really ship it home and have a blast riding it on your local canyon roads and embarrass all your friends on modern super bikes. This is a really nice bike and a load of fun. Double check the brakes and the clutch then go out and have the time of your life…on 250cc.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.46.20 AM1966 Bultaco Metralla

1966 Harley Davidson Shovelhead

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.47.25 AMA long time ago my local Yamaha dealer opened up a Harley dealership on the same property. Eventually they dropped Yamaha because Harley Davidson was more profitable. Duh. And this was in the AMF years!!, go figure. Anyway, In the Harley shop one of the t-shirts they sold said “God rides a Harley”, in the Yamaha shop they were selling a shirt that said “If God rides a Harley, God rides slow”. It was funny and even the Harley guys got a kick out of it.
There are times that riding a cool old motorcycle goin’ slow is way cooler than riding a sport bike at warp speed. And, actually more fun. Take in the scenery, the vibe of the motor and simply not caring where you’re going or how fast. To paraphrase Billy Crystal on SNL, “It’s not how you feel…it’s how you look”Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 8.03.10 AM
I found a very cool ’66 Shovelhead on ebay this morning that, well, would be just perfect for the casual Sunday morning breakfast ride…1 Bloddy Mary limit!
A little history on the Shovelhead, it’s the valve cover. Looks like a coal shovel turned upside down. ’66 was the first year for the model. Yes, it did have a few mods, mainly The Power Pac (new Heads) which added about 10HP, but basically still the good old Panhead motor, so because of the new heads needed a new rocker box…the Shovelhead. There is a lot of good history regarding this model, it lasted until into the mid 1980’s when the EVO motor showed up.
The bike I found today started life as a ’66 but now is far from it. Often I find classic motorcycles that have been modified and with really no benefit, but this is the exception! Electrics have been upgraded, brakes, suspension…good stuff. But, the buyer is going to have to do a bit of work to bring it back to being a runner, not much work but some. It will be worth it. This motorcycle has a very high ‘cool factor’. Flat black engine, flat Army green bodywork, tractor saddle…but with modern brakes and electrics. I love it!
This is a bike that when you show up at your local Sunday breakfast stop, nobody will not notice it and better than that, you’ll have a great time riding there. Slow.
click on the pics below for a lot more info (and there is a lot)and more pictures.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.28.51 AM1966 Harley Davidson Shovelhead

ED “Big Daddy”Roth

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 8.33.37 AMThe 50’s,60’s and 70’s was truly the era of customization. Cars, bikes, bicycles (the Schwinn Stingray…). In motorcycling it brought us everything from long legged choppers, to Cafe Racers, and everything in between. It was an era that said ” I can make that better, I can make that cooler, I can make that faster, I can make that weird. Well, Ed Roth did all of that, and with style.
Ed Roth was considered the ‘Mad Scientist’ of customization. Along with Dean Jeffries, Daryll Starbird, Von Dutch, Big Daddy Roth was the one of the founding fathers of The Kustom Kulture. These guys created the absolute wildest vehicles ever seen.Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 3.39.26 PM
And then there is ‘Rat Fink’. Now if you don’t know Rat Fink, your childhood was, well…lacking something. Ed Roth was the master of creating weird creatures and we loved them all, but ‘Rat Fink’ was King. At the time the motto was “Fink Differently” and that is how Ed Roth designed cars. The Beatnik Bandit was a car that ‘Big daddy’ designed that was driven by a Joy Stick instead of a steering wheel, all crazy stuff but so wonderful.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 8.32.05 AM
So, today I found an Ed Roth designed trike on ebay. Basically you get the vehicle but you have to supply the power, a VW engine, no biggie. But…you get something designed and built by Ed Roth!! How cool is that?!!! VW engines are a dime a dozen at your local junk yard. It’s a bit on the pricey side but I guarantee you, you will never see another like it on the road and would probably be a whole lot of fun to drive around.
I have to add this, as I looked more into the history of Rat Fink and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth I got so hooked into the “Kustom Kulture”. Digging thru all my old junk, I found a Rat Fink model from Revel I built when I was a kid. I also still wear a Von Dutch T-Shirt and have a gas tank for my ’67 Bonneville pinstriped by him (courtesy of my stepdads brother). It was an incredible era. In some cases more creativity than practicality.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 7.14.26 AMEd “Big Daddy” Roth

1979 Yamaha RD 400 Daytona Special

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 8.18.32 AMOk, this is the bike that will make you buy a bigger helmet…because the grin inside is going to be too big for whatever you’re wearing now.
There are motorcycles that do everything good but nothing great. And there are motorcycles that do a few things great and fail everywhere else. We have all had one of each. The motorcycle I found on ebay this morning is a bike that does everything great all the time. The Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special.
In the early 1970’s my stepdad bought a Yamaha RD250 ostensibly for my mom to learn how to ride. Never happened. However, I had a blast on it for a year or so. Next on the RD list was helping my then Father in Law build his RD350. I think it was a ’74 it was beautiful. My daily rider was a Kawasaki H2 750, but…I honestly had more fun on the RD.Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 8.19.21 AM
Over the next few years I had the opportunity to spend a good number of miles on the RD350. I have never been on a motorcycle that has given me the ‘High Giggle Factor’ more than that the RD did. It’s not all that fast, but fast enough, handling, by the standards of the day, was outstanding. It was a motorcycle that won races all over the world, it was the little motorcycle that personified David and Goliath.
The Daytona Special. The last Hurrah of the street going two strokes here in the US. The RD350 was great, what Yamaha did with the RD400 was make it more rider friendly. We’ll start with rubber mounting the engine (a bit less vibration…wasn’t that bad to start with really), move the engine just a bit to make it a bit less wheelie prone (Hey Yamaha, you’re taking part of the fun out of the bike!), and the tuned the motor for a wider power band, that was a good thing, added 1″ to the forks to stabilize the front end. The deal here is that Yamaha simply made a really terrific motorcycle more easy for everybody to ride. And have a lot of fun. It was only made for one year. The EPA killed two strokes.Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 8.18.07 AM
The one I found on ebay is as good an example you could possibly find.Low mileage, great condition and although a little pricey, good fun ain’t cheap. This is a sweet little bike… definitely a giant killer in the canyons
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. Most importantly, if you buy the bike…ride it everyday.

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Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 8.17.01 AM1979 Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special

1969 Triumph Tiger Cub and more…package deal

I found a very interesting collection of bikes on ebay this morning…Ok, it’s just a guy clearing out his garage. We’ve all had to do that over the years either because we ran out of room for the new motorcycles we wanted or more than likely because our wives were tired of having to look at what she considered junk and couldn’t get to what she was trying to get to.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.49.28 AM So, this guy has two interesting motorcycles and one that goes on the front bumper of a motorhome bound for Florida. First is a 1969 Triumph Tiger Cub, a simple little 250cc motorcycle. The Cub was unreliable, period. It had lubrication issues, bearing problems, a weak triple tree and of course Lucas electrics. But still an interesting little motorcycle.
Next up, a Honda VT500 Ascot. In my view this is the gem of the bunch. Truthfuly the VT500 wasn’t the most powerful bike of it’s era or genre, yet…it worked. Now I have to say, it has one of the most ugly headlight setups I have ever seen. I would instantly change it! Except the wiring harness would probably be an absolute nightmare…a good Saturday project.
Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 5.22.47 PMThe VT500 didn’t have all that much horsepower (54…That seems plenty for having a lot of fun?!) but what it did have was a nice tight chassis that gave the bike really fun handling. It was styled after the FT500 Ascot single (which I raced for years) but came with a 6 speed tranny, shaft drive and a little more comfortable ergo’s. My old friend Mike Eaton (one of the greatest surfboard builders ever!!!) had one. I got a chance to ride it on the twisty roads of Point Loma in San Diego and had way too much fun. This is a great bike.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.38.06 AMNext is a 1972 Suzuki Rover. Put it on the front of your motorhome and hang out at the KOA’s across the country on your way to visit the Grandkids in Florida. Actually, this could be a really fun little trail bike, however, it went over like a fart in church. Didn’t sell. But hey, everybody can use something to take up space in their garage. You could probably hide this little bike behind all the other junk your wife doesn’t know about (yeah right).

It’s a pretty interesting package deal. Click on the pics for more info and pictures. And by the way, this seller is by far the worst picture taker I have ever seen! Do not let him or her come to your wedding!!!

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Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.13.11 AMTriumph Tiger Cub and more


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