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

antique motorcycles

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


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


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


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


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


1966 Pannonia T250

How cool is this!!!Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 7.24.41 AMI have never heard of a Pannonia and history is a bit hard to come by. Here is what I have learned and it’s quite interesting. Pannonia is a Hungarian company that is actually called (or was at one time) Manfred Weiss Steel and Metal Works. It changed names a number of times over the years. Motorbikes came from there under the names Cspepel and Danuvia as well.

Pannonia is actually the geographic region where the bikes were built. more exactly, it’s in Csepel a neighborhood of Budapest which is located on an island on the Danube river. Enough of your geography lesson for the day…there will be a quiz in the morning.Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.42.32 AM

They started building bicycles (as many motorcycle builders did) in 1928. In 1931 they built a 100cc motor and attached it to a bicycle frame, again not uncommon in the early days. True motorcycle building didn’t begin until 1947, after World War Two. The bikes were actually quite successful in Eastern Europe at the time. Motorcycle production ended in 1975.

Now, the Duna sidecar was made by the Hungarian Boat and Crane Co. Looks way cool and comfortable. I really dig the nose of the car.

The bike I found on ebay this morning has had a recent restoration and looks absolutely beautiful. It runs and rides great. It’s only a 250cc but you know what, for running around town, a casual Sunday ride…just great.

Click on the pics below for more pictures and info.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.35.47 AM1966 Pannonia T250


1967 Harley Davidson Sportster

If you’re not picturing Elvis and Ann Margaret on this bike you’re too young to buy it, go to another website. Unless, if your parents have brought you up properly, you can stay.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.43.49 AM

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.39.16 AMI love Sportsters. I love the free revving, the quick throttle…Sportsters are just plain fun. Thats what they were designed to be in 1957. Think about it, the Sportster has been around for nearly 70 years. It has evolved but at its heart, a Sporty is still a Sportster. My daily ride is a Sportster powered Buell…I love it! Well, the electrics kind of suck but a couple thousand dollars later and…nevermind, I love the motor.

Over the decades Harley Davidson has tried everything to increase their market…Italian singles (I still want a Sprint 350…what a great Cafe Racer platform!), off-road two strokes (I really did love the Baja 100…what a blast to ride!!), the little Hummer two stroke (post world war two) and the partnership with Porsche for the V-Rod. But, the basic design, the feel and the ride since God was a child (no blasphemy here…) is what makes a Harley Davidson a Harley Davidson. They know their market.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.39.32 AM

I found a super cool Sportster on ebay this morning. It needs some love but not much I hope. It’s a runner, looks great and would be a great ‘Sunday Go to Meetin’ ride. Honestly, this is just a very cool bike…I love LOVE the white seat!!!

Click on the pics below for a bit more info and the pics. Oh, and yeah I know the picture of Ann and Elvis aren’t on a Harley but you really can picture can’t you?

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Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 7.52.51 AM1967 Harley Davidson Sportster


1932 Indian Scout

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.35.12 AMThe Indian Scout. When it first showed up in 1920 it was light, it was fast and for it’s time it handled great. Some called it the most important Indian model after the Chief. Starting in 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression, Indian like all other manufacturers were looking for ways to save money and keep going. What Indian did was set up their three models, the Scout, the Chief and the Four to all fit in the same frame. It was cost effective for sure and while it didn’t harm the Chief or the Four it certainly didn’t help the smaller Scout motor.

The new for 1932 Scout became less rider friendly. With the new chassis the bike didn’t have the same agile feeling of the previous Scout models. The new Scout was a 430 LB, 22 HP, 3 Speed Handshift model. But still, a great motorcycle. What many don’t know is there was also a 600 cc version. Not too many were made and it wasn’t a profitable project.

The Scout model has been resurrected by the new Indian Motorcycle Company and looks to be a great bike, one that should surely live up to it’s heritage.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.35.43 AMI found a really nice Scout on ebay. Mechanically sound and ready for restoring or ride it as it is. Me, I’d ride it as it is rust and all!
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. It ain’t cheap…but well worth it!

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Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.40.21 AM1932 Indian Scout


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


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