I spent a number of years on an R Series BMW and loved pretty much all of them, the years I mean. I bought an R90S that had been sitting for over 15 years with just 17,000 miles on the clock…barely broken in by BMW standards. I did all the basic ‘get it up and running’ work and proceeded to put another 50,000 miles on it, most all of them trouble free.
Then the day came that I decided that I wanted to get another Adventure bike. I had ridden a Yamaha TDM 850 for quite a few years and had set it up so that I actually could adventure on it, I loved that bike. So off went the BMW and in came a Buell Ulysses. Adventure style, yes. Adventure reality, no. Good street bike, yes. So here I am in the beginning of winter thinking about offing the Buell and getting myself a more appropriate two up traveling bike. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
This morning I found a really nice BMW R100S on ebay. I have a number of friends riding R series BMW’s and one that restores them, his wife is riding a truly beautiful R75/5 that he built. All of them were a bit upset with me when I sold my BMW, especially when I replaced it with a Buell!
The differences between my old R90S and the next generation R100S are significant but subtle, kind of. First thing, the old adage “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. BMW stuck with the tried and true air-cooled Boxer motor but did make improvements to oiling, the clutch and gearing. All good things. Oh, and the other changes helped the bike start faster and easier…a really good thing.Then came the chassis improvements. I thought my R90S handled really well especially after upgrading the suspension, but BMW went a step or two further by stiffening the chassis. The change in the handling and more importantly the feel of the bike was almost dramatic. When a motorcycle feels right, when it feels like an extension of you everything about your riding gets better. The changes BMW brought to the R100S made the bike feel right.
The R100S I found today is a beauty. It has , the owner thinks somewhere around 100K miles on the clock, but…the bike has been very thoughtfully gone through and should easily go another 100K. Paint is not BMW (Honda) but is sure beautiful. This is really one of those Fly,Buy and Ride it home bikes. Order a good windshield or half fairing, have it delivered to the seller, put it on when you get there and off you go! It’s got saddle bags, you can get a tank bag…take the long way home, you’ll love it.
Click on the pics below for more info ( a lot) and more pictures.
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1978 BMW R100S</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1978+BMW+R100S&item=262229150336&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
After years of riding BSA and Triumph 650’s and dealing with dodgy electrics (there is a reason why Lucas is called ‘Prince of Darkness’ and why do the English drink warm beer…because Lucas made the refrigerators) and it’s not true that Brit bikes leaked oil, they were just marking their territory, I turned to the Far East.
I started down the path on a Honda 350, then a Kawasaki 750, a couple of Yamaha RD’s, a Honda CB750 and then in the early 1980’s I came to my senses, I headed back to England. Not literally just mechanically.
I came across, quite by accident, a barely running 1969 Triumph Daytona. After sneaking it into the garage and putting (hiding) it under a couple old blankets I started to work. Lucky for me, my wife at the time, never set foot in the hallowed ground of the garage…until one day. While looking for Christmas decorations she peeked under the blankets…busted. I came up with a lame story that I actually got it for her…Merry Christmas? She bought that story for about as long as it takes the Enterprise to go to Warp 9.
Once I had the bike running well I fell in love. The T100R is a true jewel among British motorcycles. It’s light, nimble and loves to be revved. With just a couple of suspension upgrades that little 500 would respond to your every input. It knew where to go almost faster than you did. And yet, it wasn’t twitchy or nervous it was exactly the opposite…stable and precise. The Triumph Daytona was lively, responsive and tons of fun to ride. And speaking of tons…yes, it would do the ton (100 mph) but at that point you were asking a bit much of it. The T100 was very comfortable in that 65-80 mph zone, after that, well a bit (?) of vibration settled in…I figured the bike was just complaining.
The Daytona 500 is a perfect daily commuter. It’s easy to start (no button here, you gotta use your leg), quite reliable and it will make you want to take the long way to work every day. Weekend trips, you bet. Two up? No. Cross country? No. But I’ll tell you, a weekend romp through the canyons, there are few bikes that have the personality of a Triumph T100R.
Sadly my Daytona was stolen. I finally replaced it in 1997 with a newer Daytona model, the Super Three. After nearly 170K miles I still love the Daytona. I do wish I still had my T100R though. So, I found a real beauty on ebay this morning. It’s got somewhere around 35,000 miles but has been rebuilt , it’s got new carbs, tires and some other parts and besides the normal nicks and scratches on the paint, looks great. This is a motorbike that makes the Mother Country proud. It’s not as fast as a modern 500 but there isn’t a modern 500 that make you feel as good. Click on the pics below for more and more pictures. This is a great bike!
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1969 Triumph T100R Daytona</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1969+Triumph+T100R+Daytona&item=381508542310&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
Now here is where the fun begins. The RD series of motorcycles from Yamaha were seriously some of the most fun motorcycles you could ever ride. I spent a good deal of time on RD’s starting with an RD250 that my step dad ostensibly for my mom to ride. I think she spent about 10 minutes on it and decided motorcycles were not for her…lucky me. From there it was onto my father-in-laws RD350 (which decided to hole a piston somewhere between Phoenix and Albuquerque) Riding about 300 miles on a sick motorcycle is not fun and then to have the owner (your father in law who doesn’t really like you anyway..) blame you?? And lastly to an RD400. As I look back, those bikes always put a smile on my face, even when working on them (which wasn’t all that often…I’m lazy). Super fun to ride, reliable and good looking. You can’t beat that.
Just when you’re thinking things can’t get any better, the Tuning Fork company decides to make great bikes even better…here comes the RZ350. Water cooling, a new chassis (perimeter instead of spine style), better brakes, new styling, whats not to love?
So here is what makes this motorcycle so valuable…It came here for one year. 1985. Though many are titled 1984. The EPA decided that 2 strokes were incompatible with their emissions regulations. But wait, the RZ came with catalytic converters and the rest of the world was OK with it, whats wrong here?? California. I’ll leave it at that
My good friend and racing competitor,Craig races an RZ and absolutely loves it. As a matter of fact I have never met anyone that loves Sportbikes that doesn’t love the RZ. Would I love to own one? Yes, Would I do a weekend trip on it? yes. Would I ride it across the country to visit my brother in law…odds are are low on that one. Not because of my brother in law…but, multiple hundreds of miles a day on an RZ??? You must have done something bad in a past life….
1985 Yamaha RZ 350 Kenny Roberts
I 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.
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.
A 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.
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.
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?
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
More ‘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.
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.
There 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.
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.
Ok, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
Next 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!!!
A German company started by a Danish engineer. Dampf-Kraft-Wagen. Started in 1916 building steam powered cars. The cars didn’t do so well but while building cars they were also toying around with a small size two stroke engine and in 1919 took that little engine stuck it in a motorcycle frame and called it ‘Des Klein Wunder’…The Little Marvel.
In the 1920’s and 30’s DKW was the worlds largest motorcycle manufacturer. They were dominant in racing both on and off road. In 1931 they started using the split single motor, also known as the ‘Twingle’. A really cool design, essentially it’s one cylinder but with two pistons inside, one for intake and one for exhaust. It’s an incredibly efficient design.
More history here for you…in 1932 DKW merged with Audi, Horsh and Wanderer and created Auto Union, today simply known as Audi. Then came World War 2. After the war was the ‘reparation act’, too much history to go into here about that but here’s what happened…the designs for DKW’s 125 two stroke were given to BSA for their Bantam model and to Harley Davidson for their Hummer. Both were mildly successful (I’m being generous here). After the war DKW moved the factory to West Germany and the original factory was taken up by MZ. DKW kept building both cars and motorbikes, the cars under the Daimler-Benz ownership, which was then bought out by VW. The last DKW 2 stroke automobile was built in 1966. Now you know you everything there is to know about DKW?
This morning I found a beautiful DKW SB200 on ebay, that sadly has become a museum piece. The seller says they have not started it but it does kick through easily. The bike is beautiful. I would hope that with just some minor tinkering it will be a runner. Yes, it would look great in your living room just as it is, but really, get it running , ride it and then park it in your living room after your ride, then roll it out the front door next Sunday and ride it again.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. This is a very cool little motorcycle with a great history.