It all started in 1978 when Kawasaki America bolted a Turbocharger onto a Z1. This thing was a brute! When the Turbo kicked in, you got kicked off if you weren’t holding…tight!
In the early ’80’s we were all power hungry and the manufacturers were more than happy do accommodate us. Turbocharging seemed to get most bang for the buck so all the Big Four jumped on the Bandwagon. Suzuki with the XN85, Yamaha with the Seca Turbo, Kawasaki with their GPZ Turbo ( bit more tame than the original), and Honda with the CX500 Turbo. None of them lasted very long but while they were here they were sure fun.
The basic Honda CX500 was as basic in so many ways and pretty ugly in others. At it’s best it was a good Commuter bike, a really good commuter bike. When Honda went the Turbo route the CX got some pretty futuristic bodywork some suspension upgrades including anti-dive front forks and became what was known at the time “The Gentlemans Turbo”. It put out a modest 82 HP, modest my ass…for a 500 it was awesome! It was the first bike to employ computer controlled fuel injection but, MPG wasn’t all that great but who cared , you were having fun. There is a wise old saying, “Horsepower costs money, How fast can you afford to go?”.
One of the big things (problems?) of turbocharging at that time was the ‘Turbo-lag’. You twist the throttle and you wait and then WHAM the turbo kicked in…off you go. The Honda was far and away the smoothest of the bunch but it was still there. The CX Turbo was really more of a Sport Tourer than a true Sportbike. Unique styling, decent handling and good speed for a 500. Later Honda bumped it up to 650cc and even with the increase in engine size it still wasn’t a big seller. But, it’s a hell of a bike.
I found a really nice one on ebay today. It’s been custom painted, rather tastefully, has a custom exhaust , which retains the stock look and not too many miles on the clock. This bike has been stored for a long time and is going to need the full going through to get it roadworthy again. It’s not running at this time, and who knows why, the seller doesn’t say . If it’s just a matter of a new battery and a system cleaning you could be looking at a great deal of fun. And speaking of a great deal, the selling price is really reasonable. Click on the link below for more info and pictures. This good be a really fun bike.
<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1982+Honda+CX500+Turbo&icep_item=191856027239&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1982 Honda CX500 Turbo</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=1982+Honda+CX500+Turbo&item=191856027239&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
My business partner in Arizona bleeds black and orange, he wouldn’t be caught dead on any motorcycle that didn’t come from “The Motor Company”. Well, that’s not entirely true but pretty damn close. In all the years I’ve known Les if he’s not in an Aloha shirt (at his pool party) he’s is wearing a Harley T-Shirt…no kidding. Les now lives and runs the Arizona arm of our company…in a gated community where everybody drives golf carts to get around. Today I found exactly what he needs…a Harley Davidson Golf Cart.
I’ve written before about how Harley has done just about everything under the sun in the motorcycle business. From buying up Italian motorcycle companies, to trying Cafe Racers, racing little 100cc two stokes in Baja, getting engines from Porsche, you name it. But Golf Carts? Well, when two wheels aren’t enough for you anymore it’s time for the coolest golf cart you can get. A Harley.
There is feeling of irony here. The Golf cart is a single cylinder 245cc gas engine three wheeler. It was designed by ‘Willie G’ when he first joined the family business. It later became a four wheeler, but the three wheeler has a cool factor that the later version can’t match. Now here is where I get a chuckle, there truly is only one Harley Davidson I would like to own, the XLCR…designed by Willie G. From Golf carts to cafe racers Willie G is probably the most ‘Outlaw’ of Outlaws at Harley.
I found a pretty nice 1973 Harley Cart on ebay today, it runs good, looks good and comes with a spare motor, wheels and some extra parts…not bad for a pretty resonable price. Think about it, when you can’t ride your Road King anymore you can still ride a Harley around your Senior Citizen community and be the envy of all your golf buddies. Not to mention the ladies!
Click on the link below for more info and pictures.
<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1973+Harley+Davidson+Golf+Cart&icep_item=231924177502&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1973 Harley Davidson Golf Cart</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=1973+Harley+Davidson+Golf+Cart&item=231924177502&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
I was living in Las Cruces New Mexico when I first saw the original Gold Wing. A friend owned the local Honda dealership and the Honda sales rep was there to show off the newest latest greatest from Honda. Being that I worked for a newspaper at the time it was my duty to report the occasion. Well, to be honest I was really excited to just see the new bike and I wasn’t disappointed.
At the time I was riding the ‘Evil, Wicked, Mean and Nasty‘ Kawasaki H2. Light, fast and handled about as good as a $5.00 stroller from Kmart…but thats another story for another time. The Honda sales rep pulled the cover off the bike and there was this really big bike, I mean Big. He was telling us that this was the next ‘Superbike’! ? The sales rep went through all the hoopla of power, rideability and so on and so on…then he showed us just how smooth the motor was. Taking a quarter out of his pocket he balanced it on the cylinder while the motor was running and the quarter didn’t move. I’m sure there was some sort of glue on there but who cares..it was a good show.
I did get a chance to ride the bike that day and all I could think was this thing is a BOAT!…But it was super smooth, comfortable and actually handled pretty darn good.
When the motorcycling world got ahold of this bike motorcycle touring changed forever. The Wing was no longer a competitor to the Mighty Z1 from Kawasaki it was going straight after the Harley Electra Glide. The Gold Wing became a Gold Mine for the touring aftermarket and Craig Vetter being the leader. The Windjammer fairing changed the Gold Wing and touring.
Years and years later I bought my father a used Gold Wing. I picked it up took it home and went about getting it ready to hand it over to him. After the work was done I took it for a good ride. Before I rode it I still considered it a boat, but it was what my dad wanted.
With a good tune up, some minor suspension work and new tires I was really impressed with the Wing. It’s smoother than a baby’s butt, will get you from here to Nova Scotia with about a worry and will handle a tight twisty road without breaking a sweat. I loved it.
I found a super clean first generation Gold Wing on ebay this morning. This bike is in ‘fly and buy and ride it home’ condition. Only 17,887 miles on the clock (it’s barely broken in!) all maintenance done. Jeez…it’s perfect. The first generation Wings are a perfect platform for customizing. Cafe Racer, sidecar rig, full touring mode or…just leave it as it is. It’s a great motorcycle. I just wish I knew how to balance a quarter on the engine while its running.
Click on the link below for more info and pictures
<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1975+Honda+Gold+Wing&icep_item=301930012498&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1975 Honda Gold Wing</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=1975+Honda+Gold+Wing&item=301930012498&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
When most motorcycle people think of Classic British Motorcycles the first bike to come to mind is the Bonneville. Well, except for my friend Ken…who thinks Norton was far better looking and more fun to ride (he also holds two Bonneville Salt Flat Speed records on a Norton…no wonder he’s a bit biased).
By the standards of the time it was light, great handling, plenty of power and beautiful to look at. It was, and still is to this day, a wonderful motorbike. The Bonneville of the era was the perfect platform for anything you wanted it to do. The Bonnie would travel (leaving a small trail of oil along its way so you could find your way home), you could race it, turn it into a cafe racer, or if you were sick enough…a chopper..Even though I think that those that chopped Bonneville’s (some ??are pretty good looking) should be sentenced to motorcycle prison for life with no parole…but thats just me.
The Bonneville is the bike that did everything good but nothing great until you got your hands dirty…then it became close to heaven on two wheels. In 1976 Triumph got its hands dirty. The motor was upgraded with better pistons, rods,bigger oil pumps (so you can leave more on your garage floor) , electronic ignition (now you don’t have to rely on the Lucas (the Prince of Darkness) and you got a better front suspension. oh, and an electric start. For those of us that have ridden older Triumphs there was also a shift change …from the right side to the left, which had become the norm universally.
In my heart I do believe that the Triumph Bonneville is one of the few perfect motorcycles ever made, including the new generation Bonnies. When you stab the kickstarter on an older model or hit the button on a new generation version it has a soul that says “lets go and lets go fast”. It may not have the rumble and grumble of an American V-Twin but the Triumphs soul of speed is there in your right hand.
I found a great one on ebay this morning that honestly needs virtually nothing. It’s beautiful. Well I would change one thing…I really don’t like those ‘Buckhorn’ handlebars. Other than that..a wonderful piece of British motorcycling.
Click on the link below for more pictures and a more detailed description.
<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1979+Triumph+T140e+Bonneville&icep_item=191850760027&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1979 Triumph T140e Bonneville</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=1979+Triumph+T140e+Bonneville&item=191850760027&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
The Thunderbird is one of the motorcycles my step dad put me on at the beginning of motorcycling life. Well, actually after a Yamaha 80 and a Bultaco 250…he wasn’t so dumb as to put a teenager in the late 60’s on one of his treasured motorcycles. But when he did, well, life changed forever. My life was ruined…I fell in love with British motorcycles.
The Thunderbird was a variant of the 500cc Speed Twin. As Triumph was growing in the American market they realized riders wanted more power…we Americans love more power. Hell, we have lawnmowers that have more power than some motorcycles!! The Speed Twin was punched out to 650cc. The Thunderbird was the model that got all the other British builders to jump up to 650cc.
The 1950’s were the heyday of the Thunderbird but then came the Bonneville. The T-Bird was relegated to entry level status or as it was called then..the working mans bike. A commuter. The Bonnie had everything the Thunderbird didn’t. Well, the T-Bird still had Marlon Brando.The Thunderbird was of the ‘Pre-Unit’ era of bikes (1949-1962) …the engine and transmission were separate pieces, but in 1963Triumph adopted unit construction. This really was a good thing. It made it easier at the factory level, easier for you and I to maintain and the bike lost thirty pounds. All good.
In ’63 not only did the T-Bird get the new motor it also got needed chassis improvements, but as things go so did the Thunderbird by 1966. The Thunderbird was a great bike, it did everything you would want a motorcycle to do but the Bonneville was much more alluring. I also think that the Bathtub body work didn’t help the ‘Bird’. 1965 was the last year of the body work. Now I look at it and think this is very cool…for it’s time. Does it make the bike more valuable? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I found one ebay this morning that is need of some TLC. The potential is there it’s just going to need some love. The seller says it runs good. These are great bikes just don’t abuse them, take care of them and this is a bike that will give you years of fun…and oil leaks, but what the hell, the body work is worth it! You won’t see one of these everywhere you go. Oh, and check out the headlight nacelle…too cool.
Click on the link below for more pictures and a little (and I mean little) bit of info.
<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1965+Triumph+Thunderbird&icep_item=252345894051&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1965 Triumph Thunderbird</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=1965+Triumph+Thunderbird&item=252345894051&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.