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.
Have the Dog Days of Summer gotten to you? Are you bored out of your mind? Do you need a Fall/Winter project that is probably not too hard? Does your wife want to banish you to the garage? I found the perfect bike for you on ebay this morning. A Honda CB350 Four. This is true jewel of a motorcycle.
I have a small fleet of Honda 350’s CB,CL,SL but I have never had a CB350/4…damn.I have ridden them, modified them for friends…yes, I did turn it into a Cafe Racer, what did you expect?! And I honestly believe that this is one of Honda’s best motorcycles ever.
The CB350f should be named “Honda CBHF”…CB Have Fun!! This motorcycle will do everything including outlast us and our children…just change the oil and the fork oil. This is a bike that you can travel cross country on, really, use it as a daily commuter, a Sunday canyon carver (needs a bit of suspension work for that), or make a really cool Cafe Racer. I don’t care, it’s a great bike.
Earlier on I called the CB350F a jewel of a motorcycle and when you ride one you know exactly what I mean. Honda built a motorcycle that some would call soulless, and they would be wrong. Yes, the CB350/4 was smoother than a Singer sewing machine, if it wasn’t for the fact that you were moving you wouldn’t really feel anything…as Ed McMahon would say “Wrong Moose Breath!” (look up Johnny Carson trivia if you didn’t get it). The CB350/4 was such a refined motorcycle you could get it to do whatever you wanted on a whim. A lively responsive motor, capable handling (ok, I’m being a bit generous there) but if you tuned into the motorcycle it was a dream to ride. It is not a ‘point and shoot’ type handling motorcycle nor was it faster than a Yamaha RD350 but, it did everything you wanted it to do with no muss and no fuss.
It did have a soul, granted a gentle one but…wind that little 350 up and big fun came along with it. Once you came up into the powerband which was quite broad compared to it’s two stroke competitors, the 350/4 was a high giggle factor motorcycle. To make it even more fun, add a Kerker exhaust, change out the rear shocks for something not quite so squishy, upgrade the forks, put on a set of European touring handlebars and you now have a motorbike that will be sooooo much fun to ride.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info
I have owned a couple of European bikes, well…a little more than a couple and have loved them all. Maybe not all. But one that I have not had parked in my barn is a Moto Guzzi. I have ridden Moto Guzzi’s and throughly loved the feeling of that motor rocking size to side at a stop, the locomotive like pull from a stop(actually throughout the whole power band) and actually how easy they ride.
Years back I rode a Guzzi 850 LeMans and loved it. It did everything I thought an older Italian motorcycle would do. Compared to my CB750F this thing was almost slow, but after a full day of riding I realized that speed isn’t everything. Wait a minute was I nuts?!? I loved going fast, I also owned a Kawasaki H2 750…damn fast. But, the ability to go through corners at speed with complete confidence, mid way through the turn you just eased the throttle open and that locomotive of an engine just pulled you out and you were ready for the next turn.
However I bought a Ducati Darmah. I don’t regret the decision at all. But I still want a Guzzi LeMans.
The LeMans started in 1976 as an 850 which is a good motor, a little bikini fairing, low bars kind of a Sportbike but with only 53 HP there was no way it was going to compete with the Japanese. Actually Guzzi was competing with Ducati and Laverda. And it held it’s own…sort of. The original LeMans sold rather well, then Moto Guzzi decided to change it.
The LeMans was bumped up to 1000cc but for some reason or another it got…slower. Ah, we here in the States can thank our ever thoughtful EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for that. The V7 Sport had more HP and was quicker, but the LeMans was still popular.
After a couple of years the LeMans actually morphed into more of Sports Tourer than a Sportbike. Guzzi changed the fairing and other bits and pieces and it seemed to wear it’s Sport Tourer suit quite well. The suspension is firm, it has kind of ‘medium’ steering (not too heavy not too light…just stable as can be), the clutch however is a bit heavy, Oh well…put on your big boy pants and get used to it. But, the big Guzzi has as much torque as a Santa Fe locomotive and boy does that make riding one fun!
Early model Moto Guzzi LeMans’ had a bit of a bad reputation for a rather poor fit and finish. They would rust easily, frame paint would peel, let’s just say they didn’t age all that well (there are few Hollywood actresses that fit in that category as well). Oh well.
I found a real sweetheart of of one this morning on ebay. It has been restored and looks beautiful. The seller says the bike is Concours ready…OK. If you’re going to show it ride it to the show…no trailers, this bike deserves better. It is a real beauty and would be a great traveler. Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. Oh and here is another cool thing about this bike, there were less than 400 produced, I wonder how many are still being ridden?
So there I was in 1968 at a traffic light on Roscoe Blvd in Panorama City, California somewhere around 10pm…my curfew wasn’t until midnight. It was a really nice summer evening (not to be confused with “It was a dark and stormy night”). My friend Eddie had just gotten off work and we were going to go for a ride. I was on my Bultaco Matador and he on his Yamaha DT1, both 250’s. Up next to us pulled up a Suzuki X6. I had heard about it and read about them but honestly, when it pulled up along side of us, all I could think of was what a dull looking bike. Ok, it was Japanese styling of the time.
Styling be damned, that bike took off like a rocket, I was left in a cloud of blue smoke. Now granted most kids on a skateboard could get off the line faster than my Matador but I would eventually catch up…the Suzuki, no chance. Now lets be fair, the Suzuki had 2 cylinders, my Bultaco had one; The Suzuki around 30HP, my matador had maybe 20hp? Eddie’s DT1 was faster as well but still no match for the Suzuki.
Ironically we did catch up with the Suzuki at a gas station a little ways up the road. None of us could buy beer at the time so soda pop it was. We talked about bikes and stuff and figured we were all just out riding for the evening. And just for grins decided to swap bikes around. After 5 minutes of riding the X6 I was thinking I can get away with this bike and they’ll never catch me. It will be mine! I didn’t do it but it sure was tempting.
The T20 was a very advanced motorcycle for it’s time. 1; Tubular steel frame, a first for Suzuki; Posi-Force oil injection, a far more efficient system than anybody else was using at the time; the 8″ double leading shoe front brake derived from the race bikes and…the very first 6 speed transmission in a production motorcycle. The 6 speed tranny made it very easy to stay in the 250’s very tight powerband.
The X6 is a perfect platform for a very cool Vintage Cafe Racer.Leave the motor alone, upgrade the suspension (but leave the exposed front fork springs),a set of Clubman handlebars and maybe some modern tires. From there you will have a bike that will get a lot of attention….especially from the CBR/GSX-R/R6/ZX6 that you just passed on a tight twisty road! Espcially when you wave at them as you pass them in a corner!!! God I love small bikes!!! Too much fun.
I found a very nice one ebay this morning, it’s not perfect but it is a runner. Needs a little love…not the fly out, buy it and ride it home bike but the price ain’t all that bad…well, it was only $650 new in ’67. The bike is aging nicely. This is not a full winter project…this is a ‘be riding by the end of the month bike!
Click on the pics below for a few more pictures and some more info. What a fun little bike!!! OK, I couldn’t help myself…a pretty girl in a bikini on a Suzuki…works for me.