So Comrade, you want to buy a motorcycle, I have just the one for you. Made right here in the mother country, the Ural M-63. A wonderful motorcycle, 650 CC, 15 KW power (20 hp) and a top speed of 104 KPH (65 MPH). It comes with a sidecar if you would like , that way you can take your wife and your mistress on a ride.
I had great fun again researching Ural. You have Ural, Dnepr, under one roof. Later down the road they were also known as Cossack motorcycles. Originally they were Military only but in the late 50’s IMZ started building bikes for the public. IMZ stands for Irbitskiy Motosikletniy Zavod (say that three times really fast) IMZ is the parent company. They were also sold in the UK under the name Satra from ’73 to ’79.
Ural has a great history thanks to BMW and the German government. In 1940 the Soviet Union acquired design and production techniques from BMW. The Ural was based on the 1930’s BMW R71. It was originally built in the town of Irbit in an old Brewery. Now we have all heard about the lack of reliability in Urals but think about this…they’re built in a brewery…what did you expect? Let’s see, a barely adequate 6 volt electrical system, the carburetor leaked, floods and spit gas everywhere except into the engine. Sounds just perfect.
The Urals however were known as a tank of a motorcycle. A 750 lb (with a sidecar) 20hp motorcycle that was very capable of traveling two up all over Eastern Europe. The M63 was made from 1963 to 1980. There is a lot more history but you can find it yourself.
There are those of us that go for interesting and then there are those that go for just plain weird. Today I found weird, but in a cool way. I’m going to leave any description of the bike to the ebay seller. I really don’t know what to say about it. Click on the blue link below for more pictures and some information. It is weird but in a cool way. You certainly won’t see anything like at your local Sunday morning hangout…or the Church parking lot.
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1970 Ural M-63</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=1970+Ural+M-63&item=172347404334&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
I have written many times about motorcycles I have lusted after during my 50+ years of motorcycling. Some are worthy of my lust and others are just a Thursday night at the Pub talking with my other motorcycle junkie (in some cases it’s motorcycle junk) friends. But, this particular Norton is one of my two obsessions, the Harley Davidson XLCR being the other. I know I need to be sent to an institution.
The JPN has a history…a good one. In racing, one off motorcycles were the norm and the JPN was no exception. In 1973 John Player cigarettes sponsored the Norton racing effort at the Isle Of Man , Peter Williams won the Formula One 750 on one, beating the Honda 750! Online there is a great story from Cycle magazine about the history of the John Player Special. If you like Norton’s it’s a good read.
My history with Norton is somewhat short. The man that started me in motorcycling his middle name was Norton, I have been part of a Bonneville Land Speed Record holding team (powered by Norton) for a decade, one of my closest motorcycle racing friends Scott Fabbro, took a vintage Norton to the IOM a year ago. The podcast interview, and it’s great, is at http://www.themotoworld.com.
The thing about the John Player Replica is that it is just a stone stock 850 Norton under fiberglass bodywork. Really, lift off the body work and there is the standard steel gas tank underneath, it has the standard steel frame. But you know what…who cares. It’s cool! It’s nothing special but it is very special. There were only about 200 made, mostly for the US market and at that time, that particular styling and ergonomics were not all that popular. It only had 50hp, give or take, and in the horsepower craved (or depraved?) 70’s that was almost pedestrian …but, the Norton on a twisty road could leave most all higher horsepower bikes in it’s rearview mirrors.
I found a real beauty today on ebay. It’s been gone through, some basics and some upgrades. Here’s the deal, the seller is asking $22,000. Is it worth that? No way. Is it worth around $12-15K yep!! Click on the link below for a bunch more info..a bunch! and more pics. It is a wonderful and rare motorcycle.
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1974 Norton John Player Replica</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=1974+Norton+John+Player+Replica&item=121997486890&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”0
This motorcycle has an odd cool factor. The bike I found on ebay today is an ex cop bike but you wouldn’t know it. This motorcycle is ripe for being a cafe racer or a very nice tourer. Right now, it is dead center. Perfect.
The Guzzi Ambassador truly is the do anything motorcycle. These bikes are stone reliable, steady as can be on the road and handle with perfect Italian precision. It is not as nimble as a Ducati of the time, but a Ducati of the time couldn’t take you across the continent as comfortably. The Guzzi Ambassador and Eldorado were the true work horses of the motorcycling stable, they would do the work but when you wanted some spirit, they were there for you. My former racing partner Steve Allen of Bevel Heaven a Vintage Ducati parts resource, had an Ambassador that he let me ride a few times and I loved it. This nice loping motor that had some spunk and the bike would go where you pointed it without wobbling, weaving or scaring the crap out of you.
The bike I found today is worth the money the seller is asking. I don’t often feel that way. This motorcycle is beautiful and is ready to fly. It has been gone through top to bottom, front to back. You could either put a windshield and saddle bags on it and head across the country. Or…put a set of clip-on handlebars (better yet a set of Clubmans) a bikini fairing and a cool Cafe seat and have one of the coolest cafe racers around.
Click on the link below for a lot more info and a few more pictures
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1970 Moto Guzzi Ambassador</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=1970+Moto+Guzzi+Ambassador&item=121993899146&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
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.
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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”>
In the early 1980’s the ‘Cruiser’ class was growing like crazy. The Japanese manufacturers were selling them faster than they could make them. I know because I was selling motorcycles at the time, the dealership owners even made me ride one as a demo bike for three months. I was happy I had a full face helmet, nobody knew it was me?
Harley thought they had the market cornered but the Big Four from Japan were eating away at Harleys market share like a Pit Bull with a fat juicy pork chop. Harley Davidson even got Congress to pass a tariff bill against bikes from Japan over 700cc. Those were weird times. But cruisers kept selling…even the Suzuki Madura.
Triumph was in decline and were doing everything they could to keep going so they entered the ‘Criuser’ market with the TSX. Triumph took the standard Bonneville and gave it a couple of tweaks. The main thing that was changed was lowering the bike. Change the shock angle, a 16″ rear wheel. Next was adding a stepped seat. Then for looks, they blacked out the engine cases. That’s pretty much it, instant Cruiser. This was the last hurrah for Triumph. It was a good bike, not great but good.
I found a really nice one on ebay this morning. It’s all stock (which I like), not too many miles and only one ding in the tank…oh well. If you’d like to have a classic bike that is a bit unusual (not many were exported to the US), comfortable to ride and won’t break the bank, click on the link below for more info and more pictures.
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1983 Triumph TSX 750</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=1983+Triumph+TSX+750&item=361542053185&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.
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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”>
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 long time ago my local Yamaha dealer opened up a Harley dealership on the same property. Eventually they dropped Yamaha because Harley Davidson was more profitable. Duh. And this was in the AMF years!!, go figure. Anyway, In the Harley shop one of the t-shirts they sold said “God rides a Harley”, in the Yamaha shop they were selling a shirt that said “If God rides a Harley, God rides slow”. It was funny and even the Harley guys got a kick out of it.
There are times that riding a cool old motorcycle goin’ slow is way cooler than riding a sport bike at warp speed. And, actually more fun. Take in the scenery, the vibe of the motor and simply not caring where you’re going or how fast. To paraphrase Billy Crystal on SNL, “It’s not how you feel…it’s how you look”
I found a very cool ’66 Shovelhead on ebay this morning that, well, would be just perfect for the casual Sunday morning breakfast ride…1 Bloddy Mary limit!
A little history on the Shovelhead, it’s the valve cover. Looks like a coal shovel turned upside down. ’66 was the first year for the model. Yes, it did have a few mods, mainly The Power Pac (new Heads) which added about 10HP, but basically still the good old Panhead motor, so because of the new heads needed a new rocker box…the Shovelhead. There is a lot of good history regarding this model, it lasted until into the mid 1980’s when the EVO motor showed up.
The bike I found today started life as a ’66 but now is far from it. Often I find classic motorcycles that have been modified and with really no benefit, but this is the exception! Electrics have been upgraded, brakes, suspension…good stuff. But, the buyer is going to have to do a bit of work to bring it back to being a runner, not much work but some. It will be worth it. This motorcycle has a very high ‘cool factor’. Flat black engine, flat Army green bodywork, tractor saddle…but with modern brakes and electrics. I love it!
This is a bike that when you show up at your local Sunday breakfast stop, nobody will not notice it and better than that, you’ll have a great time riding there. Slow.
click on the pics below for a lot more info (and there is a lot)and more pictures.
The 50’s,60’s and 70’s was truly the era of customization. Cars, bikes, bicycles (the Schwinn Stingray…). In motorcycling it brought us everything from long legged choppers, to Cafe Racers, and everything in between. It was an era that said ” I can make that better, I can make that cooler, I can make that faster, I can make that weird. Well, Ed Roth did all of that, and with style.
Ed Roth was considered the ‘Mad Scientist’ of customization. Along with Dean Jeffries, Daryll Starbird, Von Dutch, Big Daddy Roth was the one of the founding fathers of The Kustom Kulture. These guys created the absolute wildest vehicles ever seen.
And then there is ‘Rat Fink’. Now if you don’t know Rat Fink, your childhood was, well…lacking something. Ed Roth was the master of creating weird creatures and we loved them all, but ‘Rat Fink’ was King. At the time the motto was “Fink Differently” and that is how Ed Roth designed cars. The Beatnik Bandit was a car that ‘Big daddy’ designed that was driven by a Joy Stick instead of a steering wheel, all crazy stuff but so wonderful.
So, today I found an Ed Roth designed trike on ebay. Basically you get the vehicle but you have to supply the power, a VW engine, no biggie. But…you get something designed and built by Ed Roth!! How cool is that?!!! VW engines are a dime a dozen at your local junk yard. It’s a bit on the pricey side but I guarantee you, you will never see another like it on the road and would probably be a whole lot of fun to drive around.
I have to add this, as I looked more into the history of Rat Fink and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth I got so hooked into the “Kustom Kulture”. Digging thru all my old junk, I found a Rat Fink model from Revel I built when I was a kid. I also still wear a Von Dutch T-Shirt and have a gas tank for my ’67 Bonneville pinstriped by him (courtesy of my stepdads brother). It was an incredible era. In some cases more creativity than practicality.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.
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.