I put this in here today because I have a friend that I work with who lives in a ‘Retirement‘ community and does property management there. He likes vintage motorcycles but needs something a bit cooler than his golf cart to get around the community. I think this is the perfect vehicle.
There is a lot of strange and interesting history when it comes to Indian motorcycles, way too much to put here but I love it. At this period in time, post WW2, both Harley Davidson and Indian were trying any and everything to keep sales up. Small bikes, which both companies pretty much failed at, service vehicles (which Harley did a much better job at) and even scooters.
Indian partnered with Lowther Scooters to build up the 63D model. A three wheel service vehicle that was easy to drive, very functional and inexpensive compared to the Harley Servicar. In truth, the 63D didn’t even come close. As a matter of fact only 8 were built. The 63D had an either 4 or 6 hp motor, a centrifugal clutch, the 63D had a differential for 2 wheel drive, If you had a small farm or ranch (or a modern retirement community) it was probably just fine but as a true service vehicle…nah. However it is pretty cool.
Lowther Scooters built some of the craziest most futuristic scooters ever…check these out…
I found a 63D model on ebay this morning that is a good runner starts on the first or second kick, shifts through the gears just fine and the lights work. This particular model is the ‘high horsepower’ model….all 6 horses are there so it’s going to be quite a handful! It needs some love for sure but nothing too serious.
It ain’t cheap but it is really cool. Click on the pic’s below for a lot more info and more pictures. It is a very interesting peice of Indian history and now I’m really interested in Lowther Scooter company history. More to come.
There isn’t a motorcycle brand out there that delivers as much fun and giggle factor (in so many ways) as Hodaka. The Dirt Squirt, Road Toad, Thunder Dog, Wombat, Combat Wombat and of course the Super Rat. These are names that live on both in good memories and in infamy. Little bikes that brought so many people into the world trail riding and even racing.
Hodaka’s were reasonably priced, well built and above all, fun to ride. Having cool names didn’t hurt either. A long time friend of mine has probably around 12-15 Hodaka’s in his barn in Northern California and wouldn’t part with a one and he still rides a few of them..when he’s not surfing.
The Super Rat got its name when it came to America as a bored out Ace 90 (now 100cc) with the letters SR on the air box cover. The ‘SR’ moniker was actually for “Special Racer”, the guys at Pabatco (the importer) asked if the ‘SR” stood for Super Rat? The name stuck. These bikes sold for around $500, what a deal! So much of a good deal that they sold almost 20,000 of these little bikes!!! They were inexpensive, fun to ride and low maintenance (especially compared to my Bultaco!). Because they were so popular lots of companies made hop-up parts for the Hodaka’s.
This one I found on ebay this morning is a great bike for a good price, might just a tiny bit of TLC and then you’re off riding a really fun bike.
Now a short side story here about my first experience with a Hodaka, I don’t think it was a Super Rat but at the moment, from my vantage point, all I recognized with the chrome tank. It was during a ‘family enduro’ sponsored by the Sportsman Racing Association in Southern California, I had taken a bit of a tumble and was laying in a small cactus patch. As I was pulling cactus needles out of my body an older lady, could have been my grandmother, rode up looked down the edge of the trail and asked if I needed help. After I said I was OK, she rode off finishing the enduro with a better score than me.
Click on the pics below for more info on this really cool little Motocrosser
Way too much fun. Here’s the deal with the ‘Monkey Bike’. It’s just a blast to ride. You can load it into the back of a station wagon and take it on a family camping trip, you can hang it off the bumper of your camper or motorhome and head to wherever, you can teach your kid or your wife to ride on this bike and it won’t scare the crap out of them. When you’re at the RV park you can ride to the little store they have there and get some ice or firewood, and you’ll go through a tank of gas about once a year (remember to put Stabil in the tank). There are all kinds of hop up parts for this little bike…you can make it loud, you can actually make go around a go-kart track pretty fast, you can make a little pack mule out of it, but mostly, you’re going just have fun on it. This is truly a ‘high giggle factor’ little motorbike.
I found this one on ebay this morning and it is exactly what it should be…ridden, shows it’s age and has been taken care of. Like I said at the beginning, way too much fun. This is two wheel fun at it’s peak.
Click on the pictures below for more info.
We all know someone who deserves a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking…right? The person that leaves their motorcycle out in the rain because that’s the only time it gets washed, checks tire pressure only when they go out to ride and find a flat tire, oil changes happen as regularly as Congress actually does something (never), they come over to a barbeque and all they bring to the party is their appetite, they borrow a couple of tools to do a clutch adjustment and only one of them comes back…the list goes on but we all know that person.
Most of us have bought a motorcycle or two that we thought would be a good winter project only to find that it’s probably more work than it it’s worth, in so many ways. We end up finding a sucker…uh, I mean friend, that thinks he can make something good out of it (I have been that sucker more than once in my life..) and you are more than happy to send that two wheeled (if you actually have both wheels) was a motorcycle, off to new home.
Years back a group of riding buddies and I started this running joke of passing around a fruitcake at Christmas. It got mailed all over the country and after about ten years somebody actually opened it up. Surprise,surprise…it was just the same as it was when it started it’s all over the country journey.
A year or two later one of the band of merry men decided to resurrect the tradition but this time with a junk yard motorcycle. Ok, now this one didn’t shipped around the country it was just transported house to house here in So Cal. I was the first recipient of said junk yard P.O.S.
I awoke December 26th to a Suzuki something or other that had one wheel, a rusty gas tank, no seat and one turn signal(which was hanging by one wire) laying on my front porch. No one ever fessed up to being the one to start it but that almost rolling Suzuki ended up in someone’s Christmas stocking for the next ten years or so. Not a one of us ever did anything to it, we just laughed our asses off every time we dropped it off on a friends front porch with a bow on it.
Today I found on ebay a bike that you can buy and start a fine tradition yourself with your ‘friends'(?). It’s a 1975 Indian ML100. It is truly a classic Indian motorbike, well the seller thinks so. It is almost complete? so says the seller, it’s a rare find? Oh sure it may be missing a few parts but it has some extra rust to make up for that. And the best part is that the seller is willing to part with it for just under $1000 dollars…how can anybody pass up a deal like that to start a running joke with your riding pals. A good tradition isn’t always as cheap as a fruitcake, but how much do you like a good joke.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Also, a good laugh at what someone thinks something is worth. This is one Indian you know the Chief doesn’t want to admit siring.
East Buttcrack, Minnesota,
“Hey Eunice, It’s getting pretty damn cold around here, maybe it’s time we went and visited your sister and that dolt of a husband of hers down in Florida”
“Floyd, you don’t like my sister and her husband isn’t a dolt, he’s just a bit different?” “and besides that the Winnebago hasn’t run for a whole year, probably won’t even start much less make it all the way to my sisters” “And on top of that what are we going to do once we get there? You don’t play golf, you don’t fish and you’re scared of alligators”
“Well, we could buy ourselves a motorcycle and ride it around?”
“Floyd, last time you rode a motorcycle you were a senior in high school and your brother bet you five dollars you couldn’t make it to the end of the block before you crashed his…I was there, you didn’t make it ten yards…what makes you think you can ride around Florida?”
“Well, that was then, I’m better at things like that now?”
The real truth here was that Floyd was tired of being cold, Florida sounded good but being with his sister and brother-in-law was only just a bit better than being snow bound all winter
So the conversation went on but in the end Floyd won out…well, he was going to buy a motorcycle without telling Eunice. He did all the right the right things, he took the MSF course (telling Eunice he was going to the VFW hall for Bingo), got a bumper carrier for the Winnebago and bought he and Eunice a couple of spiffy looking helmets. Now all he needed was a motorcycle.
Floyd spent the next few days searching ebay for a motorcycle. He found a few that he thought he would like (his ego was well in place at this time…a GSX-R1000, a Honda Superhawk, he even thought about a Gold Wing?) but finally settled on a small bike that would be perfect to ride around town or a little out of town to get away from sister in law and dolt husband, (and Eunice too). It had to be light enough to fit on the bumper of the Winnebago and not scare Eunice.
I found the perfect bike for my friend Floyd this morning on ebay, a Honda CL125. This is a bike that will get you all around town and away from the family when you need to. The Cl125 is a super easy bike to ride, requires almost no maintenance save for changing the oil, lubing the chain, keeping the battery charged and making sure there is air in the tires. This little CL I found today, needs nothing except a new battery. It is super clean, new tires and spokes. This is a very cool little bike. It would also make a very fun little Cafe Racer. Click on the pics below for more info and a lot more pictures.
Recently my friend, racing and traveling partner Erik bought his wife a little 50cc Yamaha to ride around town and develop her riding skills. Well, as it turns out he is spending more time on that little Yamaha than she is. Why? because it’s so damn much fun!!
He put a tank bag on it so he can make ‘small’ grocery runs and even light weight Home Depot runs. He can ‘kickstart’ it with one hand, fills the tank about once a month, and has a giant grin on his face every time he rides it. What could be better? Well, something with more style.
Having owned a Benelli for a short period of time I have developed a slight affinity for the marque and am always intrigued when I find one on ebay, or anywhere else for that matter. And…I am a long time lover of small motorcycles, motorcycles that have a ‘high giggle factor’. I found a sweet little Benelli Fireball on ebay today that I think would be a blast to own.
A little history is required here though. This little motorbike was born in the Benelli factory but was sold through Montgomery Wards as a ‘Riverside’ brand motorbike. Back in the ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘Father Knows Best’, and Ozzie and Harriet’ days, both Sears and Wards sold everything including motorcycles. Most all were sourced out of Europe and sold rather inexpensively here in the States. This was at a time when small bikes were selling well as basic transportation and fun to ride. Motorcycling was growing fast and everyone (businesses) wanted to cash in. That happy time didn’t last all that long. Sears stopped the Allstate brand, Wards dropped Riverside even Western Auto stopped selling mini-bikes. Fortunately, a good number of these bikes have survived.
I found a really great example today on ebay of that time period. A Wards ‘Riverside’ 50cc motorbike. It’s a Benelli 50cc Fireball. A simple little two-stroke racebike with a head and tail light. This little bike is so cool. The owner went over the bike and removed all the ‘Wards Riverside’ logo’s and rebadged it as Benelli and it looks great. The seller says it runs good. There isn’t a lot of information about these bikes out there but there are a few websites that have info that you might want at a some time.
If you live in a city where getting around on a scooter works well, you’ll have a lot more fun on this little Benelli. And you’ll look a lot cooler too.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
Over the more than 100 years Harley Davidson has been building motorcycles they have dipped their toes into the waters of bikes other than big twins a few times. Their short lived love affair with Aermacchi, the horizontal singles and small two strokes came from Italy, and more recently a partnership with sportbike builder Erik Buell (of which I now own one, and much to my chagrin, I LOVE). But, The Motor Company always seems to come to it’s senses and goes back to what it sells best…big, heavy, twins that owners can make louder than a Led Zepplin concert.
Let’s take a short walk back to the early 1960’s and the world of scooters. Harley Davidson was doing everything it could to keep their market share here in the U.S of A while the British and more importantly, the Japanese, were whittling away at it. As mentioned before, the working with Aermachhi to enter the small bike market didn’t go quite as well as the bean counters in Milwaukee would have liked. What about building a scooter?? Could it, would it, work?? It didn’t matter, Harley was throwing money (money it didn’t really have) almost anywhere to keep selling motorcycles. Enter the Topper.
Harley Davidson built the Topper to cash in on the growing market of beginner riders and those that just wanted something fun to ride but wanted an American built machine. Well, the Topper went over like a fart in church. Harley built a medium sized 165cc, 9 horsepower, 2 stroke motor with a rope start (just like the one on your Craftsman lawnmower today) and top speed of about 46mph in a fairly modernistic designed, and…well, like I said ‘went over like a fart in church’. Harley kept it on the market for nearly 5 years but only sold about 3,000 of them and today only about 100 are still alive. That statistic alone gives it a very high cool factor.
So, today, I found one of the one hundred on ebay and it’s really cool. It’s no secret that I love scooters and I know that someday soon I’ll have another to ride around, a Harley Topper might just be more to my liking than a Vespa or Lambretta (is that because I now have a Harley powered motorcycle??…am I really headed to the dark side?? Oh Lord, please help me..). The one I found today is in great running condition with just a few small cosmetic flaws and only 6915 miles on the clock. It looks really great and would be perfect for someone who simply wants an around tow n grocery getter or a fun Sunday ride if you don’t have to get on the freeway.
If you are thinking about a vintage scooter that is very unique and quite rare, click on the pictures below for more info.
Believe it or not, often times less is more. Yeah, there is nothing quite like the rumble of a big V-Twin, the scream of a high revving two stroke triple, the roar of an inline four, or the thump of a big single. But, there are times that the song of a little (not even freeway legal) single or twin is pure music to your ears. Add to that a style that launched a whole generation of riders and you have the making of a true classic. Honda, better than anyone in the ’60’s, knew how to do just that.
THe Honda ‘Dream’ was a big bike by ‘then current’ standards, but Honda needed something in between the little ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda’ 50cc step-thru bikes and the ‘bigger’ 160’s and 305’s. The 90 was perfect.
The 90cc CA200 was light at just 188 pounds, put out a whopping 6.5 horsepower, could top 55 mph, get nearly 100 miles per gallon of regular gas and was quite stylish. Honda took the successful style of the ‘Dream’ model and the comfort of the ‘Benly Touring’ model and simply put a smaller motor in it. It worked!! The CA200 was one of Honda’s best sellers.It was the perfect transition bike for most riders of the time.
I found a really nice one on ebay today. Not too many miles, generally really nice condition…ok, it needs a bit of touch up here and there (the owner primered the top of the tank and there are a few dents here and there…) but, all in all pretty darn nice. This is the kind of bike that goes perfect on a motorhome bumper rack (it is that time of years ya know..), it’s also a very cool get around campus bike for the freshman at University in your family…chicks dig guys that don’t have big motorcycles to match their big ego’s. Well, maybe they do, but, I’m just dreaming here. I think the cool factor of this little Honda goes way beyond ego.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. This really is a very cool little motorcycle. And, reasonably priced I might add.
Well, here we are again looking at something way too cool, a ride that will give you a huge grin on your face for a bunch of reasons. First, it’s a classic scooter; second, it’s a Cushman (you don’t see those around every corner); third it is so strange looking that the cool factor is off the charts.
Cushman scooters were the epitome of sturdy, reliable, and trustworthy…the Boy Scout of scooters. Cushman built the scooter used by the military through World War 2 and beyond, the US Postal Service, schools for maintenance, hunters, golf courses, and anywhere you needed a trouble free utility vehicle. But Cushman wanted more, they wanted the general public to buy their scooters.
Cushman scooters were not what you would call stylish by any stretch of the imagination, clunky is the description I would use. But then Buck Rogers joined the design team. Welcome, the Road King. Jet age styling with Cushman low tech. Fun to ride and draws looks from everybody. The looks range from “what the hell is that?” to “wow, that is so cool”. I would love one.
Cushman brought the centrifugal clutch to the scooter world with their two speed transmission..twist and go. The twist was interesting though, you actually roll the throttle forward, opposite of normal motorcycles, took a bit of getting used to I would imagine. The Road King got an estimated 75MPG out of its 8Hp Cushman Husky motor and topped out at around 50mph. Can it get out of its own way? yeah, kinda but who cares, it’s just too much fun to ride.
I found a really nice Road King on ebay this morning that is a rider not a museum piece. It has the nicks and scratches that come with age but this scooter has aged very gracefully. The owner doesn’t state the miles but says it is a runner and has been gone over by a Cushman mechanic. It looks like it has a non stock muffler but that shouldn’t stop you from buying it.
There are quite a few Cushman websites and forums out there so finding parts, information, and support along with camaraderie will be easy. So, if you would like to have something that is truly unique and truly American, a Cushman Road King is something you should have. This is not your everyday grocery getter scooter, this is a Cushman Road King…too cool.
Click on the pics below for a bit more info and more pictures.
Now really, who amongst us that love vintage motorbikes wouldn’t love to have a bike that was designed to be parachuted out of an airplane behind enemy lines during World War 2? And how many of us have so many motorcycle projects filling the garage, evenings that are supposed to spent with the family, and money in the bank account, that have wives who would love to see us sitting on that bike falling out of an airplane….without a parachute? Raise your wrench, I thought so…pretty much all of us.
Next question, what if that bike was a scooter? Ah, not so many wrenches in the air this time. Come on you guys expand your horizons, think outside the gas tank. I’m not talking about your average Vespa or Lambretta (they wouldn’t handle being dropped off a curb much less out of an airplane), I’m going to something much cooler…a Cushman. Yeah, I know, Cushman made golf carts for a million years but they also made vehicles for the military. Cushman’s were strong and reliable, that was what was needed then ( it still is today when you think about it). Some models were touted as getting 100mpg but most got around 75mpg…at that time they advertised that you could ride a Cushman for less than a penny a mile.
There is a lot written about Cushman’s history and it’s pretty cool. Totally utilitarian but they also delved into the world of the futuristic with some of its designs in the ’50’s. Unique styling didn’t really help them then but today some of these models, especially the Road King model are highly desired by scooter aficionados.
The Model 53 also known as the ‘Airborne’, was designed to be parachuted out of an airplane to support the troops on the ground during World War 2. It had a number of uses during the war, the utility trailer that came with it could haul supplies to the troops and could even carry 50 caliber machine guns or 81 mm mortars. The Model 53 could forge a water crossing over a foot deep and climb a 25% hill…the Model 53 would go anywhere and do anything. Reliability was the key to its overall usefulness for the military.
At the end of the war there were still a lot of these models that had not gone to the government and were sold off as ‘Civilian’ models and could be had for a song.
I found a beautifully restored ‘civilian’ model on ebay this morning that would be so much fun to ride around town, the senior citizen trailer park or load it onto the bumper of your motorhome and hit all the National Parks. The owner has done a full resto on the scooter and shows only 1 mile? It should sell for a reasonable price and really would be an attention getter no matter where you ride it.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and a little more info.