A bit of history and some stories about vintage bikes for sale

mini bikes

1969 Triumph Tiger Cub and more…package deal

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.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.49.28 AM 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.
Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 5.22.47 PMThe 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.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.38.06 AMNext 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!!!

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Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.13.11 AMTriumph Tiger Cub and more

1970 Harley Davidson SX models

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 8.17.12 AMOver the years Harley Davidson, “The Motor Company”, has done everything they can to increase their market share around the world. They have had Aermacchi (HD bought 50% of the company in 1960) of Italy build bikes for them (the Baja 100 comes to mind as well as the Sprint 350 (also known as the “Spaghetti Hoglet”…of which I still lust after). The V-Rod, a collaboration of Harley Davidson and Porsche, but none of them have created the sales of the basic Harley Davidson motorcycle.
But, the odd-ball Harley’s were really cool. Light, unique, fun…I mean really, in the ’60’s and early 70’s what more could you ask for? Harley had fun advertising, the bikes were great, but…?
Harley was really reaching out to young adults, women, African Americans, Latino’s…it was all part of an “Outreach” Program. Sales just weren’t there.Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 8.16.33 AM
This morning I found a couple of SX two stroke models on ebay that if you have the time, some money and more importantly the patience….these could be fun bikes to have. Yes they have what is politely known as ‘patina’…rust, they need all kinds of love but I’ll tell you what, I have seen and bought bikes for more $$$ than these two.
These two bikes could maybe be made into one really cool little cafe racer? or just fixed up for a daily ‘around town’ bike, a Sunday go to meetin’ bike? All I know is that I found them kinda cool.
Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 7.52.34 AMFor those of you (us) that are a little on the motorcycle nerdy side, you have a lot of spare time, have a weird sense of humor and want to leave them in your best friends driveway (behind his wifes Mercedes) or think that AMF (American Machine and Foundry…aka Adios Mother Fu*&^R) was the best thing that ever happened to The Motor Company, which goes back to leaving them in your friends driveway, these are the bikes for you. You know, the more I think about it, all of us that have collected (bought after having one too many Mai Tai) have spent more and gotten less. These could be fun.
Click on pics below for a few more and very little bit of info.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 1.58.29 PM1970 Harley Davidson SX models

1968 Manco Mini Chopper

“Hey Ethel, look what I found at the swap meet today!!! I think Bubba Jr. is gonna love it! It’s a mini chopper, looks just like my real chopper!” “I know he’s only seven years old but like I’ve always said get ’em started early…kinda like me and you”

I remember riding Byron Snedakers homemade minibike as a kid, we’d blast that little thing all over the neighborhood (that’s back in the day when you could). His dad literally modified a Schwinn Sting Ray bicycle frame to hold a lawnmower engine and designed (or bought) a chain drive system and a throttle. It was waaaayy too much fun. We were nine years old and it was summer vacation. That next Christmas Santa brought Byron a genuine Taco minibike…he still believes it was Santa that brought him the bike. A couple other guys in the neighborhood had mini’s and as you can imagine, races became the norm. I rode the ‘Sting Ray Lawnmower’ a few times until the frame broke.

I found a Manco mini chopper on ebay this morning that just cracked me up. This guy some good money and time into and as mini choppers go, did a great job. Now, Manco, also known as Yellow Jacket, was actually better known for its 4 wheelers. Off road vehicles and go carts. The mini bikes it seems were more of a side business? They were powered by a 3 1/2 hp Techumsa engine and were pretty standard. But, a lot got modified…all minibikes back then did.

So, if you think Bubba Jr. at your house would love to be like Bubba Sr. then this is a perfect summertime play toy. Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Could be fun.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 2.02.43 PM1968 Manco mini bike

1960 Cushman Eagle

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 8.08.06 AMNow, I love Scooters! Scooters of all sorts. My father rode to and from work on a Lambretta. I have owned a 1959 Honda CA102 for it seems like a hundred years. When this little motorbike was designed it was built to “be easy in your hand” and that it was. That was the bike bike that my daughter learned how to do wheelies on. Yes, you can do wheelies on a 1959 Honda step through. I have sold Scooters and taught new riders how to handle the streets of Los Angeles on a Scooter. I love Scooters!

But this is all about a Cushman Eagle. The Cushman Scooter company decided that even though they had been known for traditionally styled scooters (step through, full body work, auto trans, etc) ands then more Buck Rogers style… they wanted to get a more ‘motorcycle look’, here comes the Eagle. After World War 2 returning soldiers we’re buying motorcycles by the thousands, but economics as they were, often times a Scooter was was much more cost effective. Cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and cheaper to maintain! Cushman capitalized on that market. But it had to have the look.Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 8.06.09 AM

The Cushman Eagle had a more traditional ‘Peanut’ gas tank, standard looking frame but was it really the same Scooter they had been selling for years…the same Scooter that was used for mail delivery, pizza delivery and parking enforcement but the Eagle was much cooler.

The Eagle was without a doubt the most fun you could have with just 9HP. The Eagle came out in 1949 and was in production for 16 years. A 318cc single cylinder and a two speed transmission. The first of the ‘naked’ scooters. Sears sold them under the Allstate brand for years.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 7.43.14 AMNow more fun stuff from Cushman…I have never thought about going Sky Diving. Why jump out of a perfectly running airplane??? Get me three feet off the ground and I want stewardesses, jet engines, movies and cocktails. However in WW2 Cushman built the Airbornes! Scooters that were parachuted out of airplanes!!! I don’t think the rider was on it?? What a ride that would be!!!

Nowadays, most Cushman’s you see are on the Golf Course, yes Cushman did build Golf Carts, but I did find a really nice Eagle on ebay this morning. It doesn’t need a thing except a rider.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. More importantly…have fun!

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Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 7.55.08 AM1960 Cushman Eagle

1948 Hiawatha Super Doodlebug

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.46.26 AMIt’s Spring and a young mans fancy turns to…a Doodlebug? What the heck, why not? If it’s got two wheels and a motor it’s gonna be fun!
I’m a big fan of motorbikes that make you smile the minute see them or sit on them. Motorbikes that remind you of when you were a kid, or the one that you rode to and from school or took a girl on her first motorcycle ride.Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.50.15 AM

Those of us that grew up in the 50’s and 60’s remember minibikes all too well. Taco, Mustang, Bonanza, there were a bunch back then. Kits to build your own were advertised in Popular Mechanics and Boys Life magazines. If you wanted one, you take the money you made on your paper route and buy the one the kid down the street had (and let you ride a couple of times…without your mom knowing) but has outgrown, or your dad would build you one from scratch with an old lawnmower motor. However you got one, you rode it all over the neighborhood. Through Mrs.Wilsons flower garden, did doughnuts in Mr.Jones perfectly manicured front yard and practiced your wheelie skills. And, you only got brought home by the police once.Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.52.33 AM
I found this neat little Doodlebug on ebay this morning and started thinking about finding Ozzie and Harriet or Leave it to Beaver episodes on Netflix. Instead, I did some research. Doodlebugs were manufactured between 1946 and 1948 by Beam Manufacturing in Webster City, Iowa. The idea was to create a cheap form of transportation following World War 2 and to compete with the Cushman model sold at Sears and Roebuck (under the Allstate name).
Beam sold the Doodlebug under the brand name Hiawatha through Gambles Department stores for a whopping $69.95! For your $70 you got a 1 1/2 horsepower giggle. They were also through Western Auto stores under the brand name Western Flyer.
It’s estimated that are probably only about 1000 Doodlebugs left in the world and yet they have a very popular following. The Doodlebug Club of America has an annual reunion that seems to grow bigger each year.Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.51.44 AM
The Doodlebug I found today has had a complete restoration and looks great. At first I thought the asking price was crazy, but through my searching I found that it was right in line with all the others on the market. So…if a 1 1/2 horsepower high giggle factor bit of two wheel history and fun blows your skirt up then click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. And then have fun letting your grandkid ride through your neighbors flower garden!

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Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.58.58 AM1948 Hiawatha Super Doodlebug

1965 Hodaka ACE 90

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.19.51 PM“LUUUUCCCCYYYY…it’s time to go!!!” “But Ricky, the RV isn’t ready and we don’t have any way to get around once we get to the KOA”
“Lucy, we have everything we need in the RV…what else do you want?”
“I may want to go shopping? I don’t want to have to carry bags of ice and firewood…I want to have fun!”

It’s that time of year again. We’re all getting ready for spring and summer vacations. Those of us that have Medicare and RV’s are planning one thing and our kids are planning something entirely different that usually ends up on the internet and they have to explain it to us when our fellow church members tell us about it. Question…what are our fellow church members doing looking at those sort of internet video’s anyway??? Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 12.30.22 PM

Ok, back to Lucy wanting a motorcycle, what you need to get around the KOA, get some ice for margaritas, a little stack of firewood or a quick jaunt into town for a new polka dot skirt is not a big touring bike, you need/want is a fun little bike that will fit on the front bumper of your truck with a camper or the back bumper of your motorhome,(hell, even inside your motorhome!) You need a bike that is easy to start, easy to ride and more importantly is as cool as you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the Hodaka Ace 90.
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I can’t think of one rider that when you mention Hodaka motorcycles they don’t start smiling. It may be because of the name, it may be that someone they knew had one, or maybe they themselves had one. People that have been around motorcycles since before ECU’s, TractionControl, Wheelie Control,ABS and every other electronic doodad to make riding a motorcycle more fun (?) know the joy of just riding a motorcycle.

Hodaka is often credited with creating the ‘Trail Bike’ craze here in America. And you know what, probably so. Yeah, there were small bikes that were fun to ride before the ACE 90, but there was just something about that little bike that just clicked with everyone.

Was it the chrome tank? The easy start motor ? The Red frame? Who cares. It was a great motorbike and the company went on to create a whole bunch of fun bikes to ride. My old racing buddy and friend Ted rode a Thunderhog to and from work everyday. And chances are still does…mainly because it’s more fun than his Triumph Trident!

I found a really neat little ACE 90 on ebay this morning that would really be great on the front or back bumper of your motorhome this year. Get around town, do some sightseeing… Actually it would be more fun under your butt everyday. Better yet, go do one of those ‘Family Enduro’s’ on it. I have a story about that sort of incident on my website blog somewhere.

The ACE 90 here is in really great shape, its ready to ride right now. It has been gone through, has some improvements and really, if you’re looking for a fun little motorcycle to ride around town, do some casual off-road riding, you really can’t do any better than this. There is a HUGE online community devoted to Hodakas. These are truly the most fun motorcycles ever built. I don’t know why…but they are!!!

Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a very cool little bike

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Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.57.52 AM1965 Hodaka ACE 90

1971 Speedway ‘Widow Maker’

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 7.41.12 AMA mini-bike called the “Widow Maker”…yep, 80cc can certainly do that…make sure your life insurance policy is paid up. OK, all sarcasm aside, an 80cc mini-bike is a hoot to ride but…can it truly live up to it’s name?
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For those of you that have watched the movie “On Any Sunday”…probably so many times your wife and kids are sick of it (and if you haven’t you should) you have seen the Widow Maker Hillclimb in Utah. 80cc probably wouldn’t make it that far up, especially one with a single speed transmission…100 feet? Ok, again, no more sarcasm.
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I actually started my dirt bike career on an 80cc Yamaha. Truthfully, the first 30 minutes on the homemade track in Malibu that little bike scared the crap out of me but then….the rest is history. It was more of a motorcycle than a mini bike bit mini bikes are sooooo much fun. Pocket Bikes, mini Road Racers (my good friend and old road racing buddy Erik) rode a pocket bike for a year or two on the Willow Springs Go Kart track and he had way too much fun. Small bikes are supposed to be fun!!! And this Speedway looks the part.

Speedway was manufactured during the early 70’s in Ohio, they were trying to give Rupp mini-bikes some competition. Rupp was the King Kong of the Mini World…I had a Taco mini-bike for a while, I thought ‘they’ were the Mini Kings?

I found this neat little Speedway Widow Maker on ebay this morning. It’s a very cool little mini dirt bike. It’s gonna need some TLC but, if you have a young kid at home, got a big back yard or a neighbor that does, and you’ve got the time get this little sled running and looking good…the fun factor is way up there. The sad part is you’re going to have to wait till your kid goes to school or bed to ride it!

Clock on the pics below for a bit more info (not much) and a bunch more pictures. Got a Five year old kids birthday coming up? A favorite nephew or your own…this is a great way to start!

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Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 7.23.49 AM1971 Speedway Widow Maker

1949 Indian 63D 3 Wheeler

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 8.14.52 AMI 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…
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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.

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Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 7.54.07 AM1949 Indian 63D Three Wheeler

Hodaka Super Rat

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.44.13 PMThere 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

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Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 8.50.42 AMHodaka Super Rat

Honda Monkey bike

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.43.15 AMWay 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.Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 7.42.16 AM

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.

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