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

motorcycle museums

1972 BMW R60/5

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I once had a friend who was so into BMW that I think he applied for German citizenship!? But he ended up simply restoring them and riding old Beemers all over the Western US. He even convinced me to buy one and in all honesty I loved it. I sold it a few years later after about 50,000 miles and every now and then I wish still had it.screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-12-12-49-pm

The bike I found on ebay today is an R60/5 model, nice bike. Here comes todays history lesson…at one time BMW was considering getting out of the motorcycle business but in 1964 the decision came to stay. They (BMW) hired a man from Porsche to design the next generation motorcycles.  In 1970 the /5 series replaced the /2 with a number of improvements and changes.  The Boxer engine remained with some changes but the rest of the bike was virtually all new. More horsepower, lighter weight and… here are the BIGGIES (insert drum roll here) a 12 volt electrical system and an electric starter!!! They did keep the kick starter for the traditionalist and I think, just in case the new electric starter dscreen-shot-2016-09-21-at-12-08-54-pmecided not participate that day.

Even with all the improvements it wasn’t perfect. Yes it had a higher cruising speed but getting there took more work. For one, just getting the bike rolling took some effort because of a heavy clutch and a tall first gear. The power came on at a little over 4000 rpm where as the /2 model got into it’s power between 2 and 3000 rpm, which considering BMW was still using a 4 speed you were working the gear shift lever a lot. The brakes were described as adequate. Now remember, this showed up when the Japanese had advanced to disc brakes so by comparison, yeah the BMW brakes were just adequate. The bike handled a lot better than it’s predesesor with more cornering clearance due to lifting the cylinders.The R60/5 was , and is, a very capable touring bike, it’s quite comfy even two up and has the power to get the two of you down the road.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-12-04-23-pmSo, Back to the one I found on ebay this morning. A very clean R60/5. The seller it has 21K miles but also says the speedo/odo doesn’t work so the mileage could be in question. It has some mechanical work done and the seller says it runs smooth. The R60/5 is in beautiful unrestored condition and the starting price is not unreasonable.

If your’e looking for classic BMW I think bike is well working at. Click on the link below for more info and more pictures. Oh and by the way, the classic ‘Toaster’ tank came out in ’72. It is very cool.

<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=1972+BMW+R60%2F5&icep_item=131940490340&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-11-52-16-am

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screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-11-52-46-am1972 BMW R60/5</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=1972+BMW+R60%2F5&item=131940490340&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

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1952 Puma 125

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 7.35.38 AMIn my circle of motorcycling friends there are a  few, well, most of them, that their motto is “the weirder the better”. That goes for cars, motorcycles and even some of the women they’ve dated over the years. Corvairs with 327 Chevys in what was the back seat, a  Honda CB350 with a Kawasaki Ninja 250 motor in it, a Moto Guzzi powered 3 wheeler shaped like a canoe, a Moto Guzzi powered Bonneville streamliner with a sidecar …the list goes on…and on and on…Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.22.15 AM

When you get into this crazy world you’re always looking for something that is just plain odd. I found one today on ebay that fits the bill perfectly. The Puma 125. Built in Argentina with a Sachs engine from Germany. Think about this, after WW2 a lot, I mean a lot, of Germans headed (fled) to Argentina. They brought with them mechanical and engineering skills beyond what the Argentine’s had at a the time and started making things with (and proudly) the ‘Made in Argentina’ label. It’s hard to find any information on this bike other than Sachs engine. It looks to be a very simple little 2 stroke. The seller says it was running but now needs some TLC. This is not a bike you would want to ride very far but with some good clean up , hang it on the wall in your TV room or ‘Man Cave’.Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.07.09 AM

This really is a very cool little motorbike, Rare  as rare can be. Click on the link below for more pictures and a little more 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=1952+Puma+125&icep_item=131802262971&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.26.20 AM

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Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.26.56 AM1952 Puma 125</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=1952+Puma+125&item=131802262971&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;


1941 Harley Davidson Flathead

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.50.36 AM Years back a friend decided he wanted to live “Off The Grid”, I think that at sometime in life quite a few of us have thought of that. Then reality hits. A wife, kids, going to PTA meetings, and how far away is the nearest grocery store? Dan decided to wait until PTA meetings were over and kids were off to college before he headed down the path of “Off The Grid”.
Dan had spent years planning this transition in life (much to his wife’s dismay and consternation) and then the day came…”Honey, I found us a piece of land in Arizona that would be perfect for getting out of the Rat Race.
Now I’ve known Dan for years and over those years he acquired quite a motorcycle collection, some were pieces of junk (we all have those) and some were very special. He sold ’em all to buy this piece of land and an Airstream trailer to plant on it. Again, his wife just sat there shaking her head and wondering what kind of medications could help her husband. Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.18.39 AM
Fast forward about a year…This “living off the grid” ain’t all it’s cracked up to be and more importantly Dan missed his motorcycles. Sell the land, the Airstream, move back to town and buy a motorcycle. This time he decided on a classic bike instead of something modern.
How ‘Vintage’ is vintage, how ‘Antique’ is antique? Dan opted for Pre-war American. Indian, Harley, Excelsior??? Dan found a beautiful Harley WL model Flathead that needed some love. A few months later, and about as much money as he paid for his Airstream he had a big smile on his face and his overly tolerant wife was happy to have central air conditioning.Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.50.24 AM
The ‘Flathead’ design motor was very common throughout motoring history. Dating back to the early 20th century it was used in cars, tractors, pretty much anything motorized. The design was simple, dependable and relatively cheap to manufacture. However, it’s design did limit its power output, there are always trade offs. The WL Model Harley Davidson was a 45 cubic inch model that eventually found itself doing service in World War Two for not only the US troops but also for the Russian Army, they bought nearly 30,000 of them. After the war, the WLA model (A was for Army’) was very popular with returning GI’s. There is a lot more history available out there about the Flathead Harley’s and it’s quite fascinating. When it comes to Flatheads though there is nothing like the sound of a Ford Flathead to wake up you soul!
Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.48.12 AMI found a really beautiful 1941 Harley WL model on Ebay this morning. Earlier in this story I talked about my friend Dan and his Airstream. He paid nearly $30,000 for that trailer, he sold it for about the same. After he finished all the work he had done on the 1940 Harley, he could have bought back his trailer and given his wife a dish washer and air conditioning. It didn’t matter, he loved the bike. The bike I found on ebay this morning is a deal!
It is ready to ride. It does show it’s age and that is just great. If you’re not the adventurous type or a skilled mechanic you may not want to ride the bike across the country, but for weekend outings, it’s perfect and well worth the money.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. There’s an old saying out there “God rides a Harley”…there is another one that goes along with it, “If God rides a Harley, God rides slow”. On this bike, slow is just fine.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 5.31.19 PM1941 Harley Davidson Flathead


1948 Nimbus

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 5.57.35 PMHow many of us have heard of Nimbus motorcycles? Not too many I imagine. It might be one that you have seen in a motorcycle museum, or in the pages of Motorcycle Classics magazine but probably not on the road. Too bad. It’s a wonderful machine built by a vacuum cleaner company in Denmark. Interesting thing here…this company built the first vacuum cleaner in Europe!
Around 1910 one of the founders of the vacuum cleaner company decided he could make a motorcycle and by 1918 he had. That was the year the first prototype was built, in 1919 they built two more, mass production didn’t begin until 1920. The new Nimbus was a 746cc air-cooled, shaft driven inline four. The Nimbus put out a whopping 10HP and had a top speed of just short of 55MPH and that was with a sidecar attached.
As advanced and wonderful as it was sales were poor, mostly due to a poor economy so production ended in 1926.But, in 1932 the founder of Nimbus and his son started designing a new motorcycle and in 1934 it debuted. There are a great number of changes to the original design except for the inline Four motor and the shaft drive. Horsepower had upped to 18 and a little later to 22. The new Nimbus acquired the nickname of “The Bumblebee” because of its exhaust note. One of the things I find most interesting about this engine is the exposed valve springs…very coolScreen Shot 2015-11-03 at 5.54.15 PM
The model ‘C’ sold well particularly to the Danish police, the postal service and the military. In 1939 as WW2 was winding up the military bought the majority of ‘C’ models. But as the war went on, getting materials to make the motorcycles became more and more difficult, less than 1000 motorcycles were built during that time. After the war new engine designs were developed but, because Nimbus was already selling everything they could make they decided on minor upgrades instead of retooling the factory.
Nimbus continued production until 1960. The Police stopped using the ‘C’ model in the late 1950’s because it couldn’t keep up with faster cars and motorcycles, however, the Postal Service continued to use the Nimbus until 1972.
I found a really nice 1948 Nimbus on ebay this morning. Mechanically this bike been gone through with a fine tooth comb. The rebuild modernized the bike without taking anything away from its soul. This is honestly one very unique motorcycle that you want to ride, not , I repeat NOT, park in your living room or hide under a blanket in your barn. Yeah it’s a little pricey but when you look at what has been done…it’s worth the Kroners (Danish currency). I only wish it had a sidecar as most Nimbus did, but you can find one.
Click on the pics below for a few more pictures and a boatload of information. And look closely, there is a serious resembelence to a very famous American motorcycle…which one?

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Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 6.02.54 PM1948 Nimbus


1937 DKW SB200

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.47.44 AMA 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.Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.55.00 AM

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?
Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.49.42 AMThis 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.

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Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.25.20 AM1937 DKW SR200


1942 Triumph BD250

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.30.24 AM99% of us know Triumph as a British motorcycle company. Another 75% of us know that they started by making bicycles (very common in early motorcycle manufacturing) in the late 1800’s. 5% of us know that Triumph was started by two German brothers.
I was not part of the 5% until today. I found a very interesting old Triumph on ebay this morning. As I was reading the description it said it was German. OK? I looked at the pictures and noticed that the logo on the tank knee pads was different than what we are used do. Time for research.
1886 Bicycles in England, 1902 Motorcycles in England, 1903 Motorcycles in Germany (homeland of the brothers that founded Triumph). Then here comes World War One. In 1913 the company diverged.Triumph Germany became TWN; Triumph Werk NuremburgScreen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.30.53 AM
Triumph Germany mainly developed 2 stroke motorbikes while Coventry focused on 4 strokes. TWN built military motorbikes through world War Two. TWN used the ‘Twingle’ motor of which the bike I found today.
Twingles are really interesting. Two pistons in one cylinder. There are two separate bores, one for intake and one for exhaust but they share a common combustion chamber, a very efficient design. Sears and Roebuck sold Twingles (made by PUCH of Austria) under the Allstate brand for a number of years.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.29.56 AM
Back to the BD250. It was mainly designed for the military and was equipped with hardware to mount a sidecar, important during the war. It was also quite fast for a 250cc, again important in the war.
The one I found today is really nice and would be wonderful fun. It has had some renovation work done, not museum level (I like that) but looks great. It will probably need some work to become rideable but there again is part of the fun of owning a bike like this. A little side note here, the was nicknamed “the Hedgehog”.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 11.15.00 AM1942 Triumph BD250


1951 Indian Chief ‘Blackhawk’ with Sidecar

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 9.13.57 AMAll too often I find motorcycles for sale that are way over priced. The seller bought a bike put all kinds of Chrome on it, or every high performance mod you can make, a $3000 paint job or thinks that just because it’s old it’s worth five or ten times the original price. The sad part here is that there are people out that buy them at silly prices. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean its classic…it’s just old.

And then there are motorcycles that can actually justify going to the bank and mortgaging your house for…provided you’re single or have a very understanding wife. I found one today on ebay, (bike, not wife) this absolutely beautiful 1951 Indian. Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 8.44.26 AM
I have developed an affinity for Indian Motorcycles, OK, I do own stock in the company…got to say that for full disclosure. But my love of the bike came when back in the late ’90s when my friend Roger Herbison let me ride his newly restored 1937 Indian Chief. Everything about the bike was wonderful. The look, the feel, more things than I can describe.
In Newburgh New York there is Motorcyclepedia, an incredible motorcycle museum. If you ever find yourself on the East Coast you really need to go. At Motorcyclepedia, there is an entire room dedicated to Indian Motorcycles.They have bikes from every generation of Indians…for better and worse. Models from the first year to service vehicles to Clymer era mini bikes. Everything Indian is there.Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 8.46.45 AM
Early on there was a great rivalry between Indian and Harley Davidson, mostly based on racing. Win on Sunday…sell on Monday. There were plenty of other American motorcycle manufacturers in the early 20th century but most fell by the wayside and eventually Indian did too. Indian went through many changes over the years and most of them not good. Today, Indian is in good hands. Polaris Industries (builders of Victory motorcycles) have brought Indian back. The classic style and feel are all there but with modern reliability.
But this website is all about Vintage bikes and I found one classic Indian that is well worth it.
First, I love Sidecar rigs and this 1951 Indian has a beauty. Here’s the deal with this bike and sidecar, it has modern upgrades but it also comes with most of the original parts. How cool is that.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and details. It was one of the rare bikes that I find that are worth the money asked.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 8.00.13 AM1951 Indian Chief w/Sidecar


1967 Harley Davidson Sportster

If you’re not picturing Elvis and Ann Margaret on this bike you’re too young to buy it, go to another website. Unless, if your parents have brought you up properly, you can stay.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.43.49 AM

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.39.16 AMI love Sportsters. I love the free revving, the quick throttle…Sportsters are just plain fun. Thats what they were designed to be in 1957. Think about it, the Sportster has been around for nearly 70 years. It has evolved but at its heart, a Sporty is still a Sportster. My daily ride is a Sportster powered Buell…I love it! Well, the electrics kind of suck but a couple thousand dollars later and…nevermind, I love the motor.

Over the decades Harley Davidson has tried everything to increase their market…Italian singles (I still want a Sprint 350…what a great Cafe Racer platform!), off-road two strokes (I really did love the Baja 100…what a blast to ride!!), the little Hummer two stroke (post world war two) and the partnership with Porsche for the V-Rod. But, the basic design, the feel and the ride since God was a child (no blasphemy here…) is what makes a Harley Davidson a Harley Davidson. They know their market.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.39.32 AM

I found a super cool Sportster on ebay this morning. It needs some love but not much I hope. It’s a runner, looks great and would be a great ‘Sunday Go to Meetin’ ride. Honestly, this is just a very cool bike…I love LOVE the white seat!!!

Click on the pics below for a bit more info and the pics. Oh, and yeah I know the picture of Ann and Elvis aren’t on a Harley but you really can picture can’t you?

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Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 7.52.51 AM1967 Harley Davidson Sportster


1932 Indian Scout

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.35.12 AMThe Indian Scout. When it first showed up in 1920 it was light, it was fast and for it’s time it handled great. Some called it the most important Indian model after the Chief. Starting in 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression, Indian like all other manufacturers were looking for ways to save money and keep going. What Indian did was set up their three models, the Scout, the Chief and the Four to all fit in the same frame. It was cost effective for sure and while it didn’t harm the Chief or the Four it certainly didn’t help the smaller Scout motor.

The new for 1932 Scout became less rider friendly. With the new chassis the bike didn’t have the same agile feeling of the previous Scout models. The new Scout was a 430 LB, 22 HP, 3 Speed Handshift model. But still, a great motorcycle. What many don’t know is there was also a 600 cc version. Not too many were made and it wasn’t a profitable project.

The Scout model has been resurrected by the new Indian Motorcycle Company and looks to be a great bike, one that should surely live up to it’s heritage.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.35.43 AMI found a really nice Scout on ebay. Mechanically sound and ready for restoring or ride it as it is. Me, I’d ride it as it is rust and all!
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. It ain’t cheap…but well worth it!

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Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.40.21 AM1932 Indian Scout


1934 Matchless Sport 250

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.46.59 AMThere is a lot of history when it comes to Matchless, much like all British makes. Most builders seemed to start out building bicycles then added motors. Some built their own motors, others sourced motors from outside. I have written much about Matchless here before so I’ll be brief this time.
Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.51.39 AMMatchless started in 1899 and kept producing bikes through 1966 (some were sold as 1967 models). Matchless was really well known for their single cylinder machines (of which I have a great affinity for) and the last of the singles were sold in ’67. The G50, the G80…classic machines that won the Isle Of Mann TT in 1907 and then again in 1909 and 1910.
Matchless was started by Henry Collier and later his two sons started racing the machines. 1907 Charlie won the Isle of Mann TT Singles race and then brother Harry won the 1909 and 1910 TT’s.
Besides all the history around Matchless and the marriage with AJS is that Matchless supplied the V-Twin motor that powered the Morgan 3-wheeler! Cool.Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.41.28 AM

I found on ebay this morning a wonderful example of the beauty of simplicity. The 1934 Matchless Sports 250. It sported a stunning 2.46 HP and had a top speed of somewhere between 50 and 55 MPH!!! My lawnmower has 10HP and could maybe go 5 MPH?! I guess its all in how you gear it and what you want it to do, but I am truly amazed at the speed that 1934 2.46 HP motorcycle can attain. Now here is the interesting thing about this motorcycle when it was new…you paid extra for the horn and the speedo. I guess at that time, you just rode past someone yelled at them, flipped them off and didn’t care how fast you were going. Ah, the beauty of simplicity.

This Matchless is truly beautiful. It looks like it has been gone over very nicely and in my guesstimation is selling at a very fair price. Click on the pics below for more pictures and some more info

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Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.50.29 AM1934 Matchless Sports 250