Starting a racing career in the California deserts in the 1960′s was great! These were the days that on the starting line were legendary names…Bultaco, CZ, Maico, Husqvarna, Ossa, Penton, Sachs, DKW, Zundapp and probably a half dozen others that I can’t remember right now. But, also were the heavy weights…Triumph, BSA, Norton, even Harley Davidson (yes, the big motors, not the little Italian jobs, even though there were plenty of them as well) and believe it or not once in a while a BMW?! The Japanese were making serious inroads into off-road competition as well, I rode a Honda SL350 for two years in Enduro’s and desert races. And then to add even more fun to these event were the ‘sidehack’ racers. Talk about nutballs!?
This was a period in time where innovation and experimentation ruled in motorcycling. Off-road racing had the Rickman brothers and Eric Cheney building better chassis’ than the OEM, Flat Track had Champion and Track Master, Road racing had their fair share of custom builders as well. This was a time to take a good motor and make it handle better. This may not be considered the ‘Golden Age’ of motorcycling to some, but to my generation, yeah, it was.
I found a cool Cheney Racing framed Triumph on ebay today and it got me to thinking and remembering…and doing a bit of research. My step-dad’s best friend Stan Hughes had a really cool Cheney/BSA single that I thought was the hardest motorcycle in the world to start, I think I’m still right on that one (but I did learn the secret to easier starting…a few years later). I never got to ride the bike very far but I do remember how good it felt. Everything seemed to just fall into place (ergonomics) and the bike steered with almost no effort. And, on top of all that it was beautiful.
There is a good amount of Eric Cheney’s history on the web, he built the frame for British MX Champ John Banks’ BSA, he developed ISDT (International Six Day Trials) for Triumph from 1968-71 and many other racers. Most of his frames were built around the BSA Singles of the time but also built kits for the Triumph twins. A Cheney framed bike was a prized possession.
Eric passed away a few years ago and his son took over the business. You can still get a Cheney frame built to your specs! How cool is that!
The bike I found on ebay is in very good condition, I don’t think it runs but the seller believes it’s an easy fix to get it going (weak spark…Lucas electrics?). If you want an interesting vintage off roader this is a good choice. And the Triumph 500 motor is a blast to ride!
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
Every now and then you simply need a vehicle that will get you to and from the grocery store, the local nursery, or just to cruise around the town and have people looking at you like you’re some sort of crazy eccentric. Or, maybe you are a retired mailman and remember driving one of these for your daily deliveries and you want a piece of your history.
The Cushman Mailster is all that and more…or less depending on how you look at it.
Cushman was started by the Cushman brothers back in 1903 in Lincoln Nebraska making motors for farm equipment. In 1936, during ‘The Great Depression’, started making scooters. Then during World War 2 making utility vehicles.
When the war was over Cushman was sitting on a lot of their 3 wheel vehicles, a lot. Somebody in the sales department was smart and went to the postal service and said, “hey, I’ve got a great idea to make mail delivery faster, easier and more efficient, it’s called the ‘Mailster’!!
Well, by the late 1950′s one third of the US Postal Service was using the ‘Mailster’ to deliver your Sears catalog to your doorstep along with your water and electric bills. And maybe the collection notice from Household Finance company. However, the mailmen really didn’t like the Cushman all that much. The Mailster was way underpowered (7.5 horsepower), was unreliable, had bad brakes and was pretty inconvenient to load and unload. And, on top of all that, they tended to tip over if you went around a corner at more than 25 MPH. They were so easy to tip over that a big dog (who we all know love mailmen?) could actually knock one over!? But…they were good enough that the New York Police Department even used them.
Negatives aside, this a very cool piece of motorized history and can be a lot of fun for somebody who lives in a small town (as do I), or a retirement community (as I don’t). But…There is another idea out there…the perfect tailgater!
Think about this, put a cooler inside, a grill in the back, a keg on the side..you have the coolest portable party machine in town!!
I found this Westcoater/Mailster on ebay and thought this would really be a fun vehicle to have. Cushman has an amazing history from basic scooters, to the mailster and truckster to some very Space Age styled scooters in the 50′s and golf carts. This is a very cool vehicle, licensed as a motorcycle. This one is a runner but probably needs the basic going through. For more info and more pictures, click on the pic’s below.
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.
This is a bike that is not for the faint of heart, but…it’s a really cool motorcycle.
The rotary engine was nothing new at the time of the RE5. The first patent of the Wankell’Rotary’engine was back in 1927! However, work didn’t begin in earnest until the early 50′s at NSU in Germany. There is a lot of interesting history regarding the rotary engine, nearly every major car manufacturer was working with the Wankell design as were all four major Japanese motorcycle companies. One little bit of history I found rather humorous was that the weird looking AMC Pacer (a bubble looking sort of car) was actually designed around the rotary engine. unfortunately, GM who AMC was going to buy the motors from, stopped production of the rotary powerplant and the Pacer was built with the incredibly anemic AMC inline 6…sad.
Back to motorcycles, Even though all the ‘Big Four’ had toyed with the rotary engine only Suzuki stepped up to the plate with the RE5. This really was a technological ‘Tour de Force’ and a very bold move. Styling was somewhat typically Japanese for the time and a bit off at the same time. The ‘beer can’ instrument panel was the design of someone who had a bit of Sake’ at lunch and was approved by someone who had way too much Sake’ at lunch.
The RE5 is a really incredible motorcycle, I had the chance to ride one a few years ago and was astounded by how smooth the motor was. The power was good, not great, the handling was typically Suzuki (excellent!) but the main thing here is the motor. Because of the smoothness of the motor I would feel like I was doing 65mph when I was actually nudging 100!!
If you are the type that likes unique motorcycles and wants something way off the normal path, this RE5 is right up your alley. You’re not going to find a plethora of parts on ebay, but you will find a great deal of support elsewhere on the net. Those that have the RE5′s love them and are a very devoted group.
Click on the pics below for more info about this bike and more pictures. It is a really cool bike and well worth the investment.
This is the time of year that many (most) classic bike lovers, collectors and hoarders start looking through the garage and wondering what project to work on next. In some cases it’s an easy choice, it’s the bike you have been buying parts for the past year and it’s finally time to get to work. Or…it’s an iennie-meenie-mienie-mo decision, “what bike do I want to ride this spring?” Usually these decisions are made late at night after drinking beers with friends that wish they had your problem…never a good time to make choices that end up costing you a lot of money or your wife making you sleep in the garage with your new ‘project’.
But, some vintage bike people have a different sort of problem, they have ‘non-project bikes’ (bikes that already run just great and just don’t get ridden enough) in the way of bikes that need love. I found one of those on ebay this morning, a 1964 BMW R60/2 that is ready to go.
The R60/ series was basically designed as a true utilitarian motorcycle. Stout, reliable, capable of pulling a sidecar (the frame mounts were already there), and with a top speed af around 90mph, no slouch for its size. The R60 weighed 430lbs, put out around 30hp and was built like a tank. One of the unique features of the R60 in Europe and the early versions brought to the US, was the Earles front suspension. The Earles front suspension was designed to help eliminate the front-end dive of the telescopic fork and keep steering more accurate under braking. It also was the front suspension of choice for those that want to attach a sidecar. Side note here…years back my friend Jeff got a wild hair up his ass about getting a side car rig. He decided that a BMW R80RT was the bike of choice for the project. He got his bike and a sidecar and then started having the best time of his motorcycling life. After much frustration with the handling, he talked with other side car nuts and found that the Earles or leading link front suspension would cure all his ills (bike related ills …not his other psychological ills…). Once that was installed, life was great. I can personally attest to what a difference that change made.
The R60′s really are one tough motorcycle. The travel stories out there that star an R60 are endless. There is a great book, ‘Two Wheels To Adventure’ by Danny Liska that documents his trip from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego on and R60. It is a great read for any one who has a wanderlust and a testament to the strength of the R60′s.
The R60/2 I found today is a ready to go rider that has had some extras added that are well worth it and unique looking too…as in not your typical old BMW accessories, but really perfect for this bike. The black bike has only 47,000 miles on the clock and has pampered its whole life. The seller has detailed service notes and good history of the bike. The is equipped with a Heinrich fairing which looks really great on this bike and a set of Enduro(?) saddlebags which flow really nicely with the fairing. New seats for comfort and they look great. The bike does have the Earles forks which makes it an ideal candidate to hook a side car up to, I think a Steib would be perfect.
The seller is one of these guys that is making room (both mentally and logistically) for other projects and is looking for a better home for this really nice BMW that is a rider not a show queen and as he puts it, “it won’t break your heart to get a few rock chips from a great ride.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more information.
Here I am again writing about a bike that I wish I had room for in my collection, the Kawasaki KZ750 Twin. It may not have the status of a Bonneville, a Lightning 650, a Commando, or even an XS650 (I have owned 2 out of the 4), but the KZ750 Twin deserves more love that it gets. The KZ750 is a classic bike that has been flying under the radar since it was new.
When the 750 twin came out it fit right between Kawasaki 600 and 1000 fours and we all looked at it and thought…why? At that time there were only two big vertical twins left on the market, the Bonnie and the XS, Kawasaki thought they could find a place in that market. There were still riders that liked vertical twins. Compared to the Triumph and the Yamaha, the KZ750 was just plain boring. The styling was conservative, the motor was just a lump (styling wise) between the wheels and, the mufflers were a bit too big with a big ugly seam running along the top and made the motor sound more like it was wheezing instead of breathing.
What Kawasaki did do with the KZ twin motor, that was either good or bad depending on your point of view, was smooth out the vibration that vertical twins are known for. Part of the charm (?) of the vertical twin motor is the feel, the vibration that comes up from the seat,the footpegs and handlebars…it let you know the bike was alive. Kawasaki built the motor with counter balancers that took that feel away but made the bike a very smooth ride for a big twin. I think that was part of why the KZ twin was really a non-event in motorcycling, that and it just came out a few years too late.
The KZ750 wasn’t fast, it came to market with a modest 55 horsepower (give or take), a top speed of somewhere just north of 100mph (barely), a bit heavy at a little over 500 lbs, and a soft suspension. The brakes were decent though. But you know what…it’s a great motorcycle!
One thing that Kawasaki is well known for is building bikes with great motors, and the KZ750 twin is no exception. Kawasaki motors have a reputation for being nearly indestructible, many journalists have called them the ‘King Kong’ motors of the industry…what else would you expect from a company who also builds steamships and locomotives?!
The beauty of the KZ 750 twin is that it can be any kind of motorcycle you want it to be. You can leave it stock (why?), chop it, bob it, load it up with a faring and saddlebags for touring, put a sidecar on it or, in my case, make a cafe racer out of it. The KZ750 twin is ultra reliable, easy to maintain and parts are still available. The net is full of resources and enthusiasts for this under loved motorcycle.
I found a really nice KZ750 twin on ebay this morning that somebody needs to buy. This is one of those, buy it…go get it…ride it home. Well, unless you live in North Dakota or Minnesota. It has only 9446 miles on the clock, it’s in really great condition and will be a great value for the buyer. Put on a new set of tires, give it a good going over, re-jet the carbs (they came from the factory way too lean), put on a set of good aftermarket mufflers, a set of lower handlebars, better rear shocks…ok, wait a minute, I’m heading off into the cafe zone. Really though, set it up which ever way you would like this is a really good motorcycle for the money.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.
There is something about the CBX that can’t be explained. This is a beast of a motorcycle but it is more ‘Beauty and the Beast’ than ‘The Hulk’. It is an incredible motorcycle and Honda did absolutely the right thing with it as time went along.
The CBX came at a time when the ‘Big Four’ (Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda) were all developing ‘Superbikes’. Honda at the time was considered the tamest of the bunch, everything about the bikes were good,fit and finish was way above everybody else, comfort was great and the bikes Honda was building were easy to ride, but nothing really stood out, what’s a poor company to do?! Let’s take our racing success and bring it to the street.
Honda developed the six cylinder motors for Grand Prix racing in the 60′s quite successfully. Jim Redmond and his 250 and 350 six cylinder bikes won just about every race they entered. So, when time came for Honda to blow past the retail competition they brought in Shoichiro Irimajiri, the engineer that developed the Grand Prix bikes to design the new Honda Superbike.
Development of the CBX started in 1976 and the biggest problem they faced was getting the weight down. Initially, Irimajiri San wanted the bike to be water cooled because it would be lighter, but the higher ups insisted on standard air cooling because of cost effectiveness. Truth be told, the CBR1000 four cylinder was actually faster than the Six. In the end the CBX should have produced about 130HP but settled at 103hp only 5 more than the CB1100F of the time. There may have not been much difference in the HP ratings but the difference in the ride is huge.
Here’s what happened however, Honda built a fantastic motor and designed a beautiful body for it but, then scrimped on the handling aspect of the bike. The CBX was not the Superbike that everyone, including Honda had hoped for, but Honda figured what the CBX was perfect for…Sport Touring.
Other than BMW with their RS series motorcycles, nobody else was really into the sporting side of touring. In 1981 Honda took the CBX in a whole new direction that was just about perfect. A complete change to the suspension (front and rear), a sleek new fairing and some stylish saddlebags and you have the sportiest ride to take you from here to Nova Scotia and back.
There is so much more to the CBX story. Sadly, the CBX was only around for four years but since that time it has grown a following that lives and breathes six cylinders. I found a beauty on ebay this morning that if you are looking for a sport tourer that will serve you well, be comfortable, draw a lot of attention as you travel across the country and still leave money in your bank account to do the travels, check this CBX out. It only has 44K miles, has a fresh tune up and battery, the carbs have been gone through and it is ready to ride. This is one of those bikes that I advocate (especially at this time of the year) that you buy it, fly to it and ride it home…the long way!
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a great bike and I think it can be had at a very reasonable price.
It’s sad to see some motorcycles that were beautifully built only last a couple of years and then away they go. This Victoria V35 Bergmeister is a perfect example.
Victoria Motorcycles started out like many company’s making motorcycles by making bicycles. Victoria’s two wheelers started in 1886 and became motorized in 1901. Originally, Victoria built the frames but sourced engines from other manufacturers, FN and Horex as examples. Victoria motorcycles were very popular through the 1920′s and 30′s with good successes in racing, particularly in the mountain races and hillclimbs. In 1926 A Victoria motorcycle set the world speed record at 165KPH.Because of the racing victory’s in the mountains, 1933 brought a new model, the Bergmeister, which means ‘Mountain Champion’.
Along came World War Two. Production shifted to smaller motorcycles built for the military. In 1945, the Victoria factory was bombed by the allied forces and almost nothing was left. But at war’s end, they started rebuilding. Again, it was with small motorcycles and larger bikes with engines again sourced from the likes of BMW, Horex and Columbus.
In 1951 the top German designer, Richard Kuchen, came to Victoria and started with a fresh sheet of paper and designed a new Bergmeister.
This new model featured a very compact V-Twin design of 350cc. The intent was to fit it between the BMW and Horex singles of the time and, the larger Boxer Twins of Zundapp and BMW. The motorcycle was so sturdy and strong that it was well suited for sidecar use. It had 21 horsepower, good for its time and size.
The thing that really stands out about this motorcycle is the engine. When you look closely at it, you don’t see any intake runners, carburetor, air cleaner or battery…they’re all inside. The motor really looks like something out of a Flash Gordon Saturday matinée episode. I really like it. The running gear consists of a four speed chain driven transmission and a shaft final drive. All built to last. Typically German.
But there was a fly in the ointment. The design and prototype process started in 1951 but the bike didn’t make it to market until 1954 and when it did it was already behind the curve of what was being built by other German motorcycle makers and because of its long development time and cost, it was too expensive for ‘just a 350′. The V35 Bergmeister only lasted from 1954-1956, in 1958 Victoria merged with DKW and by the early 1960′s Victoria was no more.
So, in my early morning perusal of ebay, I come across this very nice example of a Victoria V35 Bergmeister. These bikes are very rare, some say only about 450 are left in the world at this time and parts for this machine are even rarer. The one I found here isn’t a runner but it was when it was put away and it’s all there except the mufflers. Has new ‘old’ tyres, the original service book, and seat. It does need some love but the owner says it kicks over strong with good compression, clicks through all the gears like it should and generally looks very good. It has been repainted (frame and body work) but the color is just a little bit off I think, not bad just a little off. I like this bike a lot, it’s got a really clean look, slim and compact and love that engine. So, if you’re looking for something very unusual that really won’t take all that much to restore, or at least get running this could be something that belongs in your garage. And when you’re riding it and someone asks what kind of Moto Guzzi is it, you can just smile and say “it’s not…it’s a Bergmeister” and ride away watching in your mirror them scratching their heads and wondering what a Bermeister is. Click on the pic below for more info and pictures. Hurry up because right now it’s still at a pretty good price.
From Cycle World in 1980…
“Despite its exceptional handling and good looks, rest assured the V50
will never be a popular motorcycle. That’s part of its charm. It is,
above all else, an exotic motorcycle, available in much smaller
quantities than any previous Guzzi. Evaluated as an exotic motorcycle,the V50 is nearly ideal, its temperate nature being easy to live with and its individualistic features and style clearly telling any other motorcycle it is not just like anything else.”
Being a lover of small and mid size motorcycles, I’m always intrigued by the little exotics that show up on ebay or at swap meets. Also, I have this building need to have a Moto Guzzi in my barn. I have to finish two Honda 350′s, a Benelli 250 and Yamaha SRX however before any other two wheeled orphans show up.
The Guzzi V50 was brought out during the days of the gas price crisis here in the US. Guzzi head honcho Alejandro de Tomaso was sure that the growth of motorcycling would continue to spiral upward and mid size bikes would be leading the way. He didn’t understand the American motorcycle buyer mentality very well apparently. Few V50′s came to these shores when it first came alive in 1977 and sales never really met expectations. In the early 80′s the Lake Como factory brought the Monza out to capitalize on the more ‘sportbike’ oriented market.
There was really only one issue with the V50 that every magazine editor / tester brought up…lack of horsepower. The bike was lightweight, therefore easy handling, it has a great sound, comfortable in sporty way but…just down on power. Some reviews have put it into the class of not really freeway / highway capable. Again, I go back to the American mentality of bigger is better. I really don’t get it. At just over 400 lbs and pushing out somewhere in the vicinity of 40+ HP and…the ability to reach 100 mph, it is perfectly capable of highway travel. Well, it may take a while to get up to speed and that can make getting on some freeways (especially here in Southern California) a bit iffy.
So, here is why you buy the V50…its handling. If you live in an area where you have tight twisty roads, you are going to have a field day playing with bigger, modern sportbikes. Light, agile and exotic…what more could you possibly ask for? Cycle Magazine described it as “simply not a mass market machine for the casual or average buyer.” Well said.
The early V50′s were built at the main factory in Mandelo near Lake Como (one of the most beautiful places on earth), starting in ’79, the V50 was made in the Lambretta Scooter factory. The V50 adopted electronic ignition, linked brakes and cast wheels. There are quite a lot of good resources for vintage Guzzi information and parts. Start with Mick Walkers books, then find your way to www.mgcycle.com or www.motointernational.com Guzziology and spend way too much time cruising the forums. If you do buy a vintage Moto Guzzi there is so much help out there and parts are much easier to find than you might think.
I found a very clean ’78 V50 on ebay this morning that is a great bike for someone to get into vintage Italian motorcycles or Moto Guzzi in particular. With only 4483 miles on the clock, it’s barely broken in. Even though the owner says it starts and runs just great, I would still pull the carbs and give them a good going through, junk the ‘original’ tires and spoon on a set of modern rubber….AND most importantly, get rid of that UGLY seat. Other than those little details, the bike looks great. Paint is good for it’s age, chrome is great. Nice bike. Click on the pics below for more details.
I had an opportunity, a few years back, to ride an Enfield Bullet 350 and a Ural Sidecar rig in the same day. I decided I wanted the Enfield and the Ural would probably be the last motorcycle I would buy. Since that day, both have gotten a LOT better and I would probably be happy riding either of them any time. I have a thing for both single and twin cylinder old bikes (I have a bit of a fleet of those types in my barn…now I just need more time to ride them). The build quality of the new Enfield’s is quite impressive, but this is about a really old Royal Enfield.
I like delving into the history of motorcycle brands and models and this has been a fun search. Did any of us know that Enfield also made lawnmowers!? Now, I’m a big fan of lawnmower racing so, I am now on the search for an Enfield lawnmower…there has got to be one somewhere here in the Colonies.
Enfield is a classic British name. Originally a gun manufacturer…and, that is where the ‘Bullet’ model name came from…”made like a gun, goes like a bullet” was the company slogan. The first Enfield ‘Bullet’ came to life in 1931.
A little more history here…I know you love all this crap I dig up…. don’t you??? Ok, Enfield started with bicycles, lawn mowers and then motorcycles, this is all outside of making guns. In 1911 they added ‘Royal’ to the name because the British royal family was buying their products. I wonder if that is how Crown Royal whisky got its name? Probably not.
In 1924 Enfield built a beautiful 976CC V-Twin, then in 1924 Enfield built the 350 single using a JAP engine (and that is its own interesting story). During the Second World War Enfield was building a little 125cc bike that was dropped from airplanes,along with paratroopers, so they would have a motorized way to attack the enemy. It was called the ‘Flying Flea’.
Side story here, back in the 1980′s I worked as an independent sales rep selling motorcycle stuff and one of the companies I represented was Sammy Tanner Enterprises selling Arai helmets. Sammy was a great flat track racer and his nickname was ‘The Flying Flea’ As a journalist, anytime I go to a flat track race, Sammy is there, cruising the pit’s, giving advice to young riders and I’m sure trying to get them to wear Arai helmets. Sammy is one of the greats in American Flat Track.
Ok, now back to Royal Enfield:in 1955 the Indian Government started using Enfield’s in the police force. A year later, 1956, Enfield started building bikes in India. Parts from England built in India under license. Then, in 1962, Enfield India started building complete bikes with parts made there at home. Here’s a cool little factoid for you…the Royal Enfield Bullet marque has been in continuous production for over 75 years!!! That is longer than any other model of motorcycle. Cool huh?!
Enfield motorcycles were sold off to Norton Villiers Triumph ( weird mashup of companies that was the deathnell of the British motorcycle industry at the time) in 1968 and production ended in 1970…except in India.
So, now to this really nice 1939 Bullet model I found on ebay the other day. It’s a runner!!! The owner says it starts right up, a good thing. This model has a good set of girder forks, a rigid rear end with a sprung seat. I have ridden bikes with that exact same set up and I’ll tell you what, a sprung seat really works!! This bike does show its age and that is a good thing,it’s not a trailer queen and I hope it never becomes one. Click on the pic’s below for more details and more pictures.
Oh wait, there is one more story here. A number of years ago, I got a movie in the mail from Gaurav Jani in India. The film is titled ‘Riding Solo To The Top Of The World’, it is truly a film you need to get and watch over and over. Guarav rode an Enfield Bullet up into the Himalaya’s fully loaded with all his camera gear and all by himself. It is a great film for anyone who has an adventurous spirit. Go to www.dirttrackproductions.com and order the movie. You will love it.
Ok, now click on the pics below.
Somebody please come forward and help me!!! This IS the XS650 that I want so badly.It’s the right year, the color, the condtion (completly stock) and it’s ready to ride. However, my banker (wife) says I have enough projects in the process, so new additions to the collection are out of the question. We’ll see.
I have written plenty about the XS650 over the time of this blog…from stockers, to choppers, flat trackers and of course, cafe racers. Yamaha did a beautiful job styling this motorcycle and built one of the most wonderful engines to sit in a frame. I love this motorcycle.
So really, if you want a true classic motorcycle at a what I hope will be a fairly reasonable price. I hope also, that the owner isn’t one of those guys that have a highly inflated notion of how much the motorcycle should sell for. Keep your fingers crossed and bid accordingly. Click on the pics below for more pictures and information. It is a really nice example of a great motorcycle.
Hey, it’s cold outside. And…all those Christmas bills are piling up. Time to unload a motorcycle or two. Each morning after my first cup of tea and the first round of the news cycle, I sit down at my computer, check the racing news, see how my favorite riders are doing in the Dakar Rally, and then cruise through ebay. I need a few parts for my various Cafe Racer projects, the Benelli 250 that I received as a gift the other day, and to see what might be interesting to pass on to you.
This morning I found a bunch of bikes covered in snow. This got me to thinking / questioning, when is the best time to sell a motorcycle? There are a lot of answers to that question and it mostly depends on what kind of motorcycle you are trying to sell. My day job as a motorcycle salesman…one step ahead of a used car salesman and insurance agent…gives me a bit of insight here.
During the winter, the bike (street or dirt) is sitting there, you haven’t ridden it for a while, maybe a long while, and you’re thinking “I gotta pay off Christmas bills” or, “My wife says I have to clean out the garage”, or, “I need more room in my basement for that vintage BSA I want to slide in here without the wife knowing…”. Whatever the reason, this is the second most popular time to sell a motorcycle.
Lets look at this from another angle, the buyers angle. Somebody looking for a motorcycle or a winter motorcycle project sees this as the best time to get a bargain. They’re right…and the seller knows that too. Buyers do have the upper hand this time of year, but that will end in about sixty days. When that first good thaw hits, it becomes a sellers market again. There are some great values out there, now, so this is a great time to buy a snowbound motorcycle. You can pick up that winter project that will keep you from having to watch American Idol or, if you live in an area that is not snowbound you can pick up a cool scoot to ride ride now at a really good price.
So now you’re asking yourself, “if this is the second best time to sell a motorcycle, when is the first?” When the first flowers of spring pop up through the snow and riders get excited about riding again, then my friends the price of that new dream ride of yours just went up a few hundred dollars.
Most all of us, at one time or another, have gone the simplified touring route. My first tour was on a little Honda 350 with a small duffle bag strapped to the seat crammed with some basic camping essentials and a clean pair of skivvies. It was a great trip that started me on a life of moto-touring.
Since those days I have travelled a lot of miles without the aid of every electro-gizmo on the planet, air assisted suspension and a cup holder attached to the handlebar or fairing big enough to park a VW behind. I did finally buy a tank bag and a pair of soft saddlebags that have graced a number of motorcycles and, still do touring duty.
Most of my traveling friends, for years, have all ridden bikes equipped with hard saddlebags. I was a bit envious at times but, at the same time, I liked my old throw over bags. Until…I learned the true value of hard saddlebags.
After that I had to have hard bags…attached to a good “vintage’ touring bike. Hence I bought my BMW, with…the stock BMW hard bags/ beer coolers. So, I found on ebay this really nice R100 BMW ready to go anywhere. Naked touring. You could throw on a small fairing or windscreen for a little more comfort, but you know what, this is great just as it is. Only 30,000 miles, just serviced, new tires, brakes and fork fluid, it’s ready to go. This another of those bikes I call a ‘ buy, fly and ride ‘…buy it, fly to wherever it is, and ride it home. There is one other nice feature about this bike, the dual plug heads. The dual plug conversion has a number of benefits that make riding your BMW more enjoyable and will help the motor last a bit longer. Adding the dual plug set up allows you to use regular fuel instead of premium (saves you $$$ in the long run), the bike starts easier and quicker (especially in cold weather), it can up the performance (if you add hi-comp pistons and some other ignition mods),it looks cool and, it increases the value of the bike.
If you’re looking for a bike that is a great platform for any kind of riding…touring, cafe racing, attaching a sidecar, whatever… this ’84 BMW R100 is a really great bike and a good value. Click on the pics below for more info.
The best of the Triumph 650 twins. That’s just my opinion. The TR6 did everything that was expected of it and then some…it’s not every motorcycle that can jump a barbed wire fence you know. Yes, it was a Triumph TR6 that Steve McQueen (Bud Ekins) jumped the fence on in the Great Escape. The Trophy was also well loved here in Southern California for its off-road capabilities. Through the 50′s and 60′s, the TR6 was the king of the ‘Desert Sleds’. I tortured a Trophy in a few desert races, my step dad and his brother built a reputation for themselves, and not necessarily a good one…,racing a TR6 sidecar rig in the Mojave. They had much bigger ‘huevos’ than brains back then.
The Triumph TR6 Trophy was the movie star motorcycle. Steve McQueen rode one, Clint Eastwood, and of course…’The Fonz’. The TR6 had all the right looks…just like the aforementioned stars. When you ask most any motorcycle rider that has a few grey hairs on his head, what is the first bike that comes to mind when you say Triumph, the answer will 99% of the time come back, the Bonneville. But it was the Trophy that was the better seller and the true workhorse of the line. The TR6 gave the rider all the same great handling of a Bonneville and almost the same power, but, came in an easier to tune and maintain package. And, quite a bit less expensive, the Bonneville name alone was worth quite a few more dollars.
I came a cross a really nice ’69 TR6 today on ebay that has a mild cafe racer treatment and a couple of nice upgrades. I like the nickel plated frame, the Euro style handlebars,the high pipe exhaust and the disc brake up front…all very nice. This Trophy is a well taken care of Triumph that, even though has not been used as a daily rider could be. These are sweet handling, reliable and comfortable bikes. What more could you ask for. Well, a suspension tweak, a Boyer ignition….but that’s about all. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a bit more info.
Every now and then you’d love to come up behind a car, turn on the lights and they just get out of your way. How do you make this happen? Well, first you’d have to go through a police academy, then motorcycle training and probably a lot of other stuff. Knowing myself, I’d get in a lot of trouble for ‘abuse of power’. I mean really, hit the switch, the lights come on, push a button the siren goes off…I’d be having way too much fun all day. Well, I don’t want to go through all that just for a few giggles on the freeway, but…just the look of a cop bike in the rear view mirror will have most people breaking into a sweat and moving over. I can do that, I just have to have the right bike with all the cool stuff.
So what is the cool bike with all the cool cop stuff that is a unique classic. Oh sure, you could find an old Harley Knucklehead but it’s gonna cost ya. Police departments have loved the Kawasaki’s, but they aren’t all that classic or unique. That leaves the Moto Guzzi Eldorado, very cool in all respects.
I found this Guzzi G5 Cop Scoot on ebay and it really does have all the right stuff, including a working siren!! A 1980 V1000 with only 41,000 miles, not too much for a Guzzi and, considering it is a former LAPD motorcycle, has been well maintained. This looks to be a really good bike, if you really do want a police bike. The Eldo’s make great tourers, the police seat is probably the most comfortable on the planet, this bike will run forever. On top of all the good stuff about this motorcycle, it has the look that will have car drivers getting out of your way faster than you can turn on the lights. It’s a pretty good value at $5,000. Click on the pic’s below for more info and more pictures.
This is a nice ride. And, it’s no average R60/5. If it was just your regular old, everyday R60 it would be a really great all around motorbike. Cruise all over town, throw it around on some nice twisty canyon roads or strap on some saddlebags and head off into the sunset. The 600cc motor has plenty of power for solo riding and does surprisingly well with two on board. The /5 series BMW’s are renowned for reliability, smooth riding good handling. A few slight modifications and the little 600 becomes a terror in the canyons. Ok, so the blue one here has a bit more than a few slight mods, but you get the idea.
I found this really sweet BMW R60 on ebay today and, for what I believe to be a very reasonable price considering all that has been done. The bike has been sitting up in a loft in downtown Los Angeles for the past couple of years since it was built. It’s not a simple re-build, it’s been built. The owner apparently wasn’t satisfied with the little puny 600′s power and couldn’t afford a 750 so he took the motor to the gym. After time with a personal trainer / mechanic, it came home a strong healthy 800 with a 5 speed transmission. Some fresh paint, new shoes and a few other goodies…and the bike just sits???!!! How in the world can someone build a bike then park it in a loft? Well, his work is going to look and ride great on a road near you. This is really one sweet ride. You need to get yourself one of those cool vintage style Davida helmets, some goggles, a proper leather jacket and cruise Sunset Boulevard up into the Hollywood Hills, park at some beautiful overlook and check out how beautiful L.A is at night…Ok, that’s just my idea of a great Saturday night on a classic bike. Click on the pics below for more info about this really nice Vintage BMW. It’s a good deal. And one more thing…you’re going to have to do the break-in miles, it is a fresh build. Oh too bad for you….
Not a lot of people are familiar with Zundapp motorcycles. Mostly when you hear the name, the picture that comes to mind is that of a small size, but overbuilt in the German way, two stoke motorbike. Very few of Zundapp’s bigger motorcycles made it to our shores. Zundapp was one of Europe’s major manufacturers throughout most of the 20th century. Early in Zundapps history most of the motorcycles were small then in 1933 they started producing the K models in sizes ranging from 200cc to 800cc’s. The KS 750 was popular with the German military for its strength and versatility. It was a flat twin, boxer style 7500cc with a powered sidecar…perfect for fighting a war.
After World War 2, 1951 to be exact, Zundapp brought out their most popular big bike, the KS601. Powered by a 600cc boxer twin it was a favorite among the sidecar crowd and those looking for a sturdy and comfortable road bike that was also resonabley priced. It was affectionately known as the ‘Green Elephant’ When Zundapp was bringing the KS601 to the US, Americans didn’t like the green and also wanted a more comfortable ride, so, we got a red paint job and a swingarm rear suspension in place of the plunger style found on the Euro version. Zundapp built the ‘Green Elephant’ from 1951 to 1958 when they discontinued 4 stroke development in favor of smaller size 2 stroke motorbikes.
As we are heading in fall and winter and some of you have already ended your riding season, it’s time to start thinking about winter projects and this Zundapp I found on ebay today is a perfect candidate. It’s complete, for the most part and it runs, a great place to start. Depending on deep you want to get into it, there are a couple of mechanical issues, like it jumps out of second gear, neutral is hard to find when the bike is running, and the kick start mechanism is hard to operate not insurmountable problems. While researching this bike and Zundapp in general I found a lot of good resources on the net including a good parts supply. So, get this neat old German machine, take it apart as much as you have the time, skill and money for, give it a nice paint job, put some new tires and brakes on it then when spring comes, you’re ready to ride to the nearest German Hofbrau House and have yourself some Schnitzel.
Here’s one little interesting thing about Zundapp I didn’t know until today, in 1931 Zundapp along with Ferdinand Porsche developed the first prototype of the ‘Auto fur Jedermann’…’car for everyone’. The beginnings of Volkswagen, cool huh.
Click on the pictures below to learn more about this great project bike.
Talk about flying under the radar, I don’t think you can get any further under than with a KZ750 Twin. As someone once wrote about the twin, “it’s the stepchild of the Kawasaki lineup”. Sad, but accurate. The 750 Twin is a very good motorcycle, more like the Rodney Dangerfield of Kawasaki’s line, “it don’t get no respect”. Most people have never heard of the KZ750 twin much less seen one, yet it was in the showrooms for seven years in one version or another. Kawasaki must have sold quite a few of them but where are they? They’re hiding in garages around the country waiting for people like me to sing their songs and tell their stories…and maybe convince somebody to go out and buy one.
The KZ750 came out at a time when Kawasaki had put the 2 stroke street rockets to sleep and building the 4 stroke inline four powerhouses. So why a relatively sleepy twin? The Triumph twin was still selling well, the Yamaha XS650 was a moderate success, and it seemed to Big Green that riders still wanted a simple, easy to maintain, reliable ride. They hit the nail right on the head with the KZ750. Not flashy, but not too traditional looking, comfortable, decent handling, and easy to maintain…only two cylinders and two carbs to tune. The KZ was a little porky at around 500 pounds, but it’s 55HP motor would get you anywhere you wanted to go quickly and easily enough. Fully loaded for traveling up and over mountain passes were no problem for the twin. Decent gas mileage and a somewhat smooth motor, for a twin, made for a decent ride.
Through the ’70s and ’80s I was a big time Kawasaki fan. I owned a 750 triple, a GPz1100 and raced a GPz550 and loved them all…I loved about as much as I loved my Triumphs! I rode a couple of KZ750′s, before they became the CSR750 cruiser, and really didn’t think all that much about them…back to the Rodney Dangerfield image. They were Ok, but that was it…no real personality. The KZ didn’t have the history of the Triumph nor the feel of the Yamaha but it was a nice motorcycle. Nobody ever wants to be called ‘nice’. Especially a motorcyclist or his bike!!
There is a lot that you can do with a KZ750, under the radar. The motorcycle aftermarket never embraced the lowly KZ, (that happens to all stepkids…), but there are many 750 twin enthusiasts out there that love sharing what they have done to help inspire you to make yourself and your stepchild stand out from the crowd. Cafe racers, street trackers, even touring riders all have good ideas for this poor misunderstood and unloved motorcycle.
So, this morning while not drinking my English Breakfast Tea, I came across this very nice, super low mileage KZ750 Twin. I remembered riding a couple of them in decades gone by, but I also remembered one I rode back in 2000 that was no ordinary KZ750. The big stock mufflers were gone (nice looking but truly stifling) replaced with a set of Dunstall replica mufflers that not only looked great but let the bike sound like a good vertical twin should, the carbs had been changed out and some suspension work had been done. It was a totally different motorcycle, but it was the same…I loved it.
Back to the bike on ebay. This is a really good bike at what should be an incredible value. This KZ has lees than 1000 miles on the odometer, new by pretty much anybody’s standards, a handy rack on the back and, if you are going to tour on it two up, a comfy ‘King and Queen’ seat…junk the seat as fast as you can !!! This is a great bike if you want a rock solid, reliable, good handling, easy to live with motorcycle. And…you’ll have money left over to make it the motorcycle you really want. Click on the pictures below for more pictures and a little more info. The Kawasaki KZ750 Twin is, in my book, one of the most under rated and under valued motorcycles ever built. Grab it while you can. It is the next cult bike.
The BMW R27 is a really cool motorcycle. Yeah it’s good looking in a classic sense but it also, In typical BMW fashion, is way over built. It’s as much a 250cc two wheeled tank as it is an easy to ride, fun traveler. The R27 had the first rubber mounted single cylinder engine for BMW, which helped smooth out the ride. Another interesting feature of the motor is the layout. Most engines have their crankshafts running across the motor, the R27 runs the crank lengthwise which eliminates the need for some bevel gears and also keeps the motor more level with the driveshaft for again, smoother running. This little 250 was made for traveling. Cycle World magazine in 1964 claimed the R27 was ,” the smoothest of all the 250′s we have tried “
The chassis of the R27 is a welded tubular set up strong enough to do sidecar duty, and the brakes were very adequate for the bike and the times. The front suspension is handled by an Earles fork, a different approach to the ‘leading link’ style front ends. The benefit to the Earles fork was that under braking there was no front end dive so braking was smoother and the motorcycle stayed under control better. Over the years many manufacturers have tried just as many methods to control front end dive and none worked as good as the Earles fork. The down side to the Earles suspension was weight, this kiss of death. But it sure helped the bike ride great.
The R27 was made by BMW from 1960 through 1966, so why is this one a ’67? Because often times dealers dated the title the year the bike was sold, not when they were made. Though the R27 was a very good motorcycle, it was competing against the Honda’s and Yamaha’s of the day that were lighter, faster and less expensive. The BMW put out 18 HP while the Japanese counterparts were putting out 22-24 hp. The R27 sold for $850 when new, $200-300 more than the others. The American public went for lighter faster and truthfully, more modern styling. Today an R27 is a much more sought after and valued motorbike than the Honda’s and Yamaha’s of the time.
Today on ebay is a very nice 1967 R27. It has not been restored, it’s just in beautiful original condition. The clock shows 26,000 miles so a good going through in the not too distant future might a worthwhile investment and lucky for you, parts and services are still available rather readily. The motorbike is pictured with the solo seats (also known as the ‘swinging saddles’) but the also correct bench seat comes with the bike. The owner has taken a lot of good pictures and has given a very good description of the bike for you…not all that common. Click on the pics for more of everything about this really nice BMW.
What do Dnepr, Ural and Chang Jiang have in common? If you answered pre war BMW you win the prize!!! In the 1930′s 1930′s, BMW was making the R71 model. Rugged reliable and perfect for military use. Enter a little Russian ingenuity, buy a couple of the bikes from some guy in Sweden and take them back to the Motherland for a little creative reverse engineering Russian style. Two years later off the assembly line rolls the new (?) M72. Early in production the Russians were worried that the Moscow factory was too close to Germany so the factory was moved to the Ural Mountains. Nearly nearly 1000,000 M72′s were shipped to the front lines during the war. After the war, the military issue bike factory was moved to the Ukraine and the Ural factory focused on civilian motorcycle production.
The Dneper (kissing cousin to the Ural) is built in Ukraine contrary to popular thought, most people think it is a Russian made motorcycle. Over the years the KMZ factory kept building Dneper’s for military use. The Dneper was designed to be the ultimate off road military vehicle in the world and as I learned about it, I believe it. As a military vehicle it was built with two wheel drive (the sidecar wheel is driven via a geared hub), 10″ of ground clearance, can drive through 15″ of water, climb a 10″ rock ledge and with a 50″ track it can traverse a hillside with a 40 degree slope…that’s not going up and down a hillside, that’s riding across it!!!. When the terrain is the ugliest, the Dneper is beautiful.
I did a bunch of research on these motorcycles and the more I got into them, the more I got into them. There is a huge Dneper community all over the world for support and camaraderie. You can even buy a ‘kit’ version for less than $5,000 shipped to your door…complete! A Dneper can be upgraded easily enough, but the basic sketchiness of Russian motorcycles is still there no matter how much you upgrade.
The Dneper I found on ebay is the ‘Tourist’ model so I’m guessing it’s not the full Russian military version, but who knows, the owner didn’t give a lot of detail in his description…he may not know either. The bike is in very nice condition and check this out…only 99Km on the clock, that’s like 60 miles. An almost new 48 year old motorcycle…well if you call a motorcycle from the 1930′s new. Click on the pics for more..it also looks to be a good deal so far and you certainly won’t see yourself coming down the road.
A what?? A 1973 Chang Jiang World War Two motorcycle with a sidecar, you never seen one? Me either. It looks like a BMW out of WW2. And wasn’t WW2 over in like 1945? Not so in China, ‘The Big One’ (WW2) lives on at Chang Jiang.
I started liking sidecars when a good friend showed up on one day with a big grin on his face. After a little begging and pleading, he taught me to ride, I mean drive, the sidecar outfit. Too much fun. Went to a big Sidecar Rally some years back and when I got home I started looking at what motorcycles I had the would haul a sidecar around, the bad news was…all of them. However, the old checking account said…none of them. Sigh. I still love sidecars and drive one whenever I get the chance. So today when I found this Chang Jiang on ebay the days of wanting a sidecar rig came back in a hurry.
I spent some time this morning looking up all I could find out about Chang Jiang and this motorcycle. The Chang Jiang (we’re going to shorten to CJ from here on out, ok?) 750 was based on the 1957 IMZ M72 Russian made motorcycle which was derived from the 1938 BMW R71. The story of how the Russians got a hold of the BMW is interesting. Too long to put here but interesting nonetheless.
When Russia decided the IMZ M72 was no longer suitable for military use they sold everything to China. Design, tooling, materials everything they would need to build their own M72. China changed the name to the CJ750. China over the years made a few upgrades, they went to an overhead valve motor from the basic sidevalve (flathead),it wasn’t until 1986 that upgraded the electrical system to 12 volts, and some chassis changes, but it still looks like an original CJ750 from 50 years ago.
In doing this research I found there is a huge CJ community out there. Most bikes come from dealers or builders in China. You can get a virtually new CJ750 built the way you want and have it shipped to you, you can go to China and rent one, you can take tours of Tibet on a CJ750…the tour operator says that because these were made for the military, they will handle any road ( or lack of ) you can throw at it. Most owners restore them to military style. There is a whole of fun Chang Jiang stuff on the net, start here http://www.changjiangunlimited.com/
The CJ750 I found on ebay this morning is a military style motorcycle. It needs love. It does run according to the owner and he advises the buyer to be handy. CJ’s are of a very old design and it really doesn’t take much mechanical skill to keep this thing running. It’s dirty, needs some rust removed, maybe some leather work and it’s got less 300 miles on it. The price seems somewhat reasonable, depends on much you want a WW2 sidecar. If you want to know more click on the pics. I wonder how much he wants for the lawnmower in the back ground?
’73 Chang Jiang w/ Sidecar<img style="text-decoration:none;border:0 none;margin:0;padding:0;" src="http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=%2773+Chang+Jiang+w%2F+Sidecar&item=220637893322&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER