Category Archives: vintage motorcycles

1900…or so, Hensel

s-l64Prince wrote a song with the lyrics, “Let’s go Crazy, Lets get Nuts”. Well Fred Hensel did just that.

Ok, here is a vehicle that we all should want. It is as weird as can be, there is only one in the world and it has a cool factor that no other has.

Let’s start with the fact that it is completely hand made and it shows but that only adds to the “Cool Factor”. Next it’s Steam Powered, yes “steam” . You can run it with wood, charcoal maybe even old newspapers…the ones you don’t read anyway.  My Uncle Speed (Speed was his nickname, he owned a auto repair shop for about a million years and built some very fast cars)  had a Stanley Steam powered car sitting in his garage since I could remember, he also had a 1911 (?) Maxwell. These were very cool cars just sitting there.

Back to steam powered cars. This vehicle built by Fred Hansel has so many features that showed up later in automobiles is amazing.
There is not a lot I can say about this vehicle more than what the seller is saying, but I gotta tell you, this is one weird vehicle and somebody needs to give a good home and go ride the thing,

Click in the pictures below for more info…have fun

190/Users/Paul/Desktop/s-l64-1.jpg0 Hensel

1974 BMW R90s

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-45-53-pmI have no idea what I was thinking. A past friend convinced me to buy a BMW motorcycle. I had a barn full of Honda’s Yamaha’s, Ducati’s ,Triumphs a, Gilera and something I don’t even remember. Based on the household rules (my wife) I had to sell something in order to buy something. No problem. A surfboard and a couple of motorcycles later I had a perfect 1976 R90S with a 100RS fairing. A perfect traveler. Barely broken in and had been sitting for 17 years.  Burried underneath boxes, pieces of carpet and a blanket was a bike that I didn’t really know I wanted

So, I trailered it home and proceeded going through it. All the fluids, new tires, brake pads and a good bath. I loved the R90. It did evscreen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-45-16-pmerything I wanted it to do  and did it willingly.The R90S has a great history. My friend Reg Pridmore won the AMA Superbike Championship on one (highly modified of course) and friends have put hundreds of thousands of miles on them with no  issues. I put over 50,000 miles on mine in a bit over a year. It is a great motorcycle.
Then  a few years later I listened to another friend that  suggested a different bike and I thought “hey, why not?” The BMW went to a new home and a Buell Ulysses took it’s place. Back to the first question, “What was I thinking?” Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my Buell every time I hit the starter button but it just doesn’t have the same soul…as if a German bike actually has a soul, but  I’m comparing it to Italian and British bikes.

An R90s is about as perfect a motorcycle as you can get. It doesn’t require a computer to get it to run right, it handles better than most of us can ride and it is very comfortable on long rides for a vintage Sportbike, and yes ladies and gentlemen it is a Sportbike. This is a motorcycle that turns exactly when and where you want it to, it is a motorcycle that will stop on a dime and give you nine cents change and will keep you happy all day long and above and beyond all that, it’s beautiful. The R90 is really just an overbuilt  tarted up R75 but damn, it works!!!

I found a true sweetheart on ebay today, if you truly like or love vintage Sportbikes  this is a perfect bike for you. Click on the link (the blue line)  and you’ll get more info and more pictures. This is a great bike and the price is not out of line. And you get the saddlebags!!

<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=1974+BMW+R90S&icep_item=282191334074&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-12-59-46-pm

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screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-00-22-pm1974 BMW R90S</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1974+BMW+R90S&item=282191334074&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

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

1969 Kawasaki Mach 3

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 7.18.17 AMMore ‘Juevos’ than Brains…that described most of us in the late 60’s and through the 70’s.Give me horsepower, give me “jerk the handlebars right out of my hand” kind of power, “I don’t care about anything else”.
Lets go back a little ways. Kawasaki, aka ‘Kawasaki Heavy Industrties’ was in the business of building big steamships to ship Japanese goods all over the world. Kawasaki also built locomotives to transport people and goods all over Japan and Asia. Kawasaki also built the first Bullet Train. Kawasaki is also in partnership with Boeing for the 777,787 and more airliners. This is a company that is into machines that GO!!! It is a very interesting history.Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 7.18.42 AM
Over the years there have been motorcycles that have defined a generation, for me it was 1969. Honda brought the CB750. Sophisticated, powerful, disc brakes… a gentleman’s motorcycle. Kawasaki took another approach, brute power. “Lets build something that will blow everything else into the weeds, scare the crap out of the rider but put a huge grin on his face”! Here comes the H1.
Kawasaki was the first to develop the 3 cylinder 2 stroke motorcycle (Suzuki came in right behind). It was all about power in your right hand. These motorcycles were built for one thing and one thing only…straight line speed. Sixty horsepower out of just 500cc in a motorcycle that weighed less than 400 pounds…big fun. However…going around a corner was another thing.
The H1 was designed for the rider with good ‘straight line’ skills. Terms like ‘wobbly, vague, scary and “OH Shit!!” perfectly described the Mach 3 when riding a twisty road. A chassis that was more flexible than a rubber band, brakes that wouldn’t stop a mule cart, and a suspension that…well, didn’t. And there you have the Kawasaki Mach 3. But still it is a very fun motorcycle, within it’s limits.
I found a beauty on ebay this morning. Whats cool about this one is that is not a restored version. There have been a couple of fixes, just cosmetic but it’s basically a very original 1969 Kawasaki H1. The down side is the same thing I find all the time, it’s over priced. This is a motorcycle that sold for less than $1000 new, now the seller is saying that others have sold for over $20,000. It is an iconic motorcycle no doubt, but…the bidding is already at nearly $10K. You can buy it, put it in your collection, look at it once and a while or you can find one that has risen hard and put away wet, do the upgrades and go have a lot of fun for a lot less $$$
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Yes, I think it’s overpriced but it is a really cool motorcycle from one of the best era’s in motorcycling.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 7.14.24 AM1969 Kawasaki H1 Mach 3

1966 Bultaco Metralla

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.49.19 AMThere are motorcycles that have a “High Giggle Factor”, the Yamaha RD 350 comes to mind, and then there are Vintage motorcycles that have a very high “Cool factor”, 1969 Sand Cast engine Honda CB750, the Harley Davidson XLCR (Ok, that is my own cool, wish I had one ‘cool factor’ bike) and then there are those that combine both and the Bultaco Metralla is just that.
The Metralla is the motorbike that knows what you want to do before you do.It’s like the headlight is your own eyes that can see farther than you. This is a bike that the lightest pressure on the bars sets the bike on the path you want to go…perfectly. The Metralla does have a bit of a peaky powerband but nothing like the Pursang motocrosser. It does take a bit of time to get used to how quick handling it is, if you’re used to hustling modern 1000cc super bikes through the canyons, this little bike will blow your mind. Carrying speed through the corner versus point and shoot…BIG FUN!!
The Metralla was very successful as a racing machine as well having won the 1967 Isle of Man TT 250 Production class. The little 250 put out around 27HP, not bad for a 250 (considering a Honda 350 only put out 22), the Japanese two strokes of the time were more powerful but didn’t have the handling of the little Spainiard.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.50.29 AM
I found a beautiful Metralla on ebay this morning. This is not one of the “Fly, Buy and Ride Home” bikes, well it could be if you’re of the very adventurous type, but really ship it home and have a blast riding it on your local canyon roads and embarrass all your friends on modern super bikes. This is a really nice bike and a load of fun. Double check the brakes and the clutch then go out and have the time of your life…on 250cc.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.46.20 AM1966 Bultaco Metralla

1966 Harley Davidson Shovelhead

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.47.25 AMA long time ago my local Yamaha dealer opened up a Harley dealership on the same property. Eventually they dropped Yamaha because Harley Davidson was more profitable. Duh. And this was in the AMF years!!, go figure. Anyway, In the Harley shop one of the t-shirts they sold said “God rides a Harley”, in the Yamaha shop they were selling a shirt that said “If God rides a Harley, God rides slow”. It was funny and even the Harley guys got a kick out of it.
There are times that riding a cool old motorcycle goin’ slow is way cooler than riding a sport bike at warp speed. And, actually more fun. Take in the scenery, the vibe of the motor and simply not caring where you’re going or how fast. To paraphrase Billy Crystal on SNL, “It’s not how you feel…it’s how you look”Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 8.03.10 AM
I found a very cool ’66 Shovelhead on ebay this morning that, well, would be just perfect for the casual Sunday morning breakfast ride…1 Bloddy Mary limit!
A little history on the Shovelhead, it’s the valve cover. Looks like a coal shovel turned upside down. ’66 was the first year for the model. Yes, it did have a few mods, mainly The Power Pac (new Heads) which added about 10HP, but basically still the good old Panhead motor, so because of the new heads needed a new rocker box…the Shovelhead. There is a lot of good history regarding this model, it lasted until into the mid 1980’s when the EVO motor showed up.
The bike I found today started life as a ’66 but now is far from it. Often I find classic motorcycles that have been modified and with really no benefit, but this is the exception! Electrics have been upgraded, brakes, suspension…good stuff. But, the buyer is going to have to do a bit of work to bring it back to being a runner, not much work but some. It will be worth it. This motorcycle has a very high ‘cool factor’. Flat black engine, flat Army green bodywork, tractor saddle…but with modern brakes and electrics. I love it!
This is a bike that when you show up at your local Sunday breakfast stop, nobody will not notice it and better than that, you’ll have a great time riding there. Slow.
click on the pics below for a lot more info (and there is a lot)and more pictures.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.28.51 AM1966 Harley Davidson Shovelhead

ED “Big Daddy”Roth

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 8.33.37 AMThe 50’s,60’s and 70’s was truly the era of customization. Cars, bikes, bicycles (the Schwinn Stingray…). In motorcycling it brought us everything from long legged choppers, to Cafe Racers, and everything in between. It was an era that said ” I can make that better, I can make that cooler, I can make that faster, I can make that weird. Well, Ed Roth did all of that, and with style.
Ed Roth was considered the ‘Mad Scientist’ of customization. Along with Dean Jeffries, Daryll Starbird, Von Dutch, Big Daddy Roth was the one of the founding fathers of The Kustom Kulture. These guys created the absolute wildest vehicles ever seen.Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 3.39.26 PM
And then there is ‘Rat Fink’. Now if you don’t know Rat Fink, your childhood was, well…lacking something. Ed Roth was the master of creating weird creatures and we loved them all, but ‘Rat Fink’ was King. At the time the motto was “Fink Differently” and that is how Ed Roth designed cars. The Beatnik Bandit was a car that ‘Big daddy’ designed that was driven by a Joy Stick instead of a steering wheel, all crazy stuff but so wonderful.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 8.32.05 AM
So, today I found an Ed Roth designed trike on ebay. Basically you get the vehicle but you have to supply the power, a VW engine, no biggie. But…you get something designed and built by Ed Roth!! How cool is that?!!! VW engines are a dime a dozen at your local junk yard. It’s a bit on the pricey side but I guarantee you, you will never see another like it on the road and would probably be a whole lot of fun to drive around.
I have to add this, as I looked more into the history of Rat Fink and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth I got so hooked into the “Kustom Kulture”. Digging thru all my old junk, I found a Rat Fink model from Revel I built when I was a kid. I also still wear a Von Dutch T-Shirt and have a gas tank for my ’67 Bonneville pinstriped by him (courtesy of my stepdads brother). It was an incredible era. In some cases more creativity than practicality.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 7.14.26 AMEd “Big Daddy” Roth