Tag Archives: british motorcycles

1970 BSA Starfire 250

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.35.30 PMI am a fan of small motorcycles, give me a 125, 250 or 350 and  I am happy as can be. When I find an old one I even get happier. Bikes like this BSA have a soul that modern bikes just can’t match.

I had a BSA 350 single and I absolutely loved it. It started easy (especially compared to my step dads Gold Star) handled so easily  (it’s like the bike knew where you wanted to go before you did). These classic British singles are true gems in the motorcycling world.

I found a really nice Starfire 250 on ebay today that if you have room in your garage and want a very cool and classic British single, here’s your chance.

Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures

 

 

<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=1970+BSA+Starfire+250&icep_item=381753776360&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.25.48 PM

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Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 6.26.39 PM1970 BSA Starfire 250</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=1970+BSA+Starfire+250&item=381753776360&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

1974 John Player Norton Replica

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 8.54.46 AMI have written many times about motorcycles I have lusted after during my 50+ years of motorcycling. Some are worthy of my lust and others are just a Thursday night at the Pub talking with my other motorcycle junkie (in some cases it’s motorcycle junk) friends.  But, this particular Norton is one of my two obsessions, the Harley Davidson XLCR being the other.  I know I need to be sent to an institution.

The JPN has a history…a good one. In racing, one off motorcycles were the norm and the JPN was no exception.  In 1973 John Player cigarettes sponsored the Norton racing effort at the Isle Of Man , Peter Williams  won the Formula One 750 on one, beating the Honda 750! Online there is a great story from Cycle magazine about the history of the John Player Special. If you like Norton’s  it’s a good read.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 8.58.25 AMMy history with Norton is somewhat short. The man that started me in motorcycling his middle name was Norton, I have been part of a Bonneville Land Speed Record holding team (powered by Norton) for a decade, one of my closest motorcycle racing friends Scott Fabbro, took a vintage Norton to the IOM a year ago. The podcast interview, and it’s great, is at http://www.themotoworld.com. Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 9.02.43 AM

The thing about the John Player Replica is that it is just a stone stock 850 Norton under fiberglass bodywork. Really, lift off the body work and there is the standard steel gas tank underneath, it has the standard steel frame. But you know what…who cares. It’s cool!  It’s nothing special but it is very special. There were only about 200 made, mostly for the US market and at that time, that particular styling and ergonomics were not all that popular. It only had 50hp, give or take, and in the horsepower craved (or depraved?) 70’s that was almost pedestrian …but, the Norton on a twisty road could leave most all higher horsepower bikes in it’s rearview mirrors.

I found a real beauty today on ebay. It’s been gone through, some basics and some upgrades. Here’s the deal, the seller is asking $22,000. Is it worth that? No way. Is it worth around $12-15K yep!! Click on the link below for a bunch more info..a bunch!  and more pics. It is a wonderful and rare motorcycle.

<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+Norton+John+Player+Replica&icep_item=121997486890&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 8.13.34 AM

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Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 8.13.19 AM1974 Norton John Player Replica</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+Norton+John+Player+Replica&item=121997486890&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”0

1971 Triumph Trophy 650

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.21.15 AMThe Triumph Trophy is all in all a great motorcycle. It has a great history beginning back in the 1950’s. Over the years (it was built up until 1973) it got many improvements from frame strengthening, bigger better brakes, engine improvements and became a movie star. Everyone of us that love motorcycles and those that are stuck living with us, have watched Steve McQueen try to outrun the Germans  and jump a barbed wire fence in the movie The Great Escape. All done on a Triumph Trophy.Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.24.54 AM

When I started racing in the desert there were a lot of guys riding big British singles and twins. The BSA Gold Star and the Triumph Trophy being the most popular. The Trophy became well known as the ‘Desert Sled’.Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.29.00 AM My step dad (who infected me with the motorcycle sickness) rode one for a couple of years and then passed it to me..looking back, I really think he didn’t like me. He first put me on a Bultaco and then a Desert Sled. Every time he thinks about those years he’s got to be laughing his ass off.

1971 brought the biggest and not necessarily the most popular changes. First we start with the ‘Oil In Frame’ . Previous models had a separate oil tank. The oil in frame design did lose some weight but also oil capacity and so the engine tended to run a bit hotter and oil usage became greater…wait a minute, my Triumphs had so much oil leaking that I never had to do an oil change…I was always putting new oil in. OK, I’m kidding here (kind of…)

The ’71 model got a better frame and it did handle quite a bit better, the one problem…the new front brake. The conical brake was really good but it did require pretty regular attention to keep it up to snuff. But here is the big part, the electrics. There is an old joke, why do the English drink warm beer? Because Lucas makes the refrigerators. Hah!  The electrics were a problem but the following year upgrades became available and they got better, you didn’t have to ride home in the dark. Sadly the Trophy  was discontinued the following year. The Trophy is a really good motorcycle.

I found a really nice one at a reasonable price on ebay today. This bike has only 2482 miles, not much but for some reason the top end has been rebuilt. A few upgrades made but other than that it’s a nice stock bike. Well worth a good look.

Click on the link below for more pictures and 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=1971+Triumph+Trophy&icep_item=262431126188&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 7.25.09 AM

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Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 7.25.27 AM1971 Triumph Trophy</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=1971+Triumph+Trophy&item=262431126188&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>1971 Triumph

1983 Triumph Bonneville TSX

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 8.21.00 AMIn the early 1980’s the ‘Cruiser’ class was growing like crazy. The Japanese manufacturers were selling them faster than they could make them. I know because I was selling motorcycles at the time, the dealership owners even made me ride one as a demo bike for three months. I was happy I had a full face helmet, nobody knew it was me?

Harley thought they had the market cornered but the Big Four from Japan were eating away at Harleys market share like a Pit Bull with a fat juicy pork chop. Harley Davidson even got Congress to pass a tariff bill against bikes from Japan over 700cc. Those were weird times. But cruisers kept selling…even the Suzuki Madura.

Triumph was in decline and were doing everything they could to keep going so they entered the ‘Criuser’ market with the TSX. Triumph took the standard Bonneville and gave it a couple of tweaks. The main thing that was changed was lowering the bike. Change the shock angle, a 16″ rear wheel.  Next was adding a stepped seat. Then for looks, they blacked out the engine cases. That’s pretty much it, instant Cruiser. This was the last hurrah for Triumph. It was a good bike, not great but good.Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 6.26.05 PM

I found a really nice one on ebay this morning. It’s all stock (which I like), not too many miles and only one ding in the tank…oh well. If you’d like to have a classic bike that is a bit unusual (not many were exported  to the US), comfortable to ride and won’t break the bank, click on the link below for more info and more pictures.

<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=1983+Triumph+TSX+750&icep_item=361542053185&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.45.23 AM

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Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.46.57 AM1983 Triumph TSX 750</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=1983+Triumph+TSX+750&item=361542053185&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

1979 Triumph T140E Bonneville

When most motorcycle people think of Classic British Motorcycles the first bike to come to mind is the Bonneville. Well, except for my friend Ken…who thinks Norton was far better looking and more fun to ride (he also holds two Bonneville Salt Flat Speed records on a Norton…no wonder he’s a bit biased).
Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 8.00.49 PMBy the standards of the time it was light, great handling, plenty of power and beautiful to look at. It was, and still is to this day, a wonderful motorbike. The Bonneville of the era was the perfect platform for anything you wanted it to do. The Bonnie would travel (leaving a small trail of oil along its way so you could find your way home), you could race it, turn it into a cafe racer, or if you were sick enough…a chopper..Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 7.18.32 AMEven though I think that those that chopped Bonneville’s  (some ??are pretty good looking) should be sentenced to motorcycle prison for life with no parole…but thats just me.

The Bonneville is the bike that did everything good but nothing great until you got your hands dirty…then it became close to heaven on two wheels. In 1976 Triumph got its hands dirty. The motor was upgraded with better pistons, rods,bigger oil pumps (so you can leave more on your garage floor) , electronic ignition (now you don’t have to rely on the Lucas (the Prince of Darkness) and you got a better front suspension. oh, and an electric start. For those of us that have ridden older Triumphs there was also a shift change …from the right side to the left, which had become the norm universally.Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 7.48.50 AM

In my heart I do believe that the Triumph Bonneville is one of the few perfect motorcycles ever made, including the new generation Bonnies. When you stab the kickstarter on an older model or hit the button on a new generation version it has a soul that says “lets go and lets go fast”. It may not have the rumble and grumble of an American V-Twin but the Triumphs soul of speed is there in your right hand.

I found a great one on ebay this morning that honestly needs virtually nothing. It’s beautiful. Well I would change one thing…I really don’t like those ‘Buckhorn’ handlebars. Other than that..a wonderful piece of British motorcycling.

Click on the link below for more pictures and a more detailed description.

<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=1979+Triumph+T140e+Bonneville&icep_item=191850760027&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 7.37.36 AM

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Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 7.37.54 AM1979 Triumph T140e Bonneville</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=1979+Triumph+T140e+Bonneville&item=191850760027&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

1969 Triumph Tiger Cub and more…package deal

I found a very interesting collection of bikes on ebay this morning…Ok, it’s just a guy clearing out his garage. We’ve all had to do that over the years either because we ran out of room for the new motorcycles we wanted or more than likely because our wives were tired of having to look at what she considered junk and couldn’t get to what she was trying to get to.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.49.28 AM So, this guy has two interesting motorcycles and one that goes on the front bumper of a motorhome bound for Florida. First is a 1969 Triumph Tiger Cub, a simple little 250cc motorcycle. The Cub was unreliable, period. It had lubrication issues, bearing problems, a weak triple tree and of course Lucas electrics. But still an interesting little motorcycle.
Next up, a Honda VT500 Ascot. In my view this is the gem of the bunch. Truthfuly the VT500 wasn’t the most powerful bike of it’s era or genre, yet…it worked. Now I have to say, it has one of the most ugly headlight setups I have ever seen. I would instantly change it! Except the wiring harness would probably be an absolute nightmare…a good Saturday project.
Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 5.22.47 PMThe VT500 didn’t have all that much horsepower (54…That seems plenty for having a lot of fun?!) but what it did have was a nice tight chassis that gave the bike really fun handling. It was styled after the FT500 Ascot single (which I raced for years) but came with a 6 speed tranny, shaft drive and a little more comfortable ergo’s. My old friend Mike Eaton (one of the greatest surfboard builders ever!!!) had one. I got a chance to ride it on the twisty roads of Point Loma in San Diego and had way too much fun. This is a great bike.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.38.06 AMNext is a 1972 Suzuki Rover. Put it on the front of your motorhome and hang out at the KOA’s across the country on your way to visit the Grandkids in Florida. Actually, this could be a really fun little trail bike, however, it went over like a fart in church. Didn’t sell. But hey, everybody can use something to take up space in their garage. You could probably hide this little bike behind all the other junk your wife doesn’t know about (yeah right).

It’s a pretty interesting package deal. Click on the pics for more info and pictures. And by the way, this seller is by far the worst picture taker I have ever seen! Do not let him or her come to your wedding!!!

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

1973 Triumph T100R…Daytona

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 7.11.56 AMIn my almost 50 years of riding motorcycles I can honestly and truthfully say that there are only two motorcycles that I miss more than any of them all. The sad part is that they both left at the same time…stolen out of my garage while I was making a balony sandwich. No kidding, in the time it took me make a sandwich somebody came into my garage and stole 2 motorcycles. My Kawasaki H2750 and Triumph Daytona 500.Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 10.40.08 AM
I originally bought the Daytona when living in New Mexico for my then wife to ride. She rode it a bit and decided that she really didn’t like it all that much. Lucky me! it’s now mine!!
The T100R, although smaller and less well known than the Bonneville is the better of the two. Why?Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 7.13.12 AM
The Big (at the time) British Twins were and, still are, wonderful. Plenty of power (for the time), decent brakes (?) and precise handling (!). But the 500 had an agility and happiness feeling that the bigger bikes didn’t. The Daytona was more intuitive, it knew where you wanted to go before you did.
How did it get the name ‘Daytona’? From winning the 1966 Daytona 200. It actually started as the T100T, just a a regular old 500 but…a whole lot of work later it’s winning races. A whole new top end, tuning the bike for speed. It worked. Thanks in total to Doug Hele.
As we came into the ’70’s so did the Japanese. The Suzuki GT500, the Honda CB450, the Yamaha TX500 and the Kawasaki triples…the Brits were left in the dust…or two stroke oil smoke.
Up until 1969 not much had changed with the T100R but then it got higher performance goodies and things that would help …better bearings in the bottom end, connecting rods etc. That was the year I had. Yes it still leaked oil, it used oil like guys in the 1950’s used Brylcream (a little dab ill do you) but it was a motorbike that once you understood it it was magic. I miss that bike…a lot.
I found a beautiful one on ebay today. It’s been restored but not ‘over restored’. The Daytona comes with a very cool ‘Cafe’ style seat, different handlebars and it all works well. The even better part here is that the original stuff all comes with it, sweet. But, ride it as it is.
Honestly there is only one motorcycle that I have owned (and still do) that has given me the fun factor that my old Daytona gave me. It’s my 1989 Honda GT650 Hawk. I lock my garage nowadays.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures

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Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 6.59.00 AM1973 Triumph T100R Daytona