Tag Archives: cafe racer

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;

1965 Triumph Thunderbird

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The Thunderbird is one of the motorcycles my step dad put me on at the beginning of motorcycling life. Well, actually after a Yamaha 80 and a Bultaco 250…he wasn’t so dumb as to put a teenager in the late 60’s on one of his treasured motorcycles.  But when he did, well, life changed forever. My life was ruined…I fell in love with British motorcycles.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 3.23.38 PMThe Thunderbird was a variant of the 500cc Speed Twin. As Triumph was growing in the American market they realized riders wanted more power…we Americans love more power. Hell, we have lawnmowers that have more power than some motorcycles!! The Speed Twin was punched out to 650cc. The Thunderbird was the model that got all the other British builders to jump up to 650cc.

The 1950’s were the heyday of the Thunderbird but then came the Bonneville. The T-Bird was relegated  to entry level status or as it was called then..the working mans bike. A commuter. The Bonnie had everything the Thunderbird didn’t. Well, the T-Bird still had Marlon Brando.Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 2.46.57 PMThe Thunderbird was of the ‘Pre-Unit’ era of bikes (1949-1962) …the engine and transmission were separate pieces, but in 1963Triumph adopted unit construction. This really was a good thing. It made it easier at the factory level, easier for you and I to maintain and the bike lost thirty pounds. All good.

In ’63 not only did the T-Bird get the new motor it also got needed chassis improvements, but as things go so did the Thunderbird by 1966. The Thunderbird was a great bike, it did everything you would want a motorcycle to do but the Bonneville was much more alluring. I also think that the Bathtub body work didn’t help the ‘Bird’. 1965 was the last year of the body work.  Now I look at it and think this is very cool…for it’s time. Does it make the bike more valuable? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I found one ebay this morning that is need of some TLC. The potential is there it’s just going to need some love. The seller says it runs good. These are great bikes just don’t abuse them, take care of them and this is a bike that will give you years of fun…and oil leaks, but what the hell, the body work is worth it! You won’t see one of these everywhere you go. Oh, and check out the headlight nacelle…too cool.

Click on the link below for more pictures and a little (and I mean little) bit of 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=1965+Triumph+Thunderbird&icep_item=252345894051&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”&gt;Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 3.18.25 PM

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Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 3.19.12 PM1965 Triumph Thunderbird</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=1965+Triumph+Thunderbird&item=252345894051&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

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

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

1967 Suzuki T20…aka X6 Hustler

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 11.42.25 AMSo there I was in 1968 at a traffic light on Roscoe Blvd in Panorama City, California somewhere around 10pm…my curfew wasn’t until midnight. It was a really nice summer evening (not to be confused with “It was a dark and stormy night”). My friend Eddie had just gotten off work and we were going to go for a ride. I was on my Bultaco Matador and he on his Yamaha DT1, both 250’s. Up next to us pulled up a Suzuki X6. I had heard about it and read about them but honestly, when it pulled up along side of us, all I could think of was what a dull looking bike. Ok, it was Japanese styling of the time.
Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 1.31.56 PMStyling be damned, that bike took off like a rocket, I was left in a cloud of blue smoke. Now granted most kids on a skateboard could get off the line faster than my Matador but I would eventually catch up…the Suzuki, no chance. Now lets be fair, the Suzuki had 2 cylinders, my Bultaco had one; The Suzuki around 30HP, my matador had maybe 20hp? Eddie’s DT1 was faster as well but still no match for the Suzuki.
Ironically we did catch up with the Suzuki at a gas station a little ways up the road. None of us could buy beer at the time so soda pop it was. We talked about bikes and stuff and figured we were all just out riding for the evening. And just for grins decided to swap bikes around. After 5 minutes of riding the X6 I was thinking I can get away with this bike and they’ll never catch me. It will be mine! I didn’t do it but it sure was tempting.
The T20 was a very advanced motorcycle for it’s time. 1; Tubular steel frame, a first for Suzuki; Posi-Force oil injection, a far more efficient system than anybody else was using at the time; the 8″ double leading shoe front brake derived from the race bikes and…the very first 6 speed transmission in a production motorcycle. The 6 speed tranny made it very easy to stay in the 250’s very tight powerband.
The X6 is a perfect platform for a very cool Vintage Cafe Racer.Leave the motor alone, upgrade the suspension (but leave the exposed front fork springs),a set of Clubman handlebars and maybe some modern tires. From there you will have a bike that will get a lot of attention….especially from the CBR/GSX-R/R6/ZX6 that you just passed on a tight twisty road! Espcially when you wave at them as you pass them in a corner!!! God I love small bikes!!! Too much fun.Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 11.40.26 AM
I found a very nice one ebay this morning, it’s not perfect but it is a runner. Needs a little love…not the fly out, buy it and ride it home bike but the price ain’t all that bad…well, it was only $650 new in ’67. The bike is aging nicely. This is not a full winter project…this is a ‘be riding by the end of the month bike!
Click on the pics below for a few more pictures and some more info. What a fun little bike!!! OK, I couldn’t help myself…a pretty girl in a bikini on a Suzuki…works for me.

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Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 11.55.38 AM1967 Suzuki T20 …X6

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

1971 Honda SL350

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.46.30 AMFor those of you that have read my posts over the years know that I love (and have a fleet of) Honda 350’s. I am a big fan of small to mid-size motorcycles and the Honda 350 is my favorite. Well, I love Yamaha RD350’s, Suzuki X6 Hustler, Kawasaki KH400’s…but, the Honda 350 has my heart. And my wallet.
In 1968 I started my desert racing life on a Bultaco Matador, then a Pursang, next was an El Bandito. The Pursang and the Bandito went away but the Matador stayed because I became addicted to Enduro’s. For Enduro’s the bike had to be street legal so the Matador fit the bill. I rode that Matador to school most days (when I wasn’t riding a Triumph or BSA…the family norm) and then the day came that the Matador was too tired to keep going. Time for a new bike. Enter the SL350.
I did keep the Matador running for off-road events but needed a good reliable bike for everyday use. I bought a new SL350 because it suited my needs, I liked the way it looked and it was only $850. Life is good.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.08.40 AM
Fast forward just a few months and the Bultaco died of a massive stroke…or lack of stroke? In the course of one day, the SL350 became my new off-road weapon. Jettison the blinkers, the stock mufflers, manufacture a decent skid plate (thank you Mike Bast of Bast Brothers Welding), change the handlebars, Curnutt shocks, proper knobbys installed and it was ready in time for an SRA Enduro. And I was back to riding a BSA on a daily basis.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.44.29 AM
Now, let’s fast forward again. I have been riding Honda 350’s consistently since those days. Both my kids learned to ride on a CB350, my dad got back into riding (after 35 years or so) on a CB350 and I have built a couple of Cafe Racers based on the 350…one on the CB platform and the best one on an SL. Why the SL is the best?
We’ll start with the chassis. The double down tube frame is stiffer and offers greater handling accuracy. The motor is slightly different from the CB/CL (different carbs being a big difference) but also, the electric starter was removed…lighter weight! Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.52.53 AMThe SL series from Honda from 75cc to 350cc, there isn’t a motorcycle more fun. Heck, even the ‘Duke’ rode one.
This particular SL350 I found on ebay today is so perfect (but not too perfect…) and the price is reasonable, that really somebody needs to snap this one up now !!! Heck, the mufflers themselves are worth the price of admission. The SL350 is a bike that can do everything every time. Low maintenance, easy parts availability and it is a perfect platform for anything you would want to do with a mid-size motorcycle!
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info

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Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.42.43 AM1971 Honda SL350