I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time. I’m going to get on my soapbox here. There are those that have an old motorcycle and figure it’s worth a bunch of money just because it’s old. Old doesn’t mean it is classic or valuable. It’s just old. I spend time on ebay, craigslist, cycle trader, visiting motorcycle boneyards and all my connections in the vintage motorcycle world looking for bikes that have something that makes them special. Is it a one year only model, did it change motorcycling, is it something that everyone who has motorcycling running through their veins dreams of owning? These are the things that make a motorcycle valuable.
Todays example is a non running, parts missing Honda CB350. The ebay seller is asking twice what the bike sold for new. And it doesn’t run!!! Now, I love the CB350, I have five of them, are any of them worth $1600..hell no. and they all run! This guy is asking that for a bike that doesn’t run and missing parts?! Think about this…the CB350 was probably the biggest selling motorcycle of all-time. why…because it does everything very well. So, you can find one in the same condition as this one I found for around $1-200 dollars. Just look, they’re everywhere.
The sad part here is that there are people out there foolish enough to pay that kind of money for a bike that is not running and missing parts. A moderately skilled shade tree mechanic with a good motorcycle salvage yard close by could probably have this bike in good running condition for around $2-300. Is a running CB350 worth $2000? you decide. Oh and by the way, 1972’s didn’t come with a front disc brake and it’s not a Scrambler as described. People like this really piss me off!
Rant over. If you have any interest in a $2000 non running Honda CB350 click on the link below.
<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1972+Honda+CB350&icep_item=272227302158&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1972 Honda CB350</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1972+Honda+CB350&item=272227302158&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
It all started in 1978 when Kawasaki America bolted a Turbocharger onto a Z1. This thing was a brute! When the Turbo kicked in, you got kicked off if you weren’t holding…tight!
In the early ’80’s we were all power hungry and the manufacturers were more than happy do accommodate us. Turbocharging seemed to get most bang for the buck so all the Big Four jumped on the Bandwagon. Suzuki with the XN85, Yamaha with the Seca Turbo, Kawasaki with their GPZ Turbo ( bit more tame than the original), and Honda with the CX500 Turbo. None of them lasted very long but while they were here they were sure fun.
The basic Honda CX500 was as basic in so many ways and pretty ugly in others. At it’s best it was a good Commuter bike, a really good commuter bike. When Honda went the Turbo route the CX got some pretty futuristic bodywork some suspension upgrades including anti-dive front forks and became what was known at the time “The Gentlemans Turbo”. It put out a modest 82 HP, modest my ass…for a 500 it was awesome! It was the first bike to employ computer controlled fuel injection but, MPG wasn’t all that great but who cared , you were having fun. There is a wise old saying, “Horsepower costs money, How fast can you afford to go?”.
One of the big things (problems?) of turbocharging at that time was the ‘Turbo-lag’. You twist the throttle and you wait and then WHAM the turbo kicked in…off you go. The Honda was far and away the smoothest of the bunch but it was still there. The CX Turbo was really more of a Sport Tourer than a true Sportbike. Unique styling, decent handling and good speed for a 500. Later Honda bumped it up to 650cc and even with the increase in engine size it still wasn’t a big seller. But, it’s a hell of a bike.
I found a really nice one on ebay today. It’s been custom painted, rather tastefully, has a custom exhaust , which retains the stock look and not too many miles on the clock. This bike has been stored for a long time and is going to need the full going through to get it roadworthy again. It’s not running at this time, and who knows why, the seller doesn’t say . If it’s just a matter of a new battery and a system cleaning you could be looking at a great deal of fun. And speaking of a great deal, the selling price is really reasonable. Click on the link below for more info and pictures. This good be a really fun bike.
<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=1982+Honda+CX500+Turbo&icep_item=191856027239&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1982 Honda CX500 Turbo</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=1982+Honda+CX500+Turbo&item=191856027239&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
Sometimes I just can’t help myself. I love Cafe Racers. Simple. A purpose built/modified machine that can get from here to there quite fast in high style. A cafe racer is a function before fashion machine but…the fashion is definitely there too.
A good friend of mine has recently discovered Cafe Racers. He started his life on a Harley Davidson Sportster, all blacked out, then moved on to a Street Bob (a big twin Harley), again all blacked out and loves it. He is a part time member of the “Harley Culture” but he is expanding his views. My subtle hints and sending pictures of cool bikes seem to be working!
I was living in Las Cruces New Mexico when the original Gold Wing was introduced. The GL1000 was at first thought of as a big bore Sportbike, but as we all know, it became the Supreme Leader in touring bikes. Why the change in thought? The original was a touring bike to go up against the Harley Davidson Electra Glide, but the molds for all the touring accessories were accidentally destroyed so the bike was brought out naked and American Honda tried to market it as a Sportbike. Well, the aftermarket (in particular Craig Vetter) had a field day with accessories. In no time at all you could make a Gold Wing as comfortable as a Winnebago. It is the motorcycle that changed touring motorcycles forever.
I rode it back in 1975 and thought it was rather Ho-Hum (I was riding a Kawasaki H2 750 at the time). Fast forward a few decades when I bought my father his Gold Wing, I came to realize just how good this motorcycle is. I started looking at Gold Wings as more than just an ‘old man motorcycle’ but as a platform for some serious fun. Granted, you can’t convert a modern Gold Wing to anything other than what it is but get an old GL1000 or 1100 and the fun begins.
I found a very nicely done Cafe Racer ‘Wing’ on ebay this morning and it looks very appealing. A little too blingy for my taste but very well done. Pretty low miles for a bike it’s age…my wife says the same thing about me. NOT. Some really nice upgrades and like I said, a little on the ‘Blingy” side for me but nicely done.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a very cool bike.
My motorcycling life started with riding my dad’s Honda CB160 into the back end of his new Chevy Impala…I hate when that happens.
After that he decided it was probably safer to head back to Vietnam than teach me how to ride a motorcycle. He was a helicopter jockey in the Marine Corps.
Fast forward a couple of decades and Dad decides he wants to ride a motorcycle again. No matter how hard I tried to talk him out of it he wanted to ride. So, I found a Honda CB350 in somebody’s back yard for a hundred bucks that needed some love and gave it to Dad for his birthday. And from there everything went downhill….he loved riding.
After about a year and 5000 miles later he wanted something bigger so he could travel with me. I found a really nice Honda GL500 Silver Wing and again another birthday present. He and I did the Three Flags Classic (Mexico to Canada in 3 1/2 days) three or four times and he put about 50,000 miles on that Silver Wing. I rode it as well ( a tour of the Four Corner States) and absolutely loved it. Had to replace the rear air shock in Gallup New Mexico, deal with electrical issues in Glennwood Springs Colorado…but other than that, change the oil, put gas in it and go. Anywhere.
The GL500/CX500 is a really great motorcycle. I have written before that it takes the MotoGuzzi V-twin twists it around a bit to make it work Honda style, and then Honda put a Turbo charger on it, pumped it up to 650cc and then twisted it a bit and again made it bigger for flat track racing. It really is an incredible motorcycle. And in my opinion, an excellent platform for a Cafe Racer! Does that surprise anyone who knows me? No.
The Silver Wing Interstate is a wonderful middleweight tourer. The luggage is easy to use and big enough for one person to travel across the country with no problem.
The one I found on ebay today is in good shape, is aging nicely and has pretty low miles. The asking price is a little up there but not unreasonable. This is fly there fill the luggage and ride home.
Click on the pic below for more info
I really dig Gold Wings with Sidecars. My favorite by far is a ’75 GL1000 with a Vetter Terraplane that I saw at the Griffith Park rally a few years back. Picture a Cafe Racer sidecar rig…it was perfect!
So today I found a more sedate (classic) rig on ebay. A nice ’75 Wing with a Watsonian Sidecar. Now, it is really pretty cool. It’s got a couple of different covers, to handle different weather conditions ands a very comfy seat. The bike has been given some good love but needs a bit more, not much but a little.
If you have never driven a sidecar rig (and the proper term is driving, not riding), what a blast! Your whole view of the motorcycling world changes instantly. Flying the car first time, makes you pull over and check your underwear. The first time you fly the car with some one in the car…well, you’re both checking your undies and your passenger is calling a cab. By the way, ‘flying the car’ means the sidecar is off the ground as you go around a right hand turn. Great fun seeing the look on your passengers face when all of a sudden they feel like they are on a carnival ride!
It’s funny, but when you are driving a Sidecar rig, everybody looks at you differently. You’re not a biker anymore and your cool factor just went up 100%
This is a nice rig, a little pricey but cool factor doesn’t always come cheap. Click on the pics below for more pictures and info
Have you ridden a Marusho? Have you ever seen a Marusho at your local Sunday ride breakfast stop? Have you even heard of Marusho? Well, I have heard of Marusho, I have never seen one and I haven’t ridden one. But damn, they look really cool or is unique the right word?
Very typical of Japanese motorcycles of the time (the 1950’s and 60’s) they were copies of either European or British bikes. Small to mid-size bikes and truthfully, marginal quality control. Make it, make it cheap and sell ’em. I imagine that many of you remember the term ‘Jap Crap’. Made in Japan was almost the kiss of death…especially if you ever had to extract a really cheesy screw out of a Honda CB350 clutch cover!! But I digress into personal history with early Japanese bikes….
Marusho has a pretty interesting history…interesting enough to make me want to find one. Maybe.
Masashi Ito worked for for Soichiro Honda (Honda motorcycles) from 1930 to 1935 in his auto repair shop. After World War Two, Ito san started his own auto repair shop but was really more interested in motorcycles. In 1950 he built his first motorcycle. A 150cc single patterend after the German Zundapp of the time…it had a shaft drive which was a bit different, I would guess from his automotive experience.
Marusho built motorcycles from 1950 to 1967. During that period they built 31 different models and all but two were shaft drive. Every model I have seen is a derivation of a Euro model, which is typical of the era and the evolution of the Japanese motorcycle industry.During that time period Marusho built somewhere around 50,000 motorcycles.
They wanted to compete with Honda, but it was not in the cards. Honda went on to not only build motorcycles but cars , that actually were powered by motorcycle engines. We got the first one here in the states as a 600cc (the N600) in 1970 but they were also available in Japan as 350cc cars?! Crazy.
And here is a good ‘Bike Night’ bar trivia question for you to get somebody to buy you another beer…first one, did they ever hear of a Marusho? If they did, why were they (the motorcycles) actually named ‘Lilac’? It was Ito san’s wifes favorite flower.
The really nice Marusho Lilac 250 V-Twin I found on ebay this morning is really nice. This is a bike that was inspired by the German Victoria Bergmeister. It is a horizontal V-Twin (kind of Guzzi-ish) and in beautiful condition. As much as I like to envision bikes as really fun cafe racers…this isn’t one of them. I would want to ride this one just as it is.
Hold the phone!!! Get back Jack! Look at this bike…do you see a future Honda? I do. Does the CX500 come to mind? HMMM…somebody is bound to email me with the fact that it came from Moto Guzzi or Victoria Bergmeister, yeah, yeah I know that but…Remember Ito worked for Soichiro Honda and built the V-Twin long before Honda came out with the CX model.
Nonetheless…this is a very cool bike that seems to be selling for a very reasonable price and would be a “buy it and ride it”. When you stop at your favorite motorcycle hangout on a Sunday morning other riders are either going to walk by because they have no clue as to what they are seeing or you are going to have guys taking pictures and wondering who owns it because that want to know about it.
Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures. This is a very interesting motorcycle.
1960 Marusho Lilac
Way too much fun. Here’s the deal with the ‘Monkey Bike’. It’s just a blast to ride. You can load it into the back of a station wagon and take it on a family camping trip, you can hang it off the bumper of your camper or motorhome and head to wherever, you can teach your kid or your wife to ride on this bike and it won’t scare the crap out of them. When you’re at the RV park you can ride to the little store they have there and get some ice or firewood, and you’ll go through a tank of gas about once a year (remember to put Stabil in the tank). There are all kinds of hop up parts for this little bike…you can make it loud, you can actually make go around a go-kart track pretty fast, you can make a little pack mule out of it, but mostly, you’re going just have fun on it. This is truly a ‘high giggle factor’ little motorbike.
I found this one on ebay this morning and it is exactly what it should be…ridden, shows it’s age and has been taken care of. Like I said at the beginning, way too much fun. This is two wheel fun at it’s peak.
Click on the pictures below for more info.
I can’t help myself. There must be some sort of genetic defect in my DNA that makes me love Honda 350’s. But, I can take solace in knowing that I am not the only one. The Honda 350 is the best selling motorcycle of all time. I think? I hope? I really don’t want to be the only one with this incurable disease.
I have 4 1/2 Honda 350’s in my barn. Two run, one doesn’t (its the parts mule), and the other one and a half is in a bunch of boxes and parts hanging from the ceiling to be put back together sometime soon?
On ebay this morning I found a small group of 350’s that all need some love but could turn into a couple, a couple, of very cool bikes.
First, the bike above is not in the collection, it’s just what you could maybe build out of what’s there…
There is a CL77 (305 Scrambler) in the batch which is really quite nice. Most of these bikes are destined to become parts bikes however, but that’s OK, those of us into this sort of thing need a good stock of parts bikes…and an understanding wife or a very separate (as in another town) industrial / storage space.
The Honda 350 is one of those things in life that does ‘everything good and nothing great’. It gets you around town, it can handle freeway speeds (kind of…??) its headlight is as good as a Boy Scout flashlight in a dust storm, The alternator is as weak as can be so you need to always ride the bike at at least 3,000 RPM just to keep the battery up to snuff (if you’re really serious about these bikes you upgrade the alternator). When it’s hard to start chances are it is the battery, buy a ‘Battery Tender’ and keep it hooked up.
Despite its little flaws, the Honda 350 is still the perfect motorcycle. It is the Labrador Retriever of the motorcycle world, always there when you need it, willing to do whatever you ask of it.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. There are a couple of real gems in this bunch.
Ricky…”Lucy….I’m home!! Look what I got you!!”
Lucy…”Is it a new dishwasher? A new clothes washer?”
Ricky…”It’s Honda VT500 Ascot!…you’re going to love
Lucy…”Does it do dishes and clothes?”
Ricky…”No, it’s a motorcycle”
Lucy…”Is it a Dual Sport? Because thats what I really want”
Ricky…”Well, no…but it’s a really great motorcycle…”
You know, I feel sorry for poor Ricky, here he is getting his lovely wife something great and, well…so much for good intentions. The truth here is pretty universal, we (men) buy our wives, kids, or significant others, motorcycles we really want to have not necessarily what they want, even if they tell us ‘exactly’ what they want…it’s in our genetic code, we can’t help it!
Ok, I’m taking Ricky’s side here. The Honda VT500 Ascot is a really cool motorcycle, Lucy is missing out big time by telling Ricky to sell the bike and get her a ‘dual sport’. The Ascot would be a lot of fun for her to ride…why?? Easy, it’s got a great motor…not too fast but fast enough to be a lot of fun. Next, it’s really quite comfortable (and for a woman, the low seat height is a big advantage). The VT500 has a decent suspension(which can be modified to be really good), the shaft drive is very low maintenance, and it’s a good looking bike (if it wasn’t for that god awful square headlight, which thankfully can be replaced…). And lastly, it can be made into a very cool cafe racer which will get her away from any thought of a dual sport bike.
The truth is, the VT500 is one the most under appreciated motorcycles built. I have written before about bikes that didn’t receive the love they deserved and the V-Twin Ascot is high on that list. I had an opportunity once to spend a couple of days on one and I had an absolute blast. I didn’t want to give it back to my friend.
I had been racing a Honda FT500 Single for a few years and loved it. When I got on the ‘VT’500 I felt right at home, well, not quite, but the styling made me feel at home? The V-Twin Ascot was a really nice bike to ride, like I said before, it wasn’t all that fast and it could use a bit of a suspension upgrade but really, this is a bike that will do pretty much anything you want it to do. Make it a cafe racer, street tracker (its original design), make it a sport tourer…which I believe is its true destiny, or let it be your daily ride just as it is.
I found a very nice VT500 on ebay today. The story at the top is basically true…this guy bought a clean VT500 for his wife but she wanted a Dual Sport, ok..there is no accounting for taste (just kidding) so now he is selling it. This Ascot has only 10K miles on the odo which is not all that much, it is a runner and cosmetically pretty nice. It is stock, which I always like. The seller did a carb clean, new battery, oil and filter, air filter, etc, but I would go ahead and change out the rest of the fluids, brake pads and some new tires…then, as I start gathering all the parts to make it into a great cafe racer, I’d ride it everyday.
Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures. Here’s a note however…this is the second time this bike has been posted at the same price. It didn’t sell before and my feeling, being involved in vintage bikes for quite a while, is that this bike is a bit overpriced. It is a nice bike, maybe around $1700-$1800 is a good selling price. Contact the guy. The VT500 is a very cool bike.
Every motorcycle and every motorcyclist has a story to tell. Some stories are far more interesting than others but I find most all very interesting if you dig just a bit.
What makes a motorcycle great? What makes it legendary? How does a rider become great and what makes him or her a legend? Simple questions with sometimes just as simple answers. For a rider it can be as simple as being born with good genes, being in the right place at the right time and having the right person to give the guidance and help to move you to greatness. In truth it is all the above and a smidgen of good luck. For a motorcycle to become legend it takes a bit more.
Some motorcycles are considered great just because they win races, lots of races, but in that scenario credit also goes to the rider. Motorcycles that change motorcycling become legends. The list is long of legendary motorcycles and the debates that go along with those choices is even longer.
Take the 1969 Honda CB750 SOHC, this was a motorcycle that set the world on its ear. Was it the fastest?…no. Was it the best handling?…no. But as an all around package was it the best?…ABSOLUTELY. The CB750 was declared the first ‘Superbike’. Triumph could have claimed that title if they had brought out the Trident sooner and with a disc brake in front instead of the drum (which actually worked really well), better electronics and more modern styling. Hindsight is always 20/20.
The Honda 750 became the perfect platform for modification to truly become a Superbike. Honda themselves put a lot of time, money and effort into the racing development of the 750. In 1970 Honda built Dick Mann the most exotic, expensive race bike ever built to race…and win…the Daytona 200. They actually built four of them but Mr. Mann was piloting the only one to finish, and win. That win was hugely important to Honda because were the days that the saying “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” was so so true. That motorcycle and that win propelled Honda to world leadership.
What I find fascinating though is what engineers, fabricators and designers do with motorcycles, legendary or not, to make them more. When the CB750 came out everyone from backyard builders to college degreed engineers started building a better CB750. The engine was, and still is, fantastic but the chassis was typically Japanese of the era which was described in the media as a ‘Flexy Flyer’. Rickman, Seeley, Harris and others built frames that transformed the mighty CB into the Superbike Honda envisioned. The most innovative of those was Tony Foale.
Tony Foale is an engineer’s engineer. Tony not only created the most unique chassis for the CB750 but also the suspension system that gave the Honda such superb handling characteristics. Tony wrote the book on chassis design both literally and figuratively. When I first decided to make a bike handle better I did all the basics a backyard guy could do in the garage my next project however I was given Tonys Foales’ book and my eyes became wide open to the possibilities. Most of what Tony did was way beyond my skill set…and budget, but the lessons learned were easily put to more simple applications as well.
I found on ebay this morning THE Honda CB750 to buy. Like I said at the beginning of this post, every motorcycle has a story and boy does this one have a story. Instead of me rewriting it just click on the pictures below for the story, many more pictures and few minutes of great motorcycle history and a couple of interesting characters. If you are looking for a bike to fit into a collection or better yet, to go vintage racing with this Honda is a dream come true. A creative sort could probably make it street legal and WOW would that be a sight to behold at your local Sunday morning hangout!
Oh, while looking at the pictures and reading the story, try not to drool on your keyboard.