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News archive Apr 2020

A classic challenge, April 30

Triumph Trident T150V

There is joy in the adversity of old toys, if you can make them start...from our Travels with Guido series, see the story here. (pic by Lou Martin)

Going Commando, April 30

Norton Commando 850

This Norton Commando 850 ad from 1973 extolls the smooth run you get from the isolastic engine mount system, along with the combination of 'brute strength and finesse' and it's 120mph-plus performance. Lovely. The model is thought to be Vivien Neves.

The last Commando (sort of), April 30

Norton Commando Mark 3

This might get me drummed out of the Norton Owners Club, if ever I join, but I never really intended to buy a Commando...see the story here.

Where did the Motorcycle Trader mag staffers go? April 29

Motorcycle Trader mag

Since Motorcycle Trader magazine closed up shop in April 2020, we've had a few enquiries about where can people find the writers/shooters/clowns they loved to engage with. Here's our current list of those who have an ongoing onlne presence.

Suzuki TT two-stroke, April 29

Suzuki GT500 TT

You see the odd Suzuki GT500 in Australia, but what about this, the TT Version? It looks great, doesn't it?

Class of 1990, April 28

Kawasaki ZXR750

The future collectors that are worth hunting down - Class of 1990 - best club plate bikes

The Perfect Workshop, April 27

Perfect Workshop

Ever wondered what a shed with real street cred should contain? Let's walk through the essentials…see the story here.

Top-end Traumas, April 26

Suzuki GSX1100ET

We were having a great time with the GSX, then trouble raised its ugly head. Time for a little surgery...

Refurb Time, April 25


Some quick repairs for the old fly-ride BMW R100GS Paris-Dakar we bought in Alice Springs and rode home to Melbourne. See the story here.

pic by Ben Galli Photography

All-British Rally - look forward to 2021, April 25

All British Rally Australia 2019

The giant All-British Rally in sunny Newstead, Victoria, should have been run this ANZAC weekend and of course was cancelled. Since we can't be there, let's have a squiz at last year's event...see the gallery.

What makes a touring bike, April 24

Kawasaki GPz900R central Australia

Did Kawasaki accidentally build the ultimate tourer? Read it here.

Our bikes - buying the Suzuki GSX1100E, April 23

Suzuki GSX1100E

Adding a big bruiser to the shed (from our archives)...are they worth the trouble?

Ageing Gracefully, April 23

Indian CHief Vintage 2009 

Is patina over-rated? Polish it or play with it - those are your it here. (Pic by Ben Galli Photography)

50 years of XR750, April 22

Harley-Davidson XR750

Harley-Davidson's legendary XR750 flat-tracker - one of the most sucessful race motorcycles, ever - celebrates 50 years. See the feature at American Iron online.

Budget Bombers - cheap investment bikes, April 22

budget investment motorycles

The terms “financially sensible” and “motorcycle purchase” are rarely seen in the same place. Maybe they should be...see the story. (Pic by Ben Galli Photography)

Streetfighter Twins - future collectible? April 21

Ducati Streetfighter S 2009

Is the Ducati Streetfighter V-twin series a future collectible? With the announcement in 2019 of a Ducati V4 Panigale-based Streetfighter line-up, you can expect interest in the original V-twins to be re-ignited. People who either don’t want or can’t afford the V4, but like the whole concept, will take a new interest in its predecessors. See the story here.

Captain Practical, April 20


One night, over some slightly bizarre pasta dish I’d whipped up, we were discussing practical motorcycles. This is like Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and General Kim Jong-il discussing democracy. After all we’re talking about a bloke with two crook legs who just bought himself a kick-start XL500 and a dingbat whose idea of a good commuter is a Hayabusa...from our Travels with Guido series. Read the full story here.

1954 Honda Dream, April 20

Honda Dream 1954

One of a host of fascinating displays at the National Motorcycle Museum in Iowa, USA, is this 1954 Honda: Compared to later Hondas, the Dream 4E was a rudimentary design. Some would say it borrowed some of its engineering and design from German makes, especially NSU. See it here.

Yamaha's other life - cars, April 20

Yamaha V10 car engine

Yamaha has produced engines for all sorts of interesting projects over the years, including plenty of much-loved cars. Here is Wheels magazine's wrap on that.

Who is TVS Motor? April 19

TVS Motor Apache RR

Indian motorcycle maker TVS Motor bought what remains of Norton on April 16 and promises the brand will be coming back, perhaps bigger and better than ever.

So who is TVS Motor? It's a serious player in the huge domestic bike market and rival to Eicher, the parent company of Royal Enfield. In the 2018-19 financial year, it sold 3.9 million vehicles, made up 1.5 million motorcycles, nearly 900,000 mopeds and 1.3 million scooters. Add another 150,000 three-wheelers to that list.

It's image leader bike is the Apache RR (pictured), an attractive-looking liquid-cooled 310cc single-cylinder road bike. It has also built 310s for BMW.

Norton's former boss Stuart Garner had already sold the engine rights to Chinese maker Jinlang and it's so far unclear how this figures into the equation.

However it would seem that TVS has the resources to develop its own alternative powerplants, which is probably a better path to follow. Joint M-D Sudarshan Venu said, "Norton will continue to retain its distinctive identity with dedicated and specific business plans."

Rival Royal Enfield did much the same, buying in a lot of existing expertise from the likes of Harris Racing for its chassis knowledge and former Triumph Motorcycles employees to assist with the development of its current 650 twins.

TVS no doubt would have been eyeing this success and it's not a great leap to see it following a similar path to develop a new Norton twin - also a 650 perhaps? If they can match Royal Enfield's efforts, it could turn out to be a good thing for the Norton brand and the market as a whole. See the company website here.

Roller Door on the market, April 19

Honda CB750 Bold d'Or

One of the nicest examples of a 1980 Honda CB750 'Roller Door' (Bol d'Or) we've seen in a long time has popped up on the market at Facebook. The Sunshine Coast (Qld) based 750 claims to have had a rebuild around 1000km and two years ago and is priced very modestly at $6000. That's good buying assuming it lives up to the pics and description. See it here.

Norton sold to TVS Motor, April 18

Norton Scrambler 2020

Well, it’s happened, Royal Enfield arch-rival TVS Motor inked a 16 million quid deal on April 17 to buy Norton.
From the company’s release:
Commenting on the acquisition, Mr Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director, TVS Motor Company said, "This is a momentous time for us at TVS Motor Company. Norton is an iconic British brand celebrated across the world, and presents us with an immense opportunity to scale globally. This transaction is in line with our effort to cater to the aspirations of discerning motorcycle customers. We will extend our full support for Norton to regain its full glory in the international motorcycle landscape."
Mr Sudarshan Venu further added, "Norton will continue to retain its distinctive identity with dedicated and specific business plans. TVS Motor will work closely with customers and employees in building the success and pre-eminence of the Norton Motorcycles brand and we look forward to growing together globally in the years to come."
TVS Motor website

Bye-bye Buell, April 18

Buell Battle Twin

Erik Buell doesn’t fit the mould of the corporate citizen. Get him talking and the ratbag motorcycle enthusiast soon bubbles to the the full story here. (From our archives, 2009)

Bullet Train through Kerala, April 17

Kerala by motorcycle

Guido and Spannerman head to India to ride with a pack of Bullets on their home turf

Maybe it was the accusation that we were getting into a rut. Whatever the cause, the International Touring Division of the Lemmings Motorcycle Club (motto: Death before Courtesy) decided that we could give Vietnam a rest this year and head to India...see the story here. Look for more pics & vids at the end.

Little Victories, April 16

Sunbeam S7 1947

Sometimes it's the allegedly easy jobs that can take years to complete. Take our 1947 Sunbeam as an example...

Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 Ace Cafe

Continental future classic, April 15

Royal Enfield Continental GT 535: Beyond sweet styling and handling, Royal Enfield’s modern café racer was a global image-maker. Will it be a future classic?

Where to now for Norton? April 14

Norton motorcycle

Indian motorcycle firm TVS is said to be in negotiations to buy what's left of Norton, which isn't a great deal. The company has considerable outstanding debts and the rights to its engine were sold off to Chinese firm Jinlang. However given the question mark over that unit's reliability, having it off the table could be a blessing in disguise. TVS evidently sees an opportunity to go into competition with arch-rival Royal Enfield in the mid-capacity road bike segment and the Norton could be just what it needs. See the story.

King Kwaka - future collectible, April 13

Kawasaki ZX-12R

Kawasaki’s ZX-12R was meant to be the top performance dog, but things didn’t quite work out that way

Back at the turn of the century, which to some of you might seem when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, Kawasaki launched what it expected to be the king hit in the hyper sports tourer class...see the story.

The Nicest Honda for sale, April 13

Honda C50 1966

Famous for being the centre of the legendary 'You meet the nicest people on a Honda' ad campaign of the 1960s, the C50 step-thru is also rightly famous for getting much of the world mobile. This 1966 example is a rare unrestored original with just 89 miles on the clock, according to the seller. As of today, bidding on the Ebay auction was at US$4300 (Au$6800) with two days to go. How high will people bid? (Ed's note - it went for US$5005 or Au$8000.)

Honda produced some extraordinary commercials on the dual 'World's biggest seller' and 'you meet the nicest people' themes. Here is an omnibus of clips and is close to 9 min. It's interesting to note the step-thru in the oldest commercial is an earlier model - one that you just don't see any more. 


Trudy Hardy profile, April 12

Trudy Hardy BMW America

Look who's in charge over at BMW Motorrad America. See the profile of Trudy Hardy, the new VP.

Carberry twin on the market, April 12

Carberry Enfield

It's a bit of a rarity to see a used one of these things on the market, as they sell in tiny numbers. Built as 1070cc V-twin using two Enfield Bullet cylinders, they have been available for several years - initially built locally in Australia and now, after a major business upheaval, in India. This 2004 example is on the market at Bikesales for $22,000. See the maker's website here.

Yamaha FZ750 future collectible, April 12

Yamaha FZ750

Yamaha’s breakthrough five-valver deserves more recognition
It’s funny to see, across the decades, motorcycles we once saw as hero bikes slip into some sort of obscurity. The victim I have in mind was once a force to be reckoned with both in the showroom and on the racetrack – namely Yamaha’s FZ750. See the story here.

Triumph T160, April 11

Triumph Trident T160

Following on from yesterday's story on the Castrol 6-Hour Triumph T160 with Mick Hone on board, here's one that was added to our shed a little while ago. (Look for the video near the end of the story.)

Farewell Bertrand, April 10

Bertrand Cadart

Farewell Bertrand Cadart, one of the most colourful and treasured people in Australian motorcycling. He passed away today.
A former French marine, he arrived in Australia in the early 1970s, and soon found himself on a wild ride that included close involvement in the first Mad Max movie, being a reporter/performer for Radio Australia, owner of businesses such as La Parisienne fairings and Fournales Suspension Australia, and the legendary Mayor of the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council in Tasmania.
You can get some grasp of his life at his website.

Racing Triumph, April 10

Triumph Trident Castrol 6 Hour Mick Hone

Triumph T160 in the 1975 Castrol 6-Hour. We had to share this shot from photographer Robin Lewis. That's well-known race identity and motorcycle dealer Mick Hone on board, doing the entire race solo - a fairly punishing experience, apparently. He describes it as six hours of craziness and being to reduced to the state of a zombie by the end.

Three T160s were entered that year by the then distributor Peter Stevens and all finished. That year's race was won by Gregg Hansford and Murray Sale, riding a Kawasaki Z900.

There's a detailed 6 Hour web archive here. Pic copyright: Robin Lewis (used with permission). Tap the pic or here for a full-size version.

Three wheels - really?, April 10

Messerschmitt 3 wheeler

Guido gets on his hobby horse about trikes, sidecars, Frogs and all about it here.

Fly-Ride Bimmer, April 9

BMW R100GS Paris-Dakar

It's not every day you get to fly into the Northern Territory (Australia) to ride home a BMW R100GS Paris-Dakar yo've never clapped on eyes on before.

From our 2019 archives (look for the quick vid at the end)

On the Tools, April 8

Suzuki Katana 1100

From an old 'Travels with Guido' column: A bit of sun, a good claret and an oil change – what more could you want? Talent…

One of the penalties of owning old motorcycles is paranoia. There we were, me and Kate the Katana, cruising down the freeway, enjoying the sun. Then, as we slowed for a block in the traffic, there was a gentle and rhythmic ‘clunk’. Eh?

Having lost a conrod out of another bike the story here.

Bikes sales Q1 2020, April 7

Motorcycle sales Q1 2020

Motorcycle sales for the first quarter of 2020 have fallen 2.5 per cent when compared to last year - perhaps much less than most people were expecting. (Click the image to see it in full size.) However that was off a relatively low base, as Q1 2019 was already down over 19 percent on the previous year. Scooter sales took the biggest hit this year, down close to 14 per cent. More from FCAI

Jawa twins - where are they now? April 7

1953 Jawa 350

What happened to all the Jawa twins in Australia? We're wondering if the rust gods finally got them. Fifties examples like the one shown are very thin on the ground, though you do see the occasional sixties generation, like the one reviewed here by Motorcycle Classics. Of course the brand has recently been revived with a modern take, called the Jawa 42 (below) - see the review by Overdrive India. The factory is apparently flat out keeping up with demand in India, so it may be a long while before we see export versions.

Jawa 42

Roberts RZ on the market, April 6

Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts replica

You don't see these pop up very often - 1984 Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts replica for sale out of Queensland. This was the last of the series and a cracker of a ride. In the USA they ran catalytic converters in the exhausts, which were almost immediately tossed by owners looking for more performance.
This example has aftermarket pipes and heads, though a set of stock heads comes with it.
The Roberts special came with the famous speed block design and a signature from the great man, but was otherwise the same as a stocker.
Prices have been climbing on these things, and the asking price on this one is right up there at $16,750. It’s on the market via Ebay.
Yamaha RZ350 specs and backgrounder at Motorcycle Specs Za.

Project 6-Hour fires up, April 4

Yamaha FZR1000

Our Castrol 6-Hour replica Yamaha FZR1000 is running, with thanks to Don Stafford. Bought out of a damp shed as a cheap non-runner a few years ago, it's now close to getting on the road.

See the story here:

Part 3 - engine running

Part 2 - that looks nasty

Part 1 - strip

Norton engine rights sold, April 3

norton-stuart garner-huacong wu-jinlang 2019

In one of those story twists you (maybe) couldn't possibly make up, it's been revealed that the rights to Norton's 961 twin-cylinder engine were sold to Chinese make Jinlang at the end of 2019, just before Norton collapsed in a screaming financial mess. The firm went into receivership on January 29.

That effectively hobbles any hope for the administrators to sell the firm, since the sale included the rights to the design and the tooling. Norton owner Stuart Garner did the deal, according to UK MCN.

Jinlang is said to have plans to develop the engine into a new platform, with the assistance of un-named Italian firms.

Norton meanwhile is being chased for 300,000 pounds in unpaid taxes, while there has been a call for an inquiry into the company, which received significant public funding.

Our biggest fear was this might be an April Fool's Day joke, given the date stamp, however the MCN story doesn't read that way and goes into considerable historical depth. More here from UK Motor Cycle News.

(Pic: Huacong Wu of Jinlang at left and Stuart Garner.)

New Publishers for Heavy Duty mag, April 2

Heavy Duty magazine

Cruiser-focussed Heavy Duty magazine has changed with long-time publishers Viv and Neale Brumby handing over to Mick and Alison Withers. Here's what the outgoing Ed had to say:

After 29 years Heavy Duty magazine has a new publisher. Today, 2 April 2020, we welcome Mick Withers, of 1320 Media, to the helm.
Mick, or Freeby as everyone older than 45 knows him, has worked for damn-near every Australian motorcycle magazine published since 1989. Most recently as editor of Cruiser & Trike.
For readers and advertisers it's business as usual. Heavy Duty will appear on newsstands and in letter boxes every second month, on time, as always. Bonza Media is very proud of our long track record with this magazine and we know that Mick will continue that long tradition. And of course, our very own esteemed Doc Robinson, writer of Tech Torq, will continue to share his wisdom and answer your questions every issue.
Viv and I will now focus on running Heavy Duty Motorcycle Tours. You'll continue to see our awesome tours promoted in Heavy Duty Magazine and tour features as well. We're looking forward to a great time ahead, taking readers on unforgettable rides around the world and in Australia.
But right now, it's over to you Mick! We're really excited to see the magazine in very capable hands and can't wait for the next issue – minus the deadline!
Ride hard, ride smart.

War Babies, April 2

Harley-Davidson WLA

Military bikes that were once the ultimate in disposables are now prized as collectibles. See our feature

New-old-stock Harley WLA, April 1

Harley-Davidson WLA 1942

No, it's not an April fool's day joke, but a recent listing on Gumtree. This 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA is on the market via Gumtree as new-old-stock - the seller claims it's never been started. Though 90,000 of the things were built for WWII, one out of the crate is a rare find. What's it worth? They're asking $52,000.

Not that long, ago, we did a war bikes special for Motorcycle Trader mag. Have a look at it here.

Want more news? See our archive.


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