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News archive Jul 2020

Classic bike buys – as good as money in the bank? July 31

classic bike buys

The terms “financially responsible” and “motorcycle purchase” are rarely seen in the same place. Maybe they should be. See the story here.

pics by Ben Galli Photography

Winifred's Way, July 31

Winifred Wells

Winifred Wells may not be a name that immediately springs to mind when you talk of local motorcycle pioneers, but perhaps it should. See this story from Old Bike magazine, which talks of her trans-continental and round Australia trips in the 1950s on Royal Enfields.

Profile – Suzuki RF900R, July 30

Suzuki RF900R

Suzuki’s RF900R seemed like an anomaly when it was launched, but these days is a much under-rated model. See the story here.

Tasty TX, July 30

Yamaha TX750 cafe racer

Probably the nicest Yamaha TX750 cafe build we've ever seen. See the story at Return of the Cafe Racers.

Workshop puzzler, July 30

Workshop puzzler for the day: why won't this Ducati 916 fuel pump work with a stock filter? The vid is from Brad the Bike Boy, a very experienced (and good) Ducati specialist in Melbourne. 

Morbidelli collection in huge Bicester auction, July 29

Giancarlo Morbidelli

Egli Vincent Godet

Bonhams in the UK is lining up for a huge classic motorcycle auction at Bicester over three days from August 14, including the massive Morbidelli collection. Memorabilia and components are covered on the Friday, 160-plus motorcycles from various vendors go under the hammer on the Saturday, while 200 from the Morbidelli collection will be offered on the Sunday.

The lots cover an extraordinary range from the relatively humble through to the ultra-exotic. Some of the highlights include the Egli Vincent by Godet (lot 414 - estimated at $99-120k) above.

Meanwhile Giancarlo Morbidelli (pictured at top) assembled an extraordinary collection over his lifetime, including gems such as the four-cylinder Ducati 125 racer from 1964 below (lot 654 - estimated at $720k-1.1mil) and the 1950 championship-winning Benelli 250 ridden by Dario Ambrosini (lot 678 - estimated at $220-320k) at bottom.

If all that is a little terrifying, we did spot a tidy-looking 1979 Honda CBX1000 in the Morbidelli collection (lot 700) with an estimate of $11-18k.

The catalogue itself promises hours of entertainment – and perhaps dreams – and can be found here.

Ducati 125 racer bonhams

Benelli 250 racer bonhams

Oddball of the week – Harley Military 500, July 28

Harley military 500

Iconic Motorbike Auctions in the USA is flogging off a true oddball – a 1999 Harley-Davidson MT500, or military single. And if you think it looks just a little bit familiar, you're right.

This was once the British-made Armstrong-CCM machine, powered by a Rotax 500 single. Basic stats included 24kW at 6200rpm and a 13-litre fuel tank.

According to Iconic, Harley-Davidson sold just 355 copies of the MT500 in 1999 and a few more the following year.

Only select Harley-Davidson dealerships were allowed to sell these bikes. Some raffled them off, with proceeds going to the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, others were sold for approximately US$12,000 (Au$16,800), depending on if you got luggage and a mounted gun case.

Bidding on this one has been slow to take off.

There is a business in the UK that sells and supports these and the 350 versions, called Force Motorcycles. Well worth a look, here.

Harley military 500

Harley military 500

Binalong gems find new homes, July 27

Ducati 1983 MHR

The former Binalong Motor Museum (NSW) saw its contents sold off by Donington Auctions yesterday, with a number of prime motorcycles mixed in.

Among them was the 1983 Ducati 900 Mike Hailwood replica shown above, which fetched towards the lower end of its pre-sale estimate at $24,000. That's still a solid number. It showed 33,000km on the odo, seemed to be complete and original and presumably would have required recommissioning.

Another that got our attention was the 1924 Harley-Davidson Model JE outfit below. This appeared to be in exceptional condition and was a premium model in the range. The JE designation means it was running the performance version 989cc F-head twin. A sale price of $45,000 was well above estimate.

You can see the full results here.

Harley-Davidson je 1924

Harley JE outfit

Exceptional Honda CB750F on market, July 26

Honda CB750F 1980

It's not often you get to see a really clean 1980 CB750F on the market, such as this one on Facebook.

The basic info is that it's had a restoration and claims 67,000km, priced at $5500 in Queensland. See the ad here.

See our model profile here.

Rough games – BMW K1100LT, July 25


Our allegedly cheap tourer heads to the workshop. See the story here.

workshop pics by Ben Galli Photography

Brut Suzuki, July 25

Brut 33 promo susuzki

Had to share this...Brut 33 and a Suzuki GT200 stroker endorsed by Barry Sheene. What more could you want?
(from Skungheeney Harrison at the UK VJMC page on Faceplant)

Rickman on the block, July 25

Rickman Honda

Honda CB750-Four with Rickman bodywork - a bit of seventies bling for the shed. See it here.

Rickman is still trading – see the website.

Turning the quarter century (and more) – Ducati 916, July 24

Ducati 916

Still sexy after all these years. See the story here.

Pirelli Ducati ad

Kite-flying, July 24

Kawasaki GPz 2021

Some kite-flying styling exercises have popped up on Faceplant in recent days. The first is a more or less believable rendering of what a modern-day Kawasaki GPz retro might look like, via BeMoto and Kardesign. Judging by the response on social media, Kawasaki should start building it immediately.

More lukewarm was the response to the one by Oberdan Bezzi, below, a rendering of a theoretical Indian sports bike based around the current Challenger V-twin powerplant. We'd have both, thanks...

Yamaha R6 - future collectible, July 23

Yamaha R6

A jet and a standard-setter – the R6 was the second of a Yamaha one-two knock-out. See the story here.

Bikedust, July 22

Moondust & why we ride

Does life behind bars change us forever? See the story here.

Boom or bust part 2, July 21

Hayabusa and SUnbeam S7

Part 2 of the series we started yesterday. Once the baby boomers fall off the proverbial twig, will their kids take up classic bikes? See it here.

Part 1 is here.

Kawasaki Voyager – oddball for the day, July 20

kawasaki voyager 1200 1

Definitely an oddball in this country, Kawasaki's giant Voyager from the 1980s was never brought in to Australia by the factory, and there's unlikely to be more than a handful of examples in the country. During this mid-to-late 1980s period, the other big three Japanese makers had a crack at rivalling Honda's mighty GoldWing and of course Harley-Davidson's Electra Glide.

For Yamaha it was the V4 Venture, Suzuki the V4 Cavalcade and Kawasaki the Voyager in both inline four and inline six form.

This is otherwise known as the Voyager XII, or ZG1200, running an inline four 1196cc powerplant. It claimed a respectable 97 horses and drove through a five-speed transmission with shaft drive. At the time, it was regarded as the bargain of the heavy tourers in the USA market, though not necessarily the best.

A 1986 example (below) has popped up for sale with a dealer in WA, via Bikesales. It has 72,000km on the clock and is priced at $7990. Could be just the thing if you were planning that big trip across the Nullarbor...well, that is when the borders open again!

kawasaki voyager 1200

Boom or Bust? July 20

BSA Super Rocket ad

We’re running a two-part series speculating on the mid-range future of the classic motorcycles market. See part 1 here.

1979 BMW R65, July 19


It was never the glam model in the line-up, but we reckon this old R65 has aged gracefully. See the story here.

pics by Ben Galli Photography

MV Agusta F4 750 future collectible, July 18

MV Agusta F4 750S

Good buying, we reckon. See the story from our archives.

BMW R100GS Paris-Dakar video review, July 17

The perfect road trip, with a 30-year-old adventure tourer.

See the trip feature here, and the follow-up story here.  

Bikes for sale, July 17

Aprilia Shiver

Aprilia Shiver - 2010, 7900km, excellent condition with ABS. $8000. tel (Vic) 0431 944 778. 

UK MCN review; Gumtree ad


This hand-made Norvin single we featured recently is on the market. See our story here.
The owner can be contacted via or tel (03) 9381 1666 during business hours.

Soviet Surprise, July 16


Renewing a relationship with an old flame from the Soviet era - see the story here.

Oddball Yamaha for local auction, July 16

Yamaha XJ750D

This slick-looking Japan-only Yamaha XJ750D, which clearly borrows from the 650 turbo of the same era, is a very rare toy in Australia. An example is coming up for local auction in August with a guiding range of $2500-5000.

See our profile on this rarity.

Odd couple at auction, July 15

Kawasaki H2 750

An odd couple of motorcycles at USA auction site Bring a Trailer got our attention recently by having winning bids separated by just US$1500 (Au$2200), though we would have expected a far greater gap.

First up was pretty much a gold-plated classic these days, namely a 1972 Kawasaki H2 750 two-stroke triple. This example had a number of period-style mods, such as expansion chambers, a second front disc brake and aftermarket rear shocks. That lot probably dented the value a little, but in some ways also added to its appeal as a true seventies throwback. It went for US$11,750 (Au$16,900).

Next was the 1990 Honda GB500TT which is more of a latter-day tribute than an actual classic – though it may well eventually get there. It too had some light mods including piston, camshaft and exhaust. This one soared much higher than we expected at US$10,250 (Au$14,800). It demonstrated that when you get two bidders who want something badly enough, logic tends to fly out the window...

Honda GB500TT

Big money for Fireblade, July 14

fireblade SP 2020

Honda has announced that the high-end CBR1000RR-R SP will be the only Fireblade variant available in Australia, at an attention-grabbing price of $50,000 – almost enough to buy a good RC30! See more here.

Honda RC30 Mecum

21st Century fugly, July 13

Johammer J1

Hot Car mag in the USA has weighed in on the sensitive topic of seriously ugly motorcycles, nominating their top 10. Given it's the 21st century they're talking about, electric motorcycles, such as the Johammer J1 above, provide a rich vein of material.

There are some surprises in the list, such as the Lightning LS-218 below, which we think looks alright. And the choice of the Arlen Ness-designed Victory Vision (third pic) as the number one offender is a little harsh, too. Or is it?

Also controversial is the nomination of the Ducati 999 (fourth pic) for this list. The Pierre Terblanche design had the misfortune of following on directly from Massimo Tamburini's iconic 916 shape and coincided with a slump in sales for the brand. Roundly criticised when launched, the design nevertheless had its fans and we think has stood the test of time very well.

Lightning LS-218

Victory Vision

Ducati 999

Two-stroke flyer, July 12

Langen two-stroke cafe racer

UK start-up Langen Motorcycles, led by former CCM design engineer Christofer Ratcliffe, is showing off a 250cc V-twin two-stroke cafe racer it's proposing to put on the market. The powerplant claims a very healthy 80 horses, suggesting the 115kg machine could be a flyer. Unfortunately, so too is the proposed price for the initial batch at a heady 30,000 UK pounds, or AU$55,000! That suggests it needs to partner up with a volume maker. See Langen's site here.

Langen two-stroke engine

Honda CBR900RR FireBlade buyer guide, July 11

Honda CBR900RR FireBlade 1992

Honda’s first FireBlade marked a major step in sportsbike development. See the story here and the video of our own example, below.

Honda CBR900RR owner review, July 11


Our first-model FireBlade has left the shed after being in residence for several years. Here's what we thought of it.

Return of the postie bike, July 10

Honda CT125

Once Australia's top-selling motorcycle thanks to regular and large orders from Australia Post, and originally conceived as a model pitched at farmers, Honda's CT series is back. Engine capacity has been bumped up from 110cc to 125 and the bike has undergone a major make-over that includes electric start and ABS on the front brake. The transmission remains a four-speed semi-auto. Two colours are being offered and you can snag one for a sobering $7000.

That price raises some questions over how competitive it will be in the current market. This piece by Bikesales, listing the top commuters for under $5000 on the road, backs up that assertion.

Honda CT125

What now? July 9

Vincent rapide chinese red

It’s one thing to spend a fortune on a classic, but then what do you do? See the story here.

pic Classic Avenue


Vincent replica emerges in USA, July 8

vincent replica harley

A Vincent replica made from a 1984 Harley-Davidson Sportster has just sold on USA site Bring a Trailer for Au$6200 (US$4300). The bike is said to wear #16 of 27 Vincent-style conversion kits produced by Classified Motorcycle Company in the early 1990s. Features include a polished aluminum fuel tank that shows scratches and dings, stainless steel fenders, a chrome headlamp bucket, a luggage rack, and a two-up seat. 

It did set us thinking that it might not be too difficult to replicate. A project for another day, perhaps...

vincent replica harley

Mixed news on bike sales in Oz, July 8

motorcycle sales 2020 australia

Road bikes sales have stagnated while off-road sales have soared.

Figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) for the first half of 2020 reveal an encouraging lift in combined motorcycle and ATV/SSV sales for the second quarter. It says, "Overall, a total of 52,838 vehicles were sold from April to June 2020, in comparison to 42,457 during the same period in 2019. This represents a strong 24.5 per cent increase in sales, a bright spot in an economic environment that has been predominantly negative over the past four months."

However much of the good news is with ATVs and SSVs (side-by-side vehicles), which lifted 50 per cent to 14,500. This is somewhat ironic given a number of high-profile brands are pulling out of that market due to new roll-over design requirements.

Scooters were down substantially (12.8 per cent to 2166). Road bikes were down a little (2.7 per cent), while off-road motorcycles were a bright spot with a big lift in sales (42.4 per cent). See the chart for the last two categories.

Foiled again, July 7

Honda CB750-Four K1

Our bikes - Honda CB750-Four K1: A quick oil change and off we go? Maybe not... See the story here.

FireBlade Therapy, July 6

Honda CBR900RR FireBLade

Why aren't there more sports bikes in rehab centres? See the story here.

pic by Ben Galli Photography

Pipe Cleaners, July 5

Bennetts motorcycle rust removal

Bennetts in the UK has produced a couple of useful guides for cleaning chrome and stainless steel exhausts.

For chrome: Let’s start with some pedantry. Though a bit of chrome might look rusty, chrome doesn’t actually rust. What you’re seeing is rust from steel beneath the chrome plating, where an imperfection or chip in the chrome has let water in...see the story here

For stainless steel: If you own a naked or adventure bike then you’ll have no doubt experienced the knuckle-skinning joy of trying to clean filthy exhausts, particularly the downpipes. And when you go to clean the downpipes, especially if you’ve ridden in winter, you’ll often find you can’t get them clean – your so-called stainless steel has stained...see the story here.

bennetts clean stainless steel exhausts

Steady value climb for Honda CB750-Four, July 5

Honda CB750-Four K0

USA insurance house Hagerty has recently published an article on the growing fortunes of the Honda CB750-Four in the classic market. Prime K0 models are established as being worth a solid US$40k (Au$60k), while later versions have seen their values climb in recent times. See the story here.

Top Fun - buy-fly-ride, July 4

Kawasaki GPz900R

Buying a legendary old sports bike, but there's a catch - it's 2300km away...see the story here.

Triumph Hinckley's first world-beater, July 3

Triumph Sprint ST 1050

Back in 2005, Triumph really struck motorcycling gold when it developed the 1050 Sprint into what was then the ultimate sports tourer. See the story here.

Stepping back in time, July 2

Honda CB750-Four

It took several decades to once again throw a leg over a Honda CB750-Four - was it worth the wait? See the story here.

pics by Ben Galli Photography


How much for the electric Harley? July 2

Harley-davidson livewire

Harley-Davidson has announced pricing for its Livewire electric motorcycle, to be launched locally from September 2020: Au$50,000 ride away.

On paper the machine is a significant step ahead of the electric alternatives so far offered in the local market, with a claimed 235km range in city cycle and more like 150 on the highway. The Motor Company says the Livewire has a 0-100km/h time of 3sec.

It runs Showa suspension and Brembo brakes and comes with a five-year warranty. H-D is offering fast charge stations at some dealerships, said to recharge the machine in an hour.

Will we see collectors showing an interest in these things? Almost certainly, but don't look for any financial gain in the foreseeable future.

Ride of the Valkyries, July 1

Honda Valkyrie 1500

Honda's flat six Valkyrie 1500 cruiser series of 1996-2003, essentially a stripped back sibling to a Goldwing, was the pick of the bunch in that market sector for the second half of the 1990s. Though now well and truly superseded, it remains a pretty decent ride.

See our profile and evaluation of the series right here.

We spotted this one (pictured below) for sale in Queensland - claiming to be a relatively rare low-miler priced at $10,500.

Honda Valkyrie 1500

Thought for the day, July 1

full throttle meme


Want more news? See our archive.


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