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News April 2023

Buell's Brutes, Apr 30

buell xbr

For some, Erik Buell's two major production series of air-cooled machines were the epitome of an imaginative approach to motorcycle design that deserved greater success.

While no longer made, there is a solid number available in the used market, like the slick-looking Lightning Long shown here. It's currently advertised with Facebook at $12,000.

See our new feature on air-cooled Buells;

Plus, see our profile on the 1125 series

Kawasaki eighties glam, Apr 27

Kawasaki 600r

Handsome, light, and running a 75-horse engine, Kawasaki's GPZ600R of 1985-86 seemed to have it all. Are there any left out there?

Backgrounder at Motorcycle Specs.

Tool trivia, Apr 23

vacuum gauges

Today's tool trivia: meet our recently-acquired set of 1970s vacuum gauges assembled and sold by Bill Bowman Inc of Montrose, California. We suspect the company has long since gone, though we're happy to be corrected on that.

vacuum gauges

Note the instructions, typewritten and then reproduced as a single page, talking about tuning Honda and Kawasaki fours. It seems creator Bill Bowman had something of a reputation – see the Cycle World magazine feature from 1973.

The custom-made timber case has two doors, the front presenting the gauges and the rear the hoses, curled up and ready to go.

Now that we have them, we feel obliged to give them a try-out on our 1971 Honda CB750-Four K1. Stay tuned for further developments...

Seventies style at Stafford, Apr 22


Having highlighted the super-expensive hero bikes at the upcoming Bonhams Stafford sale in the UK, yesterday, we figured we'd show a few of the more affordable seventies hero bikes...

First is a 1975 Kawasaki Z1B, which underwent an expensive resto in 2008 and carries an estimate of Au$19-28 (US$12-19,000, GB£10-15,000). See it here.

Kawasaki Z1B specs and profile at Motorcycle Specs.


A 1974 Honda CB750-Four K2, restored more recently in 2019, is running with an estimate of Au$15-19,000 (US$10-12,000, GB£8-10,000). See it here.

See our Honda CB750-Four profile.


Meanwhile a tidy-looking 1979 BMW R100RS is carrying a modest estimate of Au$6-8000 (US$4-5000, GB£3-4000). See it here.

See our R100RS profile.

The auction happens April 22-23 – see the catalogue here.

Brough leads big Bonhams sale, Apr 21

              superior ss100

A 1931 Brough Superior 'show model' SS100 leads a two-day auction being run by Bonhams at Stafford in the UK. Some 400 motorcycles and 100-plus other lots are on offer.

While headline bikes tend to do well in these big multi-day auctions (which are more common in the USA), there can often be good picking for bargain hunters in an event this size. Would-be buyers seem to struggle with the sheer enormity of what's on offer, leading to some opportunities for the cashed-up bidder with flexible tastes.

Meanwhile the Brough is carrying an estimate of around Au$280-330,000 (US$185-225,000, GB£150-180,000). See it here.

ducati 125 hailwood

Also of interest is an early 125cc Ducati desmo Barcone racer, once campaigned by Mike Hailwood, during a period when his father Stan became the English concessionaire for the marque. The lengthy and detailed development history is written by local author Ian Falloon and is worth a look if you're a Ducati tragic.

It carries a jaw-dropping estimate of Au$175-220,000 (US$120-150,000, GB£95-120,000) See it here.

The auction happens April 22-23 – see the catalogue here.

Honda 250 singles – tiddlers for the day, Apr 20

Honda CB250RS

Remember the Honda CB250RS? Running a variant of the XL250 powerplant and kick-start only, it was a light and lively thing that was a whole lot of fun to ride.

However we reckon the later CBX250, circa 1985, was an even better thing with tidier handling and electric start. Did you own one?

Honda CBX250

CB250RS specs

CBX250 specs

Suzuki GSX1100ES – today's random brochure, Apr 19


Remember these? Suzuki's 16-valve air-cooled 1100 engines of the 1980s were a major highlight in the company's engineering history with a good number still out there providing good service today.

See the Motorcycle Specs numbers and backgrounder;

See our profile on the later EF series;

And the ET that was in our shed.

Honda CB750 F1 – today's random brochure, Apr 17

Honda CB750

Honda's single cam CB750-Four was starting to get a little long in the tooth by 1976, when the F1 was launched, however it still had a couple of years (and a couple more variants) to go before it was finally killed off after close to a decade in the market.

See the F1 review at Bennetts in the UK;

See our CB750-Four K-series profile.

Hesketh auction, Apr 16

Hesketh Vampire

If you were of a mind to nab a 'cheap' Hesketh recently, the example shown here was your opportunity. Auctioned by Collecting Cars in the UK, the 1985 Vampire, said to be the last one built, went for Au$15,800 (US$10,600, GB£8500) at a time when you would expect a good example to fetch more like Au$24,000 (US$16,000, GB£13,000).

While the machine was reported to be recently recommissioned by Hesketh with just 4300 miles (6900km) on the odometer, the cosmetics were tired and in need of a refresh. See it here.

See our V1000/Vampire backgrounder;

And our Hesketh 24 profile.

Random brochure for the day: Yamaha 1973, Apr 15

Yamaha 1973

It's 1973 and Yamaha's highlights for the enthusiast include a string of RD-series two-strokes and the mighty XS650 twin.

RD350 specs and backgrounder; XS650 specs and backgrounder.

1975 Norton road test, Apr 14

norton commando

We're heading back to June 1975 and Two Wheels magazine has just published the Kel Wearne road test of the Norton Commando 850 MkII Roadster. He points out that at Au$1725 (US$1170, GB£935) it's reasonable value.

How times have changed...

See the story at Classic Two Wheels.

Plus our Norton Commando profile, here.

K1 auction, Apr 13


Something for the Devo fan, or the dedicated BMW nut: the marque's K1 tourer in the full eye-popping red/yellow launch livery. This one is up for auction with Grays.

See Falloon's K1 profile;

And the K1 we had in the shed.

Norton in a box, Apr 12


Unearthing NOS motorcycles – preferably in their shipping crates – seems to be an international sport. The latest entrant is this, a 1975 Norton Commando 850 MkIII, which has popped up in the USA.

It's on Ebay, asking for a jaw-dropping starting bid of Au$75,000 (US$50,000, GB£40,000).

Norton Commando

We have one in the shed, which we're pretty sure is worth nowhere near that sort of money...see it here

(Ben Galli pic)

Flashback: The great escape, Apr 11

Honda CB750-Four

Examining the great CB mystery...where did they all go?

(Ben Galli pic)

Bike Fest warm-up, Apr 11

bikefest warm up

From the good folk at Bike Fest: All bike riders on all bikes are welcome to come and enjoy the Bike Fest Oz official warm-up double-header at Kingscliff NSW on the weekend of April 22-23. We’ve got two great bands playing at two great venues – the Feramones at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel on the Saturday night and Fat Albert rocking the Chinderah Tavern on the banks of the Tweed River on Sunday arvo. Lots of family fun n games planned, along with a ride-in bike show and heaps of door prizes too!

Get your motor runnin’ and race off to:

Museum piece GS, Apr 10

Suzuki GS1000S

What's a museum piece NOS 1979 Suzuki GS1000S worth? According to a recent auction through Bring a Trailer in the USA, a hefty Au$50,000 (US$33,000, GB£26,500).


The machine was in exceptional condition and the auction house gallery would make a useful reference for any restorers out there. See it here.

See our GS-G series guide, which references the S series;

Plus the Classic Two Wheels period four-way comparo which features the S.

Triumph & Ducati – time machine, Apr 9


It's year 2000 and two very different motorcycles have since experienced two very different journeys in the market...see the story here.

Jota sale, Apr 8


Bonhams' upcoming Spring Stafford sale in the UK includes this first-gen Jota, one of Laverda's hero models.

According to the auction listing: "Blessed with one of the most evocative names in motorcycling history, the Jota was the bike that really put Laverda on the map. Its direct progenitor was the tuned version of the Italian firm's 3C triple - the 3C(E) - developed for production racing by the UK importer, Slater Brothers.

"The production Jota was both more highly tuned and quicker, its 140mph top speed making it the world's fastest road-going production motorcycle at the time of its launch for 1976. It was also pretty handy on the racetrack, winning the UK's Avon championship in 1976 and 1978 in the hands of Pete Davies.

"Few major changes were made to the Jota prior to 1982 when a heavily revised version was introduced, complete with a 120-degree crankshaft that made for a more even firing order than the original's 180-degree 'flat' crank."

This example claims to be an unrestored original in exceptional shape, with two owners and 8100 miles (13,000km) on the odo. The estimate is Au$37-45,000 (US$25-30,000, GB£20-24,000). We have a suspicion it will hit the upper end of that scale.

See the full sale catalogue.

And our 3C feature.

Peak Busa, Apr 7

suzuki hayabusa

Suzuki's Gen 3 Hayabusa took some interesting twists and turns to get where it is – does it deserve to be in your collection? See the story and video here.

BSA style, Apr 4

bsa police

Random ad for the day: BSA 1950s.

The brand of course has recently been relaunched...see details on the 650 Gold Star, here.

Rarity for the day: McIntosh BR2, Apr 3

McIntosh Suzuki

Something you won't see every day is a fully-fledged McIntosh BR2, in this case listed as a 1986 machine.

New Zealand engineer Ken McIntosh was behind these gems, named 'BR' as in Bathurst Replicas after the 1985 Arai 500 victory of his Suzuki-powered special in the hands of Doctor Roger Freeth.

You could buy complete bikes or the chassis in kit form. McIntosh more recently has gained an international reputation for his Manx Norton builds.

The BR2 is running a McIntosh frame and triple trees, with Marzocchi M1R fork and WP Racing monoshock rear.

This example is listed as a complete ex-factory build, with a Suzuki 1150 GSX air-cooled four-valve engine, similar to those which powered the Suzuki GSX1100EFE/EFF series.

Listed with Bike Shed Times, it's in Sydney and on the market for Au$33,500 (US$22,400, GB£18,200).

See the McIntosh history at Classic Racer online.

Flashback: Gamma ways, Apr 2


Suzuki's RGV250 Gamma brought us a whole new wave or two-stroke performance bikes...see the story here.

Guzzi result, Apr 2

moto guzzi

You may recall that some time ago we flagged a 1991 Moto Guzzi Daytona 1000, still in the crate, that was up for auction through Bring a Trailer. It sold for an impressive Au$47,100 (US$31,500, GB£25,500).

See our Daytona 1000 profile.

Laverda SFC, Apr 1

              SFC 1000

A motorcycle we've always had a lot of time for but have so far failed to add to the shed – Laverda's mighty SFC1000.

This 1985 example claims a known local history and low miles at 19,400km (12,000 miles). It's on the market with Bikesales at Au$34,000 (US$22,700, GB£18,400).

See Ian Falloon's story on this model.

Plus the Classic Two Wheels period road test.

More Laverda stories:

Laverda 3C


Laverda 750 SFC

One of the greats

Laverda 750S Formula

Last of the Laverdas


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