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Tiddler Time

(Travels with Guido series #324, by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, June 2021)

Laverda lusso

Getting a bit jaded? Go buy yourself something small and senseless


It’s one of the rites of passage. The minute you get off learner restrictions you go out and buy the biggest and meanest motorcycle you can find. This is often when you discover whether the survival of your genetic line was just a lucky fluke, or may have involved some sense of self-preservation.

Not that I have anything against big and mean motorcycles. In fact, I’ve been known to harbor one or two in the shed over time. Hannibal the modded Hayabusa springs to mind and it’s still a close run thing over which scares me the most – it or the angle grinder. It depends on what you’re trying to do with them.

Every now and then it’s refreshing just to step away from the motorcycle and go and find something ridiculous to ride. I’ve got one candidate residing at Chateau Guido at the moment: A Suzuki TS185. It’s a single-pot two-stroke, and is an absolute blast to hurl around. The cackle of a stroker on the over-run is always a joy and, thanks to the smell of burning oil, you can pretend you’re diving for the lead in a GP from a few decades ago. (That’s if you ignore the lack of speed and talent.)

The good news is, last time a looked, Suzuki TS185ERs are still less than $2000.

I know a few people who seem to have gone in for this regression of late, building delightful little (usually) Japanese commuters from times past. Paul has got his Yamaha 100 up and running, and it’s a sweetheart to look at, while Jeff has rescued a gem of a Suzuki GT185 two-stroke twin.

Another mate, years ago, was besotted with Kawasaki KH125s, though his last one suffered a particularly ugly fate. It jumped off a trailer on the way to Phillip Island and was never quite the same again.

I’m a bit tempted to get into this tiddler thing, as they can be cheap to run and they don’t take up much room. (It sounds like I’m excusing bringing home stray cat – it’s not very big and it won’t eat much…)

High on my list would be something like what you see here, the mighty Laverda Lusso 100 Sport. It’s a diminutive four-stroke toy that followed on from a line of successful race bikes. Back in the 1950s, Laverda would famously swamp a field with entries – it’s known to have put as many as 20 bikes into the same race – to ensure success.

I reckon this gadget is a stunner. The catch? They only rarely come up for sale and cost a bomb. Oh, and it would probably break in half if I sat on it.

But there are were interesting options out there. A quick search pre-Covid revealed a 1980 Yamaha RX125 at $1500 and a 1975 Suzuki GT125 for $2800. Since the plague struck, people are now asking drug money for them. Which is a shame as either would be a good little Sunday toy – just the thing for bolting down the road for a coffee – and would be a hoot to ride.

Then there are the classics, assuming you’re prepared to lash out a bit of cash. A scan of the ads uncovers a nicely restored 1960 BSA Bantam for $5300 (weren’t they nearly free a few years ago?) or an Ariel Arrow of the same year for a little over six gees. Ah, hang on, here’s something exotic: a 1965 Benelli Nuovo Leoncino 125 for $9000!

They look fantastic, but what’s holding me back – other than an advanced state of poverty brought on by excessive motorcycle acquisition – is the whole value-for-money thing.

It’s not just the exotics that are pricey. I’m seeing a Suzuki GP125 for $4800 and a Honda CB200 for…wait for it…$5000. Maybe that’s a reflection of what they cost to restore, but bang for your buck is now a real issue. Why? My Honda Blackbird cost me less and is four times the motorcycle.

The good news is, last time a looked, Suzuki TS185ERs are still less than $2000. Typical – the one tiddler I own is the one that’s not worth selling.

So, go get yourself a tiddler – but at the right price…

See more Travels with Guido


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