Journalism • Photography • Lifestyle • Events
With few exceptions, sports models command the highest premium, and it’s no different for the 70s/80s superbikes. Credit again that original SOHC 750 with kicking off an unforgettable wave of classic road burners, but the magic didn’t occur until the fight went global. Historically, the fame coming from market impact boosts collector interest far more than low production (re: Honda 750) and the proof is every one of Europe’s debut 750s (BMW /5, Laverda SF, Guzzi V7 Sport and Ducati Super Sport) were instant classics at release. Values for each remain solid and steady. Being super, these are more than powerful enough for modern interstates, most can be serviced in the home workshop and common parts (tires and chains) remain widely available.
Mostly aligned with the corresponding age demographic, we’re seeing another change occur in the market, and it’s been building for a while. As 70s high schoolers enter retirement they’re investing in the bikes of their youth, thus creating a drop elsewhere. In a recent conversation with vintage guru Michael Moore (eurospares.com) a point of emphasis was made: “How many Model T guys do you know?” said Moore. “Not many I’d guess. The Mustang crowd is thinning as the base grows older.” Fellow Vegas road tripper Ron Starling pointed it out years ago, noting the rising percentage of Japanese classics rolling onto those South Bay turnstiles. My personal theory credits the truly iconic Honda 750 in leading this revolution, and the SOHC’s presence made the inclusion of other ‘impact’ superbikes (Z-1, CBX) predictable. Watching once affordable models escalate, the following takes a look at bikes currently under the radar, plus a visit with some old favorites. Editorially our focus is the classic rider; motorcycles that remain capable of taking you wherever you want to go. What’s your take? Email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happily that isn’t the case, meaning I can take advantage of low cost options like the R100T and spend ten-percent of the twenty-five large needed for a new six.These engines featured lower compression, a plastic airbox and (failed) low-lead valve seats. The fix is common and most have already been done. Parts support is excellent, and the sheer number of spares might net some deals. Having the latest engine and chassis revisions adapted to the twin-shock platform (1979-1984) even a rough R100 can usually be salvaged and made ready as a supreme tank-bag tourer. The sporting S and RS will always command more money to purchase, but neither are functionally superior to the standard R100. Running riders can be had for $3500.
Following the Zed 903 and Z1000, Kawasaki’s remade for 1980 Z1000 M.k.II is quickly turning into a poorly-kept secret. Those focusing only on the technical aspect will note the M.k.II’s strengthened chassis and mechanical revisions didn’t result in a noticeably quicker Kawasaki, just a vastly improved one. Showing just enough of the original to keep you from mistaking it for anything else, the M.k.II shares specification with similar models like the Z1-R II (also gaining in popularity) more enthusiasts are beginning to appreciate the third series’ angular lines and muscular attitude.
Climate Change Part 1 (Part 2)
Money follows interest in the vintage motorcycle market
Initially limited to the Euro market, Honda’s CB900F/Bol d’Or arrived in 1979 as the first serious revision of the original four. Earning solid results, a new chassis, wheels, and a complete restyling were included in the changes, but the game focused on a new production version of the twin-cam, 16v RCB works engine. The Bol d’Or was a smashing success in Europe and the UK, offering new levels of acceleration through the change up and handling that fit its racy style. Accepted into US circles as a beefier brother of the 750, the 900F was offered in 1981-1982 until being replaced by the equally collectible 1100F superbike. None of the CB/F series twin-cams will ever draw CB1100R money, but the 900F is gaining interest by virtue of its incredible popularity and timeless lines. There’s tons of spares and well maintained examples can still be found. This bike is going up.
Among the first of a new generation of large displacement machines from Europe, development of the BMW R75/5 began in the mid-1960s. This forward thinking put the /5 (available in 500, 600 and 750cc) in a great position to steal some Honda thunder, and it did. Prices for pre-1974 drum brake R75/5s peaked, then dropped some years ago, and value remains somewhat below other period Euro 750s. Those brakes encourage a little more room in traffic, but the /5 uses far less plastic while continuing the mechanical creditably established with the brand in the 1930s. Jewel like in black with white pinstripes, the build features preferred and endearing elements like a mainstand, tool storage and cleaver touches of chrome or polished alloy. At 460-lb the R75/5 offers a superb balance of smooth power and confident handling. Some claim the last 750 (75/7 of 1977) is the finest airhead of all. Prices will rise, but for now great opportunities exist for another solid, smart purchase. Nolan Woodbury
Traditionally modified with 4-into-1 exhausts, bigger carbs or any number of available aftermarket tuning parts, a greased M.k.II suffers little loss in value, provided its done correctly. Riders are being listed at $5K or more. Occasionally a lot more. Following a pattern tracing the Z-1, LTD, Z1-R and TC makes the Z1000 M.k.II a smart (and very enjoyable) investment.
Photo credit: RM Sothebys, J. Clarke, WMM.
BMW remains among the most popular vintage motorcycles for two main reasons; unflappable design and market success. If forced to buy new there’s little doubt who I’d visit first, based on nothing more BMW’s reputation as a mile eater.
What motorcycles dominate your imagination? I'll bet the answer has a lot to do with age or experience but it isn’t automatic. There's no one-size-fits in motorcycling’s vast landscape, for matching the veteran with no interest in vintage are newbies who’ve learned to avoid those technology bills…err, builds. Most enthusiasts following the vintage market know well of the echelons within it, dreaming perhaps of a gleaning Black Shadow yet budgeted for a clean Bonneville. Watching it happen in the 90s, the posh board racer and Indian Four crowd stepped aside when the wave of Vincent and Broughs busted in to rewrite the rules. Embraced by the baby boomers, these top Brits joined other exotics from Italy and Germany to inspire specialty firms and help create a new aftermarket.
Have you noticed what a Ducati 900 Super Sport is fetching these days? Prices approaching $40.000 (!) are becoming more common. Like the ultra-chic 750 SS before, prices will continue to rise annually. Not cheap to own or maintain, the 900SS combines all the elements of a high-end classic, including a race-winning pedigree. The Desmo’s Italian flair and remarkable performance placed it atop the heap in the 70s performance standings, and here’s me saying 2019 might be a make-or-break year for some would-be Ducati 900 Super Sport owners. Patience and good connections might net a rider for around $25K, but those chances are quickly becoming few and far between.