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Last of the Air-Cooled Racers: 1972 Yamaha TD-3 for Sale

1972 Yamaha TD3 L Rear
Racebikes tend to have an unmistakably spare aesthetic, a mechanical pragmatism sadly hidden behind often garishly-painted plastics. And the endless march of progress sees older machines facing obsolescence continually updated, evolving to meet the threat of newer, faster machines. That’s the case with this 1972 TD-3, the last of Yamaha’s air-cooled, two-stroke production racebikes before the TZ series was introduced.  Yamaha actually pulled their factory 250cc World Championship machines out of competition after 1969, but the smaller machines were well supported by incentives and popular among privateer racers.

1972 Yamaha TD3 L Front Fairing

The TD-3 replaced, naturally, the TD-2 as Yamaha’s production 250cc racebike. Introduced in 1971, the bike featured a new dry clutch, lightweight frame, and six-speed gearbox. Slightly less oversquare bore and stroke of 54mm x 54mm matched the 247cc of the previous bike, with revised inlet and transfer ports to increase power. Producing almost 50hp, with just 231lbs dry to drag around, the TD-3 was plenty quick, with a top speed of over 140mph, depending on gearing and, of course, the rider’s weight…

1972 Yamaha TD3 Tank

From the original eBay listing: 1972 Yamaha TD-3 for Sale

This is a 1971 or 1972 Yamaha TD-3. The production racer years of production were not very accurate, but the TD-3 replaced the TD-2 in Motorcycle Grand Prix racing in 1971. By 1973, the TZ came out, which was a TD-3 with liquid cooling. This is a beautiful race bike which I raced for about 10 years. From about 1997 to 2006. I won the WERA Mid-Atlantic Championship with this bike in 2002. I have the trophy as proof! After 2002, work got in the way of racing and I could only participate in 3-4 races a year, so I was not able to garner enough points to be a contender, but the bike was very competitive. In 2006 I started the season, I only did a pre-race practice at Summit Point and decided to hang up my leathers. I had gained too much weight so that I did not fit comfortably in my leathers and was too heavy for a 250 class bike anyway. But, I had prepared the bike for the season in 2006 with new race compound Avons and I had put in next size new pistons and had lowered the ratios with a slightly smaller pinion as I felt that I was not getting enough power out of slow turns and my top speed was as high or higher than the Honda 4-stroke 350cc twins that were the main competition. Note: This was and probably still is a WERA Vintage 2 class race bike. The motor has chrome cylinders and the rebuild consists of installing the next size pistons and rings. I have a new pair of pistons and rings for the next size which I will include. A set of pistons and rings for this bike probably go for a pretty penny these days, if you can find them. This bike was racing relatively recently, so there have been class legal improvements made that the original race bikes did not have. It has a Penton PVL magneto ignition system which replaced the original Hitachi system, which I think I still have laying around. The bike does not need a battery. It has Works Performance rear shocks and an Italian Laverda SF front drum brake (Super Freno or Super Brake in English) and additional frame gusseting (to stiffen it) compared to the original. You will see a “MyLaps” lap timing transponder on the left fork leg which I think can be assigned to a new racer. The TD-3 has a dry clutch which you can see in the photos and a new set of friction discs were installed in 2006 and are unused except for a practice lap. As with most racers, the oil pump has been removed and it runs on mix. I have always used Silkolene Castorene. It will need a carburetor cleaning as the mix in the bowls will have varnished up, but it is out of the box ready to race. I have notes regarding jetting and the last jetting was for high humidity summer racing in the Mid Atlantic region. It has been stored in a dry trailer. 

 Mileage is unknown but an estimate is 10 laps at 3 miles for 6 average races a year = 1,800 miles plus practice = 2,500.
1972 Yamaha TD3 Engine
No display piece this, I only wish the seller had bothered to roll it out of his box trailer to take some nicer pictures! But even lurking in its cage, this little beast is obviously in good cosmetic condition and in excellent mechanical condition, with some upgrades that aren’t period-correct but should increase performance and reliability: the CDI ignition fitted to the TD-3 caused detonation problems when the bike was new, but this machine has a different setup. And that Laverda front brake is pretty state-of-the art, at least in terms of drum brake technology, and should provide impressive stopping power for this lightweight machine.

1972 Yamaha TD3 Front Wheel

While it is sad to see consumables being… consumed, it’s also great to see machines designed for racing actually being raced, instead of hidden away in garages. Racing a vintage motorcycle is obviously more about the sense of community and history than outright speed, since there are much cheaper ways to go fast. But if you’re looking to spend some time on track and like to tinker, a machine like this could be a lot of fun.

-tad

1972 Yamaha TD3 On Track

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Lost in Translation: 1977 Benelli Sei 750 for Sale

1977 Benelli Sei L Side

Everything sounds beautiful and exotic when spoken in French or Italian, especially if you don’t understand the language. I mean, couldn’t Bidet be a luxury water-fountain manufacturer? And don’t Quattroporte and Benelli Sei just roll off the tongue? What’s that you say? Quattroporte just means “four doors” and Sei is just Italian for “six”? Well that’s disappointing… So basically, today’s Benelli Sei 750 is the epitome of “truth in advertising”: a motorcycle from Benelli that displaces 750cc and has six cylinders.

It sounds way less sexy when you put it that way.

1977 Benelli Sei Engine

Of course, when you’ve just produced an exotic, inline-six motorcycle, giving it a fancy name probably isn’t necessary: the bike speaks for itself. And that’s exactly what Alejandro De Tomaso intended: when the bike was introduced, it was meant as a statement to the Japanese “big four” that the Italian brands could compete with them on every level. Not completely true, of course, but at least in terms of engineering extravagance it was accurate.

1977 Benelli Sei Tank

The early 750cc bikes were superseded by a 900cc version in 1978 that looked basically identical, only with more displacement. Styling is relatively conservative, although that fat engine sitting across the frame shouts the bike’s intentions loudly enough, with a wall of exhaust headers that helps create one of the most exotic noises in motorcycling. You might be tricked into thinking the cylinder count would give it a car-like exhaust note. The reality is a ripping noise that’s impossibly smooth and electric, head-turning in a way that the styling is not.

1977 Benelli Sei Clocks

From the original eBay listing: 1977 Benelli Sei 750 for Sale

A Six cylinder Italian work of art, one of the three or four of the best sounding motorcycles in the world and one of the most coveted collector motorcycles available today. This example has been with the same owner/mechanic since 1979.It was loved, taken care of, and ridden until 1995 when it was professionally and meticulously restored by him from the ground up,mechanically and visually,work including a complete engine overhaul with all new parts as well as a full restoration of chassis and all ancillaries. As noted in photos, the motorcycle will come with a complete new 6 into 6 exhaust system, as well as a new seat cover and stock turn indicators. Documentation and photos accompany it. The bike has since been ridden sparingly by the same owner from 1996 till 2016 and shows 16000 miles on the clock (800 miles a year),which was zeroed after the restoration in 1995. It still looks and drives like new and will be a great addition to any collectors or enthusiasts garage. These motorcycles have been climbing in value right through the last few years and show now signs of slowing down. They rarely come up for sale and are almost impossible to find with this kind of record and history since new. I purchased it only a short time ago with the intention of keeping it indefinitely in my collection but as life and timing inevitably goes,a one owner Vincent Black Shadow that I have been trying to buy for ten years has eventually been offered to me by its original owner and in order to buy it,I sadly have to sell the Benelli and two other motorcycles in my collection. This motorcycle is not and will never be for the bargain hunter or time waster out there so please don’t waste your time or mine. If I don’t get the price that it is worth or very close to it, I will just have to pick another one of my motorcycles to sell in its place. This is a genuine opportunity for an intelligent and savvy collector or afficionado who is looking to buy a Perfect Benelli 750 SEI,don’t miss it and hate your decision later,both financially and emotionally. Thank you for looking. Like a boss.

1977 Benelli Sei Side Detail

Yes, the seller actually included “like a boss” at the end of the listing.

Introduced in 1972, years before the similarly-spec’d Honda CBX, the Sei was never really produced in great numbers, although they do show up on eBay from time-to-time, often in slightly-abandoned condition, which is interesting because very nice CBXs show up for sale all the time. No big surprise though, since the Sei is a pretty expensive bike to maintain and source parts for. Many probably needed maintenance and were just left to rot when owners found out what service and parts were going to cost. I think they’re a bit like 80s Alfa Romeos used to be: interesting and exotic, but expensive, difficult to maintain, and not really worth all that much. They languished in obscurity for a long time, although prices seem to be on the rise now.

This particular example appears to be in very good shape both mechanically and cosmetically, although that cracked tachometer face would really annoy me, and the seller mentions a complete cosmetic and mechanical restoration. That’s very reassuring, although that Buy It Now price of $17,000 seems pretty ambitious, even for a bike this nice.

-tad

1977 Benelli Sei R Side

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Old Yellow: 1971 Norton 750cc Production Racer for Sale

1971 Norton Commando Racer L Side

Phil Schilling was an ex-racer most famous for being the editor of Cycle magazine and for his involvement in the creation and racing of the classic hot-rod Ducati named Old Blue. But as with any good motorcycle enthusiast, his tastes were varied, and apparently this bright yellow Norton Commando production racer was built to his specifications.

1971 Norton Commando Racer R Side Engine

Norton’s old-school approach to motorcycle construction may not have been cutting-edge at the time, but means that they’re relatively simple to work on, many parts are interchangeable between models [see: Triton], and plenty of the reliability issues can be addressed with updated parts or regular attention. And while many bikes at the time boasted more advanced specification and design, Nortons were fast, powerful, and handled well.

1971 Norton Commando Racer Dash

A steady increase in displacement to keep Norton’s power competitive with rivals and appeal to US buyers meant unacceptable levels of vibration. Parallel-twins are extremely compact and far simpler to manufacture than v-twins, but they do tend to vibrate more when not fitted with modern luxuries like engine counter-balancers. By the time the Norton twin was punched out to the race-legal 745cc likely found in this bike, vibration was enough of an issue that a solution was needed. Instead of rubber-mounting the bars, pegs, seat, and anything else that might interact with the rider, their innovative Isolastic system used a system of rubber mounts to insulate the engine itself. It works great when properly set up but, like all rubber bushings, they need regular attention: worn Isolastics can mean scarily unpredictable handling.

1971 Norton Commando Racer Kick

From the original eBay listing: 1971 Norton 750cc Production Racer for Sale

The ex-Phil Schilling 1971 Norton Commando 750cc Production Racer, Fully Documented, to AMA 750 Spec, 1 of 1!

Frame #: 145102 Engine #: 145102

Its innovative vibration-beating Isolastic frame enabled the Commando to prolong the life of Norton’s aging parallel twin. Launched in 1967, the model was an instant hit with the motorcycling public, being voted Motor Cycle News ‘Machine of the Year’ for five consecutive years. A true ‘skunkworks’ project, the Production Racer was introduced for 1971 and hand-assembled at Norton race manager Peter Inchley’s famous ‘Long Shop,’ a hangar at the old Thruxton air base. A homologation special built for little more than one season to qualify for various 750cc road racing series, the street-legal ‘Proddy Racer’ was the fastest/quickest Commando made, capable of 130mph as delivered with a list price double that of standard Commandos. Credit for the performance goes to the blueprinted engine, meticulously assembled with high-compression pistons, factory 3S racing camshaft, ported cylinder head, larger valves and polished internals, good for at least an additional 10bhp over an assembly-line Commando. Handling likewise was improved upon thanks to test rider Peter Williams, also an excellent development engineer, who could simply throw open the hangar doors and commence to hot-lapping the adjacent Thruxton race circuit. It certainly did the bike’s credibility not one iota of harm when Williams and co-rider Charlie Sanby took a Production Racer to victory in the 1970 Thruxton 500 endurance race.

While records aren’t definitive, it is believed that fewer than 200 Production Racers were made, perhaps as few as 120.

The example on offer here, is a tad more special than the average, incredibly rare Norton Proddie Racer. The bike was built for Executive Editor of Cycle magazine and famed racer, Phil Schilling. A great collector of classic machines, Schilling sensed the collectability of the Norton, so had Peter Williams personally build him the ultimate iteration of the ultimate Commando.

The engine is much wilder than that of the standard Production Racer, with a host of trick parts. The engine was built to the same specification of Williams’ AMA750cc Class Special with Norvil ‘Triple S’ cams, high 10.25:1 compression pistons, big 32mm Amal Concentric carbs and twin megaphone exhausts. A Quaife five-speed gearbox replaced the standard item.

Fork sliders and internals have been reworked for superior damping, while the swingarm bushing was totally revised, and the arm itself was lengthened. A 6-gallon gas tank replaces the standard Production Racer item.

The bike was extensively tested by Peter Williams on the Thruxton track before delivery in August of 1971.

This amazing piece of Norton history is accompanied by a letter from Norton Villiers’ Chairman, R. D. Poore to Cook Nielson at Cycle magazine discussing the delivery of the “Schilling Norton”, original spec sheets from Norton, and the magazine article, scans attached to the listing.

I have confirmed the factory records, which say that Engine/Frame number 145102 was recorded as a racer, dispatched to Berliner, the US distrivutor, on August 4th, 1971.

This irreplaceable historically significant bike has been on static display in a very prominent collection of high-end motorcycles, and, as such, some re-commissioning will need to be undertaken before returning to the track.

There’s very little time left on the listing, with a Buy It Now price of $29,000. That’s obviously huge money for a Norton Commando but, if the seller is to be believed, this is a one-of-a-kind motorcycle and would easily cost that much just to build a replica, ignoring the historic value. It’s tough to put a value on such a rare machine but, with no offers yet, this one might be priced just a bit too high. Certainly, the link to Schilling is pretty cool, but collectors seem to value actual race history and that may be affecting the sale on this one. Hopefully, the right buyer will find and prep this bike for some vintage racing. It’s what Phil would have wanted I’m sure.

-tad

1971 Norton Commando Racer R Side

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Affordable Bevel: 1978 Ducati 900GTS for Sale

1978 Ducati 900 GTS R Front

After the unpopular, Giugiaro-designed 860GT, Ducati’s more practical sibling to the Super Sport got a makeover into the more conservative 900GTS. The engine was largely the same, but looks were changed from the radical, forward-thinking lines to something less threatening to hidebound Ducati enthusiasts. It was still considered a bit of a let-down in terms of looks but, like all Ducatis of the era, prices are steadily rising. It’s a shame the striking 860 never caught on, but the 900 is still a very classic, handsome motorcycle, and the beating heart of the bike is still Ducati’s classic, bevel-drive L-twin.

1978 Ducati 900 GTS L Side

Although Ducati’s entire range of modern motorcycles feature their signature “desmodromic” actuation system that uses cams to both open and close the valves, only top-of-the-line Super Sport models used it prior to the Pantah engine. So although the GTS does have a set of tower-shafts and bevel-gears to drive the overhead cams, it makes do with a set of ordinary valve springs to close the valves. Impact on performance is negligible and the bike still put out 65hp and plenty of midrange torque.

1978 Ducati 900 GTS Clocks

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Ducati 900GTS for Sale

Today we are proud to offer this beautiful vehicle for your consideration. This is a terrific addition to any enthusiast’s collection. This Ducati is completely original and has been locally owned for the past 38 years in heated garages. Every electrical component such as headlights brake light, Turn signals and horn perform.  New tires along with new rims and wire wheels. Fenders and tank are original and without any dents. Electric start is immediate. This bike with the Conti exhausts sounds identical to the SS. It has amazing torque. Included are the following 2 bar end mirrors (new), 2 new chrome valve guides (current ones on bike are rusty), manual, tool kit with under seat compartment. A few service records are included. This vehicle is running properly. It performs wonderfully, whether you’re in-town or on the open highway, and exhibits excellent road manners at all speeds. This is a great previously owned vehicle. Overall the vehicle is very straight. The condition of the paint and body, is in overall good shape, see photos. This is a rare opportunity to own a legendary 900cc Ducati!

1978 Ducati 900 GTS Engine

Originality is very important to many collectors. As they say, “It’s only new once!” And although this Ducati is a little rough around the edges, it has tons of character and appears to have been well-maintained, even though the cosmetic aspects have suffered a bit from the ravages of time. The missing side-panels might be difficult to replace, although pattern parts should be available if you spend some time browsing the interwebs. The fact that all the basics work is key, considering that bidding is only up to $8,350.00 with the reserve met. Bidding is active, but if the price stays reasonable, this could prove to be an excellent candidate for a “rolling restoration,” a bike that you can either ride as-is or work on a bit at a time to make it look brand new.

-tad

1978 Ducati 900 GTS R Side

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Mark One: 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans L Side

Moto Guzzi’s follow up to their successful V7 Sport was this, the 850 Le Mans, often known these days as the “Mark I Le Mans.” It used a hot-rod version of their earlier longitudinally-mounted v-twin engine, with bigger, high-compression pistons, bigger valves, high performance carburetors, cast-aluminum wheels, and a more modern, very chunky look that would set the tone for Guzzis through the 1980s. The style is really hard to pin down to a particular era, with the jutting cylinders and minimal style looking like something very 60s or 70s while the angular bodywork has more of a 1980s style.

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans L Side Front

The hot-rod engine put out 71hp at the rear wheel and made for a genuine 130mph, which wasn’t top-of-the-class but very competitive during the period. But unlike the equally fast but fiddly-to-maintain Ducati 900SS or the wobbly-handling and under-braked Kawasaki Z900, the Le Mans offered up Guzzi’s classic recipe of durable shaft-drive, stable handling, and midrange grunt. And Guzzi was forward-thinking in terms of safety as well: the Le Mans featured their simple but effective linked braking system that was used up until the 1990s. The front brake lever operated one front caliper, while the foot pedal used a proportioning valve to distribute power between the second front and the rear caliper. The Le Mans is definitely an acquired taste, with the noticeable shaft-drive effect, but is a very rewarding bike to own.

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1977 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for Sale

I have had the pleasure of owning this bike for the past 15 years.
Upgrades:
  • Lafranconi competizione mufflers
  • Koni rear shocks
  • Progressive front springs
  • Gaman seat
  • Torozzi rear sets
  • Harpers outsider kit with deep sump
  • Braided brake lines
  • gaskets, bushings and rubber
  • K&N filters
  • Frame up paint in 2003 – held up well
  • documentation of work done
This bike runs and looks great! It handles likes it on rails, brakes with the best of them and has tremendous acceleration and power. Time for someone new to enjoy this fine machine.

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans L Side Engine

Bidding is up to $10,000 which, frankly, seems to be on the low side for these. I can remember when, just a few years ago, they were selling for about half that… Happily, the bike even features the European-style bikini fairing with the flush-mount headlamp. American units had an ugly, jutting unit that projected out beyond the curve of the fairing, looking more like a train headlight than something that belongs on a sleek sportbike. If you’ve never noticed how ugly the American version is, I apologize in advance: its’ one of things that, once seen, can never be unseen… This may not be the original part, however, since most I’ve seen feature a bright orange vertical “safety stripe” for improved visibility. Not sure how effective it is, but it does look cool. The stepped seat is also a non-standard item, which is no surprise since the closed-cell foam originals rarely survive.

-tad

1977 Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans R Side

 

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Radical Racebike: 1975 Bimota YB1 350GP for Sale

1975 Bimota YB1 L Side

The Bimota YB1 wasn’t originally called the YB1 because it predated Bimota’s traditional naming conventions. Internally, it was known as the Yamaha-Bimota Gran Prix ’74, but later became known as the YB1, the very first Yamaha-engined Bimota. In fact, it was the very first series-production Bimota, if something built in numbers this small can be considered “production.” Powered by either the 250cc or 350cc version of the TZ’s liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine, just twelve of these distinctive and very fast little machines were built.

1975 Bimota YB1 R Side Naked

The bike’s racing success helped pave the way for Bimota’s later, more well-known racing and road bikes and helped to establish BiMoTa as a manufacturer. It’s quite literally possible that, without the YB1, there’d be no Bimota today at all and the face of motorcycling might look very different.

1975 Bimota YB1 R Side Front

Built between 1974 and 1975, the bike included Bimota’s signature racing touches: one-piece bodywork that allowed easy maintenance, a stiff and lightweight tubular frame, adjustable ergonomics, and even a clever eccentric chain adjuster.

1975 Bimota YB1 Tank

From the original eBay listing: 1975 Bimota YB1 350GP for Sale

VIN 12

This is an iconic superare YB1, the first race Bimota with Yamaha TZ competition engine. It was also the second Bimota race model ever built (the first was the unique Paton Bimota) and definitely the first “true” racing Bimota as this model was raced by important names as Lucchinelli, Riondato, Ceccotto, Gallina, etc. This frame was built to be fitted with both Yamaha options 250cc and 350cc, this one is a 350cc. Only 12 units were built making this model extremely rare, desiderable and collectable.

This bike was last paraded at the main Italian event in 2012, kept in collection completely dry since. The paddock stand in pics is coming with the bike.

Race, parade and collect!

1975 Bimota YB1 Engine

Another one from our new best friend “Gianluca” who always seems to have the very coolest bikes for sale! Bidding is up to just $4,550 with the reserve not met and several days left on the auction. I honestly don’t know what this little exotic really should be worth, but it’s one of just twelve built, looks wild, and as an early Bimota is certainly historically significant. The YB1 was available as a kit bike, and supposedly very few were sold with this distinctive bodywork, making this zero-mileage example even more of a unicorn, literally ground zero for the modern sportbike.

-tad

1975 Bimota YB1 R Side

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Mean, Green, and Canadian: 1984 Kawasaki KZ1100R ELR for Sale

1984 Kawasaki KZ1100R R Front

Big, brash, and charismatic, big superbike replicas like the KZ1100R put paid to the stereotype that a UJM is doomed to be some sort of boring appliance. Sure, the “Universal Japanese Motorcycle” does sound a bit familiar and unexciting, but the formula flat works. Based on the garden-variety KZ1000J, the original KZ1000R displaced less than that bike’s 105cc, down to 998cc to make it eligible for racing and it featured general updates to the already venerable air-cooled inline four aimed at increasing power and keeping the bike’s reliable reputation intact. But engine updates alone don’t a sportbike make and, although the R was heavy, revised frame geometry gave the bike the agility needed. The K1100R was an update to the original bike, with a bigger 1089cc engine.

1984 Kawasaki KZ1100R L Rear

So what about this whole “ELR” thing? Well this lurid green monster was a race replica meant to celebrate the successes for Eddie Lawson, rider for Kawasaki and successful AMA Superbike competitor. The original K1000R was the real-deal Eddie Lawson Replica and, although the K1100R certainly looks the part, purists often seem to consider it less desirable.

1984 Kawasaki KZ1100R Tank

From the original eBay listing: 1983 Kawasaki KZ1100R for Sale

Second owner, 1984 Kawasaki Eddie Lawson superbike replica KZ1100R with 20,000km (13,000 miles). Canadian model. Bike starts, runs, and drives excellent. Needs nothing except a new home. original bike color changed from Stardust Blue to Green last year. Top quality paint work with 6 coats of clear and a new decal kit from England. Inside of tank was professionally recoated and guaranteed for life. Every other part on this bike was powdercoated other than the frame and engine. Engine is completely stock and has not been worked on or modified (other than valve cover gasket). Updated brake lines front and back. These beautiful bikes are getting more rare every day. Original owners manual and tool kit included as well as spare keys. Kerker purchased last year. Clean and clear title in hand. All original parts included with sale (I have spent years collecting hard to find parts). See list below for all extras included with sale. 

Extras included:

  • New front tire
  • Set of working carbs
  • OEM front fender (new paint as well)
  • Shop manual
  • Gasket kit
  • Fuel petcock complete
  • OEM crash guards
  • OEM airbox and filter
  • OEM intake boots
  • Spare chain guard
  • OEM decals
  • Decals, cables, and hardware

1984 Kawasaki KZ1100R L Tank

The starting bid is $10,000 with no takers yet and very little time left on the auction. This second generation machine represents and evolution of the original KZ1000R Eddie Lawson Replica but was built in greater numbers and is generally considered less desirable. The price is on the high side, but I wonder if the color change is affecting the bidding as well: even a really good paint job isn’t likely to be as desirable as the original paint in good condition and, no matter how high the quality, a change of color definitely has an impact on values. I prefer the green as well but, if the seller was concerned about maintaining the bike’s long-term value, I’d have suggested he keep it original.

Also, the bike’s in Calgary, Canada so that may be turning folks off buyers here in the US as well.

-tad

1984 Kawasaki KZ1100R R Rear

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Restored to Perfection: 1975 BMW R90S for Sale

1975 BMW R90S L Front

Today’s BMW R90S is the quintessential German sportbike: fast, stable, and reliable, but just a little bit uptight and unassuming. Or it would be unassuming, if not for that very vivid 70s paint job… By the 1970s, a major shift was well underway in the motorcycling world. Postwar shortages in many markets meant that, throughout the period immediately following World War II, cars were simply too expensive for many people to afford and motorcycles were often used as basic transportation in their place. But by the 1960s, the tide had begun to change and, more and more, motorcycles were seen as luxury items or toys, especially here in the US.

1975 BMW R90S R Rear

Generally stodgy image aside, BMWs had always been involved in racing but, by the 1970s, they felt they needed reach customers outside the lucrative, but steadily aging “old man” demographic. BMW’s traditional customers were aging out, and BMW wanted to reach out to a new crop of riders who were looking for something like a Ducati, but maybe with some comfort thrown in. The Germans may have been trying to create their own SuperSport with the R90S, but that practical Teutonic DNA comes through pretty strongly in both the form and the function.

1975 BMW R90S Dash

That dose of practicality in no way diminishes the performance available and the bike was very competitive in AMA racing immediately after it was introduced. High-compression pistons and performance carburetors meant that the proven pushrod engine, here bumped to 898cc, made 67 very flexible horses that could take the R90S all the way to 125mph, although braking power was never much to write home about.

1975 BMW R90S L Rear

Today’s example looks terrific and appears to be quite the labor of love. From the original eBay listing: 1975 BMW R90S for Sale

This is a perfect restored numbers-matching BMW R90S. Many collectors like a bike in original condition unrestored. This is perfect for somebody who put it in his man cave and enjoy looking at the bike or showing it to somebody. But after 40 years it would not be fun to drive it. All the rubber, bowden and seals and much more thinks getting dry brittle leaking and brake. This one is ready to drive and it is as new as it can be.

I am a 60 year old German engineer and be working on BMW’s my whole life as my hobby and for fun. I am selling this one because I have too many toys and I am downsizing for my retirement. This one is restored to perfection. Look at all the pictures it tells the story. I was working over 2 years on this bike and one thing lead in to another because as a perfectionist nothing is good enough.

Here is a list of what I have done. I am sure this list is not complete but you getting the idea:

  • Frame powder coated.
  • Wheels polished hubs bead blasted new stainless spokes.
  • Every screw on the bike is new and stainless.
  • All the rubber and I mean all what has any rubber in it or on it is new tires, seals, bowden, seat, footpegs and so on.
  • Wheel bearings and brakes are new
  • Every aluminum part on engine, gearbox and final drive is bead-blasted and assembled with new seals
  • Cylinder heads with lead-free valves
  • New pistons and oil rings
  • New clutch complete with spring plate
  • Carbs are overhauled and sealed for over $500
  • New seat complete with pan from Germany
  • Instrument cluster overhauled for over $600 and set to 0 miles
  • This was a low millage bike to begin with and in a very good shape
  • New paint and pin striped by a pro for over $2000.
  • New petcocks and fuel cap.
  • New exhaust system complete.
  • And so on…
  • It comes with the original toolkit, shop rag, metal air pump and manual
  • And I have a box full of receipts what I be afraid off to add up.
  • There is a lot of money in this bike.

1975 BMW R90S Parts

Bidding is very active on this bike and already north of $12,000, with plenty of time still left on the auction and the Reserve Not Met. That’s certainly premium money for an old BMW, but it sounds like you’re getting about as close to a brand-new R90S as is possible, barring a lifetime of tracking down NOS parts and building one from scratch. Certainly, the seller makes a great point: an unrestored, barn-find bike would likely require a ton of work to make it run correctly, or would require constant attention as the little bits mentioned deteriorate and fail. This bike is virtually perfect and ready-to-roll. If you have the cash to spend and want an R90S, this looks like a good choice!

-tad

1975 BMW R90S R Side

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Sparkly Two-Stroke Terror: 1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III for Sale

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 R Front

In the early 1970s, Kawasaki’s two-stroke triples like this H1 500 Mach III ruled the quarter-mile drag strips here in America. 60hp and a 115mph top speed may not sound like that much, but they were fairly light and lacked any of the modern electronic trickery designed to keep riders [mostly] on two wheels and away from the hedges, ditches, and telephone poles that seem to leap out of nowhere. Those horses also came on in a brutal, two-stroke rush that had the front wheel pointed skyward in an eyeblink, while sometimes unpredictable handling and a feeble front brake meant corners and stopping were best planned far in advance, a real challenge when the horizon was a simple flick of the wrist away.

Although the handling may have been primitive, the two-stroke triple and five speed gearbox that drove the beast was powerful, relatively reliable, and the perfect tool for tearing up the straight-line racetracks here in the USA, where they sold like hotcakes, since the scary cornering performance, dismal fuel consumption, and inadequate brakes barely mattered for most riders.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 L Rear

The upside to the handling faults of many period motorcycle is that it allowed a whole cottage industry of frame-builders and tuners to exist: without bikes like the H1, we’d have no Bimota, and the world would be a sadder, emptier place. But the real question to me is why, since frame-builders of note had been around since the 1960s, didn’t Japanese manufacturers simply contract them to provide improvements? Especially since the issues that affected the H1 are relatively straightforward: frames lacking in stiffness, spindly forks that flexed, and primitive shocks. It’d be simple to dismiss those flaws as acceptable limitations for production-based motorcycles, but many racebikes of the period seem to have been similarly afflicted, so it seems like a pool of knowledge wasn’t being exploited.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 R Rear

The H1 500 Mach III and the H2 750 Mach IV were both notoriously dangerous bikes that required skill and daring to ride quickly, although the H2 was significantly improved in terms of handling, a good thing considering the additional 50% in displacement… Interestingly, while the H2 was introduced after the H1, it was sold alongside its older, hairier brother for several years. Bidding for this example is just north of $4,000 and far short of the $7,500 Buy It Now price, although there’s plenty of time left on the auction.

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Triple for Sale

Completely restored less than a year ago!
VIN BL353836
Open MA title
7806 miles
Dual disc front end braided steel lines
Rebuilt engine, less than 1000 miles ago
Powder-coated frame and wheels
Denco pipes
Custom Pearl Paint with candy color
Stainless spokes, powder-coated rims, extra chrome
Three small dents in rear of front fender (cannot be seen).
Runs and sounds awesome!

H1 and H2 prices have seen a dramatic increase in recent years, although values do seem to have leveled off a bit recently. That may be due to the fact that these were made in volume and, although pristine ones are pretty rare, it’s not all that hard to find a decent H1 if you want one. Although the seller claims that the bike has been “restored,” it’s important to remember that term does seem to mean different things to different people… This bike has obviously not been restored to some sort of “as-new” standard: the original bikes certainly didn’t have the painted triple clamps, the headlight ring is blacked out, the dash appears to have been painted, and the gauge faces are pretty faded.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Dash

That being said, the Denco pipes and the dual disc front end are certainly desirable updates, and the bike is very clean and shiny, with bright brightwork and chrome-y chrome. The paint, while not original, is definitely appropriate for a Kawasaki and, overall, this bike is more “resto-modded” and less “restored.” So while this bike may not be a good choice for collectors who prize originality, it might make a great bike for someone looking for a bike to ride, as long as the seller recognizes that the bike should command a lower price than a concourse-quality restoration when considering offers.

-tad

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 L Front

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Black Gold: 1978 Ducati 900SS for Sale

1978 Ducati 900SS R Side Front

While I appreciate modern design and efficiency, there’s something so timeless about Ducati’s 900 SuperSport, especially in black with gold pinstripes as seen here. Sure, the silver and blue might more strongly evoke Ducati’s improbable Imola victory, but the black bikes just look so elegant and sinister…

1978 Ducati 900SS R Side Engine

Although far more common than the original, 750cc SuperSport that was intended to commemorate Ducati’s 1972 Imola win, the updated 900SS featured improved performance and general refinements intended to appeal to a broader market. The shifter was revised to more easily allow the bike to use a left-side gearchange, something that was important for customers in the USA. Cast-aluminum wheels replaced the earlier spoked items and the bike also used the updated “square-case” engine that was bumped to 864cc and designed to match the angular, Giugiaro-styled 860GT.

1978 Ducati 900SS Cockpit

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Ducati 900SS for Sale

For Sale is this Beautiful very rare Black/Gold 1978 Ducati 900SS. This bike runs fantastic, engine’s strong and sounds fantastic. The transmission shifts smooth in all gears, there is no issues. Can not confirm speedometer mileage. Fairing and side covers are aftermarket, the Gustafsson windscreen NOS without cracks or scratches. 

Small paint chip on rear fender and there’s a small hairline crack on fairing near mount screw (see photos). Cowl compartment and seat zipper is in excellent working condition. Campagnolo 5 spoke wheels are Gorgeous. New Dellorto’s PHM 40’s, Tommaselli throttle and adjustable clip-ons, Aprilia headlight bezel with Jute light. Brake systems operate great.

Overall this bike is gorgeous.

The Kentucky title’s clear, in hand and in my name.

Frame number 87593

Engine number 87853

 Included with bike is a new wiring harness purchased from Bevelheaven supplied by oldracingspareparts in Italy. Original wiring harness is rough but the headlight, running light and switches operate, both brake light switches work.

This bike is being SOLD-AS-IS, there is NO WARRANTY. Buyer is responsible for all shipping costs and arrangements. Bike is located in Louisville Ky 40219 when checking shipping costs. The bike is being advertised for sale locally, I reserve the right to end this auction at any time.

1978 Ducati 900SS L Detail

The seller also includes a video that can be found here. From the description, it sounds like this is a very clean, very solid-running motorcycle that’s just a few very minor cosmetic blemishes away from being a “10” although that new wiring harness might be worth installing, just for peace of mind…

The Buy It Now price is set at $35,400 which seems pretty high for a 900SS. And with very little interest in the listing so far, other than looky-loos, it appears that I’m not the only one who thinks the price is a bit unrealistic…

-tad

1978 Ducati 900SS R Side

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