4

Better Than New: 1974 Norton VR880 Kenny Dreer Commando

1974 Norton VR880 L Side

The original resto-mod, the Kenny Dreer VR880 was basically a vintage Norton Commando with most of the quirks ironed out and all of the character left in. Unlike John Player, Kenny Dreer was an actual person, a vintage bike restorer with a shop in Portland, Oregon that specialized in British and Italian bikes.

1974 Norton VR880 Engine Detail

The VR880 was the culmination of his experience, a low volume “production” machine that was basically a ground-up restoration that featured modern components wherever possible for reliability, and a bored-out motor for thumping British power. The VR880 gave way to the 961SS before financial problems called a halt to the operation.

1974 Norton VR880 Rear Suspension

From the polished aluminum tank and tail to the vented primary cover, this thing just embodies the very best of what people love about classic British twins. I’d just change those very, very ugly white-faced gauges for something a little more traditional-looking.

1974 Norton VR880 Clocks

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Kenny Dreer VR880 Norton Commando for Sale

Up for sale is my 1974 Kenny Dreer VR880 Norton Commando that is all original and in outstanding condition with only 1,138.5 miles. Kenny Dreer built a total of 50 VR880’s and only 5 were built with aluminum tank, sidecovers and rear fender. Mine is one of the 5. I did a lot of research and found out the brother of the original owner of my bike ordered a VR880 from Kenny and had a bad accident and totaled the bike leaving only 4 aluminum built bikes remaining. The aluminum work was hand formed by Evan Wilcox. As you can see in the pictures I have all the original paperwork, the original purchase agreement signed by Kenny Dreer and the Serial number on the purchase agreement matches that of the bike, I also have the dyno test for the bike. The bike still has the original tires from when the bike was built. I believe there isn’t another VR880 with all the paperwork that goes along with it to be found. The bike should be in a museum or with a serious collector.

No arguing there. It’s certainly got a few nicks and bits of wear and tear, but patina is what many people want from a vintage British motorcycle, so that shouldn’t deter anyone from a purchase. As the seller indicates, these are very rare in any configuration and, while the price will be somewhere north of $14,000 when the dust settles, that’s a pretty fair price for a well-tuned and heavily updated Norton.

-tad

1974 Norton VR880 R Side

2

Real-World Italian: 1981 Ducati Darmah SD900 for Sale

1981 Ducati Darmah L Side

The Ducati Darmah was just about the end of the line for Ducati’s bevel-drive v-twin motorcycles, aside from a handful of Hailwood Replicas and S2 models, before the move from gears and tower-shafts to simple, rubber belts. The change made plenty of economic sense but, while the Pantah engine is considered one of the most charismatic engines of all time, it certainly isn’t as good-looking as that earlier Ducati powerplant.

1981 Ducati Darmah Tank

The Darmah was introduced in 1977 to replace the unloved 860GT and has a definite 70’s Superbike vibe about it, with the upswept tail and wide bars looking much more like the Japanese competition than the angular, futuristic 860. But unlike those bikes that offered comfort and straight-line speed, the Darmah could hustle through the turns on its Marzocchi suspension and pull up short with its Brembo brakes.

1981 Ducati Darmah Clocks

And it wasn’t just about style: the Darmah included evolutionary updates to the basic platform to improve function that included an electric start and a redesigned shift lever that did away with the cobbled-together crossover previously used to convert the bike to left-side shift. Combined with the comfortable ergonomics and torquey v-twin, those changes made for a very appealing package for folks who want to ride, rather than just admire their motorcycles.

1981 Ducati Darmah R Side Engine

This particular example isn’t completely perfect, but appears to be in very good, very original condition. The Darmah featured an improved build-quality compared to earlier Ducatis, so you should get more “patina” and less “corrosion…”

From the original eBay listing: 1981 Ducati Darmah SD900 for Sale

Very nice Darmah here. I also have the Silentiums that it came with, the pipes on it are Stainless. Always maintained to a high standard. Valves set, new chain and sprockets, clutch plates, steering head bearings, tires and cables. Calipers rebuilt and stainless front brake lines added. 1981 models are actually rare in the US and you get some nice features for this year: FPS wheels, stronger transmission, upgraded clutch and the motor is exactly the same as the 900SS version. That means you get the SS rods (beamed) and the wide stud heads with larger ports. Earlier versions did not have these features, using 860 rods and small port heads with narrow stud spacing.  

Everything works and the bike is the smoothest Ducati I have ever ridden with a perfect riding position. Seat has been recovered with new padding and it is comfortable. Bike also has the excellent Marzocchi shocks these came with and they are smooth and leak free. Same with the forks. Paint is perfect and the tank is sealed with Caswells. Factory seal is in place on the cases. No leaks, no crashes, never dropped. Shift lever has been shortened to fit a size 12 foot – or smaller. Backs of the mirrors show wear and one of the headlight ears has a spot in the chrome that is flaking – shown in the pictures.

You can buy a cheap one and spend more than this bike costs to get it this good. This is not my first Bevel and I have owned multiple versions since 1980. Nobody has ‘learned’ to work on a bike that owned this. I am an old man and have taken very good care of the bike, never planning to sell it. It is part of a collection that I planned to keep forever. A current massive construction project is forcing the issue. I have an open title for it and can give a bill of sale also. Buyer is responsible for shipping. If you want one of these, buy this one.

1981 Ducati Darmah Tail

The Darmah used to be the only affordable way into classic bevel-drive Ducati ownership, and I guess it still is. But, with a Buy It Now price of $13,500 it’s just that “affordable” means something a little bit different than it used to… While the Darmah may not have the sexy, race-replica lines of the Super Sport bikes, it does offer something those bikes don’t: comfort and practicality. And unless you plan to just show your Ducati off in the living room, the Darmah is better at doing just about everything a motorcycle is supposed to do…

-tad

1981 Ducati Darmah R Side

1

Yetman-Framed 1963 Honda 250 Racebike for Sale

1963 Honda 250 Race Bike R Front

I’d like to be able to tell you what we really have here, but the listing simply says it’s a 250 Honda Road Racer. Factory Honda 250cc racers of the period were generally sophisticated four-cylinder or even six-cylinder machines, although there was the CR72, a parallel-twin race bike. So is this a full-on racer, or a converted street bike? without a shot of the bike sans fairing, it’s hard to tell and I’d be happy to have any experts weigh in the comments. The frame won’t give you much hint: it’s not the original and is claimed to have been built by Yetman.

1963 Honda 250 Race Bike L Rear

Dave Yetman was an innovative, seat-of-the-pants motorcycle enthusiast who, after crashing his CB77, found it was more economical to build a replacement frame for it, using welding skills he learned working on Formula Vee cars. At the time most motorcycles used cradle frames, whereas Yetman used thin-tube, “trellis-style” frames that used the engine as a stressed member. His frames were almost impossibly light: the resulting CB77 frame was only eight pounds, compared to the original’s 30!

1963 Honda 250 Race Bike R Tank

In business making frames throughout the 1960’s for roadracing, off-road, and drag racing applications, Yetman was like an American version of Rickman or Nico Bakker, creating bikes that were lighter, faster, and better-handling than what you could generally get from the factory.

1963 Honda 250 Race Bike Fairing

From the original eBay listing: 1963 Honda 250 Road Racer for Sale

Motoexotica is pleased to present this extremely rare and beautifully preserved 1963 Honda road racing motorcycle which features a 250cc four stroke twin cylinder engine and a Yetman racing frame. Bike is also equipped with 5 speed transmission, 26mm Mikuni carburetors, twin leading shoe front brakes, magnesium triple trees, full safety wiring, and more.

As part of a collection, this bike has been a static display piece for several years and has not been started or run recently. Overall condition is excellent with some patina on original parts but no broken or damaged pieces and parts that we are aware of. This bike is a fantastic piece of motorcycle racing history and is sure to start conversations wherever it sits.

It’s a shame that this bike is currently a display item, but I’d expect it should be possible to get it into running order without too much difficulty. Bidding is up to $3,700 with the Reserve Not Met and a couple days left on the auction. Perhaps if the seller included a bit more history, it’d get the bidders’ juices flowing…

-tad

1963 Honda 250 Race Bike L Side

 

2

Orange Bruiser: 1972 Laverda SFC for Sale

1972 Laverda SFC R Side

Laverda’s fierce homologation SFC was powered by a tuned version of their nearly bulletproof parallel-twin and was available in any color you wanted, as long as it was orange. You know, as good-looking as Ducatis are in red, and as classic as old British bikes are in black or silver, there’s something undeniably cool about a company choosing a “factory” color so incredibly in-your-face, so polarizing. Kawasaki’s green isn’t the prettiest color, and it isn’t always flattering, but you damn well know which manufacturer made that lime-green plastic rocket, sitting across the street.

1972 Laverda SFC R Side Fairing

The SFC’s engine was based on the rugged SF1, which was introduced in 1968 as a 650cc model, although displacement was soon bumped to 750. The bikes were a bit heavy, but this was the result of their being overbuilt, and reliability benefited: the parallel-twin had five main bearings. Parts not made in house by Laverda were chosen, regardless of their country of origin, for quality and the component list reads like a “best of” of 1970’s motorcycling performance: Ceriani, Bosch, Nippon-Denso…

1972 Laverda SFC R Side Tank

Relatively unstressed in roadgoing form, the twin was capable of much more power, and the SFC was tuned to make almost 80hp. Given its rugged nature it’s no surprise that the bike performed well in endurance racing: many SFC’s come with their headlights lights and turn signals boxed up and unused.

1972 Laverda SFC R Side Engine

I love that the dash on this bike contains exactly one instrument: a tachometer. No oil temp gauge, certainly no speedo. No idiot lights, not even a dash panel. Just that one Smiths gauge hanging there behind the headlight bucket.

1972 Laverda SFC Cockpit

From the original eBay listing: 1972 Laverda SFC for Sale

Laverda SFC 750 mk1

model year 1972 VIN/Engine 10784

Bike in top conditions, mechanically rebuilt by main specialist Riccardo Oro (documented), present on the Laverda SFC register with extra certification by Massimo Borghesi, last owner since 1997. Italian documents.

Ride and collect! Bulletproof investment.

1972 Laverda SFC Badge

The listing doesn’t mention it, but the bike also appears to include a crudely-welded, but probably period-correct 2-into-1 exhaust: because that’s just how racebikes roll. The seller Gianluca has listed a number of very tasty motorcycles for sale in the past and mentions that the bike is currently in the UK, but he’s happy to ship anywhere in the world.

Bidding is up to almost $20,000 with plenty of time left on the auction and I’ve no doubt it will go much higher: with under 600 ever made, these are some of the most desirable motorcycles of the era with rarity, pedigree, and that exotic, sadly defunct “Laverda” nameplate.

-tad

1972 Laverda SFC R Side Tail

2

Little Brother: 1975 Ducati 750 Super Sport for Sale

1975 Ducati 750SS R Side Front

This beautiful 1975 Ducati 750 Super Sport came as a bit of a surprise to me. I was under the impression that all SS Ducatis were powered by the new 864cc engine from 1975 on, and that the 750 was basically discontinued, but that’s clearly not the case. And it’s obviously not simply a ’74 that’d been sitting around, since the square-case motor was introduced in 1975.

1975 Ducati 750SS L Side

Turns out I was half-right: it appears that all Super Sports were based around the new 900 motor, with the 750 using a sleeved-down version to simplify manufacturing. Other than that, the two bikes were virtually identical in every way, including price. Obviously, most people opted for the 900 version, and sales of the 750 were basically nonexistent, except for certain markets like Australia and Japan.

1975 Ducati 750SS Clocks

The seller is obviously knowledgeable and has owned the bike for a while, so I’ll let him fill you in. From the original eBaly listing: 1975 Ducati 750 Super Sport for Sale

Excellent example of a rare classic collectable 750 Supersport, one of only 250 made.

Basically I’m the third owner of this bike, I have had it over 12 years now. The history being original owner sold the rolling chassis to a racer friend and the motor to another. I  inadvertently bought the race bike as a roundcase found the history and then chased to purchase the original motor. The original owner was a ’75 SS buff had no less than four 900’s and this lone 750 in his fleet. Most people preferred the 900’s over the little brother 750’s hence his reason for selling and parting the bike.

Nowadays this is not the case people are now realizing just how sweet the 750 motor actually is and some prefer the 750 over the 900. Having been in the luxurious position of having one of each you certainly can see and feel the difference. The 750 seems elegant and a smoother bike to ride and there is not much difference in the top end to that of the 900, the 900 just has more torque

The first squarecase 750SS was identified as engine number 075412 this is 075417 very early indeed. The frame number is DM750SS 075436 (the paintwork hides the numbers slightly but it is a genuine frame) It has the correct borrani rims and also has a pair of the very early 40mm dellortos’ without the choke castings. (Same as the greenframes and early 900SS’) most of the early numbered bikes had both, more often than not, probably due to limited production numbers, most ’75 model SS’  only had one – either the front or the rear. They are mounted on the standard steel manifolds particular to this model.

There were only 250 ’75 750’s produced by the factory making them very rare – fewer numbers of these were made to that of the greenframe ’74 models. Essentially the ’75 were made for racing there are specific stories relating to the building of these machines for production races. ’76 onwards they changed significantly, left foot gear change pattern, frame, tank, dash, carbies and manifolds, seat even was different and  were built for general street purpose. More importantly after the ’75 model SS’s the motor’s were not scrutineered by the factory, they dropped the polished rockers and other finer details and attention to detail.

The bike has been meticulously put back together, utilising all factory parts and it runs as good as it looks. The bore is original 80.0mm and the big end is new, it was replaced when the bike was restored. The speedo was re-set when the motor was rebuilt. Actually true mileage is uncertain, irrelevant now as when the bike was rebuilt is was put back together using all of the correct factory parts. It needed nothing other than a set of rings and the big end was changed as a mere precaution whilst the engine was apart.

1975 Ducati 750SS R Side Engine

The bike is located in Australia and the starting bid is $40,000 with no takers yet but plenty of time left on the auction. I’m assuming that eBay is doing the conversion into USD for us, but that’s still a big chunk of change. And while a round-case might be just that bit more desirable and a 900 just that bit more butch, this one’s beautiful condition might make it worth a look for collectors, especially those looking for something with just that little bit of extra rarity.

-tad

1975 Ducati 750SS R Side

1

Hang On For Dear Life: 1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo for Sale

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo L Side

Today’s one-owner Kawasaki Z1R-TC is a potentially combustible combination of explosive power, unpredictable handling, and overtaxed mechanical components, a milestone in the Japanese motorcycling industry’s efforts to distinguish itself and find a truly distinctive voice. Turbo bikes were, in general, a bit of a dead end: the added complexity of turbocharging and non-linear response of a boosted engine didn’t outweigh the power gains.

The TC ended up being an exercise in self-control: keep the throttle pinned and the bike was hideously fast, but you’d also be almost guaranteed to be picking engine parts out of your chest. Because the ZR1-TC wasn’t a refined, heavily tested factory bike: it was a lash-up put together from stock machines sitting on showroom floors by a third-party turbo manufacturer. And without modern electronics to moderate boost and ignition, simply slapping a turbo onto an otherwise stock motor is a recipe for disaster.

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo R Side Rear

But that’s what Kawasaki sold the public. Sure, beefed-up internals were available for purchase, even recommended… But how many buyers plunked down that extra dough for what amounted to a fully-built engine? Not many.

So you have an engine that will almost surely grenade itself if you actually, you know: use it. And Kawasaki’s safeguards to make sure you don’t mess with the technically adjustable boost setting? A sticker that says, basically: “Don’t adjust the boost level. No seriously: don’t. You’re thinking about it right now, aren’t you? Stop thinking about adjusting the boost level!”

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Dash

And an even bigger problem with adding 50% more horsepower to the Z1R was that the bike really couldn’t handle the original 90hp to begin with: the frame was outdated and notoriously bendy. The bike was heavy and clumsy, with handling that varied wildly, depending on tire choice, but at least it had triple disc brakes to try and bring the whole thing to a halt if things started to get out of hand.

When things started to get out of hand…

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo L Side Detail

In the original listing, the seller suggests it’s a “TC1” but this looks like it’s a “TC2:” that stripey paint job and “spider” style header were both second-generation additions. First generation bikes were painted a very cool silver-blue color and has a much simpler exhaust.

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Kawasaki Z1-R TC for Sale

All original only one owner. Has new tires, chain and sprockets the entire exhaust system was just rechromed and added factory ATP water injection system. This bike will sell itself it is amazing shape never get to ride and enjoy as much as I would like anymore cause of health reasons. hate to sell but want someone to enjoy it. I still have every invoice and all paper work for any work done to the bike dated back to when I bought it. it has 14,650 miles motor has never been out of the frame. I’m the only person to drive this bike and still dives like I just bought it a week ago every thing works no issues. Oil has been changed every 500 miles and never been rode rough.

This Kawasaki is in very good shape for 38 years old. The bike shows its age on lower front end tubes but paint looks good to be original paint and speedometer has small crack but not very noticeable

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Engine

It’s very cool to see that water-injection system that’s been added, which should help keep the engine from blowing itself to bits when used enthusiastically. It’s obviously not perfect, but it’s very nice and, perhaps even more importantly, is all original.

Bidding is active with four days left on the auction and is north of $14,000 with the Reserve Not Met. While recent prices of many 1970s Japanese bikes have seemed a bit outrageous, considering how many were originally produced, this is one classic that is truly rare and very special, if slightly dangerous.

-tad

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo R Side

0

Blue-and-White Bullet: 1980 Suzuki GS1000S Wes Cooley Replica for Sale

1980 Suzuki GS1000S L Side Front

Suzuki’s blue-and-white bullet, the GS1000S was, in spite of the hulking style, dual shocks, and bulbous fairing, really more of an all-rounder than its looks would suggest. It was originally intended to appeal to European riders but, while road riders here in the USA prize straight-line stability and torque over handling, racers saw the appeal, and the GS1000S became the basis for Suzuki’s AMA Superbike racing machines.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Engine Detail

Compared to the Kawasakis and Hondas of the same era, the Suzuki wasn’t as quick, but it made up for its power deficit by being nimble, with a stiff frame and excellent brakes. None of these bikes were really featherweights, but the difference was noticeable both on and off the track.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S R Front

Race bike building was handled by the iconic “Pops” Yoshimura and ridden to victory by Wes Cooley, both of whom transitioned from Kawaskakis. The relationship was beneficial to everyone involved, and Wes won the AMA Superbike Championship two years running. The GS1000S was never officially associated with Wes Cooley, but riders in the States dubbed them “Wes Cooley Replicas” after the fact and the name stuck.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Dash

Specification-wise, the bike isn’t particularly exciting: a two-valve, 997cc air-cooled four putting 90hp through a five-speed box, 525lbs wet weight, and a 130mph top speed. But it’s really the package that made this work and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Rear Suspension

From the original eBay listing: 1980 Suzuki GS1000S Wes Cooley Replica for Sale

If you had the resources to rebuild a classic, limited production Superbike and fit it with every upgrade available back in the era when this bike ruled the streets, this is what you would have.

NOTE: This is a 1980 Wes Cooley Replica. It was produced for only the years 1979 and 1980 with production numbers estimated to be in the 750 range for 1980. The factory rear-set foot controls fitted only to the 1980 version makes this a one-of-a-kind frame as all of the other GS1000 standard chain drive bikes had the same frame. The 1980 version cannot be “faked” because of its unique frame, unlike the ’79 version that used an ordinary frame.

This bike was a frame-up rebuild which included the following:

ENGINE:

– New Valve Job 

– Freshly honed cylinders with brand new OEM Suzuki rings

– Valves adjusted

– New Mobil One synthetic oil and Fram oil filter

– New NGK spark plugs

PERFORMANCE EXTRAS:

– Dyna Tech electronic ignition

– Dyna 3 Ohm (green) coils

Taylor ignition wires (brand new)

– Yoshimura Replica stainless steel exhaust (cost $750 shipped here on eBay)

– Aftermarket wire wheels with stainless spokes – wider than stock

– Aftermarket Rear sets. Especially rare as these only fit this one exact year/model bike

– Braided stainless brake lines with clear covering (that won’t scratch paint)

– Adjustable Clutch Lever and dogleg front brake lever

There’s more information about the build over on eBay, so pop over for a look. The Buy-It-Now price is set at $12,000 which honestly seems like a very nice price for a bike with this much work put into it. Yeah, you can find a decent Wes Cooley for less, but they’re appreciating in value, and this one has been comprehensively restored and tastefully upgraded. These are extremely rugged motorcycles as well, and that makes them especially appealing to collectors who want to actually ride and enjoy, rather than display their pride and joys.

-tad

1980 Suzuki GS1000S R Side

0

Little Hog: 1967 Harley Davidson Aermacchi 250 Sprint

1967 Harley Davidson Sprint 250 L Front

I normally don’t post too many Harleys on the site, simply because not many fit within our mission statement, aside from the odd XRTT that shows up for sale. But this little 250 Sprint looks very nice and fits the bill.

1967 Harley Davidson Sprint 250 R Side Rear

When Harley decided they needed a range of smaller displacement bikes to supplement their existing models, it made sense to go to an outside company, rather than try to reinvent the wheel and, by the early 1960’s, they owned a stake in Aermacchi, an Italian builder of small-displacement motorcycles. In the end, the relationship did not work out, as Harley fans never really embraced the little Italian singles: shades of their relationship with MV Agusta. Harley had the savvy to buy a really interesting asset, but lacked the vision to make the relationship work.

1967 Harley Davidson Sprint 250 Cockpit

The Harley Davidson-branded Aermacchi was powered by a 246cc OHV single that produced just 21hp and could push the little bike to a top speed of 76mph. Wet weight was just 270lbs, with good brakes and excellent handling. This was obviously a bit of a joke to the lumbering, muscular behemoths favored by Harley, but many can still be found circling racetracks at vintage events.

1967 Harley Davidson Sprint 250 Engine Detail

From the original eBay listing: 1967 Harley Davidson Aermacchi 250 Sprint TV replica for Sale

All the sheet metal is straight and dent free from a European only TV model found in Italy and mounted on a stock US model 67 H with a few changes outlined here.. The front fork is pre 67 to mount the very rare Ala Verde Road race style front fender.  The handlebars use the early solid mount triple clamp instead of the wobbly rubber mount and the handlebar is the 61/63 low rise European spec bar with attached lever perch’s. Handlebar clamps are first year super rare 61 sprint only aluminum cast and polished type. Exhaust header and muffler are NOS and Saddle is perfect with no defects. Chrome is very nice with some oxidation spots on rear rim and handlebar.

Rims are original Radaelli with painted spokes in very nice shape with vintage Pirelli tires, rideable but not suggested for spirited cornering. Front brake is more powerful later double actuated type. All wiring is stock and unmodified and all electrical is functional. Paint on tank is scratched here and there as it is I believe original as found used from Italy with factory paint . The rest of the paint is matched but the tank is more orange. Toolbox’s are perfect with no battery box rot. Battery is NOS Safa just activated. Overall looks great. The frame paint is very nice factory original. Bike starts on one or two kicks and shifts and stops perfectly. On startup after sitting some time you will likely see a puff of smoke and this is common with the horizontal cylinder configuration and clears up right away. Motor is unmodified. Carburetor filter assembly will tuck vertically into tank pocket but I believe it breaths better and looks cooler as seen. Also includes very rare center stand and retains the original side stand as well.

1967 Harley Davidson Sprint 250 Rear Suspension

In Italy, bikes in this class were built as durable transportation, but here in the US they were used as beaters or starter bikes and often discarded. They’re worth resurrecting: like old air-cooled VW’s, Aermacchis are durable and infinitely rebuildable, but require regular maintenance. Mechanically simple and honest, easy to work on, they make ideal starter classics. With a Buy It Now price of almost $6,000, this is a pricey example, but would make a great introduction to vintage biking for a young person or someone of smaller stature.

-tad

1967 Harley Davidson Sprint 250 R Side

2

Eine Sehr Praktische Fahrrad: 1975 BMW R90S for Sale

1975 BMW R90S L Side Front

By the early 1970’s BMW was saddled with a very stuffy image that was in real need of an update. BMW’s were unsexy. They were bikes for old men. If story that sounds familiar, maybe it will help to think of today’s R90S as the S1000RR of the early 1970’s.

In the immediate postwar period, manufacturers proliferated and churned out cheap transportation by the bucketload, so Europeans could get to work efficiently and affordably. But by the late 60’s things had begun to shift and, with the rise of the Japanese, who were churning out cheap, highly sophisticated motorcycles by the bucketload, BMW was facing a bit of an identity crisis, much in the way that Harley Davidson has in recent years, with their fanbase slowly aging out of motorcycles entirely.

Or just buying cars instead.

1975 BMW R90S Side Rear

The result of BMW’s re-imagining was this stylish machine. It was based on BMW’s proven platform, with the usual host of hot-rod updates to improve performance. A pair of Dell’Orto carbs and higher-compression pistons were fitted, and the 898cc pushrod, OHV engine was a bored out version of the earlier 750 and the engine featured fairly oversquare dimensions. It added up to 67hp and, put through a five-speed transmission, meant a top speed in the neighborhood of 125mph, a very fast neighborhood at the time. For a big sportbike, the BMW was relatively light at 474lbs wet.

1975 BMW R90S R Side Engine

The stylish bikini fairing allowed BMW to compliment the usual tach, speedo, and warning lights with an analogue clock and a volt meter, while twin discs provided improved stopping power over other BMW models, although that wasn’t saying much, and even these upgraded brakes were considered the R90S’s weakest characteristic.

 

1975 BMW R90S R Side Rear

As with Moto Guzzis of the period, the image of the shaft-driven BMW was more touring than sport, but the R90S was successful in competition: in the USA, the American Motorcycling Association organized a new race series for “Superbikes” and the R90S placed first and second in the very first race. But for all the sporting competence, BMW couldn’t completely shake their practical image, and it still featured low-maintenance shaft-drive, would take a set of hard luggage, had impressive range, and could comfortably cruise all day at 80. It was supremely competent, but still just a little bit uptight…

From the original eBay listing: 1975 BMW R90S for Sale

First titled 5/29/1975 in Michigan

Stainless spokes, good tires and battery, K&N air filter

Original large tool kit/roll, tire pump and owners manual

Great running -excellent engine idle

Serviced at BMW Daytona Beach 

Always garaged and covered: no damage, no crashes, no issues

Clock is not working-may be disconnected from battery

Have 2 keys and 2 key blanks, 2 oil filters

Runs like new

1975 BMW R90S Gauges

Geez, “BRAKE FAILURE”?! That’s a terrifying warning light! With 26,000 miles on the clock, this example is very clean and relatively low-mileage: these can and do rack up serious, continent-crossing distances quite regularly. Bidding is up to almost $8,500 with the Reserve Not Met. These are on the rise in terms of value, but I wonder where this one is priced, and whether or not the seller is aiming a bit too high, too soon…

-tad

1975 BMW R90S L Side

2

Italian Muscle: 1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans I for Sale

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans R Front

The second Moto Guzzi of the week is this very nice, very original 850 Le Mans. These are often referred to as “Mark I” Le Mans, although that’s obviously a description retroactively applied to differentiate them from later bikes. Released in 1976, it was a logical progression from the V7 Sport in terms of styling and mechanicals. It featured the same basic frame and engine, but bored out to 850cc’s with bigger valves, carbs, and higher-compression, along with new, much more angular bodywork that still displays clear stylistic links to the earlier bike.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans L Rear Detail

These changes gave 71hp at the wheel and a top speed of 130. It wasn’t the fastest bike of the period, but it was on par with the competition and included extremely stable handling in the mix. Sure it was quirky, and you can definitely feel the longitudinal crank’s torque-reaction in turns, but it’s easy to compensate for, once you acclimate, and has no negative effect on performance. And with that easily maintained engine and shaft drive, it was weirdly practical for an exotic Italian sportbike.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Clocks

Many Guzzis of the period used a mechanically simple, but highly functional linked-braking system. A squeeze of the brake lever operates one front caliper. The foot pedal operates the other front caliper and the rear as well, with lockup prevented by a proportioning valve. Surprisingly effective, although many have been converted to more conventional setups.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans R Rear Detail

The listing doesn’t include much detail about this bike, and the photos are a bit washed out so it’s hard to get a good idea about the paint, other than that it has paint. But the mileage is extremely low for a Guzzi and it looks very complete and well cared-for.

From the original eBay listing: 1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans I for Sale

Original paint.

Owners manual and tools, service records, clear title some minor scuffs and wear but too nice to restore.

They are only original once.

Only 6000 or so first-gen bikes were made from 1976 through 1978, but most that show up for sale have been well-maintained, and they’re pretty fundamentally rugged bikes. The starting bid is $14,999.00 with no takers as yet. That’s in the ballpark as far as Le Mans pricing goes, and I’d assume we’ll see some activity as we get closer to the auction close. Certainly there are prettier examples out there, but this one’s combination of low miles and completely original condition should make it pretty desirable to Guzzi fans.

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans Fairing

The only real cosmetic downside is the American market front headlamp that has a projecting ring around it to meet US safety regulations. The Euro part had a much better-looking, flush-mount design. One of those things you’d probably never notice, until someone helpfully pointed it out to you. Then it’s impossible to un-see. Your mind pokes at it, like a piece of food in your teeth you can’t stop prodding with your tongue…

You’re welcome.

While the price is certainly not chump change, it’s hard to argue that the Le Mans isn’t still a bit of a bargain in the collector bike world, especially considering that it’s a bike you can ride anywhere and still get parts for, a reliable vintage Italian exotic.

-tad

1976 Moto Guzzi Le Mans L Side

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