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Two in a Row: 1947 Vincent Rapide for Sale

1947 Vincent Rapide R Front

Wow, two gorgeous Vincents up for sale at the same time! Although I’d imagine at this point, given their value, many of them are in this kind of condition. Yesterday’s Rapide had been cosmetically modified to look more like the blacked-out and sinister Black Shadow. This one is a few years older and stays a little closer to its roots but is no less desirable for that.

Based on Vincent’s own Meteor/Comet 500cc single, the 50° twin was powerful, a worthy motivator for a true “superbike.”  It is also one of the best-looking engines of all time: elegant, brutal, and purposeful, but this beating heart is, in some ways, the most conventional part of the bike.

1947 Vincent Rapide Dash

Introduced at a time when three-speed, tank-shift gearboxes and rigid frames were the norm, the Vincent must have seemed shockingly exotic. In addition to the swingarm rear suspension, four-speed foot shift, and unit construction for the engine and gearbox, the Vincent skipped right past the next sixty years or so and basically eliminated the frame entirely with their Series B bikes, with various sub-assemblies bolted directly to the engine and gearbox.

The bike also featured Vincent’s own “Girdraulic” alternative front end. Although girder front suspensions weren’t all that uncommon at the time, Vincent’s resistance to the new wave of telescopic forks was based on the inherent limitations of that design, namely stiction and flex. This is something that modern designers still struggle with and the ubiquity of telescopic forks on modern bikes speaks to the difficulty in designing a simple and effective solution. Bikes like the Britten V1000, Bimota Tesi, and Yamaha GTS1000 have all used effective alternatives, but those designs never took off or became mainstream. Only BMW’s “Telelever” suspension has had any significant success.

1947 Vincent Rapide L Rear

Vincent’s v-twin was offered in two flavors: Rapide and Black Shadow. The bike being offered is a Rapide, not the higher-performance Black Shadow, although significant internal upgrades have likely erased any performance deficit.

From the original eBay listing: 1947 Vincent Rapide for Sale

A ‘regardless of cost’ restoration was carried out with Brampton forks rebuilt by Ray Daniels, the correct Miller headlight and Alton alternator. Central Wheel Components built the English chrome wheels with the correct 20″ front and 19″ rear rims linked by stainless spokes and ribbed brake drums, with period brake plates with no water excluders. Alloy ‘guards were specified with a Koni rear damper. The ignition is by Lucas KVF magneto with a conversion to slack-wire advance system by Barry Basset. The tank was checked, painted and HRD-lined, with a new seat and tool-box assembly.

After the return to the ISDT machine of its original engine, 335, a 1947 twin, was installed. From a Rapide exported to Canada, this engine was fitted to a Norvin built between 1957-60 by one Pat Heardley of Montreal who worked for the Atomic Energy Corporation and had access to special tools and re-finishing equipment. Equipped with 32mm GP Dellortos, 10:1 pistons, special cams and all surfaces anti-friction coated, it was used very successfully for racing by VOC member Dave West at Mosport, Shannonville and Nelson Ledges. For installation in FYG 413, it was enlarged to 1,116cc capacity with 32mm Mark 1 Concentric carbs, Suzuki pistons and flywheels polished and balanced trued to zero run-out. These were balanced by Ken Roseover, a works engineer for Bombardier/Can-Am.

A multiple-plate clutch is fitted, alongside a custom wide clutch-cover. Two big-port heads are fitted with oversize valves, titanium valve-collets and stainless pushrod covers and gland nuts. The crankcases were vapour-blasted and polished and the cylinder muffs were machined from solid billet stock by Trevor Southall. The cost for the UK rebuild of this engine, whose performance is described by the vendor as ‘simply awesome’, was over £6,000, including the machining for the supplied Gosset electric starter. FYG 413 has a V5C, current MOT and Road Tax (free). The engine history, bills for the rebuild and a rebuild CD are included. A ‘state of the art’ Vincent.”

To simply, this is a non matching numbers bike. The performance of the machine is greater than that of a standard Rapide and may be greater then a Black Shadow.

The electric starter is not installed. I will supply all that is needed to install the starter motor if you wish to do so. 12 volt system uses a larger battery- most likely to fire the starter.

I have always started the bike the traditional way. It is indeed a thrilling machine to ride.

At 450 pounds motivated by 45-55 very torquey horses, the Vincent is a vintage bike that needs make no apologies or concessions to modern traffic, assuming you’re wary of the bike’s period drum brakes and infamously unforgiving handling.

1947 Vincent Rapide Clocks

As you may have noticed in the listing, the bike is available with the choice of two different speedometers. The larger, pie-plate sized item is a very iconic look for a Vincent, but I think I actually prefer the underhand sweep of the smaller, more conservative 120mph item. Luckily, you have a choice!

It’s obviously not a numbers-matching machine, and the reserve hasn’t been met yet, but the bidding is still at pretty bargain Vincent levels. I’m curious to see what this one goes for.

About the only downside I can see to owning one is the fact that some people will see that “HRD” badge and assume it’s some sort of Harley Davidson…

-tad

1947 Vincent Rapide L Front

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1952 Vincent Rapide For Sale

1952 Vincent Rapide R Side

Thanks to reader Jess for pointing this one out. In the minds of motorcyclists of a certain age, no motorcycle can really match the aura and mystique of a v-twin Vincent. Expensive, powerful, dripping with exotic technology, and produced only in muted colors that were either serious or sinister, depending on whether or not you’d had one try to kill you or not…

1952 Vincent Rapide L Front

Hunter S Thompson referred to the Vincent Black Shadow in his writing, using the iconic name as shorthand for everything mysterious and dangerous about motorcycles: “It is like riding a Vincent Black Shadow, which would outrun an F-86 jet fighter on the take-off runway, but at the end, the F-86 would go airborne and the Vincent would not, and there was no point in trying to turn it…”

Even if you’ve never seen a Vincent, the picture in your head is probably pretty close after reading that.

1952 Vincent Rapide Dash

Phil C Vincent began making motorcycles during the 1920’s by slotting other manufacturer’s engines and transmissions into frames he designed. His enterprise met with some success, and this allowed the burgeoning company to design its own powerplant. The 500cc single formed the basis of the v-twin that Vincent’s Rapide was literally built around: while the original 1936 “Series A” used a traditional frame, the later “Series B” model was almost completely frameless, with the steering head bolted directly to the front cylinder and the rear suspension to the gearbox.

Which sounds an awful lot like a Ducati Panigale, except that the Ducati uses a less advanced style of front suspension…Unhappy with the flexing that plagues telescopic forks to this day, Vincent used a variation of the girder front end. This girder front end was advanced in theory, although limited damping of the era did lead to notoriously unforgiving handling.

1952 Vincent Rapide Controls

Quite literally, there was nothing on the road like it at the time, and you could argue that there hasn’t been anything like it since.

The v-twin came in two performance flavors. The bike being offered is the lower-spec Rapide, not the evocatively-named Black Shadow, although many of these have been improved to the point where performance differences are irrelevant. In this case, it looks like it’s been cosmetically updated to match the sinister black of the Shadow as well…

From the original eBay listing: 1952 Vincent Rapide for Sale

Up for grabs…Here’s a very nice 1952 Vincent Rapide 1000.  Has been given a light custom treatment with many smart and usable upgrades.  Has black engine with two front cylinder heads (a la Lightning).  Fitted with Lightning front brakes and center pull brake cables; acentuated with extended cam arms in the front.  Extended intake manifolds with Amal Concentric carburetors.  Magneto has been replaced with points and coil, generator replaced with Alton alternator.  All 12V electrics.  Rare 5″ 150 mph Smiths chronometric speedometer.  Numbers on frame headstock are “RC/1/5878″.  Numbers on rear frame section are “RC 8835C”.  Engine case halves match (both stamped “XX 59″), engine number is “F10 AB/1/8128″.  Altogether, an excellent road going package.  Feel free to call or email with any questions.  Good luck!

1952 Vincent Rapide Carb

I’m a big fan of “artistic” photography, although I’d prefer clean, unretouched shots when you’re using those pictures to sell a $50,000 motorcycle. We’re just north of that now, with active bidding and the reserve not yet met. It’s not a real Black Shadow, but it’s pretty clear this is a gorgeous bike, one of the most desirable and collectable and technically interesting machines ever built.

-tad

1952 Vincent Rapide R Front

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Patina in Spades: 1958 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster for Sale

1958 Harley XLH Sportster R Front

I don’t generally write up Harleys, simply because I’m not that familiar with the brand. That’s probably a result of their current reliance on cutting-edge 1960’s technology and the company’s lifestyle marketing: it looks to me like they’re basically cashing in on a culture of 1%’er badassdom that you really can’t simply buy your way into. That recent commercial, where the guy on the $25,000 touring bike with $1,000 worth of branded gear and a big, smug smile ignores a call from his boss?

Yeah, you’re a real rebel, man. A True. Bad. Ass.

But the guy I saw on a bagger in Jersey City last year at Popeye’s, with his old lady in tow, a freaking 12-inch knife worn openly on his hip, and a patch that read, “Hell’s Angels Knock-Out Crew”? He might have something to say to you about that.

“Bad ass” is the kind of image you’ve got to earn.

1958 Harley XLH Sportster L Tank

So the company’s current engineering and marketing leave a bad taste in my mouth and, for the most part, their sporting heritage isn’t in the kind of roadracing and sporty street machines we cover on this site. As a result, I don’t generally know all that much about vintage Harleys, excepting rebadged Aermacchis. But my snobbish attitude does a great disservice to serious riders and racers who favor vintage American iron: I’ve seen guys banging rigid-frame, tank-shift Harleys around NJMP and that kind of thing is impressive as hell.

Besides, unrestored vintage motorcycles that look this classic and “fire right up and ride smooth as butter” are always cool.

1958 Harley XLH Sportster Dash

Introduced in 1957, the Sportster was HD’s solution when the British invasion forced The Motor Company to evolve or die. Powered by the evocatively-named “Ironhead” [three guesses as to why] overhead-valve 883cc engine, the XLH [the “H” was for “Hot”] featured a higher-compression engine and is relatively rare. On that subject: other than the recent “Twin Cam,” Harleys really do have the best-named engines. Who wouldn’t want a “Knucklehead” in their garage? Or a “Pan-Knuckle”?

Also: dual keys?! Any old Harley fans in the audience want to clarify for me the two keys in the dash and what they both do?

1958 Harley XLH Sportster R Side Engine

From the original eBay listing: 1958 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster for Sale

Here we have a 1958 XLH Sportster that is unrestored original paint. The white paint on the tank appears to be touched up at some point but all of the black paint is untouched. This is only the second year for the Sportster model and one of the most sought after ones with the one year only type plastic tank emblems and yes they are the original ones with the rivets and gaskets. This machine also has the 2 into one pipes with the rare original muffler.  Also has the original carb. with the correct air cleaner with the script on top. Rolling on its original rims and 3.50-18 Goodyear tires.  Same owner since 1960 up until this year. You just dont see many unrestored early Sportsters in this condition. This Sportster fires right up and runs and rides as smooth as butter. This bike also comes with the original tools, manual, old aftermarket signals, title battery tender, and other misc. papers.

Bidding is up to $8,500 and pretty active, with three days to go. It may look a bit rough around the edges, but the miles are relatively low and the seller claims it runs just fine. Patina isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you’re unlikely to find a Sportster as original as this one.

-tad

1958 Harley XLH Sportster L Side

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1980 Suzuki GS1100E for Sale in Denver

1980 Suzuki GS1100E L Side

Machines like the Suzuki GS1100E have been rare in the US of late, where motorcycles are most often owned and flaunted by weekend warriors: lifestyle accessories don’t need to be rideable for more than a few miles at a time, so you’re free to buy shrieking, peaky race-reps or 900 pound feet-in-the-breeze Barcaloungers, whichever fits your personal taste without regard to practicality.

Suzuki’s GS series bikes were do-it-all machines, the epitome of the UJM or “universal Japanese motorcycle”: four cylinders, twin shocks, no fairing. Bikes that were reliable and frugal enough for daily use, handled well enough for weekend scratching, and comfortable enough for distance work.

The GS-designation described a huge range of motorcycles built over almost forty years and powered by singles, twins, and four-cylinder engines of varied displacements. The GS1100 was powered by Suzuki’s durable air-cooled, 8-valve and later 16-valve, dual overhead-cam engine slung into a stable chassis.

It made for a blank canvas that could be turned into just about anything you wanted: the famous “Pops” Yoshimura turned the earlier 1000 version into a successful racebike that spawned the Wes Cooley race replicas that sometimes show up on this site for sale.

This example is the much more basic “E” model and as such would have been nothing much special at the time. But the curse of the ubiquity and reliability of the UJMs was that they were treated like the appliances they resembled: used and often discarded, left to rust and rot by less than sympathetic owners. You couldn’t own a Triumph or Norton unless you were ready to get your hands and garage floor dirty, unless you were invested. But anyone could [and did] buy bikes like the Zook, and they were often used as intended, so nice examples are getting harder and harder to find.

From the original Craigslist listing: 1980 Suzuki GS1100E – $2995

1980 Suzuki GS1100E in very nice condition. Almost bone stock except for “crash bars” and cruise control, both easily removable. 30K miles. Just completed a full going over by former service manager of large local dealership that specializes in working on 70′s/80′s/90′s vintage bikes. Runs PERFECTLY. Starts, idles and everything works.

1980 Suzuki GS1100E R Side

This one’s in the Denver, Colorado area. Nearly $3k is pretty serious cash for an old GS, but makes more sense when you think instead that that’s pretty small price to pay for reliable, do-anything transportation. Not too many cars or trucks that can give you this much entertainment AND reliability and cost so little to run.

Not a glamorous bike, but perhaps the perfect tool for a trip down memory lane for someone who remembers just how good these really were at being motorcycles. Don’t bother shipping it: just show up with your riding gear, bungee your duffle bag onto the tail, and ride it home.

-tad

 

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1961 Moto Guzzi Lodola 235 Gran Tourismo for Sale

1961 Moto Guzzi Lodola L Side

The Lodola [“Lark”] was yet another of Moto Guzzi’s practical, bird-themed motorcycles and was the very last machine designed by Carlo Guzzi himself. Although the seller refers to it as a “very nice example of [an] early 1960’s Italian motorcycle”, it was actually introduced in the mid 1950’s. First produced as a 175cc machine in 1956, it featured a chain-driven overhead cam with dry-sump lubrication and an engine canted forward at 45°.

1961 Moto Guzzi Lodola R Front

This example is the later, 235cc “Gran Tourismo” version introduced in 1959 and sold through 1966. The larger version actually went from an overhead cam to pushrod actuation for the pair of valves, an interesting step backward in terms of specification. Overall, the machine was slightly slower than its more sophisticated older sibling, but had a much more flexible powerband suited to the bike’s plebeian intent. It was also produced in much greater numbers and proved to be a popular machine, with period reviews commenting on its civility, efficiency, and general competence.

1961 Moto Guzzi Lodola Speedo

From the original listing, translated from the ubiquitous eBay CAPITALESE: 1961 Moto Guzzi Lodola 235GT for Sale

A very nice original example of early 1960’s Italian motorcycle. It has some normal wear that you would expect from a 53 year old motorcycle but overall in great condition. It’s all there including the original key. It has a new silencer on it that is not the original but is the style of the original that came on it. There is a small dent on the tank and the inside is starting to develop a little surface rust that you can detect with your finger just inside the cap. I rode it for five years on weekends or just around town on local trips. It has been parked and covered for the past two years in a heated garage. It will start but the clutch plates have stuck together so that will need to be addressed by the purchaser. I am told this is a common problem that comes from the age of the motorcycle. It’s a great motorcycle to ride, very light and responsive. It has a great patina which kept me from doing a full resto on it as I thought it was just as nice the way it is. It does not smoke or knock when running, just the usual exhaust note of a single cylinder motor while running.

1961 Moto Guzzi Lodola L Tank

Photos in the listing aren’t the greatest, but it’s pretty clear what’s on offer here. It’s nice to see that, other than a couple years of sitting, it’s been well-used and enjoyed as Guzzi intended.

As with most of these small-displacement Italians, the Lodola was, excepting racing and offroad specials, a practical, stylish commuter bike that stressed efficiency and reliability. Anyone looking for something small and fun to add to their collection now can certainly appreciate these qualities, as parts for anything this old can be a bit of a problem and if you’re going on rides to nowhere for no good reason, it’s nice to know you aren’t wasting too much dinosaur juice doing it.

I have no space at the moment to add something like this to my garage and the roads near me aren’t really friendly to small motorcycles like the Lodola, but I hope that someday to own a fun little Italian single like this one.

-tad

1961 Moto Guzzi Lodola R Side

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1972 Benelli Tornado 650S for Sale

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 R Side

While the name Benelli is now more likely associated with firearms outside the vintage biking scene, the company was founded in 1911 by matriarch Teresa as a way to keep her six sons steadily employed. Within ten years, they’d gone from a bicycle and motorcycle repair shop to manufacturer of their own, in-house engine and a successful racing team.

The Tornado 650 was introduced in 1969 and was designed to compete with the bigger offerings from Norton and Triumph in the US and Great Britain.  Powered by a very oversquare 642cc parallel twin, it was reliable and performance was on par with the competition, with a claimed top speed of 117mph.

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 L Side

While those numbers suggest that it’s virtually interchangeable with other machines of its general capacity and specification, in reality the Benelli offered much greater refinement than a Triumph or Norton of the era. Unfortunately, while those machines may be lacking a bit in terms of sophistication, they’re certainly fast, and offer a wealth of tuning parts, shops that specialize, and support communities.

The Benelli will likely get you a wealth of curious looks. Especially if they take a close look at those funky, vibration-reducing footpeg rubbers…

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1972 Benelli Tornado 650S for Sale 

Very low mileage bike restored to as-new condition by Vincent special builder Dale Keesecker in 2008 with 1159 original miles. Entire engine was gone through, all seals replaced, everything checked and carefully reassembled. New paint and high quality chrome applied, cables replaced, any rubber or plastic showing deterioration was replaced.

The bike now has 2280 miles on it. I bought it from Dale in 2009 and have fully tested it over the 1121 miles and 5 years that I have had it.  It is stone reliable, starts instantly on the button, idles perfectly and is a dream to ride. No paint scratches or blemishes, never fallen over, never been wet. Tires bought new in 2011, less than 1000 miles on them. Brakes work great, all electrics work except that the horn is disconnected. Does not leak oil.  It is very quick, handles beautifully and has a phenomenal sound. A huge attention getter anywhere I go on it.  Includes full service manuals, diagrams and user manuals in English & Italian.

I am selling because I have far too many motorcycles and some treasures just have to go.

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 L Rear

I love the fact that the bike features both electric and kick start, along with that gorgeous front brake. Today, Benelli is in a bit of limbo: they are currently still owned by a Chinese company and are supposedly still producing their wild sports triples. But distribution and quality both seem spotty, and the styling of these modern bikes, while very distinctive, is perhaps a bit overwrought… Which is a tragic turn of events, given their history. I realize the world market needs lots of cheap and cheerful motorcycles, but here’s hoping the Qianjiang Group uses the Benelli name and heritage to relaunch the brand at some point as a manufacturer of premium motorcycles.

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 Front Brake

$7,000 is premium money for a Benelli Tornado but, from the photos, this is a really stunning example and looks basically like a brand-new 1970’s Italian motorcycle. If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary and love the sound and feel of a parallel twin, this could be your ride.

-tad

1972 Benelli Tornado 650 Tank

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As Seen on TV: 1974 Norton Commando

1974 Norton Commando R Rear

Aside from rakish good looks that embody the best of the era, this particular Norton Commando appears to have had a bit of a brush with television fame, having been built by a shop that featured on Café Racer TV. While café racers in general have become a bit cliché of late, they still have a classic look and style that I think will endure well past their brief second moment in the sun. Unlike stretched out, chrome and candy-flamed choppers, café bikes hark back to a nostalgic era and, aside from the occasional example sporting below-the lower triple clamp clipons, they are actually rideable.

1974 Norton Commando Dash

Differences between Nortons of this period are largely down to relatively minor cosmetic details: they all featured the 828cc [“850”] parallel twin, although some models were more highly tuned than others. And all featured Norton’s interesting “Isolastic” engine mounting system.

As Nortons increased in displacement to keep pace with their competition, the vibrations of the compact, but not particularly smooth, parallel-twin became an increasing problem. Dominator and Atlas riders simply lived with the increasing “character” of the powerplant, but by the time the Commando came around, Norton felt the 750cc engine would need something more than the relative sponginess of the human body to absorb vibrations.

1974 Norton Commando L Rear

The most obvious options were unacceptable: rubber-mount the controls and reduce feel or redesign the engine and bankrupt the company. So Norton chose a middle route: they mounted the engine, transmission, and swingarm on a system of rubber bushings. This solution works very well, although it needs to be set up carefully and maintained in order to work correctly: worn Isolastics can cause scary handling problems.

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Norton Commando

Up for bid is my 1974 Norton Commando 850.  This bike was originally restored by The Classic Bike Experience (featured on Cafe Racer TV) in Essex, Vermont approximately five years ago.  This is the original “GUS” bike that got everything started for CBE.  There is a complete written documentary of their restoration of this particular Commando located on the Classic Bike Experience’s website under the heading CBE Cafe Bikes. 

I purchased “Gus” in October 2009 from Jack and Nick.  Since purchasing, I have changed/upgraded several things more to my liking.

I have the original Amals, the original coils, and the original bronze clutch plates.  

I have put approximately 1600 gentle two lane country miles on this bike since the original CBE rebuild five years ago.  I don’t know how I managed to leave that information out of the original listing, but it is definitely information that needs to be in the listing…

I have tried to make this bike as reliable as a 40 year old motorcycle can be.  It generally starts on the first or second kick.  It gets attention everywhere it goes.  I have started avoiding gas stations with other motorcycles and crowds because I know I will be stuck there talking to people.

1974 Norton Commando L Engine

Starting bid is $10,000 with no takers as yet and only one day left to go. That’s a pretty penny for a Norton Commando and perhaps the seller is attaching a bit too much value to the “celebrity” status of its builders, but I’m still sort of surprised there’s been no interest at all. This is a very nice example with thoughtful upgrades, meticulous maintenance and documentation, and a visual record of the build itself.

Seems worth it to pay a bit extra for such a nicely put together machine.

-tad

1974 Norton Commando R Side

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1964 Triton for Sale

1964 Triton L Side

I don’t often write up Triumphs here because they’re comparatively not all that rare. TriTONS, however, fit the bill and this 1964 example is exactly the kind of bike you’d want to buy: reluctant but knowledgeable seller, great pictures, extensive details on the bike, and several videos, one of which is a clearly narrated walk-around with cold start.

1964 Triton L Front

Tritons by nature are all custom-built and they vary in terms of quality depending on who put them together. An attempt to combine the reliable power of a Triumph engine with the sharp handling of a Norton “Featherbed” frame, these homebrews became a bit of a cottage industry for a while in the 60’s and 70’s, with many reputable shops assembling them. Parts between the two original machines can be mixed and matched, depending on the builder’s preferences, since the pre-unit gearboxes that featured on both give a bit of choice: some bikes used the Norton gearbox, others the Triumph.

1964 Triton Dash

While the resulting machine wasn’t necessarily much faster than the original Norton, it was definitely more reliable.

From the original eBay listing: 1964 Triton for Sale

This bike embodies the soul of vintage British racing motorcycles. From the days of early Isle of Man TT and hybrid experimental motorcycles.
This is an actual cafe racer! Not your neighbors CB360 with a seat pan kit.
First time ever listed on ebay. Here is your ONE time chance to own it. I will not relist it after this auction concludes.

1964 Triton Oil Tank

There’s a ton of information in the original listing, so make sure you take a look if this piques your interest. The walk-around video in particular is confidence-inspiring, and the shorter video of the bike revving gets the blood pumping. I’m not a big fan of the look of high-pipes in general, but you can’t argue with the sounds this one makes: to me, hotted-up Triumphs always sound like a pair of dirtbikes revving together, an appealingly playful sound that encourages you to annoy the traffic around you by blipping the throttle at stoplights…

1964 Triton R Tank

The seller claims this one won’t be offered again if it doesn’t sell, and there’s only a couple days left on this auction, so if you’re in the market for a nice British twin, move quickly!

-tad

1964 Triton R Side

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Almost New:1983 Moto Morini 500

1983 Moto Morini 500 L Front

Unlike their other European competitors, Moto Morini never succumbed to the pressure to create bigger-engined motorcycles to compete for the American market. This 500cc machine is about as big as they got, and owners had to rely on “sweet handling” and “economical” and “six-speed gearbox” for bragging rights. Specifications were interesting, with a 72º v-twin that struck a good balance between smoothness and packaging, “Heron”- style heads that are probably worth an article all on their own, the aforementioned six-speed transmission, and a flexible powerband that peaked at 46hp.

1983 Moto Morini R Side Rear

This particular Morini 500 features a bar-mounted fairing. I’m not sure whether or not this is actually a Morini part or something aftermarket. In the early 80’s aerodynamics were clearly “in” and many manufacturers of sporty machines that couldn’t really compete with the Japanese in terms of outright performance began to repurpose their machines with a more sport-touring style.

Although Moto Guzzi had their very own wind tunnel to fine-tune their bodywork, most of these early factory efforts were trial-and-error and the results were aesthetically challenged at best… And those bikes that didn’t come from the factory with touring equipment could be fitted with all manner of JC Whitney-esque Windjammer fairings with dubious aerodynamic advantages.

1983 Moto Morini 500 Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1983 Moto Morini 500 for Sale

This is a beautiful original Moto Morini.  Has been sitting in a museum for 10 years.  Will need the carbs cleaned and a new battery.  A few small scratches on the tank.  Look at photo.  Great opportunity to own a virtually new Moto Morini from 1983. 

What is it with Morini owners and their very thin descriptions? I guess they figure, “If you have to ask, you’re not the kind of person I want to sell it too, anyway…” But the listing has some photos that perhaps speak for themselves and it does mention that the bike has less than 500 miles on it, making this machine about as new and as sharp as you’re ever likely to find.

1983 Moto Morini 500 R Engine Detail

Bidding is currently at about $5,600 with active interest and several days to go on the auction. I’m not sure if that fairing is from the factory or aftermarket: most Morini’s I’ve seen are unfaired, until we get to the very cool little Dart that looks like a ¾ scale Ducati Paso…

Although Morini prices have risen over the past few years, they still represent a much more affordable way into classic Italian ownership than Ducati or Laverda and are much rarer than a Moto Guzzi.

-tad

1983 Moto Morini 500 R Side

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1982 Ducati SD900 Darmah for Sale

1977 Ducati SD900 Darmah L Front

It’s a given that unfaired motorcycles are visually defined by their engines, as there’s very little bodywork to “style”. Fortunately, Ducati’s bevel-drive, Desmodromic “L-twin” looks so good, it always seems a shame to hide it behind a fairing. It’s one of those engines that begs to be dressed up, even polished, anything to show it off better.

Introduced in 1977 and made until 1982, the Darmah was Ducati’s replacement for the slow-selling and generally too-modern-looking 860GT. Largely a restyle, it also included the usual raft of evolutionary updates and received very good reviews at the time it was new. With an 864cc version of Ducati’s twin, it was fast and relatively comfortable, the quintessential Italian roadster.

1977 Ducati SD900 Darmah R Side

Prices for these have remained relatively low, perhaps because the look is less iconic: although it was less shocking to the buyers of the time, the look is also more anonymous now and blends into the general styling trends of the 1970’s. But prices for these are on the rise as collectors looking to snap up bevels on a budget have already exploited every other avenue, including the 860GT.

From the original eBay listing: 1982 Ducati SD900 Darmah for Sale

Offered for sale is a nice and rare blue 1982 Ducati SD900 Darmah in original unmolested condition. This motorcycle was purchased new by a older friend of mine in Pittsburg, KS from the Johnson Norton Ducati dealer.  It was shipped to a brother dealer in Canada and picked up there and brought back to the US thus is has a kilometer speedometer and other Canadian nomenclature.  This is original paint and a very rare color indeed.   The paint is flawless on the tank and only has a couple of chips on the sidecovers.  It presently has Conti replica mufflers but the original Franchonies are included with the sale.  It has spent the last fifteen years in a private collection and driven sparingly.  It will need some service on the clutch and perhaps need a shift selector adjustment.  It is running and rdeable order.  Included in the sale are the original owner’s manual, parts repair manual and tools that came with the bike when new.  The tires are like new and the brakes and guages are working properly as well as the lighting system

1977 Ducati SD900 Darmah R Rear

The price is up to just under $5,700 at the moment, but is likely to go higher before bidding ends. The Darmah may not have been as glamorous as the various iterations of the SuperSport, but like the Monster of the modern era, it was a money-maker: they sold plenty of these and that helped keep the lights on for Ducati during a relatively difficult period.

While not as distinctive as the SS or older Sport models, the styling is simple and elegant, and these are known for being relatively practical, with an electric starter, reliable Nippon Denso instruments, and a useful dual seat. All-in-all, maybe not the sexiest bevel-drive Ducati, but quite possibly one of their best.

-tad

1977 Ducati SD900 Darmah R Front

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