Author: Brian

1962 Matchless G50

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The British motorcycle industry has had its trying times, and because of this, there were occasions of competitors becoming partners. This was the case for AJS and Matchless, two companies with their own racing history, joining forces to stave off extinction. It didn’t work, but this 1962 Matchless G50 is what is left behind for us to enjoy.

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From the seller

1962 Matchless G50 500cc Factory Racer

500cc Single cylinder factory racer with magnesium cases. This motorcycle sports an older restoration and it has been on static display in a private collection. Full service will be required prior to returning competion use. Very rare and desirable post war British racer.

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Matchless had purchased AJS, and other manufactures just before the outbreak of war. When the umbrella name of AMC was coined in 1938, this was the company which produced war ready singles for the British and Commonwealth countries. When the war ended, AMC took AJS and Matchless racing again, and the 7R with the AJS badge was the first to make an impact. Unlike the racing Nortons of the time, the AJS used a chain to drive its OHC instead of the shaft and bevel that the Manx used. It may not have been as technically advanced, but it was also less expensive to produce, and easier to maintain. This made it a favorite of club racers, and lead to the “Boy Racer” moniker.

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In 1958, AMC used the knowledge they had learned with the 350cc AJS engine and produced a 500cc engine and gave it the Flying “M” of Matchless. It became the G50, a hint to the 50hp that it developed. With its 496cc and single over head cam, the Matchless was able to reach in excess of 130mph. The extensive use of Magnesium in construction of the engine gave it a significant weight advantage over other racers and this helped to create a more nimble bike. It may not have reached the top step of the podium at the Grand Prix level, but it did fill out the start list.

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Though AMC stopped production of the G50 in 1963, an opportunistic Colin Seeley purchased all the dies and tooling from AMC for the G50. Seeley continued to produces some very competitive motorcycles, and Seeley G50’s are as sought after as the original factory efforts.  If you pick up this 1962 Matchless G50, and you end up needing spares, don’t worry, because what Mr Seeley started in the late 1960’s continues today under the name TGA Ltd. This will allow you to race your G50 for many years to come. BB

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1939 Velocette KTT Mark VII

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When your dad owns a motorcycle company, you as the children have a very important role in the business. You are to go racing. This is what Percy and Eugene Goodman did for their father, the owner of Velocette. They built an over head cam racing bike, put Alec Bennett, an established racer, on it and went to the Isle of Man. They won in 1926 and the motorcycle they built was the bevel drive, OHC, KTT. K for camshaft, TT for Tourist Trophy, which they won. This 1939 Velocette KTT Mark 8 was the first iteration with a rear swing arm, but also the last version, production would end in 1949.

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From the seller

1939 Velocette KTT Mk VIII

Factory built racer with 350cc single cylinder overhead cam engine. Engine # KTT/1074, Frame #  SF/257 Purchased from original owner/racer approximately fifteen years ago out of South Africa. Sporting later year Velocette hydraulic front suspension and full width front brake. Later year rear shocks mounted with original rear “air shocks”  present and included in the sale. Very rare and desirable pre war British racer.  An excellent investment!

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Early in the production of the KTT, Velocette developed the positive stop foot shifter. The Velocette KTT success at Grand Prix racing was helped along by riders like Stanley Wood who gave valuable input into design and performance.  It was Stanley’s suggestion to move the engine forward and lower in the frame to improve handling. Over the 8 Mark versions, other improvements included an aluminum cylinder head, enlarged over time for better cooling and therefore more power. In 1937, Velocette designer Harold Willis borrowed air suspension developed for airplane landing gear, and grafted them onto a KTT to create one of the first rear swing arm suspension.

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Velocette made motorcycles from 1904 until 1971, but their most successful Grand Prix racer was the KTT produced from 1929-1949. This 1939 Mark 8 KTT is one of those pre-war British racing singles which has had a few alterations over the years. The original ‘oleo pneumatic’ shocks have been replaced, but are included with the bike. Also seen on this KTT is a large for its time front brake, but still with only a single brake shoe.  If you want to play L.R.Higgins and become a Private Owner of this KTT, take it to the track, preferably one on an island, and put yourself and this KTT to the test. BB

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1952 Norton Manx 40M

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The “Norton Winning Way” was a catch phrase that was used by Norton to sell on Monday after they won on Sunday. One of the most successful Nortons ever was its OHC Manx racer. It was offered in both the Senior 500cc 30M, and the Junior 350cc like this 1952 Norton Manx. The Manx name was a tribute to the Isle of Man and the annual race around it which has tested machine and man since 1907. The first Senior race was won by a motorcycle with Norton painted on the tank, albeit one with another manufactures V-twin cradled in the frame.

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From the seller

1952 Norton Manx Engine/Frame #G10M2-46939

This is a rare opportunity to own a legend. The Norton Manx, both 350cc and 500cc were the dominant racing motorcycles of their era, in fact, these motorcycles still dominate the Vintage Motorcycle Racing Circuit today.

This Norton Manx model 40M is authentic in every way

This Manx has a very interesting history.  It was last ridden prior to my purchase in the 1993 Isle of Man Lap of Honor by 1948 TT winner of the 350cc junior class Ron Hazelhurst.

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The Manx name was first added to the Norton Internationals that had been specially prepared to race at the Isle of Man before WWII, but following the war the racing Nortons were called Manx.  From 1947 until the end of production in 1962, the OHC singles were the motorcycles that dominated the start lists, and the podiums of world class racing. If you wanted to go racing, you ordered a Norton Manx, and because of this, apparently lots of people ordered a Manx.

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Sometimes it’s who has owned it

With the assistance of Renowned Manx Guru Maurice Candy at the No Nonsense Raceway in 2004, the motorcycle was prepped, started and ridden around the pits. Mr. Hazelhurst had informed the previous owner from whom I purchased the Manx that this Manx had been sold new to the Prince of Singapore. Unfortunately the Royal Family had a dim view of the Prince participating in motorsports. Due to the disapproval of his family, the Prince purchased the motorcycle under the name of the English mechanic he had hired, Palmer Kyle. There is documentation supporting the fact that Palmer Kyle had ordered the motorcycle from Norton and there is no name inserted for the intended rider.

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The engine of the Norton Manx was the heart, but over the years, it was the Featherbed frame that was able to keep the heart winning. The McCandless brothers of England had developed a frame which out-classed all other frames. When it was combined with the Norton Manx from 1950 onward, the frame is what was able to carrier the 30 year old engine design onto the podium.

This 1952 Manx Norton was produced 2 years before Norton pulled out of Grand Prix racing, but over a decade before the Norton Manx was offered to the Public. The success of the Manx is still felt today even though Norton, the original one that is, no longer makes Norton Manx race bikes, there is a healthy after market for Manx engines, frames, brakes ect. You will not be hard pressed to find replacements if you were to bend or break something if you go racing, like the Prince did so many years ago. BB

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The tale of two John Player Nortons

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Norton and their Winning Ways were making a comeback in the 1970’s, and with the backing of John Player Tobacco Company, they were back on the track. The Norton Atlas had grown into the Norton Commando, and with the addition of a rubber isolation system, the vibration was tamed, and with a total of 850cc, the Norton became a Super Bike, again. These two John Player Norton’s may be “paint editions” and not have the twin headlight fairing to emulate the JPN endurance racers, but you are getting possibly the pinnacle and swan song Norton.

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From the first seller

For sale is my 1975 Mk.3 Norton Commando John Player paint edition. The bike has had a full engine rebuild with forged JE pistons, Black Diamond valves, Superblend bearings, re-sleeved Amals, Boyer ignition, new camshaft, upgraded starter wiring, and new British made peashooter mufflers.The iso’s were also rebuilt….Bike has new British made stainless steel rims with new spokes in stock size and has new Dunlop Roadholder K81’s with maybe 1000 miles total since I mounted them….The bike was repainted very nicely in it’s stock JPS paint scheme. The seat cover is in nice shape but the foam should at some point be replaced or better yet, upgrade to a Corbin seat.

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Both of these bikes offer electric starters. These were first offered in 1975, also introduced in 1975 was something that wasn’t new, but something required by the Design Company that is the United States regulation committee. They said that all motorcycle have to have the brake on the right, and shifters on the left. This Design Company that was the United States ruined a lot of good designs, both motorcycle and automobiles.

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From the second seller

1975 Norton Commando John Player Edition. Numbers Matching, Excellent original condition,  down to the black cap silencers and very well maintained. Includes detailed service records since new. I purchased this from the original owner who bought the bike new from the Norton Dealer in MN. The mileage and paint is original with service records to back it up. Starts and runs excellent, doesn’t smoke and the carb is tuned to idle at that perfect Norton low rumble. The electric starter has been rebuilt and upgraded to the 4-brush starter, it works great (it will also start first kick, if you prefer to kick start it). The original air box, tool kit and service manual will be included in the final sale. I put about 400 trouble free miles on it last year.

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Now it was difficult to get a sense of the difference between the full fairing JPN replica racers and the John Player paint edition, but I was able to find the below numbers for performance. The key may be in that the JPN full fairing seems to have been offered for 1974-75, and the electric start from 1975-78. The Tobacco Company left the Norton racing effort rather quickly and it would make sense that they would not want to advertise a sponsor that was no longer sponsoring Norton. Something else that these two auctions might give is a sense of how much buyers value original pain. At the time of this writing the first Norton John player with its re-paint has 9 bids up to $5700. The second Norton John Player with its original paint has 30 bidders up to $10,000. BB

John Player Norton Commando
Years produced:
 1974
Total production: 200 (est.)
Claimed power: 50hp @ 5,900rpm
Top speed: 115mph (est.)
Engine type: 828cc air-cooled OHV parallel twin
Weight (dry): 435lb (198kg)
Price then: $2,995
MPG: 40-50

 

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1974 Kawasaki H1R replica

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The same year that Honda introduced the CB750, Kawasaki gave the world something as special, but with a little more blue stroke. Offered from 1969 until 1975 the Kawasaki H1 gave the rider lots of power, but lacked the frame design to keep the power to the ground in the safest way; it was described as “the triple with a ripple.” In 1970, Kawasaki took the H1R racing and with rider Ginger Molloy aboard, they were able to gather enough points to come second to Giacomo “Ago” Agostini and his MV Augusta. This 1974 Kawasaki H1 is dressed up to look like the H1R.

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From the seller

From the serial numbers on the motor, it looks to be a 1975 H1 motor. The motor is brand new. I pulled off a cylinder and looked at the piston to check. It does not have the stock carbs and although I am not sure what size they are, they do look brand new. If I were to guess, I would say it has 32 or 34 Mikuni carbs. The cylinders are also ported. The right side head has a broken fin. Look at the pictures to see. I pulled the right head off of this to show the brand new piston. This motor is clean enough to eat off of. There is not a speck of grease, oil, or dirt on it anywhere. The aluminum is perfect. There is no oxidation or weathering on the aluminum cases. They look close to new. This bike does not have the dry clutch kit.

 

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The way the seller describes the bike, it seems like they had recently purchased it. They give the best, vaguest description of a bike that I have read in a while. They state that it appears no oil has seen the inside of the oil tank. The seller has not started it up, or appears to know if it would start up. Read the complete description to understand what you might be getting.

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More from the seller

This bike has custom chambers. It is safety wired as well. It has DID aluminum rims, 17 front and rear. The front is 2.5 by 17 and the rear is 3 by 17. The bike has Marzocchi rear shocks. If I were to keep it, I would probably put a better set of pipes on it as these pipes look like they are reworks factory pipe products. All bolts look new, no oxidation on any of the bolts or aluminum. There are a couple of small little scratches on the gas tank just from being moved around. The bodywork and paint are close to mint. No scrapes or scratches. This is done up in the right color of Kawi green.

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I was able to find some power numbers on a racing H1R from 1972, the last year that it was campaigned. 75hp at 9000rpm, with its 5 speed gear box it was good in excess of 160mph depending on gearing. The major visual and performance difference between the replica for sale and the as-raced H1R is the front break. Because 2-strokes offer no engine braking, the biggest and best brake was needed to insure that the rider was able to slow for the first corner of the course. The original H1R used huge Four Leading Shoe drum brakes because at the time, were more advanced then disk brakes. The replica offered has the advantage of dual disk.

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Internal performance differences can only be guessed at, but numbers I was able to find for an original 1974 H1 were 59hp at 8000rpm with fuel/air duties being handled by 28mm Mikuni’s. With my eye calipers, it looks like this replica may have added a few mm to the bank of carbs, the seller guesses 32 or 34. To handle the exhaust, the money shot shows that something more then stock was used. So if you are to pick up this 1974 Kawasaki H1R replica, you might have to spend some time sorting, but the end result should be very rewarding. BB

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1967 Gilera 106

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Gilera has a long tradition of racing with six 500 GP champions from 1950 until 1959. I don’t know if you can name a motorcycle today which has won as much in a ten year period. But this 1967 Gilera 106, manufactured only 10 years from their last Grand Prix Championship could be ordered through the mail. Sears was a distributor for the Gilera 106, and within the pages of their catalogue, would be the form where you could check “Sears 106 motorcycle” and a Championship breed motorcycle would come to your door.

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From the seller

THIS IS A VERY NICE 1967 GILERA 106 I HAVE HAD IN STORAGE FOR AUCTION THAT RUN VERY WELL, RECENT TUNE UP BY LOCAL VINTAGE SHOP HERE IN BRIGHTON,MICH. THESE LIGHTWEIGHT BIKES ARE VERY RELIABLE AND ARE SHOW STOPPERS WHERE EVER YOU GO – AS ALL MY BIKES VINTAGE TRACK DAYS AT MID-OHIO ARE THE INTENTIONS FOR MY POSSESSION OF THIS GILERA 106.THESE WERE GILERA BUILT AND DISTRIBUTED IN THE 1960S BY SEARS AS WERE THE VESPAS AND BENELLI. THE BIKE HAS NEW TIRES[NEVER RIDDEN] NEW SET COVER, LEVERS,CLEARCOAT ON TANK – NOT A SHOW BIKE WAS INTENDED FOR TRACK USE – NOT GOING TO HAPPEN THIS YEAR FOR MYSELF. THERE IS A BRAKE LIGHT AND A LIC. BRACKET – THIS IS STREET LEGAL.DISPLAY,RIDE OR CONTINUE TO RESTORE.PAYMENT DEPOSIT PAYPAL – BALANCE DUE CHECK, CASH OR PAYPAL. SHIPPING UP TO BUYER,WILL ASSIST IN LOADING. VERY NICE BIKE. THANKS FOR LOOKING.   MS

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Sears had first offered their catalogue in 1893, allowing people to order almost anything through the mail. By 1948 Sears offered Cushman scooters through the mail. In 1951 you could order a Henry J 6 cylinder deluxe car. Sears re-branded these motor vehicles under their own Allstate brand. Between 1966 and 1969 Sears used their own name and the Sears 106 was offered. Without knowing it, Sears Customers were getting a Race proven, Championship DNA racing bike through the catalogue.

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This 1967 Gilera 106 is dressed up to go to the track, and the seller states that it has done just that. There is very little performance information found on the world wide web for the 106, but I did see someone claiming a top speed of 60mph. When it comes down to it, racing is racing, and throwing your leg over this small Italian mail order bike, you may not go fast, but will have some fast fun. BB

1951 Maserati 125cc Prototype

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So using the great wide web, I Learned Today, that Adolfo Orsi was the patriarch of the Maserati industrial corporation that produced spark plugs, batteries, motorcycle, cars and probably a lot of other things. In 1953 the Fabbrica Candele Accumulatori Maserati S.p.A.  was divided from the parent company and give to a family member to run. This divisions core base for manufacture was in batteries and spark plugs, but with the purchase of Italmoto in 1953, a true motorcycle manufacture, it started to put the Maserati Trident on motorcycle gas tanks. This 1951 Maserati Prototype could well have been a study to see  if Maserati had the ability to manufacture motorcycles with their current, industrial production base. The answer seemed to be “No.”

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From the seller

This is a 1951 Maserati 125 Prototype Motorcycle. It has been completely restored and has been fired up after restoration. The engine is all sand cast aluminum, very fast and loud! This bike has all the hard welds as a prototype should. I was told that this was Bruno Lombardi’s motorcycle and his mechanic had serviced it, still researching for documentation on that.

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I tried to find some information on Brumo Lombardi, but was only able to find him listed as one of Maserati’s factory racers. It looks like the team was involved in many of the races which took place on the roadways of Italy. The Mille Miglia is the best know of these races, but other races with the title of Tour of Italy (Motogiro d’ltalia), and Milan to Taranto were also huge draws to manufactures and spectators. It was in 1957 that these spectacular races came to an end when multiple spectators were killed when a car went into the crowds who were watching the racers of the Mille Miglia.

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This 1951 Maserati Prototype is going to be unique in that it is one of one. The rear suspension is a “plunger” type, were there are two springs which suspend the frame above the rear wheel. This appears to have been replaced with shocks and swing arms when production started. This type of rear end was also called a “garden gate” because there was little to stop the side to side movement of the rear wheel and axel, and it would swing freely like a gate.  Small Italian bikes were produced for a nation who need to be transports for very few Lira, but today, those same motorcycles have asking prices which are far from their MSRP. BB

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1951 Triumph Tiger T-100

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There are motorcycles that hold their place in time and space. They become a reference point for motorcycles, they measure what came before, and after. This 1951 Triumph Tiger T-100 is one of those motorcycles. Other motorcycles of this era are measured up against the Tiger, and motorcycles that came after are compared to the performance and style. This has become more apparent with retro-styling motorcycles that are being produced today.

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From the seller

Frame up restoration of Triumph’s venerable 500 cc sprung hub  twin.  The alloy Tiger is set apart from the standard iron twin, having cast alloy head, cylinders with 8 stud factory pattern, polished bores and forged alloy pistons.   Meticulous and correct Australian restoration including correct nuts, bolts, washers; engine completely rebuilt.  Machine was authenticated by Triumph factory guru Harry Woolridge at time of restoration in 1989.   Everything works as from factory including lighting system and original Smith’s speedo/odometer.   Starts 1st kick, idles smoothly, accelerates strong and shifts smoothly.  The machine has been ridden regularly; maintained in top condition.

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Edward Turner designed the T-100 and its predecessor, the Speed Twin, before WWII. He was not the first to design a parallel twin, but what he was able to do with it made history. The T100 was first offered in 1939, but with the troubles ahead, the Tiger didn’t get its traction until civilian production started up again in 1946. And from the beginning the T-100 was marketed as a sports bike with 1939 model taken off the dealership floor and put to the test. A Triumph Tiger was ridden on a 1,800 mile shake down run on English roads, then taken to the high banks of the Brookland track and ridden for 6 continues hours averaging 79mph. The Tiger was shown to be reliable and fast. Would your motorcycle be able to match this?

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To take it one step further, this 1951 Triumph Tiger has the addition of having an alloy engine. The Tiger originally was fit from the factory with a cast iron unit, heavy, but dependable. The addition of the alloy option later in its production came from a unique source. During the war, Triumph re-purposed their engine to be used as a stationary airplane generator, and this required it to be lighter. After the war, people re-purposed the re-purposed, lighter generators back into a motorcycle engines, creating a better motorcycle. BB

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1976 Rickman BSA Rocket 3

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I want to apologize for the poor quality of pictures, but this 1976 Rickman BSA Rocket 3 is such a great project I wanted to share it. As regular readers will know, Rickman was a frame company that produced great frames to overcome any shortcoming of larger manufactures frames. Think your BSA frame was a little springy for its 750cc triple? Give Rickman a call.

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From the seller

VERY RARE RICKMAN BSA TRIPLE CR ROAD RACER, BUILT IN LIMITED NUMBERS.  THIS BIKE WAS BROUGHT BACK FROM THE UK BY AN AIRFORCE CAPTAIN IN 1976 AND IS TITLED AS 76 BUT WAS ACTUALLY BUILT IN 1974.

TITLED BY THE ENGINE NUMBER A75R 001 SERV, BELIVED TO BE A SET OF SERVICE CASES ORDERED AND BUILT FOR THE CHASSIS.  IVE ALWAYS WANTED TO RESTORE THE BIKE BUT DO NOT THINK I WILL EVER FIND THE TIME SO ILL PASS IT ALONG.

THE BIKE IS MOSTLY COMPLETE AS SHOWN, THE ENGINE WAS OUT WHEN I BOUGHT IT SO IVE SET IN IT THE CHASSIS IN THE INTEREST OF KEEPING EVERYTHING TOGETHER. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT I HAVE FOR THE BIKE.

VERY RARE AND COOL PROJECT FOR SOMEONE.  THE RICKMAN BOOK SHOWS THIS BIKE DELIVERED TO RIVETTS? IM NOT SURE WHAT THAT IS MAYBE A SHOP IN THE UK

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By the time the British industry had produced a Triple for the public, the world had already seen the world changing CB750. So when the combined company of BSA/Triumph finally got their triple to market, instead of game changing, it became an also ran. The 741cc engine offered by both Triumph, as the Trident, and BSA as the Rocket 3 generated 58hp at 7500rpm. This was good for a top speed of 120mph. Not bad for an extra cylinder grafted onto and engine design from 1939.

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This 1976 BSA Rocket 3 in Rickman frame is a project waiting for the finish line. The pictures on the auction are out of focus, so I took the liberty of searching for some better picture of complete bikes. The small ones are the out of focus pictures by the sellers. The larger ones are completed bikes which the buyer can use to dream and outline their own build. BB

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1979 Yamaha Daytona Special

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The world was changing, and when the calendar flipped from 1979 to 1980, one of the things that did not make it was the street legal, 2-stroke motorcycle. This 1979 Yamaha Daytona Special was a one year only production bike which began as a celebration of Yamaha’s success at the Daytona track. It became the last year 2-stokes to be sold for the streets of America.

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From the seller

  • One of a kind 1979 Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special.
  • This is the only year the Daytona Special was made and the last year that Yamaha made the RD 400.
  • Fitted with a custom modified TZ250 fairing in factory works bike colors.
  • Other features include: Expansion chambers, fiber reeds, clip on handle bars, custom built rear sets (with buddy pegs), Michelin racing compound tires.
  • Second owner.
  • 16,669 miles.
  • New battery, recent brake fluid flush/bleed.
  • Always garaged and covered. Rarely ridden since the early 90’s. Last licensed 2012.

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Yamaha had first offered the the RD350 in 1973,  and had used much of what had been learned on the race track, and put it into Yamaha street bikes. One of these lessons was the use of a reed valve induction system. This offered the street bike a much wider power band, and additional air/fuel to help keep the piston cool and moving up and down. Nothing ended the joy of riding 2-strokes then a seized piston. 1975 was the fist year of  the RD400 and with the increase in displacement came improvements in the  electrics, handling, and miles per gallon. Further tuning had also tamed the the engine a little more.

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Back of the baseball card

1979 Yamaha RD400F Daytona Special
Claimed power: 30hp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 98mph (period test)
Engine: 398 air-cooled 2-stroke parallel twin, 64mm x 54mm bore and stroke, 6.4:1 compression ratio
Weight (w/have tank fuel): 372lb (169kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.6gal (40-50mpg)

 

Kenny Roberts and Mike Baldwin were both Yamaha riders and both were dominating AMA racing in the United States. In 1979 the RD400F Daytona Special was commissioned to celebrate Yamaha’s winning ways at the famous track. But with increased EPA restrictions and regulations, the Daytona was also the end. The new regulations required extra hoses, valves and do dads to cut down on emissions. A large request from an engine designed to create as much blue smoke as power.

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Honest seller notes

Now the bad stuff: Speedo is sluggish (I have been told the oil in them gels from infrequent use), It is missing the headlight high/low switch (it is set on low beam), the seat is starting to separate at the front seam and is showing some checking and one small crack (see picture), one small dent in lower front fender.

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The seller of this 1979 Yamaha Daytona Special added a great full fairing to this last hurrah of 2-strokes in the US. The RD400F had evolved from its early incarnations to become a much smoother and less dramatic motorcycle that could have become so much more. But with the world turning from 2-strokes to 4 strokes, Yamaha ended an era on top. BB