Tagged: 500

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

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 R Front

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

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

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 L Rear

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

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 R Rear

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

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

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

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

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Dash

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

-tad

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 L Front

As Seen On TV: Fonzie’s 1949 Triumph Trophy 500 for Sale

1949 Triumph Trophy 500

Normally we use the term “sportbike” on this site to refer to street and track bikes with a roadracing style or intent. But obviously offroading is a sport, so I’m going to stretch our usual definition to include today’s iconic motorcycle: the Triumph Trophy 500 as seen on the TV show “Happy Days.”

1949 Triumph Trophy 500 L Side

Today, rebels without causes and 1%-ers wouldn’t be caught dead with anything but one of Milwaukee’s finest slung between their legs. But Henry Winkler’s Arthur Fonzarelli was a different kind of rebel, a good kid with a rebellious streak, a kinder, gentler tough guy and his greaser image harkens back to an earlier era, when bad boys rode whatever they wanted. In fact, the original motorcycle hooligan, Marlon Brando’s character in The Wild One, rode a Triumph Thunderbird. His whole crew actually rode British iron, although rival gang members rode Harleys.

1949 Triumph Trophy 500 R Side Engine

Named for Triumph’s success at the Italian International Six Day Trial in 1948, the original Trophy was an offroad special derived from the Speed Twin. A rigid frame housed a 498cc parallel-twin backed by a four-speed gearbox, with a 1951 redesign adding an aluminum head and barrels.

This particular example isn’t in particularly nice shape and, if not for the association with the show, you might simply dismiss it as a “barn find” in need of a restoration.

1949 Triumph Trophy 500 L Side Engine

From the original eBay listing: Happy Days 1949 Triumph Trophy 500 for Sale

“The Fonz” Henry Winkler’s  Iconic  Fully Documented Happy Days Televison Series  used 1949 Triumph Trophy 500 Motorcycle.

Found by Cycle World Magazine and later sold and fully documented by Bonhams’ Auctions.

Sold in its unrestored “as filmed condition” with all its studio scars and its almost 70 years of age. (Fully documented and vetted by Bonham’s Auctions)

Built by non other than Bud Ekins, the premier builder for the studios and sold by him to the prior owner.

The Television show ran for 10 years from 1974 to 1984 making it one of the most beloved television series in history.

So iconic that his motorcycle jacket is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Museum and a toy model was made and sold throughout the world.

This could be one of the most iconic motorcycles ever!

AYYYE!  Thumbs up! 

1949 Triumph Trophy 500 Tank

Certainly the seller is probably correct that this is one of the most iconic motorcycles ever. Maybe not among motorcycle fans in particular, but certainly among people in general. With a $100,000 Buy It Now price, you’re certainly not paying for the machine itself. Instead, this is a bit of entertainment history. So what to do with it? I’d keep it as-is in terms of patina, but I’d give it a good mechanical restoration so I could put on my Schott Perfecto 618 and ride it to motorcycle shows, hair slicked back in a pompadour, like the rest of the romeos wore…

-tad

1949 Triumph Trophy 500 Fonz

Big Beautiful Single: 1957 Moto Guzzi Falcone Sport for Sale

1957 Moto Guzzi Falcone R Side

It’s been a while since we’ve posted up one of the elegantly simple Guzzi singles, so when I came across this classic Falcone, I thought it was high time we went old school. Or, well even older school… This 1957 Falcone is a pretty late version of their classic horizontal single that offered a winning combination of practicality, handling, and good looks. Gone are the earlier bikes’ exposed hairpin valves, which is a shame for the appearance, but likely a great idea for riders who plan to use their bikes: with that head so close to the ground and to the front wheel, you’ve got to figure grit and grime are a real pain for regular users. And make no mistake: these were definitely meant to be ridden.

1957 Moto Guzzi Falcone Engine

With a very low center of gravity, small frontal area, and a huge external flywheel that allowed the bike to lope along at tractor-like rpms, the Falcone was nimble, durable, flexible, and handled well. With a seemingly inadequate 23hp produced by the 500cc engine, it’s the bike’s locomotive torque that allowed the bike to lope on up to an 85mph top speed, a very respectable speed for a single-cylinder motorcycle!

1957 Moto Guzzi Falcone Headlight

This example is in excellent condition cosmetically and is obviously a runner, my very favorite kind of bike.

From the original eBay listing: 1957 Moto Guzzi Falcone Sport for Sale

Show or ride, low miles .

This bike starts easy, runs great, drives straight , stops well, looks great. Has won shows! Belonged to two very discerning  collectors G. Webster and B. Melvin. They don’t come much better than this! The price is  a bargain for the quality of the Machine. $22,000. 

The bike has been thru an extensive restoration previous to my ownership. Since I bought it I have driven it some and sorted it well. Its a beautiful show bike that you can ride to the show. I have a Large collection of bikes and have been buying them and selling them for over 50 Years. For the last 20 Years I have had an interest in owning a Moto Guzzi Falcone Sport and I have looked at a lot of them, before I found one in this condition. If there are nicer ones, they may not be for sale, because I have seen few nicer than this one. Is it perfect, probably not. Truth is I have never seen or owned that perfect dream bike. There is always something. But I think most of you will find it near that mark. There is nothing significant that I have seen wrong with it.

Oh just remembered, one of the tool box covers has a latch that sometimes doesn’t lock well. Needs an adjustment.

1957 Moto Guzzi Falcone Engine2

Oh noes! The tool box cover latch isn’t working all that well! Well forget it, then… With a $22,000 Buy it Now price, the seller is obviously asking premium money for this bike, but you’re unlikely to find an example that both looks this good and runs as well as this one is supposed to run. It’s not clear if this one’s been restored or not but, given the condition, I’ll assume it has at least been repainted.

It’s a shame that Guzzi’s current owners over at the Piaggio Group have decided that the big Italian twins will forever fill the retro niche, since Aprilia is clearly intended to be their flagship sporting brand. But that’s a shame, because Moto Guzzi has such a history making sports motorcycles, and that legacy will remain unfulfilled for the foreseeable future.

-tad

1957 Moto Guzzi Falcone L Side

 

Brooklands Bomber: 1960 BSA Gold Star for Sale

1960 BSA Gold Star R Front

In the past twenty years, we’ve gotten so used to artificially-condensed product life cycles that it’s easy to forget how durable modern machines can be. That’s one of the things that makes vintage bikes so popular: manufacturing and technology didn’t really allow for things to be as reliable as they are today, but they were built to last, and to be owned and maintained by normal people. Just look at the BSA Gold Star: built between 1938 and 1963, it had a life span that would make a Yamaha R6 blush.

1960 BSA Gold Star L Rear

Simple, reliable, and powerful, the 500cc overhead-valve single weighed under 400lbs dry and put power through a four-speed gearbox. Named for the award given to bikes that could lap the famous Brooklands circuit at over 100mph. A smaller, 350cc version was also built and both were campaigned in both on and offroad competition.

1960 BSA Gold Star R Engine

Today’s Gold Star is obviously from later in the production run, but not much changed between the 1950 and 1960 models.

From the original eBay listing: 1960 BSA Gold Star for Sale

BSA Gold Star 1960 very original and clean has been stored for years and cannot verify mileage but I would not be surprised if it is the correct mileage. Starts second kick cold and first kick warm very quiet engine no smoke sounds very tight. the front fender has some peeling chrome and the horn is missing. Pick up from Prescott AZ will help with loading if commercial carrier is used. The motorcycle is super clean and I hate to part with it as it will be very difficult to replace.

1960 BSA Gold Star R Rear

As the seller indicates, the chrome on the front fender is peeling pretty badly, but this is otherwise a very nice example. While modern instruments may be very functional, accurate, and reliable, but those Smiths clocks are works of art! And that chrome and blue tank is a combination I can’t remember seeing and is very classy.

-tad

1960 BSA Gold Star Clocks

Perfect Recreation: 1961 Norton Manx Replica for Sale

1961 Norton Manx Replica R Front

For many vintage motorcycle enthusiasts, the Commando is what first springs to mind when you mention Norton. But while that bike was stunning to look at and fast, its design wasn’t really cutting-edge, even when new. For vintage racing fans however, the name Norton probably conjures up images of this bike, the Norton Manx, a bike whose technical specification set the standard for privateer racing in a career that spanned 20 years, an almost impossible-to-imagine longevity in a sport where last year’s bike isn’t a classic, it’s just slow.

1961 Norton Manx Replica R Side Rear

The single-cylinder engine came in two flavors: 500 and 350cc’s. Both used reliable and precise bevel drive and tower shafts to work the dual overhead cams. But while the engine was sophisticated and reasonably powerful, it was just part of the picture and far from the bike’s defining characteristic. Instead, it was the bike’s “featherbed” frame that was the standout feature. The innovative frame was lightweight, stiff, and featured a swingarm rear for excellent roadholding that allowed it to compete against much more powerful machines.

1961 Norton Manx Replica Dash

Christened the Featherbed frame by racer Harold Daniel who described the experience of racing the bike like “riding on a featherbed.” That’s obviously a far cry from the “riding on a bedframe” experience of most motorcycles built when motorcycle frame technology was still in its infancy. But amazingly, the Manx was still winning races almost ten years later…

1961 Norton Manx Replica L Side Engine

So the bikes were stone-axe reliable, nimble, and made decent power, making them hugely versatile tools for the wide variety of events held during that period. In fact, the folks at Molnar will still be happy to build you a perfect replica of the original Manx today, if you have the cash…

From the original eBay listing: 1961 Norton Manx Replica for Sale

I have for sale here a “new” Norton Manx Replica.  This bike was built in the image of a 1961 Manx.  The bike is a re-creation, built to modern standards.  I am relisting the motorcycle with lower Buy It Now and lower reserve.  It was previously listed as a 1962 Manx Replica but Andy Molnar pointed out the single-sided brake is proper for 1961 and earlier, not 1962.

The bike’s features are:

  • New, never run, Molnar Precision Limited 500 cc. DOHC motor.  I have a copy of the original build sheet.
  • Believed new Mick Hemmings Quaife 5 spd. transmission.
  • New Molnar Precision Lightweight beltdrive
  • New Featherbed frame produced by Andover Norton
  • Newly strung alloy wheels, built by Buchanan on proper period magnesium hubs, all new bearings/axles
  • New Ken McIntosh oil and fuel tanks
  • New tachometer 
  • New Amal GP carburetor and Matchbox floatbowl
  • New controls including levers, throttle, rearsets and all cables
  • New seat
  • New exhaust pipe and megaphone
  • Number plates are alloy, not plastic, and new
  • All new nuts and bolts, proper Manx rifle-drilled where appropriate.  The number plate and fender bolts are aerodynamic stainless from Racing Norton
  • Rebuilt, period correct Featherbed forks, new internals, new rear suspension units
  • New alloy fenders
  • New fairing and windscreen

This bike has recently been professionally completed and as noted, has not been run, in respect for its “new” condition.  The Molnar motor was factory equipped with a PVL electronic racing ignition hidden in the stock magneto housing, and initial timing was set at the factory.  (NOTE:  If you intend to purchase this motorcycle to race in a class that prohibits electronic ignitions, I do have a newly rebuilt Lucas magneto that is available separately.)

Andy Molnar is well aware of this motor and will be pleased to discuss it with a purchaser.  The initial cost of the motor is roughly half the Buy It Now price.

An individual purchasing this motorcycle to display will be pleased with the beauty of the bike and the quality of construction and the fact that there has never been petrol or oil in the tanks (I believe this makes international shipping easier as well).  A racer acquiring the bike to compete will need to safety-wire as required by sanctioning bodies.

1961 Norton Manx Replica Shifter

Keep in mind that, in this case, “replica” is underselling it a bit. Molnar makes what are basically recreations of the original Manx bikes, similar to “continuation” Cobras. They’re the real deal in every way, except that they weren’t built fifty years ago. In many ways, this is actually more desirable to anyone who wants to use the bike in anger, since they won’t be risking an irreplaceable piece of racing history and will get a very authentic experience racing one of the most perfectly designed and executed motorcycles of all time.

-tad

1961 Norton Manx Replica L Side

Cheap Speed: 1975 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 R Side Rear

Although “Mach III” is a pretty ambitious name for a motorcycle that can only just top 115mph, it probably felt much faster to test riders of Kawasaki’s two-stroke three-cylinder rocket, given the questionable brakes and less-than-secure handling. 60hp might not sound like a big deal today, but it came on in a frantic, two-stroke rush that invoked unintended wheelies, all accompanied by a chainsaw-snarl soundtrack.

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 L Side Rear

The Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III was actually pretty par for the course for big-bore Japanese roadbikes of the 1970’s, a formula that generally included a powerful, sophisticated powerplant suspended in a chassis just barely able to contain the engine’s fury, with brakes added almost as an afterthought. Spindly forks and frame flex led to a reputation for wayward and even lethal handling, in a case like this one.

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 Cockpit

But in a strange way, this was exactly what the US market really called for: in the quarter mile and stop light drag races, power was king, and fuel consumption below 20mpg was no big deal in an era of cheap gas. Buyers wanted cheap speed and the H1 delivered. Brakes? Those are just so you can stop and pick up your winnings after a race, or pull up to the pumps to refuel, right? Handling? Well as long as you can stay in your lane for 1,320 feet at a time, the handling’s just fine, thanks.

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 L Bar Detail

At the time, a lack of refinement in the package might have been considered a distinct disadvantage. Instead, the straight-line speed, combined with a low price point to create a cult bike that was a legend even in its own lifetime.

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 R Side Rear Detail

From the original eBay listing: 1975 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III for Sale

This is my 75  Kawasaki H1. I purchased this motorcycle many years ago. It is not stock but it’s very retro. It has had motor work, 0.50 pistons, rings, bearings and new gaskets. It also has pods, reconditioned and re jetted carburetors to go with the nice set of chrome Denco chambers. New tires and tubes. The front caliper was also rebuilt with new pads. New sprockets and chain. The tank, side covers and cowl were painted back in the late 70’s and are retro to that time period. The decals were added on and clear coated recently. I don’t think you can get a paint job like this now and if you could I bet it would be very expensive. The large metal flake really stands out. Inside the tank is clean. The chrome is in very nice original condition. I replaced the fork ears with NOS ones a few years back. All the electrical works and it starts up in 1 or 2 sometimes 3 kicks. It runs well and has that snappy two stroke sound . Smooth acceleration and quick braking. I have kept it stored in a warm dry area in my house and has been well taken care of. It’s a very noticeable motorcycle and does attract quite a bit of attention when I do take it out. Frame # H1F-39057  Engine # KAE 109069 mid year production model.

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 Side Panel

As the seller points out, this bike features a gorgeous, period-look metal-flake paint job that may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you’re buying a 70’s Kawasaki, you might as well go all-in. Those Denco expansion chambers are gorgeous as well, and this bike looks to be really well put together. Bidding is very active on this bike, with less than 24 hours to go and bidding just north of $6,000 as I write this, although I expect that to go up significantly before the auction is all over. But if you’re looking for a nice H1, it might be worth keeping an eye on this auction to see if you can snipe yourself a good deal…

-tad

1975 Kawasaki H1 500 R Side

Brooklands Bomber: 1954 BSA Gold Star for Sale

1954 BSA Gold Star R Front

Built between 1938 and 1963, the BSA Gold Star is the classic British single and one of the most desirable classic sportbikes of all time. Displacing approximately 500cc, the alloy OHV-powered single weighed 380 lbs dry and featured a 4-speed gearbox. The “Gold Star” name commemorates a BSA that lapped the famous Brooklands racing circuit at over 100mph and was awarded the gold star pin to commemorate the achievement, although that original machine was a racing special running on alcohol with a 13:1 compression-ratio that might have made daily use a bit of a chore…

1954 BSA Gold Star L Rear

The first road bike to wear the Gold Star name displaced 496cc and was built up until the outbreak of World War II. Postwar, BSA introduced a 348cc version of the Gold Star, and this lightweight, basically hand-built hot rod was successful in a number of different competition classes, including both on-road and offroad racing. A 500cc version was reintroduced in 1950 and built alongside the 350 until 1956, when the 350 was discontinued.

1954 BSA Gold Star Clocks

This Gold Star features the optional “CB” engine with a slightly different appearance but, more importantly, reinforced internals for increased performance. This exact bike dyno’d at 38.2 bhp when new: Gold Stars were tested at the factory before being delivered to verify performance of each machine.

The seller includes quite a bit of history, along with maintenance and restoration history. From the original eBay listing: 1954 BSA Gold Star for Sale

History: Included documentation as provided by the Gold Star Owners Club, Great Britain Registrar shows that this bike dispatched to Hap Alzina, USA in Clubman trim on 4 December 1954 with engine number CB34GS308 and frame number CB32 1694.  A copy of the original factory Engine Brake Test is also supplied and shows this bike was tested in clubman configuration and produced a maximum B.H.P. of 38.2 at 6500 rpm fitted with a GP carb on Oct 21, 1954.

Also included in the auction is the original Lucas Mag/Dyno with new points installed.  There is nothing wrong with this mag/dyno.  I ran the bike with the Lucas installed for approximately 300 miles before installing the BTH.  I installed the BTH because I wanted the ability to set timing and forget about it and the advance curve.  I ran a BTH in my Velocette and loved it.  Note that the tag (see pics) on the BTH indicates Lucas.  BTH Components goes out of their way to retain authenticity in appearance.  The BTH is solid state and makes starting a breeze and allows the bike to idle nicely with the monobloc installed.  The TT carb is a racing carb and does not have an idle adj/stop screw, however, when up to running temp the bike does idle nicely with the TT.  There is also an original BSA tool kit included.  I did not take pics of the tool kit but can do upon request.

I installed the Nova Racing gear cluster because I was unhappy with the ratios of the original scrambler box in the rolling hills here in Northern California.  It doesn’t get any sweeter than a Nova 5 spd.  The clutch plates are near new with very little use.  I have put less than 1500 miles on the bike since installing the TT carb, Nova 5 spd, and BTH mag. 

This is essentially a new CB34 Gold Star with original engine and frame numbers as shipped from the factory in 1954.  The bike has been well cared for and is in pristine condition.  The title is clear and in my name.  It is registered in the state of California and expires in Feb this year.  I will most likely non-op the bike if it does not sell before Feb 16 as I am unable to ride it due to health issues. 

1954 BSA Gold Star L Front

Bidding is up to $15,000 with several days left on the auction. Gold Stars have held their value very well, and this one looks to be in nearly perfect condition with very desirable upgrades. They’re always in demand: if you’re a fan of classic British iron, you probably lust after a Gold Star… They embody everything people love about classic bikes: they’re fun, characterful, and involving. Parts are available to keep them running and they sound the part, with enough performance to make a weekend ride rewarding.

-tad

1954 BSA Gold Star R Side

Sophisticated Vintage Brit: 1952 Ariel Square Four for Sale

1952 Ariel Square Four R Front

The motorcycling industry prior to the 1960’s was centered on single and twin-cylinder machines, and, at a time when simplicity equaled reliability, Edward Turner’s compact four-cylinder design would have seemed extremely exotic. Prior to the Lancia Aurelia’s introduction in 1950, car and motorcycle engines used “inline” formats almost exclusively, and although inline fours work fine in automotive applications, they can cause packaging, as well as cooling, problems in motorcycles.

Originally rejected by BSA, the unusual square-four design found a home with Ariel and featured a pair of parallel twin blocks siamesed with their transversely-mounted cranks geared together and sharing a common head with overhead cams. This compact design allowed a four-cylinder powerplant to be fitted in to frames that were normally home to engines with one or two cylinders.

1952 Ariel Square Four L Rear

The original 500cc engine was eventually enlarged to 601cc’s to increase torque for riders who wanted to fit a sidecar to their machines, but the OHC design had a propensity for overheating the rear pair of cylinders, as cooling airflow was blocked by the front pair.

1952 Ariel Square Four R Front Engine

The engine was completely redesigned in 1937 with pushrod-operated overhead valves and a big displacement increase to 997cc’s. Aluminum replaced iron in the head and cylinders in 1949 for a significant savings in weight, and the final iteration of the engine introduced in 1953 was distinguished by four separate exhaust pipes exiting the head, although this example is the earlier, two-pipe version.

1952 Ariel Square Four Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1952 Ariel Square Four for Sale

An English country cruiser capable of 100mph….

Gaining popularity as “the poor man’s Vincent”, the Square 4 is steadily increasing in value.

The current owner is the fifth (first not named David) in a line that traces this 52 Ariel Square 4 Mk I’s origin to New Jersey; where it was purchased new in 1952.

The most recent previous owner bought the bike while on a trip in N.Y. State in 1996. After the purchase he had a full restoration performed prior to displaying in his collection.

Upon receiving the machine, the current owner kicked it over twice and it started right up and ran nicely. He rode it around his neighborhood for an hour, and then carefully decommissioned the Ariel for display in his collection.

The odometer shows 56,818 km or 35,305 miles.  The current owner has done a fair bit of detail work on the machine since acquiring it – much polishing, inspecting, cleaning and servicing inside external cases etc. He removed and cleaned the oil tank & lines and installed a rebuilt exchange oil pump from Dragonfly.

The frame is refinished but not powder coated and makes it look very authentic. The tins are all superb in that they are original but refinished beautifully and correctly. Chrome is all perfect.

All of the wiring was redone correctly and everything works. Even the tiny light in the speedo and the brake light. (all the lights work in other words)  The bike includes the original ignition key and the (optional?) jiffy side stand.

The owner is in possession of a dating certificate with an extract from the Ariel Works Ltd. despatch record books confirming that all of the major components on the machine are original. With the exception of perhaps the rims, tires, spokes and buddy pad this bike has all of its original pieces, nicely and carefully restored.

Also included in the sale are the original owner’s manual signed by the first two owners and a copy of the 1970 NY State vehicle registration bearing the name and signature of the second owner who purchased the bike from his friend and original owner in 1957.

1952 Ariel Square Four R Rear2

Weight was relatively low for such a complex machine and the bike could top 90mph, no small feat in 1950, although maximum performance wasn’t really the point, since lighter, simpler singles like the BSA Gold Star could match those numbers. It was the square four’s smoothness and sophistication no twin or single could possibly match that was the source of the bike’s lasting appeal, with production lasting from 1931 until 1959.

1952 Ariel Square Four L Tank

This example is in excellent condition and appears to be well-documented. Bidding is north of $22,000 with plenty of time left on the auction. The popularity of some bikes will naturally rise and fall with prevailing trends, but Square Fours have been steadily appreciating in value for some time now, and looking at this bike, it’s easy to see why.

-tad

1952 Ariel Square Four L Side

Old World Craftsmanship: 1964 Velocette Venom Clubman Veeline

1964 Velocette Venom R Front Full

1964 Velocette Venom Clubman Veeline. Now that’s a real mouthful of a name, but it just sounds so British. And it is, designed around a classic single-cylinder engine and built by hand by a family-owned company based in Birmingham, UK.

1964 Velocette Venom L Rear

These days, singles are most often associated with offroad and enduro-styled machines, or with practical, budget-minded learner bikes and commuters. But for many years, single-cylinder machines were a mainstay of the motorcycle industry. They played to the basic strengths of the configuration: fewer moving parts meant simplicity, which in turn led to reliability, light weight, and a practical spread of power. And Velocettes were anything but cheap and cheerful: they were famous for their quality construction and innovative designs characterized by gradual, thoughtful evolution and craftsmanship, as opposed to mass-produced revolution as favored by the Japanese manufacturers.

1964 Velocette Venom R Front Detail

Displacing 499cc’s, the Venom’s aluminum overhead-valve engine featured a cam set high in the block to keep pushrods short. It put about 35hp through a four-speed box that included one of Velocette’s innovative features: the first use of the “positive-stop” shift.

1964 Velocette Venom R Rear Detail

From the original eBay listing: 1964 Velocette Venom Clubman Veeline

For sale is my 1964 Velocette Venom Clubman Veeline frame# RS17215 engine #VM5634. It has the Lucas manual racing magneto, Thruxton seat, Thruxton twin leading shoe front brake, 10TT9 carb. 

I bought the bike earlier this year out of the Mike Doyle collection at auction. I don’t have much previous info on the bike, overall it is in great shape. The fairing has some nicks and scratches, and a crack underneath but presents well. To get it going, I changed the fluids, adjusted the clutch, brakes and installed a new 6V battery. After learning “the drill” the bike runs magnificently. I’ve put about 100 miles on it. The clutch works properly and it shifts fine. The TT carb is a challenge to tune and be civil around town so I’m in process of bolting on a new monobloc. The TT comes in a box. It does weep some oil out of the clutch while running so it comes with a new o-ring seal and felt gasket along with a few other bits and bobs like new rubber grommets for the cables and shock bushings.  

This is a very complete and highly original bike showing 6229 miles. I have a California title and it’s currently registered in my name. No reserve, happy bidding.

Update 10/7 – Finished installing the Amal monobloc and the bike runs and idles great, was able to take it for a putt. It doesn’t need a choke so I left it off, but comes with the choke parts and a new cable. I’ll post a video of the bike running on Saturday. One other item to note is that the decompression lever and cable are missing. 

1964 Velocette Venom L Side

The “Clubman” designation indicated higher-performance specifications, including higher compression and a bigger carburetor, along with a sportier riding position and a closer-ratio gearbox. The “Veeline” featured the optional fairing, making this particular example relatively rare.

Velocettes make ideal collectable British singles, owing to their high-quality construction and relative reliability. With several days, bidding is up to $7,800 with the reserve not yet met. I’m relatively unfamiliar with the current value of these, but this appears to be in very nice condition, and that fairing, will not especially sleek, is very distinctive!

-tad

1964 Velocette Venom R Front

Low Miles, Low-Buck Exotica: 1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport for Sale

1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport L Front

For those of you who thought Italian exotica were far out of reach, check out this very nice 1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport.  Postwar Italy saw a boom in two-wheeled motorcycle manufacture: the population of a country devastated by war was eager to get back to work and was hungry for cheap, stylish transportation. Obviously, many manufacturers of scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles came into existence and quickly disappeared during this period, but a few survived into the modern day, or have been resurrected, like zombies in Armani suits.

1980 Moto Mornini 500 Sport Dash

Moto Morini was one of the latter, a company that actually began before World War I, then faded after a purchase by Cagiva in the late 1980’s, only to be brought back again during the late 90’s as a sort of brutish Ducati rival, a shame considering their earlier history of making smaller-engined sporting machines. In fact, Morini’s insistence on not catering to the American market by creating larger-displacement bikes may have sealed the company’s doom: the 500 Sport shown here was as big as they got.

1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport R Side

But don’t let the relatively small engines fool you: these are serious sporting machines with revvy and sweet v-twins that made useful power and returned excellent fuel mileage, capable of embarrassing much more powerful machines in the corners and on the brakes. With a very rare for the period six-speed gearbox and a compact 72° engine with a rubber belt to drive the cam and Heron heads, Morinis were technologically advanced, brains-over-brawn machines.

1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport L Engine

Of course, no Italian bike of the period would be complete without some sort of mechanical foible. In Morini’s case, it was the fitting of a kickstart lever as well as a generally useless electric start. While it is possible to find bikes with the electric starter in good working condition, they’re far from reliable and most Morini owners seem to just ignore them when they fail and use the kick start.

1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport L Rear

From the original eBay listing, which includes more of the seller’s history with the marque than of the bike itself: 1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport for Sale

I was witness to the entire history of this particular machine from when it left Herm Baver’s (Herdan Corp.) Dealer/Distributership to the present time. Sometime in the early eighties I bought my 1980 3 1/2 Sport Morini from my friend Jason who was a real Morini fancier and who had bought a number of machines from Herm. I was living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the time and my neighbor Ira, who was riding an old Triumph Bonnie then, liked my 350 Morini enough that he bought this 500 Sport from Jason soon after. Both these Moto Morinis, it should be noted, had only the mileage registered that’s required to ride them from Port Clinton, Pa (the home to this day of Herdan Corp.) to Jason’s house in Greenwood lake, N.Y. They were barely broken in.

Anyway, the city’s a tough place to have a really nice motorcycle and Ira was never comfortable leaving it any- -where so he sold it to an Englishman I’d sold some other bikes to and went back to his old Bonnie. Soon after, John, the Englishman, went back to Jolly Old leaving the bike with me and here it jolly well is(still in Ira’s name) ready for a new “la Strega” transfer (included with the bike) on the saddle tailpiece and probably a set of tires, as the mint originals are maybe getting a bit wooden after 34 years. Aside from that there’s a hairline crack in one of the side covers and a scratch at the back of the tank near the saddle (see photos). Otherwise it’s the thing of beauty “time capsule” you see here.

Funny, I’ve been referring to my Ducati as “la Strega” since I got her. For those of you not fluent in Italian, “Strega” translates directly as “witch”, although my Italian buddy also reliably tells me it’s also used as a synonym for “bitch.” In either case, probably not the best nickname for such a fun little bike! The seller doesn’t include all that much detail regarding the actual maintenance history, but you can probably infer from his background and the cosmetic condition that it’s been pretty well cared for.

1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport Clocks

These bikes have been climbing in value for a while now: 7 or 8 years ago, when I was bike shopping for budget Italian machines like this, they could be had for $2,500, if you could actually find one. They are typically well-loved, but also generally well-used and patina’d bikes in keeping with their low-cost exotic status. But this may be the very nicest example I’ve seen for sale, although perhaps that’s just the really nice, high-resolution photos talking!

Bidding is active, but the reserve has not been met at just over $4k with about six days to go on the auction.

1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport L Side

The Morini name may not have the cache of Ducati or MV Agusta, and their smaller-displacements and slightly forgotten status has kept prices comparatively low. The bikes are reliable, and maintenance parts are generally available for them if you don’t mind doing a bit of research. If you’ve always fancied a classic Italian, but thought they were out of reach, keep an eye on this one!

-tad

1980 Moto Morini 500 Sport L Front Close