Tagged: four cylinder

Sophisticated Performer: 1957 Ariel Square Four for Sale

1957 Ariel Square Four L Side

A vintage luxury sports machine, the Ariel Square Four had, as the name suggests, four whole cylinders at a time when most motorcycles of the period had just one or two. Automobile components can get away with being heavy, but over-engineered solutions in a motorcycle application mean significantly reduced performance and, for years, four-cylinder engines weren’t compatible with twin demands of light weight and reliability. Inline fours can be tricky to package into a motorcycle, particularly when configured longitudinally, as was common before the Honda CB750. But the Ariel uses an interesting “square” format that features a pair of parallel twins, complete with a crankshaft for each. Not only did this solution offer up the power and smoothness of an inline four, the very compact design meant it could be squeezed into existing frames meant to house a parallel twin. No surprise, as the design was originally intended for BSA.

1957 Ariel Square Four R Side Rear

The first generation of Square Four displaced 500cc with a bump to 601 for increased torque, so riders using the bike as practical transport could more easily drag the weight of a sidecar around. That early overhead cam design had issues with overheating, as the square four configuration naturally has a hard time getting cooling air to the rear pair of cylinders. Suzuki’s later RG500 engine used liquid-cooling to get around this problem, but that was obviously not an option here.

1957 Ariel Square Four Dash

The engine saw a complete overhaul in 1937 with a shift from overhead cams to cam-in-block and pushrods, but a big jump in displacement to 997cc.  In 1949, the iron head became aluminum for a huge savings in weight and the version seen here is the final iteration, with four individual exhaust pipes, instead of the earlier pair of siamesed parts that make the bike look like it’s powered by a bulky parallel twin.

1957 Ariel Square Four Engine

From the original eBay listing: 1957 Ariel Square Four for Sale

Up for sale is a restored Ariel Sq4 This bike was completely restored 10 years ago and sat in a collection for 5 years.  I bought it and meet the person who restored it in Mass. He is good at what he does and the bike still shows very well. All the miles were put on by me, last being a 50 mile ride 2 years ago. The bike has been started and ran in the last few months. It will start right up and operate very smooth. There are no known problems. The restoration was both mechanical and cosmetic at the time. Buyer will be responsible for transportation from Pgh PA.

I’m assuming “Pgh” is Pittsburgh in this case. There’s very little time on this auction, with bidding up just north of $16,000 and the reserve not yet met.

1957 Ariel Square Four Tank

So what’ll she do, mister? Well that nearly full liter of displacement gave 45hp and the bike weighed a surprisingly svelte 425lbs, so the Square Four could very nearly “do the ton.” But while bikes like the BSA Gold Star were about ultimate performance, the Square Four was about the way in which it delivered that performance, and the smooth relaxed power and sophistication was really in a class by itself from the bike’s introduction in 1931 until it was discontinued in 1959, a remarkable production run for any motorcycle.

-tad

1957 Ariel Square Four R Side

Hip to Be Square: 1951 Ariel Square Four

1951 Ariel Square Four L Front

By the 1970s, four-cylinder powerplants were dime-a-dozen in the motorcycling world. Formerly found only in high-end exotic machines like this Ariel Square Four, they’d become a characteristic of the generic “Universal Japanese Motorcycle.” But in the 1950s, a four-cylinder engine was something to brag about.

These days, inline and V4 configurations are common, but the Ariel used an unusual “square” configuration not often seen outside two-stroke race-replicas like the Suzuki RG500 Gamma. As you’d expect, the square four is really a pair of parallel-twins, each with its own crankshaft, geared together and sharing a head. This makes for a compact motor that slotted easily into existing frames, but one with the inherent cooling problems that result from limited airflow to the rear cylinders.

1951 Ariel Square Four R Engine

Introduced in 1931, the engine was significantly overhauled in 1937: in a seeming step backwards overhead cams were changed to pushrods, but the heads and barrels were changed from iron to aluminum and displacement increased significantly from 500cc’s to almost 1000. Reliability was increased and the character suited the bike’s mission: while performance was impressive with over 90mph possible, it was smooth and very torquey, a “gentleman’s express.” Production continued until 1959.

1951 Ariel Square Four R Rear

Today’s example looks to be in very nice cosmetic condition, but has been off the road for a while and will need some work to set it right.

From the original Craigslist post: 1951 Ariel Square Four for Sale 

You won’t see one like this every day… A MAGNIFICENT 1951 Ariel Square four 1000cc with a 1954 engine (four pipe manifold). Check the photos. One of the world’s best motorcycles ever from that decade. Much in the way of papers, manuals and history information available. After its long rest it will require some freshening before an outing, but it’s all do’able. The price has been reduced to $16300. Call for further information and an appointment to view.

This vehicle is currently Cal licensed , clear titled, and on non-op status.

The seller is asking a bit less than I’ve seen for nice Square Fours recently, and the mention of it being “reduced” suggests that interest has been low. I’m wondering if the updated engine is causing issues for fans of originality, or if the possible headache of getting this bike on the road is putting buyers off. The seller doesn’t mention why the change to the later powerplant was made, but certainly the performance benefits should be worth the update for fans of function, and the later exhaust manifold shows off the bike’s four-cylinder-ness proudly, whereas the original could be mistaken for a big parallel twin. The seller also doesn’t mention exactly what it might need, if anything other than usual, to get it back on the road as “its long rest” isn’t really quantified, but cosmetically, the bike appears to be complete and in good shape.

-tad

1951 Ariel Square Four Front

Nickel-Plated Rarity: 1978 Rickman CR900 for Sale

1975 Rickman CR900 R Front

Today’s Kawasaki-powered Rickman CR900’s most distinguishing feature, aside from its overall impressive condition, is that stunning paint. Colors like this can be difficult to photograph, but I think the seller has done an excellent job with this unusual paint.

1975 Rickman CR900 L Rear

The “900” obviously indicates the displacement, as the bike was powered by Kawasaki’s powerful 903cc Z1 engine, but stuffed into a gorgeous, stiff nickel-plated frame that significantly improved on the original machine’s merely adequate handling. Which makes sense, since handling improvements were Rickman’s stock in trade. 1975 Rickman CR900 L Front

Started by Don and Derek Rickman, the company began by building off-road racing bikes designed around existing engines and transmissions. By the 1960’s, they’d started building roadcourse and streetbikes, at first based around British twins but later using the new Japanese multis. This was a perfect marriage, since the Honda CB and Kawasaki Z1 were powerful and reliable, but didn’t really have the frames or suspension to make them competitive on track.

1975 Rickman CR900 L Fairing

It’s not really clear how many CR900’s were actually built: Rickman sold these as kits, sans engine, transmission, and electricals. And while you could buy them complete through various shops, many were built at home in the proverbial shed, making the exact numbers built difficult to discern.

1975 Rickman CR900 Cockpit

Regardless, Rickmans of any stripe are hard to find in this condition, regardless of powerplant choice.

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Rickman Kawasaki for Sale

You maybe  looking at one of the rarest bikes on the planet.  This bike is titled as a Rickman and not as a Kawasaki. The  bike is titled as a 1978. The  I.D. plate fixed to the steering neck indicates September, 1977 chassis and is the correct id plate for this bike.  

Almost all of the  Rickman CR900’s, of which few were built, were finished in green This bike has the orgiinal gel coat in red. The bike is original in color and I know of no other with this color. This is an original machine in pristine condition and rides like a rocket ship with the responsive and light frames built by Rickman powered by the Kawaski 900 cc motor. This bike performs as good as any modern bike today. 

The  900 cc motor number is Z1E 238xx.

This Rickman chassis was purchased in England by the original owner while vacationing there. 

The milage on this bike is less than 9,000. Most of these miles were accumulated prior to the motor being installed into the Rickman.  Thus this Rickman frame has seen very limited use.  The original rear sprocket shows virtually no wear. The saddle looks near new. The instruments are from the original Kawasaki and show the mileage covered by both the kaw and the Rickman chassis. If you are looking for an original colectable motorcycle that is sure to increase in value look no further. Rickman motorcycles, are extremely rare and  have proven in the past to be highly desirable and with their limited production should continue to increase in value.

1975 Rickman CR900 Engine

Bidding is up north of $15,000 with four days left on the auction and plenty of interest. Rickman’s show up fairly regularly for sale, but this is the nicest I’ve ever seen. I’m not in the market for a vintage bike at the moment, but I bike like this would definitely be in the running if I had the cash…

-tad

1975 Rickman CR900 R Rear

Pristine Japanese Superbike: 1974 Kawasaki Z1 for Sale

1974 Kawasaki Z1 R Side Rear2 The muscular Kawasaki Z1 almost started its life as an “also ran.” It must be frustrating to spend years working on a new motorcycle [Codename: “New York Steak”] in secret, only to have your rivals beat you to the market by the narrowest of margins. But that’s exactly what happened to Kawasaki when the revolutionary Honda CB750 was introduced just ahead of their own 750.

1974 Kawasaki Z1 L Side Rear

So what to do, now that Honda had stolen their thunder? They knew that to continue on-course and introduce their own 750cc four-cylinder right after Honda would have their range-topping motorcycle looking decidedly less exciting. So they bided their time and introduced the Z1 in 1973 figuring if they couldn’t be first to market, they’d be the fastest bike on the block. 1974 Kawasaki Z1 Clocks

Thinking that “bigger is better,” their 903cc four made 82hp and could push the bike to a top speed of 130mph. The new Z1 was king of street and strip and, if you wanted to go fast this was the bike to have. Handling was decent as well, although that was never really the point with this bike.

1974 Kawasaki Z1 L Side Tank

Nice examples are very rare today and steadily increasing in value, because so many were raced, crashed, abandoned, blown up, and turned into post-apocalyptic biker gang machines… Bit of film trivia: almost all of the motorcycles used in the original “Mad Max” were Z1’s donated to the production by Kawasaki.

This one, however, combines original paint with an otherwise thorough mechanical restoration and looks to be one of the nicest, useable examples I’ve seen in a while.

1974 Kawasaki Z1 R Frame DetailFrom the original eBay listing: 1974 Kawasaki Z1 for Sale

Here is an absolutely stunning 1974 model Z1 with a very low VIN. It is number 325 off of the assembly line for the 1974 model. This bike is such an early model that in fact it was actually manufactured in July, 1973. The VIN on the frame, engine, and title match as they should and it has a clear South Carolina title. I have owned this bike for several years now and it has just had a recent restoration. Everything on this bike works as it did when brand new. The engine runs perfectly from idle to redline. The engine does not smoke and there is no abnormal noise. This bike handles great and accelerates quickly with lots of power. The frame is straight and never altered. Without a doubt the successful bidder will enjoy owning this beautiful motorcycle!

This bike comes with a very rare period correct Pops Yoshimura 4 – 1 header. This header was on this bike when I bought it. This highly sought after header is in exceptionally good condition. It is one of the early Pops Yoshimura headers with brazed on collars on the head pipes, indicative of when he first got started. Beautiful header! Awesome sound! I can install a new stock reproduction exhaust if your country requires a stock exhaust system due to import regulations, (for an additional fee of course).

The Kawasaki Z1 came new from the factory with Dunlop Gold Seal tires, F6 front and K87 rear. I was fortunate enough, (and with enough cash) to obtain a set of Dunlop Gold Seal tires from a 1973 model bike that was salvaged in 1973 with less than 500 miles on it. These tires have been stored in climate control all these years and they are still soft and pliable with no cracks and no defects! These tires are unobtainable today. This bike comes with original Dunlop Gold Seal Tires as it did when it was brand new!

This bike received a thorough restoration and meticulous attention went into every detail. Nothing was rushed and nothing was overlooked. This bike was in good condition before the restoration, (not rusty abused junk). Every effort was made not to over-restore this bike. The tank and body set are original paint with light patina. Most parts on this bike are original including all of the correct date codes.  I have hundreds of photos that document every detail of the restoration. In fact I will include a nice PowerPoint slide show of the restoration.

I’m a sucker for good-quality videos like the one included here, although the “Hawaii 5-0” music might be a bit much. You can hear the screaming exhaust perfectly well over the music so you know the seller has their priorities straight! There’s quite a bit more information over at the original listing, along with additional high-quality images, so take a look if 70’s superbikes get you revving.

-tad

1974 Kawasaki Z1 R Side

Little Blue Bomber: 1975 Honda CB400F Super Sport for Sale

1975 Honda CB400F R Side

The introduction of Honda’s CB750 in 1969 did more than simply redefine what a range-topping bike could be. It heralded an onslaught of sophisticated, reliable machine across their entire range: while sporty midsized offerings from the other Japanese manufacturers were often quick and nimble, but powered by peaky, noisy, smoky two-strokes, Honda used sophisticated overhead-cam twins and fours. In fact, their direct competitor for the famous Yamaha RD350 was this bike, the four cylinder CB400F. 1975 Honda CB400F L Front

Powered by a bored-out version of the 350, the 400F engine actually displaced 408cc, and the bike featured a relatively novel six-speed gearbox, something nearly unheard of outside racing circles in an era when most bikes still used only four.

1975 Honda CB400F R Side Detail

The Honda couldn’t hold a candle to the RD in terms of quick and dirty speed, but it beat the little smoker hands-down when it came to sophistication. Unfortunately, the sportbike market wasn’t especially interested in refinement, so the Honda didn’t sell all that well when new, with buyers in the middleweight sports market opting for the light weight and personality of the Yamaha.

But while the Honda was much heavier, handling was still excellent, and riders of the period found plenty of success on track, with race-prepped bikes capable of true giant-slaying ability and top speeds of over 130mph.

1975 Honda CB400F Clocks

From the original eBay listing: 1975 Honda CB400F for Sale

This 1975 Honda 400 Four Super Sport is equipped with a side stand and a center stand which is handy for maintenance. It also has an electric start & a kick start. This is handy if the battery is low, as the starter robs the voltage to the ignition coils. After starting the bike from cold, it needs to warm up on part choke for a few minutes before setting off, or you could find yourself fumbling with the choke whilst riding.

This little guy pulls well from the start (even with its peak power of 37 bhp at 8,500rpm and redline at 10,000 rpm), and with 6 gears to choose from you’ll find your left foot is kept busy if you want to make the most of it. It accelerates well from 0-70 mph, which is the range where most riders will find themselves on this urban super sport. The seating position is slightly bent forward, giving a dominant street fighter feel. The bike handles very well at all speeds providing good cornering and a comfortable ride, and would make a great city commuter anywhere in the world.

This well preserved 1975 Honda CB 400 F only has 12,655 miles on the odometer. The VIN number is CB400F-1027692, Date of Manufacture is 03/75, and Engine ID# is CB400FE-1028229. It is in very nice condition. The bike starts, runs, and shifts very well. The bike is all original with the following exceptions – which were made to get it roadworthy for the new owner:

New “Varnish Blue” paint on gas tank and side covers (professionally done and very nice)

New chrome exhaust muffler

New dash lights/ console  (replaced with new)

New seat cover  (replaced with new)

New tires

New cables for throttle, brake and clutch

New master cylinder

New switch gear for starter and kill switch at throttle side of handlebar

We have gone through this bike and cleaned it from top to bottom and performed the following services:

Installed new brake pads and rebuilt front caliper (with new brake fluid)

Repainted front brake calipers

Polished all chrome parts and accessories

Cleaned and tuned all 4 carburetors

Replaced all fluids

All lights and electrics work perfectly, and the horn work so it will easily pass Texas vehicle inspection. There is not a bit of grease or dirt on this bike anywhere as it was given a very thorough detailing, even in the places you can’t see.

1975 Honda CB400F R Side RearThis one has been repainted and looks to be in excellent physical and mechanical condition. The seller also includes a nice video of the bike being started and running.

These are great little bikes, and can still be found for very reasonable prices. They make excellent “starter classics” since they’re physically on the small side, are reliable, and have decent parts availability.

-tad

1975 Honda CB400F R Side Front

Nearly New: 1977 Benelli 500 Quattro for Sale

1977 Benelli Quattro L Side

1970’s Benellis like this 500 Quattro fill an interesting niche in the vintage biking scene. Produced during the controversial DeTomaso era, when the Argentinian seemed to own just about every struggling exotic nameplate out there, from cars to bikes. Rumored to be based heavily on Honda’s CB four cylinder, the Benelli is a very solid machine, but offers up nothing really exceptional, aside from that exotic nameplate.

1977 Benelli Quattro Tank

Which is a shame, as Benelli is a company with a storied racing history. Founded in 1911 as a repair shop, they were producing bikes by 1919 and winning championships in the late 1920’s. They had a great deal of success during the 1960’s, especially in the 250cc class.

Being the Italian equivalent of a Honda CB isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just unfortunate that such a famous, high-performance brand couldn’t offer up something just a little bit more…

1977 Benelli Quattro L Side Engine

From the original eBay listing: 1977 Benelli 500 Quattro for Sale

This was one of the leftover bikes I had when I was a dealer for Benelli in Westchester County, NY. Great condition always stored indoors. I used a dealer plate when I demoed the bike or take it to shows. Never registered. I have the original MSO that goes with the bike and will provide a bill of sale. Some chrome is missing in places. Exhaust pipes are in excellent condition. Gas tank has been cleaned, sealed and re sprayed. Carbs cleaned. New battery installed. Just rode down the street and transmission shifted fine. Clutch works as it should. Brakes work great. Lights all work. Speedometer is in kilometers. Tool kit and owners manual included. Tires are original. 

1977 Benelli Quattro Dash

The starting bid for this original little gem is $10,000 with no takers so far and little time left on the auction. This is a hard bike to price, considering DeTomaso-era Benellis are about as rare as hen’s teeth in the US these days. In general, we see the more exotic six-cylinder Sei: the four cylinder bikes are virtually unknown here, making them exceedingly rare, but of interest only to Benelli fans.

1977 Benelli Quattro Front Wheel

And if you are a Benelli fan, you’re most likely looking for something more vintage. But for riders who want a bike that’s just a bit different than a run-of-the-mill Japanese four, this might fit the bill. You certainly aren’t likely to find one as nice or with such low mileage ever again.

-tad

1977 Benelli Quattro R Side

The Wes Cooley-ist: 1980 Suzuki GS1000S for Sale

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Wes Cooley R Side

Today’s blue-and-white Suzuki GS1000S “Wes Cooley Replica” is a throwback to another era of racing, an arms-race by Japan’s Big Four as they built bigger, better big fours.

Twins and singles are generally limited in terms of absolute displacement, barring balance shafts and other, more modern trickery: get much bigger than 500cc’s, and a single will likely shake your motorcycle to pieces, and twins often have similar problems. But manufacturers began adding more cylinders, smoothness improved, and displacements soared. For a time, that additional power made attempts at weight savings superfluous, and pounds were added along with the horsepower. That weight helped to increase stability as manufacturers worked out how to make these bellowing behemoths handle.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Wes Cooley L Side2

Watching jockey-sized pilots wrestle with 600lb superbikes in the 1970’s was thrilling, although Suzuki included handling in the mix as well. The 998cc GS1000S may not have had the straight-line speed of other bikes, but it could also go around corners and, with engines developed by “Pops” Yoshimura, it saw significant success in the hands of rider Wes Cooley.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Wes Cooley Speedo

Although it was primarily designed for the European market, Wes’ success led to the GS1000S bike being referred to as the “Wes Cooley Replica.” Just about 1200 were made: 500 in 1979 and 700 in 1980. 1980 models like this one originally featured electronic ignition, a stepped seat, slotted brake rotors, and other cosmetic changes.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Wes Cooley R Side Fairing

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

Nice rare bike less than 1000 sold in the United States from what I can find out. Clear Tennessee title in hand.

Bike has been owned by a good friend of mine for over 20 years, always dry inside storage (until I got it June 6th, it is still on the trailer under a cover, haven’t had time to make a spot in the garage for it). Last was started about 2 years ago, not sure if or how far he may have rode it. I have not tried to start it, petcock is leaking, I am sure the carbs need to be cleaned, front brakes do not work and the battery is dead. The ignition switch is missing the lock cylinder but I do have a key that fits the gas cap and seat lock.

Has escaped the normal Krylon paint job, appears to be all original paint, does have a couple of dings in the tank, the fairing has some road rash on the upper left. The inside of the tank appears to be in good condition from looking in the gas cap area, no tank sealer to clean out. Chain guard is cracked. The instrument cover is damaged as shown in the photo and a gauge cover is cracked. No idea of why the seat and tail section alignment is so bad, I can’t see anything that looks badly bent or broken.

Has 2 seats, one with the optional Elvis velour insert and it has a very small surface rust area on the base. Have another seat not on the bike and that seat base has rust issues and the seat cover is torn.

Pipes are from a 1000L model and have rust on the head pipes.

I have tried to show all of the damage I can in the photos. if you have a specific area you have more questions about or need more photos just ask.

I do have a new NOS windshield, NOS upper fairing mounts and a pair of NOS mirrors.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Wes Cooley Fairing

There are just a few hours left on this auction, with bidding up to just north of $1,600 and the reserve unsurprisingly not met. Obviously, this one needs a bit of work before you head off to relive superbike fantasies, but it looks like most of the work is cosmetic or well within a competent garage mechanic’s abilities.

-tad

1980 Suzuki GS1000S Wes Cooley R Side Panel

Barn-Find Racer: 1975 Yamaha TZ750 for Sale

1975 Yamaha TZ750 L Side

A combination of big-bore, two-stroke power and rapidly evolving handling made the Yamaha TZ750 the bike to beat during the 1970’s on racetracks in the US and abroad. Early bikes shredded tires and scared the bejesus out of even experienced riders, and twin-shock rear suspensions gave way to mono-shock setus as power increased from “plentiful” to “terrifying.”

1975 Yamaha TZ750 Gauges

The original bikes actually displaced 700cc’s, exactly like a lashed-up pair of 350 twins might and, although the four used much of what Yamaha had learned racing their 350, it shared no parts with its little brother, and appears to have been based on a bored-out version of their 500GP machine, making it very exotic indeed, although handling on the first bikes was fairly suspect.

1975 Yamaha TZ750 R Front

This early example uses a more conventional twin-shock rear suspension: later bikes featured thicker tubing and a much improved monoshock suspension that redirected suspension forces to the steering head and created a much more stable platform for the four-cylinder, two-stroke animal lurking under the bodywork. That liquid-cooled lump featured reed-valves for a wider powerband, likely around 90hp here, although later bikes put a slightly terrifying 140hp through the bikes six-speed box. Combined with decent handling from the later monoshock frames, it made the TZ750 the bike to beat during this era.

1975 Yamaha TZ750 R Side Engine Detail

The story behind this bike is included over at the original eBay listing. It rambles a bit, but makes for an interesting read: 1975 Yamaha TZ750 for Sale

Now I really had to think about how far down do we take this project, we could do a frame off complete restoration or just clean?

Well the answer is; They Are Only Original Once! We just cleaned it and got it running. Now the old guy told me that even though it was in storage in his garage that he would once a year spray WD40 in the cylinder and after inspecting the lower end I believe him. We removed the head and cylinders to inspect the lower end, we also scoped as much as we could. The crank looked perfect and clean. So we cleaned the piston rings and wrist pins and put back together.

Please note that we have only run this bike a couple of times so we are mixing the fuel very rich, that is why there is so much smoke in the video. Also the video was shot on May 6 of this year and it was the first and only ride on this bike. My tech is the rider and it stalled on his first run because he was trying to find first gear. The video (we will be posting soon) and pics speak for themselves.

As you review the pictures note that the bike still has most if not all of the original safety wire from its race days. Also note that is bike has most if not all of the original factory cable and hose clips or clamps. These items are usually missing on most of the TZ bikes I have seen.

I did not try to mount the fairing as it seemed to fragile from sitting in the garage but is mostly complete.

Some Notes:

The frame number is 409-000327

The Engine number is 409-000327

Bike has a clean green Michigan Title

Original paint bike (I would say about 98% original as I did repaint the head, exhaust and some misc bracket).

Original safety wire still intact from the track

All original cable clamps and clips

All parts that had to be replaced are OEM Yamaha (even the hose clamps)

Rebuilt Stator from Rick Shaw, the owner at Rick’s Electrics

Rebuilt CDI Box in original case from England

New exact duplicate radiator from England

New grips and shift rubber

Rebuilt all brake calipers w/ OEM Yamaha parts

Removed head & cylinders, cleaned rings and wrist pins, scoped and inspected crank. Crank and lower end was perfect.

Cleaned carbs

New tires, however they are road tires not track tires.

Race fairing with new replacement wind shield (this windscreen will need some alteration however was the only replacement available). 

1975 Yamaha TZ750 Tank Detail

And no, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you: that is a rear-view mirror, tail light, and a headlight on there: one of the previous owners set the up for road use! Kids, don’t try this in California… And yes, although it is a big rough around the edges, it does run, as can be seen in this video here. I love how hard-edged that two-stroke crackle is here, sounding pretty far-removed from the typically agricultural sound of an idling smoker.

1975 Yamaha TZ750 Engine Detail

Just 111 TZ750’s were built during 1975, making each and every one a highly-desirable collector’s item. Bidding is very active on this bike, and is currently up around the $25,000 mark with plenty of time left on the auction. I’d expect the buyer to return this to track-only specification and hopefully take it vintage racing, but I can imagine the temptation to take it out on the road might be very hard to resist…

-tad

1975 Yamaha TZ750 R Side

Sand-Cast Classic: 1969 Honda CB750 for Sale

1969 Honda CB750 R Side Front

When the Honda CB750 came onto the scene in 1969, beating Kawasaki’s own four-cylinder bike to market by the narrowest of margins, it was a revelation: four-cylinder motorcycles were previously the domain of luxury or high-end sporting manufacturers like Ariel or MV Agusta. But the CB750, while certainly not cheap, was an affordable alternative to the established large displacement bikes from the European manufacturers, offering refinement and reliability previously unheard of at that price-point. The specifications seem so unexciting now, but that’s because every other manufacturer needed to produce similar machines, or be left in the dust.

And Honda didn’t stop with their 750: that initial CB gave birth to a whole range of four-cylinder, five-speed bikes, including a 350, a 400, a 500, and a 550. The fours were often heavy, compared to their twin-cylinder or two-stroke competition. But they offered an unmatched level of sophistication compared to those relatively crude machines.1969 Honda CB750 L Side

For a long time, four-cylinder bikes from Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki were being regularly chopped into bits as part of the burgeoning cafe racer scene, owing to their low prices, power, and solid construction. This one will not be subjected to that sort of treatment. It’s an early model CB750, with the sand-cast engine cases that are so desirable among fans of this bike.

1969 Honda CB750 R Side Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1969 Honda CB750

In their 100th anniversary issue, Motorcyclist magazine named the 1969 Honda CB750 as the “Bike of the Century,” and this one may be the bike of this century! I bought it 30 years ago from the original owner, a schoolteacher in Chicago, who had kept it as immaculately as I have ever since. I’ll try to keep this text short as you true lovers of vintage Hondas know the story very well by now, but the term “sandcast” is abused so much on eBay it bears re-telling. 

Soichiro Honda was a wise businessman and when he developed this breakthrough machine in the 1960s era that was dominated by British twins & triples, and he wasn’t sure it would sell with its daring 4 cylinders, 4 exhaust pipes, 4 carbs and front disk brake. To play it safe, Honda cast the engine blocks in rough sand molds rather than investing in much smoother (and more costly) metal molds. When the bike started selling well, they invested in the metal casts and all models after VIN # 7,414 have a smooth engine block finish, making these early bikes with a rough “sandcast” finish very rare. 

How rare is this one? Chassis VIN # = 374 and engine = #379, only five digits apart! Why are they apart? Hondas were shipped from Japan in separate crates of engines & chassis, and then assembled in California in random fashion. Many sandcasts have frame & engine numbers that are hundreds of digits apart, so this one’s close numbers are rare indeed. If you check the Sandcast web site (www.cb750sandcastonly.com) and scan the registry, you’ll see this one listed as #18 and with its very close #s for the chassis & engine. 

What’s also special about this bike is it is a rider, not a “trailer queen.” It had 18,000 miles on it when I bought it, and I’ve put another 6,000 miles on it since, generally short trips every month in the summer to keep it mechanically sound. It runs like a “dream” (forgive the Honda pun!) and has been maintained by some of the best vintage Honda mechanics whose identity I’ll only reveal to the buyer to not drive them nuts with too many phone calls early on.

1969 Honda CB750 L Side Engine

There are plenty of additional details over at the listing, so take a gander if you’re a fan of this bike. There are four days left on the auction, with bidding up to $27,000 and the reserve not yet met. That might seem to be a princely sum, but the really rare, early CB’s do command all that and more.

1969 Honda CB750 Headlamp

For a long time, the very reliability and ubiquity of the UJM was their downfall: people treated them like the appliances they were designed to be. A vintage Triumph is going to require regular fiddling and adjustment, and will likely leak at least a bit of oil. They’re full of character, fully capable of cutting a rug and they look great doing it. But vintage European bikes ownership is more like a relationship: you’re invested, an enthusiast. Japanese bikes of the period were notable because they generally flat worked. Just add gas and tires.

But that also means that, when Honda or Kawasaki introduced their latest and greatest model, old bikes were just that: old bikes. And often left to decay, or sold on to less sympathetic owners more concerned with cheap transportation than maintaining an heirloom motorcycle. But considering what early Z1’s and Honda CB750’s are going for these days, the joke’s on them.

-tad

1969 Honda CB750 R Side

The Very Definition of Exotic: 1971 MV Agusta 750 Sport 4C75 for Sale

1971 MV Agusta 750 Sport L Front

MV Agusta’s racing heritage is at the heart of their fame and, for a long time, their exotic, multi-cylinder engines were available only to factory racers. So when they finally produced a roadgoing four-cylinder motorcycle, expectations were pretty high. Unfortunately, the 600 that was released was hideously ugly, massively underpowered, and hobbled by a heavy shaft in place of the usual chain-drive.

1971 MV Agusta 750 Sport R Rear

The later 750 corrected two of the three problems, keeping the shaft drive that was supposedly a measure to prevent privateers from simply buying a bike off the showroom floor and racing against the factory machines. None of MV Agusta’s four-cylinder roadbikes can really be considered serious sportbikes: they’re just too heavy. But they’re gorgeous, make expensive shrieking noises from the four-into-four exhaust and cam gears, are extremely rare, and handle well enough for owners to take them out for the occasional canyon ride.

1971 MV Agusta 750 Sport Dash

While the red, white, and blue colors might be garish and tacky on another bike, they work really well here. The simple metal dash is very elegant, with just a central ignition key and I also love that the clocks have such similar markings: the tach reads to 120 and the speedo to 150, which probably looks pretty cool when you’re winding it out in top gear…

1971 MV Agusta 750 Sport Clocks

From the original eBay listing: 1971 MV Agusta 750 Sport 4C75 for Sale

FRAME: MV4C75214054

ENGINE: 214-047

EXTREMELY RARE, HISTORIC, IMMACULATE.

Motorcycle is located in a temperature controlled facility in Port Huron, MI.

Purchase includes Factory Sealed Promotional poster. 

1971 MV Agusta 750 Sport L Rear

While I fully respect that sellers of rare and exotic machinery expect that buyers already know the general history a bike before they drop more than $115,000 on a motorcycle, a bit more history about this particular example might be in order here. Maintenance, updates, personal experiences? Has the owner ridden it? It’s an old motorcycle, so does it have any quirks or interesting characteristics? And what’s the story with that fairing? Is it original?

There’s less than a day left on this auction, so you’d better move quickly if you happen to have an extra $100k or so burning a hole in your pocket and an MV-sized hole in your collection, your bike is waiting!

-tad

1971 MV Agusta 750 Sport L Front Fairing