Collectable motorcycles.

Coming from a family of keen motorcycle enthusiasts and riders I have been around bikes since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Later when in my early twenties I was to own motorcycle shops myself, so many collectible motorcycles passed through my hands for the next 30 years that I ran my shops.

This is not a story about how great it would be to have them all now, but an appreciation for having owned them, ridden then, then sold them for others to enjoy when the next toy came along. So....no tears ....... I regret nothing!

The truth is, it takes a lot of time and money to keep many of these wonderful early model flagships in pristine condition, so as soon as the novelty wore off cleaning became a chore for me and I moved on.

All the collectible motorcycles in my list have one criteria. They are all great fun to ride!

Some bikes that we found in farm sheds and backyards were so rare and unusual that they never saw the showroom floor at all. They wound up in my brother-in law's collection of unusual machines which included an Adler twin two stroke road bike with unit construction. The complete gearbox could be rebuilt without taking the motor and gearbox unit out of the bike. He also had no less than two Sunbeams an exotic 1930s Blue Star BSA which was already rare as hens teeth by 1970. Brian loves his bikes and his knowledge of them is encyclopedic.

Vincent.

I was fortunate enough to know the Australian Engineer Phil Irving who designed the Vincent HRD which is one of the most important and collectable motorcycles in the world today. I had some rare Vincent parts in stock, but never got to own a Vincent Black Shadow or an HRD.

I have however ridden both models thanks to two of my customers who restored them, then proudly presented their finished projects to ride. We had supplied a lot of parts and expertise to forward both these machines completion, and it was a big deal to my brother-in-law and me to ride the Vincents.

I had the honor of spending hours chatting with Phil while supplying him with parts for his engineering experiments and inventions when he graced us with his presence. I remember him as a kindly and enlightened individual with a rare gift for engineering innovation.

Vincents are now worth as much as a good apartment in a large city. If you can buy one, just do it!

Brough Superior.

Of all the vehicles that used the wonderful JAP motor, the Brough Superior SS100 was probably the most impressive. Built between 1919 to 1938 the Brough could be distinguished from other motorcycles by it's all chrome fuel tank and enormous JAP motor. If you can find one, just buy it, one day it will be worth more than your home.

My father had an SS100 when I was a kid, and it was massively powerful in it's day. The JAP motor is a gem. Any parts that are missing will need to be made by hand.

Honda CBX 6 sport

Honda CBX 1000

The air-cooled six cylinder one litre Honda is one of the best looking sixes you will ever see in a motorcycle. Small and compact crankcases belay the strength of these motors. The Motorcycle it was built around was a wonderfully comfortable machine to ride.

The reason you can see so much of the magnifiscent motor is that it forms part of the frame, so the front of the bike is clean and very sexy to see from this angle, especially when it is wheel-standing. Spectacular!

I have owned two of these, the second one with air suspension and extensive engine modifications married to a Staintune exhaust system which cost as much as the bike did, but with the mods gave me usable torque with a pretty flat power curve that started early in the rev range and climbed all the way to the top.

The performance was outstanding at the time, and handling was good for such a big machine, although not outstanding. The important thing to me was the way it rode. Glassy smooth, heaps of revs, and a smooth as silk drive made it a hoot for weekends away on good roads. The engine weight is low to the road allowing the big six to fall in to corners like a 350.

Benelli 900 six

Beautiful! The Benelli is so beautiful to look at! I only know of a couple in Australia. The motor is beautiful and looks like the Honda six and has amazing exhausts in the European racing style.

Did I mention Beautiful? If you want one in good condition you will pay a premium, but do not buy a tired one, a rebuild may cost you twice the price of the bike and engine/gearbox parts not easy to buy or fit.

Like the Honda the Benelli is great to ride, but not as tame as the Honda, and typically Italian in looks and behavior. I like it very much, but would not be my choice above the Honda 6.

My Honda Goldwing 4

I kept the Honda very clean which was easy with the cleanly exposed boxer motor
I kept the Honda very clean which was easy with the cleanly exposed boxer motor

Honda Goldwing

The 4 cylinder Goldwing by Honda was the first shaft driven bike I could tolerate. I hated the rise and fall the shaft drives caused at lower speeds under hard throttle on other shafties.

Even the wonderful BMW R60/5 drove me nuts with the weird handling results that came with the shafts effect on the frame and thus handling, so although it is collectable and a very good reliable machine, it doesn't pass my fun to ride criteria so is not included here.

The early 4 cylinder Goldwing overcame this problem to a fair degree, and did not have backlash in the differential like some early Yamaha's The Yamaha's had weak diffs, although I liked their early turbo shafties for the way they delivered all that thrust. If used hard the differential was gone in 20,000 klms, and I saw some fail at 5,000 klms.

On the other hand the Goldwing diff was strong and durable

Kawasaki Z1300

A very large motorcycle with a beautiful motor and gearbox, Kawasaki made a wonderful heavy tourer that could still be thrown about like a 750........... except at higher speeds. A friend of mine loves his and has had it since new. It has covered 573,000 klms so far and is running quietly not burning any oil and still has most of it's huge pulling power. Not drastically fast, but if you like touring grunt, the 1300 has got bags of it.

I will publish this hub now, leaving you to add your favorite collectible motorcycles to this little group.

Ern

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Comments 18 comments

mtsi1098 5 years ago

knee high to a grass hopper - must be heck of a climb to sit on one of these beauties...Nice job it must have brought back some great memories for you...


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

Good article by someone who knows his subject. I had an old AJS 350 as a yonker and have never owned a bike since! (Sorry) Bob


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Hi mtsi. You know it did bring back a lot of good memories. I love all sorts of motorcycles. Little bikes, dirt bikes, road bikes, in fact anything with a motor in it!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Hi Bob! I liked the 350 AJS, it was light years faster than my C11 BSA. The Matchless and AJS were great bikes with loads of character and an inordinate amount of torque.

Nice to see you here.


Denizee profile image

Denizee 5 years ago

Enjoyed reading this. How lucky to have had the opportunity to experience and put forth passion to something you love in life. Excellent! Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank you very much Denizee! It was a very good time in my life, and I am lucky enough to still have all my limbs. I enjoy a good motorcycle still, and ride when I get a chance.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

They are fascininating beauties. Their craftsmanship is next to none. A friend of mine buys them all rusty and in pieces and rebuilts them for years but he sells them after that.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

I agree, they are fascinating and beautiful. Like your friend, I have restored a few very early ones and sold them after they were completed and I had enjoyed using them for a while myself.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

Earnest,

Great hub mate. I had a 67 Triumph Bonneville 650. My dad bought it new from the dealer in 67, and I got it from him in the middle 80's as it had sat in the back of the garage for years.

When he bought it new, he took all the chrome, the seat, accessories and gas tank etc off the bike and boxed them away and converted the bike into a dirt bike. He rode in the central Idaho mountains for many years.

When I got the bike I found all the original parts still brand new in boxes. I had started restoring the bike, but joined the Air Force and left the bike in Dad's garage. When I got back he had sold the bike and said - sorry I thought you didn't want it anymore. I was so mad, I didn't speak to him for several days. Sure I could buy another bike - but that one was HIS bike, that made it irreplaceable to me. I sure wish I had that bike back. It was a perfect bike to restore, it just needed an engine rebuild, repaint the frame, new tires and put all the original parts back on and poof - like new and all original....

I guess we could write volumes on all the things that could have been or almost were.

- Good read mate

- Best

- Harlan


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thank Harlan! That is one of the saddest true stories I have heard, and for a couple of reasons. As you already know, the bike would have been a very easy and top class restoration as the difficult part is getting the body bits in good enough order. That is sad.

That your dad sold it was the really sad bit that I could relate to. We love our dads, but they can be very thoughtless about that love. Nice to know a bit about you. My dad did the same to me a couple of times.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

hehe...

the other side is, Dad has a 53 MG TD. I have a pic of it (not to promote my other hub) in my post Love affair with a 57 chevy - its the last pic of that article. Its a little Fire Engine Red MG with a chevy small block V8 hiding under the hood. IF he leaves me that... It will ease the pain of that bike. However, that said, Dad swears up and down he is going to be buried in that car and we boys can just cry a river. He says its too fast and he is afraid to leave it to anyone cause they will kill themselves in it... whatever... LOL.

- Harlan


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Your Dad would seem to have a good point about the TD/chevy. We used to put hot GM Holden 6 motors in TC and TD MG's when I was a kid. Even with the six, they were a handful.

Beaut little cars, but handling could be a real problem.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

My dad did an electrical job for a man who had hundred of motorcycles. It was quite amazing to see all of these in his garage he was restoring, as I had never seen so many in one space like that.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

Thanks for looking in SweetiePie. I would love to see a collection of that size. I wish I had been there to see them with him, I'm sure there would have been some amazing bikes among them.


Don Littleford 5 years ago

The Adler motorcycles is undergoing a revival in Australia.

There are three web sites where information on parts and restoration can be found.

Start with www.adlermotorcycles.com


Greg Sage profile image

Greg Sage 5 years ago from Orlando, Florida

Funny how I stopped riding old Harleys shortly after moving away from living next door to a mechanic.

Old beater of a Kawasaki was still the best-running thing I've ever had.

One day, I'll get me one of those circa 1911ish Indians that look like a beach cruiser with a weed whacker engine attached.

:)


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 4 years ago from Melbourne Australia Author

I'd love an early Indian Greg, they were amazing metal and some were very fast when modified even in the early twenties. My Dad raced a modified Indian in Western Australia at one time in his youth.


Wesley 4 years ago

Hi.

Can any one tel me what a Lambretta 1954 150D is worth?

Thanks.

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