Motorcycle manufacturers spend a lot of money in creating new models; lately offering up bikes steeped in technology like ride-by-wire engine management with push-button mapping and electric suspension adjustments, keyless start, ABS, traction control, entertainment and communication systems, theft deterrent systems, etc.
But all of that modern tech on two wheels comes at a cost that the manufacturer must ultimately make up downstream, at retail. Thus, bikes that once were the darlings of the low-income earner – like 600cc super sports – now are priced in the five-figure range and financially out of reach for a great many of potential owners.
So what is a consumer to do? According to national sales statistics, while sales of mid-displacement Super Sport and Cruiser bikes continue to decline, the pre-owned Classic niche is one of few experiencing a boon. The trend first became overtly noticeable at the height of the Great Recession, when dealers across the country were reporting their service departments being overrun by customers bringing in dusty barn finds and garage queens as an inexpensive way into fuel-efficient commuting.
So what exactly is a “Classic”?
The most obvious answer is an old motorcycle or scooter that has undergone, or is in a condition to undergo, restoration. However, for our purposes, we’re also going to include motorcycles that are built with up-to-date design and manufacturing methods yet offer traditional styling – bikes that continue to be inexpensive to purchase, are easy to maintain, offer a standard seating position, yet still manage to evoke a certain period in time.
Currently popular true classics include models from brands like Harley-Davidson, Indian, BMW, BSA, Matchless, Moto Guzzi and Triumph; modern classics come in the form of the Triumph Bonneville, Scrambler and Thruxton, Honda CB1100, Suzuki TU250X, Moto Guzzi V7, or in any of the models offered up by brands such as Royal Enfield and Ural.
The following pages feature information about some of those brands; introductions to the Viking Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, Minnesota Chapter of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club and American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association; and a couple of pieces about insuring and plating your classic ride.
BMW’s Concept 90
BMW this year celebrates its 90th year of making motorcycles. As part of the celebration, the German manufacturer this past summer unveiled the Concept Ninety – a bike that resurrects the earlier R 90 S model in contemporary guise.
While the Concept 90 isn’t a bike you’ll be able to go out and buy, it finds its way into these pages as another example of how motorcycle manufacturers still have their eye on the past while working diligently to create ever more technologically advanced bikes for the future.
One look and you’ll see the fairing, tank, seat and tail instantly signal the Concept Ninety’s family bond with the R 90 S – as does the air-cooled flat-twin boxer engine exposing itself from beneath the bodywork hand crafted from aluminum and painted in a rich orange color that is a nod to the original’s legendary Daytona Orange paintwork.
Many of the parts on the BMW Concept Ninety hail from custom bike specialist Roland Sands Design in California. In close collaboration with BMW Motorrad Design, Sands designed and manufactured these parts exclusively for the one-off bike.
“It was important for me to translate the special statement made by the BMW R 90 S into the present through the use of unique parts – employing emotional design and cutting-edge technology,” Sands said of his approach to the bike.
Ducati’s SportClassics & Scrambler
Ducati in the mid to late 2000s had good success with its SportClassic line of motorcycles – the Sport 1000, Paul Smart Limited Edition, Sport 1000S and GT1000. Now, suspicion is growing that the Italian brand plans to produce a new version of its classic Scrambler for the 2014 model year.
The Ducati Scrambler was first produced in 1962 and was a popular choice for riders up until production was stopped in 1974.
According to reports from Europe, the new Scrambler may be powered by the air-cooled L-twin engine currently in the 796 Monster – which would position it in Ducati’s growing line-up of relatively affordable mid-size offerings that are being established as part of the company’s mission to turn buyers of those models into brand loyalists.
If the Scrambler is going to happen for 2014, you can expect to see it at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy, in late November.
As for those SportClassics, the retro styled bikes were put on sale in 2005 for the 2006 model year and the product of Ducati’s design chief Pierre Terblanche, who said the series actually started with the Evoluzione MH900e replica of Mike Hailwood’s winner at the 1978 Isle of Man TT. The different variations are based on similar frames, and powered by the air-cooled Desmodue 992cc L-twin engine also called the DS9 engine.
The Sport 1000 was sold from 2006 to 2008, the Sport 1000S from 2007 to 2009, and the GT1000 from 2006 to 2010. The Paul Smart Limited Edition was a 2006 model only.
The Honda CB1100
With its exposed engine, steel chassis and minimal bodywork, Honda’s CB1100 ($9,999) looks the part of a modern classic by recalling the legendary CB750KO of 1969.
New to Honda’s line-up for 2013, the CB1100 features a 1142cc air/oil-cooled fuel-injected DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with polished aluminum covers, a 5-speed transmission, chain drive, a 41mm fork and chrome twin shock rear suspension with preload adjustability, dual 296mm floating discs with four-piston calipers in front and a 256mm disc with single caliper in the rear, and 18-inch cast wheels with 110/80-18 front and 140/70-18 rear tires.
The CB1100’s base model price is $9,999. The addition of optional linked ABS brings the price to $10,999.
Triumph’s Four Classics
Triumph’s line-up of 14 motorcycle models for 2013 features four bikes it dubs as Classic – the Bonneville, Bonneville T100, Scrambler and Thruxton.
The magic in these motorcycles is, while they look as if they come from the Swinging Sixties, they’re actually modern interpretations outfitted with up-to-date componentry and every bit as reliable as the other bikes among Triumph’s offerings.
Triumph’s modern Classic line was kicked off in 2001 with production of a carbed 790cc parallel twin Bonneville. The T100, Thruxton and Scrambler soon followed.
From 2007 on, all the bikes received an 865cc parallel twin engine, and from 2009 all received electronic fuel injection via throttle bodies made to resemble carburetors.
Today, all four of Triumph’s Classic bikes are powered by an air-cooled fuel-injected 865cc DOHC parallel twin engine and outfitted with a 5-speed transmission, single 310mm disc with Nissin two-piston caliper in front and a single 255mm disc with two-piston caliper in the rear, a 41mm KYB fork and chromed KYB twin shocks with adjustable preload, and an analogue speedometer with odometer, clock and trip information.
The Bonneville, delivering 67hp at 7,500 rpm and 50 ft. lb. of torque at 5,800 rpm, comes with twin chromed upswept silencers and cast aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in 110/70 R17 front and 130/80 R17 rear tires.
Bonneville T100 ($8,599)
Based on the standard Bonneville, the T100 will get you the addition of spoke wheels, a larger diameter front tire (100/90 R19), fork gaiters, pea-shooter pipes, tank pads and a flatter bench seat.
The Scrambler produces 58hp at 6,800 rpm and 50 ft. lb. at 4,750 rpm, emitting a distinctive sound from its 270-degree firing order and twin stainless steel upswept twin chromed stainless steel exhaust pipes and retro styled silencers. It’s shod with a 36-spoke front wheel that receives a 100/90-19 tire and a 40-spoke rear wheel with a knobby 130/80-17.
The sportiest of Triumph’s Classic range, the Thruxton is offered in café racer styling with its low-rise bars, sporty riding position, tapered rear end and megaphone style exhaust. It produces 68hp at 7,400 rpm and 51 ft. lb. at 5,800 rpm, and is further outfitted with a 320mm front disc brake and spoke wheels wrapped in 100/90-18 front and 130/80 R17 rear tires.
Moto Guzzi’s V7
The original Moto Guzzi V7 appeared on the market in 1967. Forty years later, in 2007, the Italian brand owned by Piaggio introduced a modern interpretation of that iconic bike with the V7 Classic.
Powered by an air-cooled and fuel-injected 744cc 90-degree V-twin engine developing 50hp at 6,200 rpm and 42.7 ft. lb. at 5,000 rpm, the V7 this year comes in three versions: the V7 Stone, V7 Special and V7 Racer.
All three models are further outfitted with a 5-speed gearbox and shaft drive,
a 40mm hydraulic fork and dual Bitubo rear shocks, Brembo 320mm floating disc and four-pot caliper and 260mm rear disc, and 100/90-18 front and 130/80-17 rear tires.
V7 Stone ($8,390)
Available in Matte Black or Pure White, the V7 Stone is trimmed with chrome accents, cigar shaped silencers and split spoke cast aluminum alloy Black anodized wheels.
V7 Special ($9,190)
wrapped in a two-tone coloring and equipped with spoked wheels with aluminum rims, the V7 Special is the closest of the V7 range to the original V7 concept.
V7 Racer ($10,090)
The V7 Racer pays homage to the extraordinary racing career of the V7 Sport and is outfitted with a flyscreen, number plate, chrome fuel tank finished with a studded leather strap, suede solo saddle, aerodynamic seat cowl, red frame and split spoke black anodized aluminum wheels.
The Suzuki TU250X
Like the Honda CB1100, the Suzuki TU250X ($4399) is a street bike with styling resembling the Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM) of the 1960s and 1970s.
The first generation TU was introduced to the Japanese domestic market in 1994 in both 125cc and 249cc models. The second generation TU debuted at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show and arrived in the U.S. in 2009.
The 2013 Suzuki TU250X utilizes a 249cc, air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke SOHC engine (a higher-compression version of the carbureted lump found in the Suzuki GZ250); 5-speed transmission; telescopic, coil spring, oil damped fork in front and a dual coil-spring oil damped rear; a single disc front brake with Tokico two-piston caliper and a rear drum; and 90/90-18 front and 110/90-18 rear tires wrapped around spoke wheels.
Promoting the bike’s classic look are chrome-plated front and rear spoke wheels, headlight case, speedometer cover, gas cap, tail lamp housing, front suspension outer tube, polished crank side case and muffler.
Instrumentation includes an analog speedometer with trip odometer and indicator lights for turn signal, high beam and fuel injection status — as well as a larger fuel warning and neutral light.
By Guido Ebert
Zdravstvujtye Comrade, can I interest you in a classic style sidecar-equipped motorcycle capable of carrying three people, family pets, groceries, a kayak, bicycle, a Degtyaryov DP-28 or 200 lbs. of potatoes? Would you like it with two-wheel drive for your Minnesota winters?
If so, Ural motorcycles, produced by Irbit MotorWorks in Irbit, Russia, may have what you’re looking for. Familiar with the tough, take-anywhere attributes of the AK-47 semi-automatic rifle? Consider a Ural the motorcycle equivalent.
Ural offers seven sidecar-equipped models, including the price worthy T ($10,499), the 2-wheel-drive Patrol T ($12,899), pinstriped Retro ($14,249), olive drab M70 Retro ($13,849), the long-distance Tourist ($12,099), the switchable1WD/2WD Patrol ($13,699) and the military style Gear-Up ($14,099). Don’t want a sidecar? An eighth model, the Solo sT ($7,999), offers the classic Ural look as a two-wheeler.
Powered by an air-cooled and carbureted 749cc OHV opposed twin and outfitted with shaft drive and a 4-speed tranny with reverse, output is 40hp @ 5,600rpm and 38 ft. lbs. of torque at 4,600rpm. Note: Ural recommends the 750-lb. machine be operated at a max cruising speed of 65 mph.
The first “Ural” motorcycle, the M-72, was based on the BMW R71 and put into service by the Red Army in 1942 to fight on the German front.
The factory was renovated after World War II and in 1950 produced its 30,000th motorcycle. In the late 1950s, a plant in the Ukraine took over the manufacture of Urals for military use, and Irbit Motorcycle Works (IMZ) began to build Urals for domestic, civilian consumption.
Exports began in 1953, first mainly to developing countries and then, in the 1960s, to a larger global base.
The State-owned factory transformed into Uralmoto Joint Stock Company in 1992 – creating a semi-privatized entity 40% of which was divided among management and employees through a grant, 38% of which was sold by auction with privatization vouchers (which went mostly to management and employees), and 22% of which was retained by the government.
Finally, in early 1998, Ural was bought by private Russian interests and was no longer a State-owned company. New ownership brought new management, fresh ideas and production techniques, modernized design and updated technology, and above all, a commitment to quality control at all points of production.
Ural bikes are imported & distributed throughout the U.S. by Irbit Motorworks of America, Inc., Redmond, Wash. Find the bikes locally at Leo’s South in Lakeville and St. Croix Harley-Davidson in New Richmond, Wis.
Antique Motorcycle Club – The Viking Chapter
If you are, or hope to be, into collecting or restoring motorcycles that have been around for at least three decades, it’d be wise to hook up with folks who share the same interest as you.
The Viking Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America is a non-profit organization composed of a group of people interested in collecting and preserving antique motorcycles of all kinds.
The Antique Motorcycle Club of America was founded in 1954 by a group of riders in the New England area. In the decades since, the AMCA has grown to become one of the largest organizations of antique-motorcycle enthusiasts in the world, with 11,000 members in the United States and more than a dozen other countries.
Through its network of 58 affiliated Chapters in the U.S. and abroad, the AMCA provides a way for antique-bike fans to share their interest with others in their local area.
Locally, the Viking Chapter holds monthly member meetings and informal garage get-togethers, multiple rides during spring, summer and fall, In June hosts an AMCA National Meet at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, in September holds an annual outdoor swap meet at the Fairgrounds, and in January stages a big pot luck Holiday Party. Plus, there’s a newsletter, “Recycle”, published quarterly.
Club membership has always been open to all interested persons, and most activities are designed so that families can enjoy them together.
You do not need an older bike to join or ride. In fact, ownership of a motorcycle is not required to become a member. However, all Viking Chapter members are required to be a member of the AMCA, with dues of $15 paid to finance the operation of the Chapter as a non-profit organization.
By doing so you receive a national membership card and become eligible to participate in all national activities.
At the national and international level, the AMCA maintains a calendar of meets and rides that include some of the premier antique-motorcycle gatherings in the world. National Meets typically include a large vendor area, where members can sell everything from antique-bike parts to entire motorcycles that are at least 35 years old. In addition, National Meets offer a full schedule of other activities, ranging from seminars and bike shows to motorcycle field games and antique-bike racing.
All National Meets also feature the AMCA’s National Judging Program, in which members’ motorcycles can win awards in three categories: Restored, Original Condition or Period Modified. Instead of competing against each other, bikes entered in the AMCA Judging Program are evaluated on a 100-point scale against the standard of the same motorcycle as it would have appeared when it originally left the factory.
In addition to those events, AMCA members also receive a subscription to “The Antique Motorcycle” magazine, get discounts on admission to some of the country’s premier motorcycle museums, and gain access to online forums and the AMCA Virtual Motorcycle Library featuring downloadable copies of hundreds of old and rare sales brochures, parts lists and repair manuals.
So whether you’re into investing thousands of hours in bringing a rusted hulk back to it original perfection or simply enjoy the pleasure of a classic bike traveling at an unhurried pace on a two-lane road, check out the Viking Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.
Is Your Vintage Japanese?
A friend of mine, Scott, had a 1986 Suzuki GSX-R 750 in the late 80s. Feeling as many motorcycle enthusiasts do after selling off a cherished ride, he yearns for that bike back and often scours the Internet for a suitable replacement.
The last time I saw him I was again forced to listen to reflections about his lost love. That was when I suggested he look into the Minnesota Chapter of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club (VJMC).
Founded in 1977, the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club (VJMC) is the premier worldwide club dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and enjoyment of on-road and off-road Japanese motorcycles 20 years old or older – everything from heavy metal Honda CBs, Suzuki GSs and Yamaha XSs to slippery VFs, GSX-Rs and FZs.
The VJMC has affiliated branches all over the world, with the North American branch boasting more than 2,700 members in the U.S. and Canada.
The organization hosts an annual rally for all members and plays a part in many major vintage motorcycling events, including events at Daytona, Barber and Mid-Ohio. Members receive a bi-monthly magazine, and the organization offers members-only content on its website, including a calendar of events, classifieds, tech tips and articles, back issues of the on-line magazine, and a huge members bike photo archive.
The VJMC is governed by a national Board of Directors, with representation from nearly all of 10 regions throughout the United States and Canada. The Board of Directors appoints field representatives who implement national policy and standards, conduct state or regional events, and assist in organizing a VJMC presence at other vintage motorcycle events.
Locally, the Minnesota Chapter of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club meets the second Monday of the month at Diamonds Coffee Shoppe, 1618 Central Ave. in Northeast Minneapolis. While you don’t have to be a member to attend, what could it hurt? The Minnesota Chapter organizes rides and takes part in numerous bike shows around the Twin Cities, and signing on gets you access to club functions throughout North America.
The annual VJMC membership due is $30. However, because the VJMC is a 501 C (7) not-for-profit group, all contributions are deductible.
Race Your Vintage Ride
The American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association Ltd. (AHRMA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to restoring and competing on classic motorcycles. With about 5,000 members, AHRMA is the largest vintage racing group in North America and one of the biggest in the world. The association has grown steadily over the years, reflecting the increasing interest in classic bikes.
AHRMA traces its roots to the organization of vintage road racing during the late 1970s in the Northeast U.S. In the early 1980s, other groups began emerging around the nation, adding scrambles, observed trials, dirt track and concourse events to the competition options available for vintage riders. Then, by 1986, it was clear that a national organization would be necessary to administer this burgeoning sport.
AHRMA was originally formed as a privately held business corporation. Other groups were brought together under one banner and one set of rules, and in 1989 AHRMA was reorganized into the member-owned association of today.
AHRMA nationals take place at some of the finest and most historic venues: Daytona, Road America, Willow Springs, Miller Motorsports Park and Barber, to name but a few.
The organization offers vintage national and regional road racing, motocross, dirt track, observed trials and cross country competition with machines spanning a full 50 years, from the 1920s to the mid-1970s.
Realizing that the definition of “classic” varies from one generation of enthusiasts to the next, AHRMA began adding classes for long-travel motocross machines from the late 1970s to early 1980s and for roadracers from early in the AMA Superbike period (up to the 1980 model year). These Post-Vintage motocross classes have been incorporated in many of AHRMA’s regional series and also have their own national circuit. The three Vintage Superbike classes have been added to AHRMA’s normal roadrace program.
In addition to racing opportunities, AHRMA members enjoy a professionally edited monthly journal “Vintage Views”; participation in occasional concours d’elegance, swap meets and banquets featuring world-renowned speakers; an annual racing rulebook/handbook; and access to a website featuring race information, news, an events calendar and classifieds section.
Members who want to race are asked to pay a $75 due while a non-racer membership costs $40.
Visit AHRMA.org for more information.
Plate Your Classic
In Minnesota, Classic Motorcycle plates may be displayed on any motorcycle that is at least 20 model years old, original in appearance, and owned solely as a collector’s item.
Minnesota does not have a mileage restriction for collector class vehicles. Collector vehicles are to be operated only as a “Collector’s Item” and may not be used for general transportation. Generally driving to and from collector events (shows, parades) is acceptable.
At the time of application, the owners must certify that they have one or more vehicles registered with regular Minnesota license plates. The Classic Motorcycle plate is valid without renewal as long as the vehicle is in existence in Minnesota. There is a $10 one-time registration tax that is due with the initial application, plus you’ll have to pay a fee for the actual plate ($13.50) and a couple of additional filing fees.