By Guido Ebert
In Minnesota, a motorcycle is legally considered a “Collector” if it is 25 years old or older.
Harley-Davidson, Indian, Henderson, BMW, DKW, NSU, Norton, Vincent, BSA, etc. – all are among the brands of motorcycle that have served as favorites of collectors.
While those marques command high levels of respect in the world of collectible two-wheelers, there’s a “new” breed of classics finding their way into garages and living rooms across America – all of those Honda CB, Kawasaki KZ, Yamaha XS and Suzuki GS models of the 1970s and 1980s.
The trend appears to have picked up steam in 2008, when the one-two punch of the Great Recession and high fuel prices had commuters seeking cheaper forms of transportation. I was working with Dealernews magazine at the time, and many retailers I was in communication with reported a deluge of service work on bikes that had not seen the light of day in two decades.
Where were all those old bikes coming from?
The U.S. motorcycle market reached a high point in the 1970s and early 1980s before petering out during the late 1980s and through the 1990s. Industry pundits surmise motorcyclists of the 1970s and early 1980s left the sport during the late 1980s and 1990s to start a career, raise a family, etc. Twenty-five years later, with folks seeking a more economical way of transport, many of the bikes those former riders parked began finding their way back onto the road.
The following pages offer information about the Antique Motorcycle Club of America and the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America, showcase some “modern classics” from Japan, Europe and India, and provide a look at auctions, license plates, insurance coverage and more.
MMM intends to begin a reoccurring column to shine a spotlight on motorcycle collectors around Minnesota. Interested? Know of someone with an enviable collection? Let us know.
Modern Classics from Japan
As was mentioned in the section introduction and VJMC article, old motorcycles from Japan have aged themselves into popular classics. The number of bikes imported from Japan in the 1960s, 70s and 80s keeps purchase prices low, parts are readily available, and there’s a minimal cost of ownership (fuel cost and insurance).
Of course, some riders enjoy Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM) design but want a trustworthy new bike rather than a questionable 30-year-old barn-find. For them, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha offer a few modern interpretations of classic models.
Suzuki was among the first manufacturers to bring the retro cruiser style back to the U.S. with its TU250X ($4,399).
The TU250X is a single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke, chain-drive model with a standard riding posture and styling resembling the UJM of the 1960s and 1970s. It was launched in Japan in 1994 in 125cc and 250cc variants. The second generation of the bike was introduced to Japan’s domestic market in 2004, and arrived in the U.S. in 2009 as a 49-state-legal fuel-injected 250cc model.
By design, the TU250X is an easy bike to enjoy during surface street commutes. It offers an upright riding position with a relaxed reach to the bars and a natural leg bend to the pegs. It’s light. It’s nimble. And, with a claimed 16hp and 17 ft. lb. of torque, it has enough power to get out of its own way.
As you could expect from a classically styled bike, there’s also lots of chrome everywhere, including the front and rear wheels, headlight case, speedometer cover, tail lamp housing, front suspension outer tube and polished crank side case.
2015 Suzuki TU250X
Engine: 249cc air-cooled SOHC
Bore x Stroke:
Fuel Delivery: Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve, 32mm throttle body
Ignition: Electronic transistorized
Transmission: 5-speed, constant mesh
Final Drive: Chain
Front Suspension: Telescopic
Rear Suspension: Swingarm
Front Brake: Disc with dual piston caliper
Rear Brake: Drum
Front Tire: 90/90-18
Rear Tire: 110/90-18
Seat Height: 30.3 inches
Wheelbase: 54.1 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gallons
Wet Weight: 326 lbs.
Color: Metallic Mystic Silver or Glass Sparkle Black
You know that old saying, “It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.”
The 2015 Yamaha SR400 ($5,990), powered by a fuel injected 399cc air-cooled single-cylinder SOHC two-valve engine, may serve as the former rather than the latter. SR400 output: A claimed 23hp and 20 ft. lb. of torque.
The SR400 began life in 1978 alongside the SR500. While the SR500 was sold in the U.S. from 1978 to 1981, the SR400 has been in the Japanese market from 1978 to the present – albeit reintroduced for the 2010 model year with fuel injection and a catalyst exhaust to meet stricter emissions regulations.
Now for 2015, the bike’s 384-lb. wet weight combined with a 31-inch seat height, slim chassis and natural riding position would seem to make it well suited to entry riders as well as experienced enthusiasts looking for a modern version of a UJM classic.
One aspect that may not appeal to new riders, though, is the lack of an electric starter. That’s right, there’s no push-button starter. The only way to get the bike running is via its kick-starter. Nevertheless, the kick-starter is actuated through a handlebar mounted compression release that makes starting the SR easy with very little effort.
For riders with a bit more vision, Yamaha is marketing the bike as being “world renowned for its basis as the perfect platform as a Café or Street Tracker machine” – “Personalization and customization are limited only by the designer’s imagination,” the company promotes in its PR.
2015 Yamaha SR400
Engine: 399cc air-cooled SOHC, 2-valve
Bore x Stroke: 87.0 x 62.7mm
Compression Ratio: 8.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injected
Ignition: Transistor controlled
Transmission: 5-speed; multi-plate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Rake: 27.7 degrees
Trail: 4.4 inches
Front Suspension: Telescopic, 5.9-inch travel
Rear Suspension: Swingarm, 4.1-inch travel
Front Brake: Hydraulic disc, 268mm
Rear Brake: Drum, 155mm
Front Tire: 90/100-18
Rear Tire: 110/90-18
Seat Height: 30.9 inches
Wheelbase: 55.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gallons
Wet Weight: 384 lbs.
Color: Liquid Graphite
Unlike the smaller displacement offerings from Yamaha and Suzuki, Honda’s big CB1100 ($10,399) is more of a modern bike masquerading as a UJM classic.
The CB1100 is a 1140cc air-cooled inline four-cylinder bike that was introduced by Honda in 2010 as a modern successor to the famed CB750. It was first made available in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, then introduced to Europe and the U.S. in 2013.
New for 2014, the CB1100 DLX ($11,899) adds combined ABS, a half-gallon larger fuel tank, stitched look seat, natural look alloy wheels, a 4-2 exhaust and Candy Red color. CB1100 Output: A claimed 86hp and 68 ft. lb. of torque
2014 Honda CB1100 (DLX)
Price: $10,399 ($11,899)
Engine: 1140cc air and oil-cooled inline four-cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 73.5mm x 67.2mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI, 32mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Digital transistorized with electronic advance
Final Drive: Chain
Rake: 27 degrees
Trail: 4.4 inches
Front Suspension: 41mm fork with preload adjustability,
4.2 inches of travel
Rear Suspension: Dual shocks with preload adjustability,
4.5 inches of travel
Front Brake: Dual floating 296mm discs with four-piston calipers (ABS)
Rear Brake: Single 256mm caliper (ABS)
Front Tire: 110/80-18
Rear Tire: 140/70-18
Seat Height: 31.2 inches
Wheelbase: 58.7 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.9 gallons (4.4 gallons)
Wet Weight: 540 lbs.
Color: Black (Candy Red)
Brands that may be traditionally viewed as expensive European imports – such as Triumph and Moto Guzzi – are finding success with their lesser priced, classically designed product, such as the Bonneville T100, Thruxton and various V7 models. By the time you read this, Ducati will have entered the market, too.
Triumph’s 26-model line for 2014 includes five Classic models, the Bonneville ($7,899), Thruxton ($9,099), Scrambler ($9,099), Bonneville T100 ($9,199) and Bonneville T100 Black ($8,899).
Trumph’s best-selling models in the U.S. last year included the Bonneville T100 and Thruxton, and the company made some updates to those bikes for 2014.
The Bonneville’s new seat design consists of contrasting vinyl and improved padding for more comfort, a chrome grab rail and chain guard were added, the fuel tank decal is replaced by a badge, the silencers received a redesign, and the cylinder heads feature new detailing on the cooling fins. Output: A claimed 68hp and 50 ft. lb. of torque.
The Thruxton benefits from similar refinements for 2014, including revised megaphone silencers, the same detailing on the cylinder head cooling fins and a chrome chain guard. It also receives a color-matched fly screen, with center stripe detail, and a seat cowl as standard. Output: A claimed 68hp and 51 ft. lb. of torque.
2014 Triumph Bonneville T100
Engine: 865cc air-cooled parallel twin
Bore x Stroke: 90mm x 68mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Multi-point sequential electronic fuel injection
Transmission: 5-speed; wet, multi-plate
Final Drive: Chain
Rake: 28 degrees
Trail: 4.3 inches
Front Suspension: 41mm KYB fork, 4.7 inches of travel
Rear Suspension: Tubular steel swingarm, twin KYB preload adjustable shocks, 4.1 inches of travel
Front Brake: 330mm disc, Nissin two-piston floating caliper
Rear Brake: 255mm disc, Nissin two-piston floating caliper
Front Tire: 100/90-19
Rear Tire: 130/80-17
Seat Height: 30.5 inches
Wheelbase: 59 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gallons
Wet Weight: 496 lbs.
Color: Fusion White/Aurum Gold and Jet Black/Cranberry Red
Moto Guzzi in 2014 offers eight motorcycles, including three classically styled V7 models: the V7 Stone ($8,490), V7 Special ($9,290) and V7 Racer ($10,490).
The V7 Stone is Moto-Guzzi’s best-selling model in the U.S. For 2014 – the V7’s sixth year of production – Moto Guzzi has continued to hone the bike, improving fuel injection for greater efficiency as well as prompter yet more tractable throttle response, upgrading Bitubo rear shock absorbers, obtaining a better response from the Brembo brakes, adding new wire wheels, and offering up new graphics and paint schemes. Output: A claimed 48hp at 6,200 rpm and 44.2 ft. lb. of torque at 2,800 rpm.
2014 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
Engine: 744cc 90-degree V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 80mm x 74mm
Compression Ratio: 10.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection,
38mm throttle body
Transmission: 5-speed; dry single plate with flex couplings
Final Drive: Compact Reactive Shaft Drive
Rake: 27.8 degrees
Trail: 4.3 inches
Front Suspension: 40mm telescopic hydraulic fork,
5.1 inches of travel
Rear Suspension: Swingarm with two fully adjustable
Bitubo shocks, 4.6 inches of travel
Front Brake: Brembo 320mm floating disc, four-piston caliper
Rear Brake: Brembo 260mm disc, two-piston caliper
Front Tire: 100/90-18
Rear Tire: 130/80-17
Seat Height: 31.6 inches
Wheelbase: 57 inches
Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gallons
Wet Weight: 395 lbs.
Color: Glossy Red, Corduroy Green, Corduroy Black
By now, many of you have already seen the new Ducati Scrambler in photos snapped during its Sept. 30 unveiling at the Intermot motorcycle fair in Cologne, Germany.
Introduced in 1962, the original Scrambler was primarily intended for the American market and underwent continual modification until model production ceased in 1974. Over the years engine size grew from 125cc unit to 250cc to 350cc and finally to 450cc.
We, at this time, don’t know what size engine will power the new Scrambler (696 or 796?), but spy shots have revealed what appears to be classic-look tank, rounded headlight and raised handlebars mated to an otherwise modern bike.
Attached to the test mule’s tubular perimeter frame, we see an upside-down fork, laydown rear shock, modern Ducati double-sided swingarm and blackened cast wheels with low-profile rubber. Up front, there’s a single front disc with four-pot radial caliper, in the middle there’s what looks to be an air-cooled V-twin, and a “guarded” exhaust sweeps along the right side.
Royal Enfield motorcycles are built in India by Eicher Motors Ltd. Thanks to the growing demand for classic-style bikes in the U.S. and Europe, and to the new Continental GT ($5,999), Eicher reported global motorcycle sales between January and August grew an incredible 65% compared to the same eight-month period in 2013.
The Continental GT, developing 29hp and 32.5 lb. ft. of peak torque, is the lightest and most powerful bike Royal Enfield has ever created.
Offering a combination of retro café racer styling and modern engineering, the Conti features clip-on handlebars, a chiseled tank good for tucking knees, sculpted solo seat, swept back foot controls, spoke wheels, megaphone exhaust and gobs of chrome. No need to modify the important running bits, as the bike comes outfitted with quality components from suppliers like Keihin, Paioli, Brembo and Pirelli.
Unlike the Yamaha SR400, this bike will allow a rider convenient electric start as well as the too-cool-for-school kick-starter.
Classic Motorworks of Faribault, Minn., serves as the Official OEM distributor for Royal Enfield Motorcycles in the United States. The Continental GT joins the Bullet 500 B5 ($4,999), Bullet G5 Deluxe ($5,399), Bullet C5 Classic ($5,499), Bullet C5 Military ($5,499) and Bullet C5 Chrome ($5,699, see profile in MMM #149) in Classic Motorworks’ U.S. offerings. See the line-up at retailer GoMoto in Minneapolis.
2014 Royal Enfield Continental GT
Engine: 535cc air-cooled single cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 87mm x 90mm
Compression Ratio: 8.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Keihin electronic fuel injection
Transmission: 5-speed, constant mesh; wet, multi-plate
Final Drive: Chain
Front Suspension: 41mm Gabriel telescopic fork,
4.3 inches of travel
Rear Suspension: Swingarm, two Paioli gas-charged
shocks with adjustable preload, 3.1 inches of travel
Front Brake: Brembo 300mm floating disc,
two-piston floating caliper
Rear Brake: 240mm disc, single-piston floating caliper
Front Tire: 100/90-18 Pirelli Sport Demon
Rear Tire: 130/70-18 Pirelli Sport Demon
Seat Height: 31.5 inches
Wheelbase: 53.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.5 gallons
Wet Weight: 405 lbs.
Be a Viking in the Antique Motorcycle Club of America
The Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AntiqueMotorcycle.org) was founded in 1954 by a group of antique-bike fans 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.
From the beginning, the purpose of the club has been the “preservation, restoration and operation of old-time motorcycles.” Members of the AMCA own, restore, preserve, study or just admire motorcycles that fall into the “antique” category, meaning they are at least 35 years old (although ownership of an antique motorcycle is not required to become a member).
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. Chapters typically host regular meetings, plus activities like bike shows, swap meets and antique-bike road runs.
The Viking Chapter (VikingMC.org) serves the Twin Cities. The Viking Chapter holds monthly chapter meetings held at various locations through out the Twin Cities, an AMCA National Meet at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds every June, rides all summer, as well as monthly informal Garage Get-togethers at various members houses. In the Fall, the organization holds an annual swap meet at the State Fairgrounds, barbeque and a Mystery Ride. A big potluck Holiday Party in January kicks off the new year.
In order to be a member of the local chapter ($15), you must be a member of the National AMCA. By doing so you receive a national membership number and card, receive “The Antique Motorcycle” magazine, receive a monthly newsletter, and become eligible to participate in all national activities.
Yearly membership of the AMCA is only $30 for yourself and another member of your household. You can sign up via the AMCA membership site at AntiqueMotorcycle.org, or download an application and send it with payment to Cornerstone Registration, Ltd.
PO Box 1715 Maple Grove, MN 55311-6715
Share Your Passion for Vintage Bikes from Japan
Looking for enthusiasts who share your passion for old motorcycles from Japan?
Founded in 1977, the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America (VJMC.org) is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and enjoyment of Japanese motorcycles that are 20 years old or older in vintage, as well as the promotion of the sport.
Annual VJMC membership is only $30. For that, you get a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to vintage motorcycling and members-only online content including recent classifieds, tech tips and articles, free digital back-issues of the magazine, an extensive members’ bike photo archive, video clips and slide shows. There’s also a VJMC regalia store, and registration information for various VJMC events around the nation.
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 has appointed field representatives in many states and provinces who implement national policy and standards, conduct state or regional events, and assist in organizing a VJMC presence at other vintage motorcycle events.
This past June, the organization held its 2014 National Rally at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, Ind.
In some cases, local VJMC Chapters have been created to promote enhanced member involvement. One of those Chapters is based right here in the land of 10,000 lakes.
While it’s not necessary you be a member to attend VJMC Minnesota Chapter gatherings and view the vintage bikes they ride, sometimes, with old motorcycles, it’s not what you know but whom you know. Fellow enthusiast members share tech tips and provide a helpful network through which to source products. The organization typically has a large display at the annual International Motorcycle Show, and takes part in the annual show at the State Fairgrounds with the Antique Motorcycle Club of America Viking Chapter.
Want to learn more? Take a look at the VJMC Minnesota Chapter’s 300-member Facebook page.
MidAmerica Joins Mecum Classic Auctions
The Mecum Auction Company in late 2013 purchased MidAmerica Auctions, a Minnesota-based motorcycle auction specialist with some 30 years in business.
Mecum, headquartered in Walworth, Wis., claims to be the world leader of collector car, vintage and antique motorcycle, and Road Art sales, hosting auctions throughout the United States. MidAmerica was founded by Ron Christenson, who remains with the organization as president.
“(Christenson) knows the motorcycles and everybody who has them,” Dana Mecum told ClassicCars.com soon after the purchase of MidAmerica. “Our success allows us to use our marketing to put his company on the next level.”
Dana Mecum had attempted numerous times to add motorcycles into his company’s classic car auctions. What he learned, he told ClassicCars.com, is that “the core motorcycle guys want their own event.”
Still, the cross pollination of motorcycles with cars can only help his business with collectors, he said: “You can put one in your office, or in the lobby of your business, or even in your living room. Cars are moving into being looked at as pieces of art, and the motorcycle is totally exposed. You look at it and you see its heart.”
Now, one year after the purchase of MidAmerica, Mecum is in the process of planning its next big motorcycle auction, offering more than 750 bikes Jan. 8-10 at the Southpoint Casino & exhibit Hall in Las Vegas.
Learn more at Mecum.com
Insuring Your Classic, Vintage, Historic
Many of the big, national insurance companies provide classic motorbike insurance. However, since collector motorcycles tend to appreciate in value, it is important to make sure that your insurance policy is written to cover your bike’s full collector value.
If your bike is a museum piece and displayed but never ridden, you can get away with purchasing only comprehensive coverage. Of course, if you enjoy riding your old two-wheeler, you’ll also want to protect yourself with liability coverage.
Remember to ask about Custom Parts and Equipment (CPE) coverage. The purpose of CPE coverage is to cover damages to custom parts and classic accessories added after the motorcycle left the factory floor.
At American Collectors Insurance, a motorcycle may qualify as a “classic” if the motorcycle is: 1) 15 years and older, and 2) garage-kept and driven on a limited basis, generally for pleasure rides and hobby activities.
The requested value of the motorcycle should reflect the vehicle’s current condition (photos substantiating the bike’s value are required). Bike appraisals are generally NOT required.
At insurance provider Hagerty, a motorcycle qualifies as a “classic” if it is more than 25 years or older, stored in a fully enclosed garage, and meets the minimum value requirement of $3,500. For collections of three or more motorcycles, the minimum value is $2,000 per bike. Furthermore, sidecars must be original equipment from the era of the bike’s original manufactured date.
As for “structurally modified motorcycles,” these bikes must be 35 years or older and insured for a minimum value of $7,500. Replica motorcycles can be considered (for instance. a 1951 H-D restored on a 1973 H-D frame).
At Geico, collector insurance is written through American Collectors or American Modern Insurance Group.
Esurance collector insurance is written through Hagerty.
At Progressive, “Vintage” coverage is available for bikes 25 years or older using an “agreed value” option.
The agreed value, which you provide and the insurance company confirms, is the market value of the motorcycle at the time of application, including the market value of all custom parts and equipment.
What this means is that the lower of the following will be used to settle a total loss: 1) The amount necessary to repair or replace the stolen or damaged property to its pre-loss condition, reduced by the applicable deductible; 2) The agreed value shown on the Declarations page, reduced by its salvage value if you retain ownership of the motorcycle. No deductible applies in the event of a total loss.
Remember, the agreed value should be updated on your policy whenever changes are made to your motorcycle.
Personalize Your MN ‘Collector’
Minnesota offers 15 different types of license plate for motorcycles yet, according to figures obtained from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, only about 10.5% of the nearly 230,000 motorcycles registered in the state feature a personalized plate.
Here we have listed all of the plate types available, offer a brief description, and document the number of motorcycles registered with each plate type.
Traditional Motorcycle … (205,527)
Collector Motorcycle … A motorcycle at least 20 model years old (11,988)
Disabled Motorcycle … Owned by riders who meet medical criteria certifying physical disability (258)
Firefighter Motorcycle … Owned by a member of a fire department (708)
Gold Star Family … Owned by spouse, parent, sibling or child of fallen service member (23)
Personalized Motorcycle … Maximum six (6) characters due to smaller size of motorcycle license plate (6,380)
Personalized Motorcycle Vertical … Maximum four (4) characters due to smaller size of motorcycle license plate and vertical display (386)
Proud to be a Veteran … Owned by veteran of the US Armed Forces. At time of initial application there is a one- time contribution of $30 to benefit the WWII memorial fund (187)
Support Our Troops … Requires minimum $30 annual contribution to special military families and veterans fund (2,917)
Veteran: Afghanistan … Owned by Afghan veteran who was awarded the Afghanistan service medal (146)
Veteran: Global War on Terrorism … Owned by veteran who was awarded the Global War on Terrorism expeditionary or service medal (113)
Veteran: Gulf War … Owned by veteran who has been awarded the SW Asia Service Medal after 1 August 1990 for service during operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm, or other military action in the Persian Gulf area (152)
Veteran: Iraq War … Owned by veteran who was awarded the Iraq service medal (579)
Veteran: Vietnam … Owned by veteran who served during the Vietnam Era between 1 July 1961 and 30 June 1978 (634)
Veteran: Korean Defense … Owned by veteran who received the Korean Defense Service Medal (2)