Making the cash/time continueum work
Imagine two pie charts next to each other. In one is all the money that you allot for the fun stuff you do. Unlike the government, you need to stay on budget so if you want to do more fun stuff, you to take funds away from the stuff you currently do. With me so far? OK, now for the other pie chart. In this one is the amount of time you spend doing your fun stuff so if going to a car show took up 20% of your time and like me want to take up flying, which will take 20% of your time, you’re done going to car shows for a while. It’s a simple concept. You’re on a strict financial and time budget. Where am I going with this? Well I tried the car restoration/collecting thing and it was a disaster so I’ve turned to motorcycles.
It’s like the car thing utilizing about half the time, money, and space
I’ve been riding motorcycles since the middle 70’s when I bought a 1975 Honda 125 to commute to school. I’ve owned a couple that I wish I hadn’t sold (and where have you heard that before?) like a 1978 Kawasaki KZ 900 and 1981 Kawasaki ZR 1000. Both of them in good shape are worth a fair amount of money because they were the fastest bikes of their time. I flip bikes and currently have two, a 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa and 1981 Honda CX 500. The Busa was a trail blazer when it debuted in 1999. Out of the box it was capable of going 200 mph and was the fastest bike on the planet. It has almost a cult-like following. Right now they don’t really appreciate in value but I think they will someday. I’ve learned to do most of the work on it myself while I rely on a local bike shop for the big stuff. Over the winter I had it dyno-tuned and it is faster than snot for having 57,000 miles on it.
The Honda is a different story. A good friend of mine had it sitting in his garage for a long time and I was always after him to help bring it out of its long sleep. Then one day I got a text from him asking if I wanted the bike because his wife wanted it out of the garage. I love her. The CX were developed by Honda in the late 70’s and featured technologies not found in that era such as liquid cooling, electric-only starting, shaft drive, and dual CV-type carbs. The item that is most recognized is the crankshaft configuration aligned longitudinally with the axis of the bike sort of like a Moto Guzzi. When I rev the engine, it feels torquey even though the transmission spins contrawise. There was also a turbo version of this bike which was manufactured into the 80’s. Honda made thousands of these and they are a very affordable first bike to learn how to work on.
I wanted nothing to do with the bike’s traditional design and went straight for the cafe racer look. I had to clean the old gas out of the tank, rebuild the carbs, replace the front fork seals, get new tires, and bleed the brakes. I like yellow and painted it with a rattle can. I cut the seat down and then fiberglassed the tail, ditched the old tail lights, bought a bikini cowl for the front, and installed a new handlebar and mirrors. I had a friend of mine do the vynyl graphics. I don’t have more than $600 into the bike and if I wanted to flip it for around $2,000 but it’s a fun bike and think I’ll hang into it for a while. So now I have two bikes in my garage taking up about the same space as a Nash Metropolitan.
Take this as far as you want to within your time/cash continuum
I would love to own a Ducati which is why this Paul Smart 1000 LE caught my eye. I mean, this is a rolling piece of art that wants to go fast. The engine is air-cooled, fuel injected, electronic ignition 1000DS (dual spark) 90-degree v-twin engine 992cc, two-valves, a quoted 92bhp at 8,000rpm. Ducati only made 2,000 of these which is why it was sold for $19,500. It has just 800 original miles on it. I would add another 800 miles pretty quick on it if I could afford it.
An American original
There were a bunch of motorcycle manufacturers in the US in the early years one of them being Vincent. These bikes were legendary for their speed in their battle with Harley-Davidson. My grandpa had one. That’s where i got the motorcycle bug from.
While it’s not numbers matching this Vincent Rapide is still a fantastic bike and the restorer spent a lot of time on it, especially the chrome parts. If I were to purchase this bike and ride it the bike would only go out on sunny days where there was zero chance of rain. Getting the chrome to shine this well takes a ton of work as does keeping it that way. Up for auction at $52,000 is really a deal because it probably would take about three times that amount to restore it.
A hometown favorite
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a Made-In-Milwaukee Harley-Davidson. HD bikes from the early years can be a great investment like this 1945 Harley Davidson Knucklehead. This example looks frozen in time. Older Restoration with mostly original parts. Numbers Match. Original Engine, Frame, Carburetor, Tins etc Less than a 1000 of these bike were produced in 1945!
What’s great about this bike is that all you would need to do is put gas in it and go. It would be a real head turner in a parade or bike night. Auction price was set at $35,000 and it was sold.
The grandad of big Japanese bikes
Before there bikes like my Busa, there was the Honda CB 750 which turns 50 this year. Introduced in January it is described as the first superbike. It waa the first bike from a mainstream manufacturer featuring an electric start and disc brakes needed to slow down what was the fastest bike of its time running the quarter-mile in around 12 seconds with a top speed of 120 mph. All this fun came for just $1,495. Sales quickly outpaced Honda’s projections and the bike remained in production until 2003.
Early production models can command a decent investment, the prototypes, which only two of the four are known to survive even more. Just last year one sold for around $224,000.
But you don’t have to spend that kind of money to get in the game. Most of them are very affordable like this 1977 Honda CB 750 which sold for just $2,500. What you get for just a bit more than the original list price is a bike that has so many ways to go. You could go crazy with a full restoration or like I did with my CX500, turn it into a Cafe Racer.
There are tons of performance parts for the bike from carbs to exhaust. What I love about the Cafe Racer craze is that every bike becomes an extension of the owner. The bike is super-easy to work on but if you get stuck it has very active owner forums like Honda Twins so don’t feel intimidated or bashful. I’ve gone to the CX 500 forum a bunch of times and always found them helpful.
So there you have it, lot’s of options that don’t have to make you worry how you’re going to pay for your kid’s education or missing a mortgage payment. Best of all, even owning several bikes will all fit in even the smallest of garages.