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News May 2024

Proto Vetter Hurricane, May 22

vetter hurrican prototype

A pre-production 1972 Vetter Triumph X75 Hurricane has popped up on the international market, in the USA, and has a fascinating story behind it.

Auction house Classic Avenue says it is the market-test machine sent to the USA and one of maybe two or three prototypes, and one of two claiming to still be in existence. It would appear to have the best-founded provenance.

In any case, it's been in the same hands since 1972, when the current owner spotted it at a dealership and bought it on the spot. The dealership quickly tried to reclaim the machine, which apparently shouldn't have been sold.

However the then new owner refused to relent.

See it here.

See the X75 review by Roland Brown at Hagerty.

See the Triumph T160 (with video) in our shed.

XS love, May 20

yamha xs650

Just what the young British man about town aspired to back in 1979 – parking the XS650 in Mum and Dad's lounge room for a bit of light polishing before Coronation Street fired up on the telly.

See the profile at Motorcycle Specs.

MV Ago auction, May 20

mv agusta ago

Donington Auctions (Australia) has opened bidding on an eclectic mix of current and future classics, including the MV Agusta F4 Ago pictured.

MV Agusta’s F4 series was a crucial revival for the brand, launched with the 750 inline four back in 1999.

At that time the first offering was the Serie Oro (Gold Series), a limited run of 300 machines priced at what was then a staggering Au$60,000 (US$40,000, GB£31,000).

MV soon offered a Strada version for more like Au$25,000 (US$17,000, GB£13,000).

The designer behind these beauties was none other than Massimo Tamburini, the master who penned Ducati’s iconic 916 series.

By 2004 MV Agusta bumped the radial valve powerplant up to a full litre and these bikes were sold for around Au$32,900 (US$22,000, GB£17,000).

A number of special editions were produced over time, with perhaps the most iconic being the Ago, named after the company’s most famous GP racer, Giacomo Agostini.

Producing around 166hp, the Ago received numerous upgrades and was retailed for Au$52,000 (US$35,000, GB£27,000) plus on-road costs. It proved to be a hit with the cognoscenti. 

This example has zero miles on the odo and is number 15 of 300 made.

See the MV Agusta F4 1000 Nero in our shed

Pre-production RG500 auction, May 19


A pre-production RG500 that has never been started and was once in Suzuki Australia's modest collection has popped up on the market. Located in Perth, it's being sold through Iconic in the USA.

See our RG500 profile.

China Wing, May 19

great wall motors s200gl

Meet the Souo S2000 GL, the Gold Wing challenger from Great Wall Motor. Running a four-valve, DOHC flat eight with eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, it's a clear exercise in one-upmanship over the Honda.

Cycle World has a detailed run-down on it.

Twin Wings, May 18


Yep, we've gone out of our way to raise the absurdity level in the shed. See the story here.

DGR this Sunday, May 17

distinguished gentlemans ride

The extraordinary Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is on this Sunday, May 19, with events across the world fundraising for a range of health causes.

See the main page here;

Triumph Motorcycles has long been the major sponsor;

And we reckon turning up for the ride in Castlemaine, Victoria, is a pretty good way to spend the day. Local Brian Rix has organised the event and you can find it here.

Random brochure for the day: Laverda Jota, May 17

Laverda Jota

Big bold Jota ad from 1981-82. See the contemporary road test from Cycle World.

Plus Ian Falloon's story on the ground-breaking 3C.

Parts trivia solution, May 17

honda valkyrie

Our solution from the latest parts trivia challenge: yep, it was a Honda Valkyrie 1500 powerplant.

valkyrie engine

See our Valkyrie profile feature.

Minsk in a crate, May 16

minsk wildcat

Auction find for the day: a 1998 Minsk Wildcat 125 two-stroke four-speed single still in its shipping crate, sold by Bring a Trailer in the USA.

It went for Au$3300 (US$2200, GB£1700).

The Belarus brand had a relatively low profile in the West until UK motoring show Top Gear in 2008 did an epic ride in Vietnam on a gaggle of machines. One of them was a Minsk, ridden by Richard Hammond. See it on YouTube.

Minsks were for a time in wide use in North Vietnam but in recent years have become a far less common sight.

We were there recently for the Ha Noi Run – see it here.

Parts trivia: what's the powerplant? May 15

parts trivia

Righto, brains trust...what make and model is this engine out of? We'll bring you the solution in a few days.

Five grand challenge, May 14

              Sprint RS

Just for a laugh we hopped on bikesales and did a search for what $5000 would buy us. Quite a lot as it turns out.

Here are our two favourites.

First up a 2004 Triumph Sprint RS. This was the lesser-known machine in the range and arguably the pick if you didn't need the touring features offered with the Sprint ST. It was certainly stylish and performed well.

This one is in WA – perhaps an excuse for a long ride for you easterners...

See our Sprint ST profile.

BMW k1200 RS

And from BMW we have the 2005 K1200S. This is the across-the-frame engine series and in this case claimed a Blackbird-matching 165hp – so it was a serious performer.

You get a lot of fruit with these, such as ABS and shaft drive. This example appears to have ESA (electrically-adjusted suspension) and heated handgrips.

Parts trivia solution: Suzuki, May 12

parts trivia

Our parts trivia challenge for last week was from a recent addition to the shed, a 1987 Suzuki GSX-R1100H. More on that bike soon.

In the meantime, see our GSX-R1100 guide.

suzuki gsxr1100h

Spotted: Great Wall flat 8 prototype, May 11

great wall 8

More images have emerged of the flat-eight-powered Goldwing-style motorcycle being developed by China-based Great Wall Motors. See them here.

Shock & Awe – the Beattie Files, May 11

boss hoss

Young Beattie gets to grips with a big brute of a V8...see the story.

Pic: Boss Hoss USA

Dedication, May 10

Yamaha RDs

A spectacular line-up of RD Yamahas – how's that for a committed collector?

Spotted on the Classic 2 Strokes Facebook page.

See our RD250-350 brochure gallery, and the RD250-400 gallery.

How much for the Imola Ducati? May 10

ducati imola

Gooding & Co is currently selling one of seven surviving Ducati 750 Desmos out of a batch of eight built for the victorious tilt at the 1972 Imola 200.

Bidding, with several days to go, is halfway to mid-estimate at Au$530,000 (US$350,000, GB£280,000).

How high will it go?

See our backgrounder.

Random pic for the day: Gen 1 Hayabusa, May 8


One of our Gen 1 Suzuki Hayabusas, aka Hannibal. Pic by Lou Martin.

See the story on this bike here.

See our Hayabusa resources page.

Camchains and raiders of the lost forums, May 7


There’s a job out there for anyone who can make sense of online forums – join us for the great camchain tensioner hunt...

Spotted: Honda CB350 twin, May 5


There was a time when older Honda twins like this CB350 were a common sight on our roads. Not any more...see our mini profile.

Hope springs eternal at auction, May 5

suzuki rg500

We're often staggered by the prices people are prepared to pay at auction for project bikes, They can often seem disproportionately high when you take into account the likely restoration costs.

For example the Suzuki RG500 project above went at a recent Bonhams auction for Au$22,400 (US$14,000, GB£11,250). A quick check of bikesales shows two apparently good running examples available for under Au$30,000 (US$20,000, GB£16,000).

See our RG500 profile.


A series C Vincent Comet single project went for Au$24,300 (US$16,000, GB£12,800). In Australia, a decent runner can be had for Au$30-40,000 (US$20-26,000, GB£16-21,000)

Parts trivia for the week, May 3

parts trivia

Parts trivia challenge for the week: what brand, model and year?

Responses to

Mighty two-strokes: Yamaha R-3, May 2

yamaha r3

Back in 1969, Yamaha launched its third generation 350 two-stroke twin road bike, the R-3. Here's our mini profile of a machine that pulls heartstrings even today.

yamaha r3

Top pic: Mecum Auctions

If you're looking for the modern YZF-R3 four-stroke, see our buyer guide at bikesales.

Gooding highlights, May 1

Gooding & Co has released the catalogue for its upcoming classic auction, which is headlined by the ultra-rare Imola Ducati 750SS we featured a week ago. Here are a few highlights.

mv Agusta 750S

1975 MV Agusta 750S America

honda cb750-four k0

1969 Honda CB750-Four K0 sandcast

ducati 900ss

1981 Ducati 900SS

Laverda sfc

1974 Laverda 750 SFC

There is a lot in there for the Honda collector, including one of two surprises, such as a 1978 GL1000 Gold Wing with a pretty solid estimate.

See the full catalogue here.

Flashback: an afternoon with Kate, April 29

suzuki katana

The sun is out and Kate the Katana was making weird real or imagined sounds like a recipe for a good afternoon. See the story here.

See our 2020 Hayabusa & Katana feature.

Double Douglas, April 27

double douglas
double douglas

Spotted by Rob Blackbourn at today's All British Rally gathering in Maldon (Vic), a home-built double-engined Douglas. Note the custom disc brake front end. Nice work!

See the Douglas Dragonfly review at Classic Bike Guide.

See our All British Rally galleries: from 2019, plus 2022.

Trivia challenge, April 26

parts trivia moto guzzi

The parts trivia challenge (above) from last weekend got a few people going, with a few guesses coming close and a couple of picking the solution. It is a recent addition to the fleet, a 1993 Moto Guzzi Daytona 1000.

moto guzzi daytona

More on this bike soon. In the meantime, here's our feature on the model.

Saddle buddies, April 26

bmw r1300gs 1975 honda goldwing

Trivia question for the day: what do a 2024 BMW R 1300 GS Triple Black and an American market 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing have in common?

Weirdly, the seating position. The handlebar to rider seat height measurement is near-as-dammit identical, as is the handgrip-to-rider-saddle centre measurement, and the rider saddle to rider footpeg. Maybe those designers, nearly 50 years ago, were on to something...

Watch this space for more on the Bimmer and another variant – meanwhile, here's the factory page;

See the latest on the Gold Wing in the shed.

Imola Ducati Auction, April 25

ducati imola

One of just seven surviving Imola Ducati 750SS is hitting the auction circuit with Gooding & Co, in a sale running May 8-17.

The historically important V-twin is expected to fetch Au$1-1.15 million (US$650-750,000, GB£520-600,000).

See our story, which includes links to a video of the bike being ridden and three backgrounder features.

Darwin for sale, April 25

bmw r1150gs

We've decided to put our Darwin GS on the market. A quick recap: we bought this 2001 BMW R1150GS in Darwin mid last year simply so we could have a nice long 4000km (2500 mile) ride back to Melbourne.

northern territory bmw r1150gs

See the road diary.


Of course we have two 1150s and one needs to go – see the ownership story.

Find the ad for the Darwin bike on bikesales.

Collector 996 hits $111k, April 24


A new-old-stock 2000 Ducati 996SPS, showing just one mile on the odo, has sold in the USA via Bring a Trailer for Au$111,000 (US$72,000, GB£56,000).

The hugely inflated price can be put down to the perfectly-preserved out-of-the-crate condition of the machine, which is the proverbial catnip for investors. Nevertheless it's a remarkable result given 1780 of the type were made and this is number 1653.

ducati 996r

By way of contrast, a 2001 Ducati 996R sold via Iconic in the USA last year for Au$66,000 (US$43,000, GB£34,500). This was number 81 of a more exclusive club, with just 500 made. It had 3100 miles (5000km) on the odo.

ducati 996sps

Before you rush to put your own 996 on the market, bikesales lists seven from Au$15,500 up to Au$32,000 (US$10-21,000, GB£8-17,000). The top price is for the 996SPS shown above, in a condition that suggests careful checking and a claimed 15,000km (9300 miles) under its wheels.

See our story on the Ducati 996SPS Pista

Mystery bit, April 21

parts trivia

Mystery bit for the week – something to keep you motorcycling savants busy. Nice clocks and what are they from? We'll confirm the answer next weekend, here and in our email newsletter.

You don't get our newsletter? Sign up here – it's free!

Flashback: Kawasaki turbo, April 20

kawasaki turbo

It's the 1980s and the big four Japanese makers have had a crack at the idea of turbo motorcycles with varying degrees of success.

When we finally stumped up our own cash for one, it was a Kawasaki GPz750E. See the story here.

And our Turbo Kings overview of main players, here.

(Pic by Stuart Grant)

Charley run, April 20

charley boorman

If you're a fan of the Long Way Round video series that kicked off in 2004, and arguably helped make adventure touring mainstream in our riding culture, this might appeal.

Charley Boorman, who did the original epic with then more famous side-kick Ewen McGregor, is signed up to act as host/figurehead a tour in Australia, among other places.

The Australian version heads from Melbourne to Sydney, via Tasmania, a 10-day trip of some 3000km. It's not cheap, but if you have spare cash we suspect it could be a lot of fun. The folk running it say they can include bike hire in the event.

See the Instagram video.

Popular BSA, April 18

BSA most

A big claim from BSA using the endorsement of ISDT champion Fred Rist. The gent had an impressive track record and a colourful life. See the brief historical piece from Classic Motorcycle.

Flat eight from China, April 17

great wall flat eight

Chinese vehicle manufacturer Great Wall Motors (GWM) is expected to reveal two new motorcycles at this month's Beijing Auto Show, running flat-eight DOHC powerplants in what would appear to be a one-upmanship tactic over Honda's flat six Goldwing.

See this report at

The models are expected to be a 'Wing-like tourer plus a cruiser along the lines of a Valkyrie.

The news has come about thanks to what appears to be some deliberate leaks ahead of the unveiling. Among the material is a series of technical drawings of the powerplant with underslung transmission and shaft final drive. There is no confirmation of engine capacity, but somewhere around 2.0lt would seem likely.

GWM owns several automotive brands, including Great Wall, Haval, Tank and Ora. So far there has been no announcement of a motorcycle brand name.

Chance encounter – John Surtees, April 17

john surtees mv agusta

Ian Falloon, in a post to his Retrospective web feed, recalls a chance encounter with motorcycle and F1 world champion John Surtees. It gives a warm insight into the person behind the victories – see it here.

Brits, Italians, books and bits – auction results, April 16


British and Italian motorcycles were flavour of the week at the recent Donington classic auction, while project bikes, books and bits found a strong audience

See the story, here.

Honda hunt, April 14

Honda 1971

Honda motorcycle range, 1971. Have you owned or ridden any of them?

It was an interesting time as the 450 twin was on the road to being phased out, while the might CB750-Four, in K1 guise, sold an incredible 77,000 that year – it's biggest ever.

See our CB750-Four profile.

Rare retro: Kawasaki 650-RS, April 13

kawasaki 650-RS

You can be forgiven if you've never seen one before – a circa 1972 domestic model Kawasaki 650 twin, based on the old Meguro/W1 platform.

See the W1/2 backgrounder from Old Bike magazine, published by Shannons.

Final weekend for classic auction, April 13


The Donington classic auction in Australia is in its final days, finishing up tomorrow afternoon, with some sorely tempting toys on offer. See our 10-bike preview.

See the full catalogue.

Casey Stoner bank-buster & UK bargains, April 11

casey stoner ducati gp7

A recent major auction by Iconic in the UK threw up a weird mix of results, revealing a patchy market, including a former Casey Stoner team Ducati GP7 (which we highlighted last month) that failed to sell. See the story here.

Montesa – today's random brochure, April 10


You have to love the model names!

See the 1966 Cycle World review of the Impala Sport 250.

Laverda auction, April 9


This 1981 Laverda Jota 1000 sold through Collecting Cars last night for Au$25,000 (US$14,000, GB£11,000).

The model was the last of the 180-degree-engined Jota line and it's interesting to see the marque gaining strong interest, even though it's long out of production despite several attempts at revival.

See the Jota 1000 review at RoadRunner

Our Laverda 3C profile

And our SFC1000 profile

Norton Nemesis revival, April 8


Hugely ambitious, to the point of being delusional, Norton's much-promoted Nemesis 1500cc V8 project of the late 1990s resulted in the construction of a prototype which these days belongs to the UK's National Motorcycle Museum.

A couple of decades down the track, the bike has been handed over to creative engineer Allen Millyard to restore and get running properly – something only someone with his unusual skill set could undertake with any degree of confidence.


So far, he has produced a series of three YouTube videos on the project revealing some spectacularly complex and obtuse design elements.

See the quick Motorcycle Specs backgrounder on the Nemesis.

Millyard, by the way, has built some exceptional one-offs over time, including a Kawasaki Z1-based V8.

See our Norton Commando profile

UK National Motorcycle Museum

(Nemesis pic via Tony Hisgett, Wikimedia Commons)

Ducati 916 – defining an era, April 6

ducati 916

Author Ian Falloon looks back at his very early encounters with the Ducati that would redefine the marque – the 916. See the story here.

Two, three, four and six pots for the collector, April 5

              750 sport

Vincent, MV Agusta, Ducati, Triumph, Honda and more catch our eye at the current Donington are the highlights.

mv agusta 350 b sport

Kawasaki Mach III, April 4

Kawasaki Mach
              III H1

One of our all-time favourite brochure shots – 1973 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III.

See the period road test at Classic Two Wheels.

See our H2 profile.

Flashback: Red Zed, April 3

kawasaki zx-12R

A quick spin on the Kawasaki ZX-12R a couple of days ago reminded us of just how much fun it is – it's at risk of becoming a favourite. Here's our wrap from late last year.

Electric GoldWing challenger, April 3

felo tooz

Emerging Thai electric motorcycle maker Felo has shown off a GoldWing-sized electric tourer prototype called the Tooz, claiming a range of 720km (450 miles). See the story at New Atlas.

Dream run, April 2

honda dream

We tripped over this 1960 ride impression of the then new Honda Dream C72 250, conducted by The Motorcycle in the UK on the Isle of Man circuit.

The tester rated it as a civilised ride with a few practical features, though the performance of the not-quite-run-in engine was scored as average. This model was about a month away from entering the UK market, distributed by Maico.


Donington Auctions has an example up for sale at the moment, with an estimate of Au$3000-4000 (US$2000-2600, GB£1500-2000).

Full auction catalogue.

Donington auction begins, April 1

Triumlh Daytona

Donington Auctions in Melbourne has opened bidding for its classic motorcycle auction. Among the lots is this 1969 Triumph T100R Daytona 500, a US-spec model which would appear to be in running condition with a lot of recent work done.

It carries an estimate of Au$14-17,000 (US$9-11,000, GB£7-9000).

Full auction catalogue.

See the Motorcycle Specs data and backgrounder.

Single spin, April 1

Yamaha SR500

A great way to round out the Easter long weekend: taking Cousin Russell's old Yamaha SR500 out for a spin. A delightful low-stress ride. (Ben Galli pic.)

See our story on this bike.


See our news archive


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