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News archive Aug 2020

No more chain lube? August 31


BMW is claiming it has developed a 525-pitch chain that needs no conventional lubrication. Big news if the claims are right. See more here.

The mighty XLs, August 31

Honda XL350

Join us for a quick profile of Honda's seventies soft-roader, the 1974-78 XL350, with a nod to the flying 250. See it here.

Burners, August 30

Triumph Sprint

Every good classic motorcycle collection should have a sacrificial bike, a burner. See the story here.

Kawasaki glam, August 29

Kawasaki zx-10 1989

We've always had a bit of a soft spot for the high eighties glam looks of Kawasaki's first-gen ZX-10, backed up by muscle and a quick cruise ability that claimed a top speed near 270km/h.

It sat between the GPZ1000RX and ZZ-R1100 as the company's top sports tourer for 1988-89.

Basic specs included 137 horses, 222kg dry weight, a 10.3 sec standing quarter mile time. We've got one in the shed, so maybe it's time to dust it off and do a story. Watch this space...

Sleeper Stroker, August 28

Yamaha RZ500

This subtle restomod fixes the RZ500's unruly behavior and makes it a much quicker toy. See the story here.

Big numbers for classics at Shannons, August 27

Yamaha OW-01

The Shannons Winter classic auction that closed last night came up with some very solid numbers for the 13 bikes on offer.

Leading the pack was a 1989 Yamaha OW-01 (lot 84, above) that went for Au$42,500 (US$32,000, GBP23,000). That's in line with what's happened elsewhere in the world, but is a long way up from the estimate and what local examples have recently been selling for.

Classic Nortons were clearly in favour this time around, with the 1974 John Player special (lot 81, below) fetching $35,500, a 1968 Fastback (lot 78) scoring $33,500 and a 1971 Commando 750 (lot 80) $28,500.

The owner of a 1935 Panther Model 100 Redwing (lot 73) should also be pretty pleased with the result, at $37,500.

Perhaps most staggering was the price paid for NSW motorcycle plate '2' – $251,000 (lot 71).

See our backgrounders on two of the prime lots:

Yamaha FZR750R; Norton Commando.

See our FZR750R OW-01 profile here.


71 NSW motorcycle number plate ‘2’ $251,000
72 1954 Puch SGS 250 $11,800
73 1935 Panther Model 100 Redwing 600 $37,500
74 1930 Sunbeam Model 9 500 $27,500
75 1929 BSA S-29 Sloper 500 $24,000
76 1912 Peerless 500 $28,900
77 1958 Ariel VH Red Hunter 500 $14,000
78 1968 Norton Commando Fastback 750 $33,500
79 1970 Triumph T120R Bonneville 650 $17,000
80 1971 Norton Commando 750 $28,500
81 1974 Norton Commando John Player 850 $35,500
82 1969 Ducati 250 Mk3 $16,500 (passed in)
83 1983 Ducati S2 900 $29,000
84 1989 Yamaha FZR750R OW-01 $42,500

Norton John Player commando

Dynamite Norton, August 26

Norton Atlas dynamite

Two of our favourite Norton ads, from 1968 and New Jersey (USA) dealer the Berliner Motor Corporation. Clearly the copywriters wanted to make the most of the whole 'dynamite' theme once they came up with it, so it got trotted out in 1968 for the Atlas 750 above and P-11 Scrambler below.

In case 'dynamite' didn't have you sold, the Atlas buyer was promised, "A twist of the throttle instant response from a meticulously prepared 60hp engine of vertical twin design...an engine whose heritage is a direct line to 34 Isle of Man competition victories."

See the story on our Commando Mk3.

Norton P11 scrambler dynamite

R1 Racer, August 26

Yamaha R1 petronas srt replica

Yamaha fans in Europe can get their scone-grabbers on an R1-based Petronas SRT MotoGP satellite team replica, for track use only. Just 46 are being made, at an eye-watering price of around Au$80,000. They include a matching helmet, clothing and a VIP pass to a MotoGP round of the buyer's choosing. See the MC News story here for more tech detail.

Mondial dream, August 25

Mondial Piega

Mondial’s revival in 1999 promised much, but the finances didn’t hold together. There's one on the market at the moment. See the story here.

Bear or Porker? August 24

Yamaha Big Bear

Yamaha's early foray into the world of dirt bikes sometimes copped some unhappy criticism. See the Big Bear story here.

Ready Racer, August 23

Suzukii RGV250

Suzuki’s RGV250 really was a racer with lightssee the profile here.

Loch Ness Rider, August 22

indian chief vintage 2009

Are you a real motorcyclist? Let's hope not! See the story here.

pic by Ben Galli Photography

Most sophisticated? August 21

Honda Goldwing 1975

The start of a legend and spaceship back in 1975. Look for our upcoming feature.

Strong prices for star twins, August 21

ducati 750ss 1974

These two featured lots at a recent RM Sothebys auction went for strong numbers:

The 1974 Ducati 750 SS went for US$174,000 (Au$242,000, GBP132,000);

And the 1946 Indian Chief Roadmaster went for US$27,000 (Au$37,500, GBP20,500).

Both are very much in line with current trends.

Indian chief roadmaster 1946

Bidding gets serious for Yamaha FZR750R OW-01, August 20

Yamaha OW-01

Bidding on the Yamaha FZR750R OW-01 at the current Shannons online auction has already sailed past the Au$15-20,000 estimate and currently sits at $32,500 (US$23,400, GBP17,800) with several days to go.

Given the high numbers fetched by other superbike homolgation specials, such as Honda's RC30, some market observers (including us) have long felt this model may have been undervalued in the Australian market, which saw them changing hands recently for as low as $20k, with the usual range being $20-25k. Evidently that's no longer the case.

Bonhams sold another example in 2018 for $47,500. It was factory-fresh and had just 74 miles on the odo.

Another lot we highlighted some days ago, a 1974 John Player Norton Commando, has already hit the upper end of the pre-auction estimate of $24-28,000 and is sitting on $27,500k.

See our previews here: Yamaha FZR750R; Norton Commando.

See our FZR750R OW-01 profile here.

Norton John Player commando

Bronze Busa up for grabs, August 20

suzuki hayabusa

We'd love to know what happened to them all, as you just don't often see these bronze first-gen Haybusas coming on the market. It's for sale here (Facebook) at $12,350 with 40,000km on the odo. It claims to be an 8.5/10 on condition. (Update Aug 21 – the bike has sold.)

See our Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa buyer guide here.


Next project, August 20

sidecar workshop

Late delivery and our next project – installing a replacement engine, from a wrecker, in Dr Gange the Suzuki GS1000G sidecar. Wish us luck!

engine on trolley

Oddballs, August 19

Vesco Yamaha RD250

It’s time to build your own cabinet of curiosities. See the story here.

Big numbers for Bicester auction, August 18

Ducati Hailwood

The recent giant Bicester auction by Bonhams showed some interesting results. A concours 1979 Ducati 900 Hailwood Replica (lot 344, above) fetched a staggering Au$67,000 (US$48,000, GBP37,000), said by the company to be a UK record.

Benelli 250 racer

There were some other big results, such as the ex-Provini 1964 Benelli 250 GP bike (lot 680, above) fetching $272k.

A high-profile no-sale was the 1965 four-cylinder Ducati racer (lot 654, below) which was estimated at $720k-1.1 million.

ducati 125 racer

The sheer volume may have presented a challenge to the market, with 200 motorcycles from the Morbidelli collection alone, and another 160 from various other vendors. Plus there were another 300-plus miscellaneous lots covering memorabilia, parts and so-on. See the results here, plus a few more highlights below.

egli voincent by godet

2016 Egli Vincent by Godet, lot 414 – $115k

MV Agusta 750S

1974 MV Agusta 750S, lot 415 – $121k

Vincent black shadow

1951 Vincent Series B Black Shadow, lot 408 – $113k

matchless v twin

1927 Matchless 928 M3/S Sports Solo, lot 403 – $63k

Honda CBX1000

1979 Honda CBX1000, lot 700 – $17k

Bombshell Bimmer, August 17

BMW S 1000 RR

Could BMW's first-series S 1000 RR ever make it to collector status? We reckon it will, eventually, and in the meantime it has heaps to offer as a used buy. See the profile here.

Return of the Salt Ghost, August 17

Salt Ghost

Now for something a little different – as part of a virtual film festival on what Hemmings in the USA describes as "all things Bonneville" we bring you a feature-length flick called The Salt Ghost. It tracks the story of the rediscovery and revival of an old Triumph twin that spent years being fired down the famous salt flat in pursuit of glory. Worth a look when you have an hour to spare.

See the virtual film festival link here.

Ajay and the GSX1100, August 16

ANdrew Johnson 1981 Suzuki GSX1100

We couldn't resist bringing you this shot by Robin Lewis, of Andrew 'Ajay' Johnson hard at it in the 1981 Calder two-hour, which he won. (Pic copyright owned by Robin Lewis.)

Suzuki GSX1100s filled the top two places in the Castrol Six-Hour production race that year, followed by a Yamaha XS1100. See the results here.

The big GSX1100 (below) remains an entertaining ride, after all these years. See the archived 'our bikes' story here.

Suzuki GSX1100

Project 6-Hour hits the road, August 15

Yamaha FZR1000 1987

Finally, our first-model Yamaha FZR1000 is let out of the shed. See the story here.

Going Hossack style, August 15

ADB Hossack test

Canberra-based Laurie Smith has developed a Hossack-style front end for motorcycles. See the ADB review here.

New clutch for the Ducati, August 14

Ducati 916 clutch replacement

It was time to give the 916 a little love. See the story here.

pics by Ben Galli Photography

Suzuki GSX-R1100 profile, August 14

Suzuki GSX-R1100

Suzuki’s mighty GSX-R1100 has plenty of fans – let’s take a look at how they stack up in the used market. (From our archives.)

Plus, we've spotted this exceptional-looking first model (below) for sale at Bikesales – here's the link.

Suzuki GSx-R1100G

Twin features for Sothebys, August 13

ducati 750ss 1974

Since we got on the topic of collectors and the round-case Ducati 750SS the other day (see August 11), another has popped at a staggered online auction at Sothebys. It's just one of two motorcycles in a high-end classic car field at Monterey.

This 1974 green frame (lot 210) is well-documented and has travelled a little over 17,000km and claims to be in mostly original condition. The estimate range is US$150-200k (Au$209-280k). It is currently at US$85k (Au$118k) with two days to go. The gallery is well worth a look.

The other bike to have slipped through the net is this 1946 Indian Chief Roadmaster (lot 117) at no reserve and with an estimate of US$22.5k-27.5k (Au$31-38k). It was at US$15.5k (Au$21k) with just over a day to go.

See the full list of lots – worth looking through if you're a petrol-head.

Indian chief roadmaster 1946

Last of the Laverdas, August 12

Laverda 750S Formula

Laverda's last sports bike was a fascinating toy that struggled to find market traction. See the story here.

Building the ultimate collection, August 11

Ducati 750ss green frame

What advice do you give someone with the means to buy the ultimate motorcycle collection? Author and classic advisor Ian Falloon was recently in that unusual situation. Here's how the discussion went.

Gamma Racer, August 10

Suzuki RG500 Gamma

A profile on one of our favourite two-strokes, the Suzuki RG500 Gamma. See the story here.

Almost done, August 9

Yamaha FZR1000 1987

Project 6-Hour, the 1987 Yamaha FZR1000 we bought cheap a few years ago with a blown head gasket, is just about done. We're going over the front brakes this afternoon and then it should be right. Look for the story later in the week. Meanwhile you can see the trials and tribulations so far on the 'our bikes' page – look for Yamaha FZR1000.

Museum piece, August 8

Kawasaki ZRX1200R

With another transport of delight on the way, and no money in the bank, it was time to sell – quickly. See the story here.

Norton Commando JPS on the block, August 7

Norton Commando john player

The next Shannons online classic auction – August 19-26 – features this rather nice 1974 Norton Commando John Player, with the lightweight replica race glass. See more here.

Across Africa, August 6

Honda Africa Twin

Though still more or less the new kid on the block, Honda’s late-model Africa Twin adventure tourer has a fascinating history and potential as a collector piece. See the story here.

Honda XRV650

Cover up, August 5

Yamaha SR500

Two attempts. You wouldn’t think fitting a set of fork gaiters was that hard, would you? See the story here.

Mecum Indy proves USA market still buoyant, August 4

Kawasaki Z1 1975

The results of last month's big Indy auction by Mecum suggest that, despite the USA going through torrid economic times, the collector market is very much alive and well.

Norton Commando MkIII

Seventies motorcycles scored solid results, with three from the one collection proving to be good bellweathers:

The 1975 Kawasaki Z1-B (900) shown at top, with 1250 miles, went for US$20,350 (UK£15,500, Au$28,500);
A 1975 Norton 850 MkIII (above) with just 28 miles went for US$24,200 (UK£18,500, Au$34,000);
And a 1973 Vetter Triumph X75 Hurricane (below) with 4900 miles fetched US$27,500 (UK£21,000; Au$38,600).
Of the three, it was the Norton result that came as the biggest surprise.

Vetter Triumph Hurricane

Pierce arrow 1911

Meanwhile the really big guns were wheeled out for the 1911 two-speed Pierce Arrow, recognised as the USA's first four-cylinder motorcycle and to some extent based around the earlier Belgian FN four. The example above fetched US$225,000 (UK£172,000, Au$316,000).

See more results here.

Time Travel, August 3

Kawasaki Z1-R

Dammit. I thought I was over this stuff. Back in 1979 muggins happened to be living in a share house in Canberra when one of the residents came home with his latest acquisition: a shiny new Kawasaki Z1-R. To say it was impressive would be understatement of the year. See the story here.

How much for the R80G/S? August 2


A well-preserved 1986 BMW R80G/S in Italy is scoring solid interest at Catawiki, with bidding reaching 12,000 Euros (Au$20,000) with a week to go. The site estimates the bike, with 24,000km on the odo. will reach €22-25,000 (Au$36-41,000).

Interest in this model has skyrocketed in recent years. In part that's due to the rise of adventure tourers in the market, and that this model is credited with being the first of the modern genre. Just four to five years ago, you could have picked up a good one for around $7-8k.

See a local blog on this model, by Chris Harris – Paris Dakar Melbourne.

Brisbane motorcycle exhibition to go ahead, August 2

black knight by mark hazam

Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) has scheduled to open its big motorcycle exhibition late this year, on November 28. The event appears to be similar in spirit to the Guggenheim's Art of the Motorcycle from 1998. More info here.

Yamaha OW-01 on the block, August 1

Yamaha OW-01

The upcoming Shannons online auction has a smattering of motorcycles among the lots, with this Yamaha OW-01as one of the highlights. More here.

Want more news? See our archive.


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