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News Feb 2022

Harleys ride high at Vegas, Jan 30

Harley Knucklehead

Harley-Davidson was clearly flavour of the month at the recent annual Mecum Las Vegas auction, with knuckleheads in particularly high demand.

A year or so ago, H-D's first overhead valve series was fetching in the vicinity of US$50,000, but that figure has edged much higher with typical prices more like US$70-100k.

A good example is the 1939 bike shown here, an EL which has been through a restoration. It went for an eye-watering Au$154,000 (US$107,800, GB£80,400).

Knucklehead backgrounder.

Harley VR1000

Meanwhile a rare 1994 VR1000 race bike, in its distinctive harlequin livery, went for Au$134,000 (US$93,500, GB£70,000).

Harley VR1000

VR1000 road bike specs and backgrounder.

Harley J twin

Vintage machines were also in demand. This 1919 J twin was an advanced bit of kit for its day, featuring electric lighting and a three-speed transmission. It fetched Au$236,000 (US$165,000, GB£123,000)

J-model backgrounder.

Japan highs and lows, Jan 29

Kawasaki H2 750

The annual Mecum motorcycle auction at Las Vegas has produced some highs and lows for owners of Japanese motorcycles.

We suspect the owner of the 1972 Kawasaki H2 750 would have been pretty pleased with the result on the ground-breaking two-stroke triple. It fetched Au$47,000 (US$33,000, GB£24,600), well above what we've typically seen these selling for.

It had however been the subject of a comprehensive restoration, which makes the selling price look a little more realistic.

Specs and backgrounder.

Honda GL1200

Meanwhile, as we predicted a few days ago, there were opportunities for the patient bargain-hunter. Fancy a bit of touring? This 1985 Honda GL1200 Gold Wing upgraded to Aspencade spec would lap the country with ease and was, according to the listing, in good running order with recent maintenance work.

It was sold with a mountain of upgrades and all the factory books for a mere Au$3200 (US$2200, GB£1700)...a steal.

Specs and backgrounder.

Ducati Value, Jan 29

Ducati 999R

Solid value at a recent Bring a Trailer auction: This 2006 Ducati 999R with 12,000km on the odo went for Au$24,000 (US$16,750, GB£12,500).

This is the second-gen 999, with some important upgrades and the series as a whole is probably under-rated at the moment.

Eighties style, Jan 28

Yamaha XJ650

What a profile! Yamaha XJ650 Turbo.

See our Turbo Kings feature.

Stroker twin, Jan 27


Different times, very different advertising. See our T500 mini feature.

Forgotten locals, Jan 26

Whiting motorcycle

Happy holiday. We thought we'd share this piece on three local and largely forgotten motorcycle makers, from Motorcycle Writer.

Vegas auction avalanche starts soon, Jan 25

Mecum Las Vegas

When the number of lots reaches 1750, even in a market the size of the USA (and international bidders) you have to wonder at the wisdom of entering your machine.

That's the case with the annual Mecum Las Vegas event, with the lots spread over Jan 25-29. It probably represents an opportunity for the sharp bargain-hunter, prepared to sit through the event and jump in during the quiet patches.

Kawasaki Z1300 Mecum

A few machines caught our eye: Such as an original-looking Kawasaki Z1300 above, and the exceptional 1912 Pierce Four below.

Pierce four

The Vincent Series C Black Shadow that features in the cover photo up top can be found here.

Full catalogue here.

Great baffling Batbikes, Batman! Jan 24


One of the more baffling results from the recent Mecum Kissimmee auction in the USA was for this, a replica of the 1968 Batman TV series Batbike, using a 1966 Yamaha DT1 Catalina 250 as the tractor.


The original had a fair pedigree, with several of the folk involved (including Barris Kustom Industries) also responsible for assorted wild cars from The Munsters TV series.

As for the Batbike replica, it's signed by actors Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin).

It includes a go-kart mounted on the sidecar frame, which is designed to deploy separately under its own power.  According to the listing: "Adam West later recalled that things didn't always go as planned. While Batman rode along on the relative gyroscopic stability of the Yamaha motorcycle and sidecar, Robin's challenging-to-control go-kart rarely went in the intended direction and he often ended up more white-knuckled than white lightning."


How much? It went for Au$76,000 (US$55,000, GB£41,000) See it here.

Cathedral of Moto Guzzi, Jan 23

Teo Lamers Moto Guzzi

It may not look it from the outside, but the building shown here houses part of what would easily be the biggest Moto Guzzi collection in Australia, and would be right up there in world rankings. It's Teo Lamer's new 'house of Guzzi' to the north of Melbourne, in Yea.

Teo Lamers Moto Guzzi

According to the owner:

Cathedral of Moto Guzzi now open to the public on Wednesdays from 13.00-17.00
Entrance fee $20 pp. Groups by appointment.
526 Ti Tree Creek Road, Yea. Tel 03 5780 2600

Teo Lamers Moto Guzzi

(Workshop pics: Ben Galli)

V2 Alchemy – today's time machine, Jan 22

V2 Alchemy

It's year 2000 and this V2 Alchemy special is up for sale at a substantial Au$11,500 (US$8200, GB£6100). These Ducati-based machines were produced by Brook Henry's V2 outfit in Western Australia in low numbers, essentially built to order.

Henry's crew (from the 1980s-on) took a bevel Ducati engine, treated it to a new single-shock shock chassis and did some pretty interesting engine work.

Now, similar machines are being put on the market for closer to Au$30,000 (US$21,000, GB£16,000) depending on spec and condition.

V2 Alchemy

There are of course exceptions. A rare race version is currently on the market through Bikesales, priced at a somewhat sobering Au$165,000 (US$118,000, GB£87,000. See it here.

Pantah play, Jan 16

Ducati Pantah

Classic Two Wheels has an excellent set of period road tests on Ducati's mid-size Pantah series. Well worth a look, here.

Flashback: The Blithering Stare, Jan 16


Anyone with kids will know the look. It’s that one that only your own offspring can do properly. We at Chateau Conrod call it the blithering idiot stare....more here.

Outlandish V-twin for auction, Jan 15

Travertson Vrex2

Ever heard of Travertson? Don't feel bad if the answer is no. This boutique constructor popped into view in the early 2000s and ended up building a modest number of outlandish machines using Harley-Davidson V-Rod mechanicals and electrics. It seemed to have fizzled out by 2014, though a website still exists.

Prices were as outlandish as the motorcycles. By the time this bike, the VREX 2, came along it was 2010-11 and it would set you back Au$70,000 (US$50,000, GB£37,000). There were some high-profile owners, including (we're told) actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This 2012 example has popped up for auction, as part of the annual giant Las Vegas January sales, via Mecum. Any guesses on what it will go for?

See this 2011 story for a little more background.

Laverda 1971, Jan 14

Laverda 750 SF

Stylish 750 SF ad from Laverda, 1971.

See the Bennetts (UK) classic review.

Last of the FZRs, Jan 12


This nicely-presented 1995 FZR1000 caught our eye, since surprisingly few survived as road bikes. Sales in the mid-nineties were pretty modest, so the fleet wasn't that large to start with. And you can expect to see it thin out further as Period 7 racing kicks off.

For enthusiasts, this represents the last FZR before the switch to the YZF1000R Thunderace, which struggled for anything like the same market traction.

This example claims 36,000km on the odo and is with a Queensland importer at Au$8950 (US$6500, GB£4800).

See the backgrounder and specs for the 1994 model, which is close except for some cosmetic tweaks;

And a feature on a first-model Castrol 6-Hour replica (1987) that graced our shed.

Laverda Jota 120, Jan 10

              Jota 120

With just 462 said to have been made, this Laverda Jota 120 is one of those models you rarely see on the market.

The 981cc triple is a 1982 model, with the 120-degree crankshaft engine (hence the 120 name) and was good for just shy of 220km/h. See the specs and backgrounder at Motorcycle Specs.

This example is located in Perth, claims a recent restoration, and is on the market for Au$32,500 (US$23,300, GB£17,200).

See the Classic Two Wheels 1986 Laverda SFC test.

Back to the Nineties, Jan 8

Triumph Speed Triple

It's not every day you get to indulge in a little time travel – getting to know our 'new' Mk1 Speed Triple. See the story here.

Yamaha RD/RZ500 on market, Jan 8

Yamaha RD500

In recent years we've seen prices climbing fairly steadily for this V4 Yamaha two-stroke from the eighties, as this example in the UK demonstrates.

It claims just 12,000 miles (19,000km) and to be in very good shape – on the market with a dealer for Au$41,600 (US$30,000, GB£22,000). See it on Ebay.

Ducati time, Jan 6

Ducati 860

Have just spent much of the last two days chasing rear cylinder oil leaks on this lovely thing, our 1975 Ducati 860 GT.

Working on a bevel was a whole new experience and was entertaining, to say the least. It’s all back together now. Fingers crossed on the result…more to come.

Bulk buy, Jan 5

Suzuki dirt

This is what happens when the collection develops a life of its own and reaches a scale that's near-impossible for one person to maintain, or even sell!

An enthusiast in Georgia, USA, has advertised a collection of 35-ish 1970s dirt bikes and three-wheelers, selling as a job lot for Au$44,000 (US$32,000, GB£24,000).

The seller explains he is driven by a need to move house. "I don’t have specific info on each unit but I do have several pictures of each bike and the Vin plate hopefully that will help you identify them I’m sorry I’m very busy and just don’t have time right now to do all the research!"

Speed Trip, Jan 4

speed triple

We recently showed a pic of the 1996 Triumph Speed Triple 900 collected from friend Paul Newbold last week, when it was semi-stripped for a bit of maintenance.
Here’s what it looks like with its clothes on - more to come…

See our profile on this model, and the Classic Two Wheels period road test

Good start, Jan 01

Speed Triple

Good start to the new year - a bit of maintenance on the newly-acquired 1996 Triumph Speed Triple 900.  More about this bike soon…

See our profile on this model, and the Classic Two Wheels period road test

Want earlier news & views? See our archive.


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