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News Feb 2024

Singular Saturno, Feb 28

gilera saturno
              350

Another oddball spotted today by a reader: 1988 Gilera Saturno Bialbero 350 – the smaller-capacity sibling to the 500. It's advertised for Au$9000 (US$5900, GB£4600), with the seller offering a 500 barrel and piston kit as part of the deal.

See the Motorcycle Specs data and backgrounder.

Oddball for the day: Bimota KB2 Laser, Feb 27

bimota kb2
              laser

You definitely won't trip over one of these every day – Bimota's mid-size KB2 Laser from 1981, running a Kawasaki Z500 powerplant. It was said to be some 27 kilos (60lbs) lighter than the host machine.

This example was recently auctioned by Bring a Trailer. It fetched a top bid of Au$25,000 (US$16,300, GB£12,900), which wasn't enough to convince the seller to hand it over. It's now on the market at Au$30,200 (US$19,795, GB£15,600).

See the stats and backgrounder at Motorcycle Specs.

Six runner, Feb 26

honda
              cbx

Bought at auction, this old CBX six has had a colourful life and proved to be a bit of a project to get back on the road...see the story.

Mick's NSR, Feb 24

honda nsr250
              mick doohan

It's 1995 and Honda has a campaign going for its domestic-market NSR250R SP, dressed up in warpaint to celebrate mighty Mick Doohan and the first of his five-on-the-trot world GP titles in the premier 500 class.

Sadly, it was also reaching the end of its development and model life.

Two-strokes from the mid-1980s and on have become hot property, so it would be interesting to see what a good example of this model would now be worth.

honda
              nsr150r sp

An equivalent in Rothmans livery was sold by Bonhams in October 2022 for Au$31,000 (US$20,400, GB£16,100).

See the Motorcycle Specs date.

Speaking of race-inspired Hondas, see our profile on the VTR1000 SP superbike series.

Gixxer arrival, Feb 22

suzuki gsx-r1100h

We're in the throes of reshaping the fleet a little, with a couple going and a couple coming in. Here's the latest arrival: 1987 Suzuki GSX-R1100H.

A couple of early 'slabbies' have found their way into the shed in the past, and we rate them as a fun if dated ride.

More to come on this one – in the meantime, see our GSX-R1100 series profile.

And the 1987 Yamaha FZR1000 versus Suzuki GSX-R1100 feature at Classic Two Wheels.

The Beattie files: Mountain Mayhem, Feb 21

beattie

Trial by fire and the legend of Ajay: young Chris Beattie was a cub journo for Australian Motor Cycle News and was thrown in the deep end at Bathurst in 1983. Here's his story.

Yamaha stars, Feb 21

Yamaha ad

Yamaha showroom stars, 1980, shared by the good folk over at the SR500 Club.

See our XS1100 profile

Plus the SR500 in our shed

Fresh air for the Speed Triple, Feb 19

triumph speed triple

Do you have any jobs in the shed for which you develop a blind spot? For me it's changing the airfilter on a T300 series Triumph, of which I own three: a Speed Triple, Super III and Daytona 1200. Finally, we're on the case – see the story here.

The Wing Nut files: American Idol take 2, Feb 18

1975 honda gl1000 gold wing

Honda's 1975 launch of the flat-four GL1000 Gold Wing was an incredibly bold move and for a while there it looked like it might fail in the crucial American market.

A mere 49 years later, we've bought our second example. It's a grey-import from, of course, America.

See the story.

Farewell Dr John, Feb 17

moto guzzi daytona 1000

Dr John Wittner, the legendary dentist turned Moto Guzzi race bike engineer, has died. A resident of West Chester county in Pennsylvania (USA), he was 77.

From Ian Falloon: "He was a talented and passionate guy who loved racing and the engineering of them to winning standards.


"John hit his stride in 1985 when his racers won National Endurance Championships.


"Racer Doug Brauneck rode the much-modified Guzzi and won the AMA Pro Twins Championship in 1987.


"John was lured to Italy by Alejandro DeTomaso as an R&D engineer, leading to the Daytona 1000 – the 'Dr John Replica' – and other machines like the Sport 1100 for Moto Guzzi."

See the 1988 Cycle World story, Dr John and the Guzzi Gang.

See our Moto Guzzi Daytona 1000 profile.

Ian Falloon home page.

Shed finds at Donington, Feb 17

Vincent
              rapide shed find

A Series C Vincent Rapide is one of the headliners from a collection of shed finds that will be auctioned by Donington from April 1.

The list includes:
1949 Vincent Series C Rapide
1954 Vincent Series C Comet
1981 Honda CBX1000
1971 Honda CB750 K1
1980 Honda CB125N
1956 Ariel 4G MkII Square Four
1949 Ariel 4G MkI Square Four
1972 Suzuki GT750 J
1976 Suzuki RE5 A

The catalogue for the auction is being compiled.

Kawasaki GT750 – today's random brochure, Feb 16

kawasaki gt750

Remember these? Kawasaki's four-cylinder shaft-drive GT550 and GT750 did modest sales numbers in the mid-1980s. They had respectable touring capability though their reputation was damaged by issues with front downtubes and rear subframes on some examples.

See the data and overview at Motorcycle Specs.

Brit benchmark – 1937 Royal Enfield KX, Feb 15

royal enfield kx

Rare, fast, and very desirable, Royal Enfield's premium 1140 V-twin of the 1930s is still a great ride...join us for a spin on it.

Yamaha YZF-R1 – today's tempter, Feb 14

yamaha r1

First-generation Yamaha R1s are now very much on the collector radar.

Here’s what UK Motor Cycle News had to say about the model: “The third and final great sports bike of the nineties. The FireBlade set the agenda, the 916 added finesse and the Yamaha YZF-R1 topped them off with extra power and madness. Even today the original Yamaha YZF-R1 is a sports tool to be reckoned with.”

This example is a 1998 model, claiming just under 28,400km and is being offered through bikesales at $12,900 (US$8300, GB£6600).

See our profile on this model.

Big bid for BMW R90S, Feb 12

bmw r90s

A 1976 BMW R90S restored by Mark Francois has just sold in the USA, via Bring a Trailer, for an eye-popping Au$92,000 (US$60,000, GB£47,500).

As a recent string of listings of these machines suggest, having the 'right' restorer can make a huge difference to the value, at least in the short to medium term. It would be wise to avoid assuming all clean R90S are worth this sort of money.

We saw a similar dynamic at work 20 years ago with 'sand-cast' Honda CB750-Four K0 series, built by World Motorcycles in San Francisco.

bmw r90s

In the case of Mark Francois, his projects are advertised for big money. For example, Classic Avenue in the USA has one of his 1975 R90S on the market at Au$69,000 (US$45,000, GB£35,600) while Moto Borgato has another listed at Au$100k (US$65,000, GB£51,500).

His Instagram page is here.

Back in 1975, you would have paid Au$3495 (US$2300, GB£1800) for a new one.

See the Classic Two Wheels period road test.

New dates for Donington, Feb 11

1975 Norton commando

Donington Auctions in Melbourne has moved the timing of its upcoming classic motorcycle auction to April 1-14. Consignments are still open.

One of the recent and yet-to-be-catalogued entries is this 1975 Norton 850 Commando Mk3. More info to come.

See the auction home page.

The Wing Nut files: Owner manuals then and now, Feb 11

honda gold wing

Chasing an original owner manual for a 1975 Honda Gold Wing may seem absurd  – and it is  – but we reckon it was worth the trouble and has led us to look at owner bibles then and now.

honda gold wing

Top twin, Feb 9

Honda VTR1000
              sp-1

Honda's VTR1000 SP-1 and SP-2 series rates as one of the all-time great V-twin rides, in our view.

See our profile.

Flashback: Big sky dreaming, Feb 8

isle of
              man triumph daytona

Sometimes you need to forget the bike and instead concentrate on what it’s for...see the story here.

Blast from the past: Bimota SB3, Feb 7

bimota SB3

Bimota's Suzuki GS1000-powered SB3 of 1979-82 was a wickedly quick bit of gear for its day, claiming a 240km/h (149mph) top speed. The 90hp package weighed 219kg compared to a stock GS1000 at more like 254kg (483/562lbs).

Just 402 are believed to have been made, with 66 of those as complete motorcycles. The majority were sold as a rolling chassis kit, for which you supplied your own driveline.

This example in Australia is said by the seller to be one of an even more rare group, which was assembled and sold with a warranty by Suzuki Germany.

It's on the market via Bikesales, priced at Au$45,000 (US$29,000, GB£23,000).

See the Motorcycle Specs backgrounder.

See our feature on one of our favourite Bimotas, the SB6.

Flash twin, Feb 5

Yamaha TRX850

Mid-nineties hero or a flash-in-the-pan? You could interpret Yamaha's TRX850 either way, though it could also be seen as a predecessor to today's rash of sporty parallel from several makers. Either way, it was a lot of fun.

See our model profile.

Honda hero sale, Feb 4

Honda
              NSR500

Fancy a piece of Honda history? The NS500 triple was one of the corporate heroes of the 1980s, memorably used to good effect by Freddie Spencer when he won the 1983 world championship on one at the tender age of 21.

Honda also sold them as customer bikes and shown here is Dutchman Jack Middelburg, aka 'Jumping Jack' on such a machine, which is now for sale.

Middelburg won a couple of world championship grands prix on other machines, in heroic circumstances. He took the 1980 Assen round riding with a broken leg, beating Graciano Rossi and Fanco Uncini.

In 1981 he won a titanic battle with Kenny Roberts at Silverstone. He was on a privateer Suzuki in that event and Roberts was on a factory Yamaha.

Sadly he died in a racing accident in 1984.

His former 1983 Honda NS500 is now up for sale with Iconic in the USA, priced at Au$164,000 (US$107,000, GB£85,000). More info here.

(Pic: Manfred Mothes)

Buying a late-model Yamaha R1, Feb 3

yamaha r1


"Aluminium Deltabox frame, KYB suspension, injected screaming inline-four with EXUP exhaust… is this sounding familiar? It should, as Yamaha didn’t venture too far from familiar waters when developing this critical generation of the 1.

"It did, however, throw a huge depth of knowledge and development at this generation, coming up with a recipe claiming 198hp (147kW) at a heady 13,500rpm, and 112Nm of torque at 11,500rpm, in a package claiming to weigh 199kg wet."

That's the intro from a story we recently did for bikesales, offering some advice on buying Yamaha's 2015-19 R1. See it here.

See our first-generation R1 profile.

Suzuki GSX-R1100 – random brochure for the day, Feb 2

Suzuki GSX-R1100

It's 1986 and Suzuki has launched its GSX-R1100 follow-up to the 400 and 750 series, with some well-justified fanfare. It was wickedly fast and sold in good numbers, despite a looming slump in many of the world's motorcycle markets.

Slab-sided or 'slabbie' GSX-Rs are in favour with some collectors, though prices tend not to be too crazy. Finding a clean example can be the real challenge.

Though clearly outgunned by modern tackle, a good one is still a quick and engaging ride.

See our model profile.

See the Classic Two Wheels 1987 Yamaha FZR1000 versus Suzuki GSX-R1100 comparo.

Shed-diving, Feb 1

royal enfield v twin KX

Started the day with a bit of shed diving over at young Phillip W's place. Managed to grab both the 1937 Royal Enfield KX 1200 V-twin and the 1950 Sunbeam, S7 Deluxe 500 tandem twin for a bit of a gallop.

sunbean s7 deluxe

They were impressive for different reasons – great fun!

Watch out for the upcoming stories, right here.

See the story on the early S7 in our shed.


The Beattie Files: First love and a very warm ride, Feb 1

ajs

This was the precise moment when I knew I was doomed to ride motorcycles for the rest of my life. I was totally absorbed in the experience...see the story.


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