Author Archives: Donn

Yamaha March 18, 2018 posted by Donn

Wild Kingdom – 1974 Yamaha TZ750

No less a rider than Giacomo Agostini abdicated his dynasty at MV Agusta when Yamaha introduced the 4-cylinder 2-stroke 700cc racebike. He won the 1974 Daytona 200 with it, and its 750cc progeny went on to a 12-year run on the beach.  This newly restored example has matching numbers and a nicely documented race history.

1974 Yamaha TZ750 for sale on eBay

As ever, specs for a race machine are a liar's poker affair.  The engine had a nasty tone even at idle and was good for 140hp at full song.  The frame was a twin downtube arrangement and the swingarm was all new, spread at the rear wheel but converging at the bottom pivot and top where the shock mounted, the Monocross went on to bigger and better.  Initially a pair of RD350 race engines joined at the hip, the TZ750 was more purpose-built, water cooled though the crankcase bristles with fins.  Expansion chambers mostly taking the path of least resistance - except for the left which wound around and through the frame.  Triple hydraulic disk brakes provided the retro-force.

The owner has treated this TZ750 to a rare level of restoration, both mechanically and cosmetically.  Just part of the eBay auction's comments :

This bike has The Holy Trinity for the most discerning collectors and enthusiasts: Provenance, Rarity and Condition! What you see here is the culmination of a 10 year, no cost spared, meticulous frame-off restoration. The resto was done on a complete, running, period correct, and 'as raced' TZ from the 1970's. Amazingly, during the bike's campaign both here and abroad, it appears to have never been crashed or blown-up. The exact Factory paint scheme and colors were precisely replicated from Factory original. The Shipping Invoice (see pic, courtesy of NATS Forum) shows #159 being a genuine 1st batch racer. There were a total of 219 TZ750A's built;  few remain today.

Rather too specialized for a hobbyist, exercising the TZ-750 will take commitment.  Maintenance hours will be more numerous than "flight" hours.  But this race veteran is sorted and shouldn't bring too many surprises.  As the owner states:

The bike was built to run, but assembled primarily for display and ease of cleaning.

Successful to the point of domination, the TZ-750 will likely be invited back to any event it attends.  The fairing's well-drawn lines are sure easy on the eyes.  Mechanically, it's better than new - improvements to the exhaust system made and impossibly light brake disks, with blank livery as shipped.  Likely never to turn another hot lap, the velvet ropes beckon.  But once photographed, the years of racing history are in the books, and the soundtrack from a demonstration lap or two is all that's missing...

-donn

Wild Kingdom – 1974 Yamaha TZ750
Suzuki March 15, 2018 posted by Donn

Featured Listing – Street-Registered 1986 Suzuki RG500 Racebike

Update 3.15.2018: SOLD IN ONE HOUR! Congratulations to buyer and seller. -dc

Please note: Ted from AutoManiaGP has asked us to open the comments on this post in the hopes that the RSBFS community can assist in determining what has been done to construct this bike. There was no accompanying documentation and we would appreciate your help by examining the pictures and commenting with any additional information you can provide. The text below is our first shot but we look forward to what else can be learned. Please forward widely and thank you for your help! -dc


Suppose you had been a racer, and owned a race team, over the years acquiring intimate knowledge of several different brands of factory race gear - what might you build as a street machine?  The few production years of Suzuki RG500 Gamma imprinted Mike Canepa of 10K Racing, and he put together a race-derived machine with Spondon Engineering chassis, with trackside details stem to stern, in race livery.

Suzuki RG500 For Sale at AutomaniaGP

Suzuki's RG500 used a twin-crank square-four two stroke, with almost unmatched power-to-weight, 95 hp in factory street tune.  No doubt well above that with racing carburetors and exhaust.  Like any privateer's racebike, specs are hard to come by, but this RG appears to have a Spondon chassis, an English specialty manufacturer with a long history of chassis development for major manufacturers and well-heeled weekend warriors.  The twin spars are at least twice the size of a road-going RG.  Later upside-down Showa forks are installed, with Nissin 6-pot front calipers radially mounted.  The swingarm is thought to be from a Yamaha TZ250, an asymmetrical fabrication with a massive right side but straight left side with a brace to allow the chain to pass through.  Fairings are quite like a later RGV-500, with air scoops just above the front fender feeding the four sidedraft carbs inside.

Unlike any actual racer, this RG500 is clean, polished, and road legal despite the Skoal Bandit graphics.  Trim carbon mudguards are installed, along with a full featured instrument cluster.  Conflicted as the four expansion chambers and turn signals, there's a locking gas cap on the tank.  The fairing's post-and-pin supports are safety-wired to keep the cotter pin around.  Consigning dealer Automania of Oregon has a great collection of pictures - here - and says this about the bike:

Mike Canepa, owner of race team 10-K Racing was in the later stages of building this race bike for the street when he passed. I had been hearing about it for over two years and unfortunately did not pay attention to what he was telling me at the time. Hind sight is 100%. The engine is V-4 Two Stroke out of a 1986 Suzuki RG500 according to the records we found, but everything else has been a guess or information others have offered up. It was not finished, but he had been riding it recently.

This motorcycle is based on a 1986 Suzuki RG500 but everything except the engine is either custom or race track sourced. The rear swing arm looks to be from a 1991 Yamaha TZ250, the front forks Honda RS250 and the frame appears to be a Spondon that had no identifying numbers or manufactures id on it. It has been titled with an assigned OR State VIN plate and the bike is registered for the street. I am open to anyone looking at the images and suggesting where they think the parts came from. Don’t be shy…

The selling price is $16,695. The VIN# is ORSPERG9G1003 and miles are unknown.

Hard to tally up the hours and dollars invested in this racer-with-lights, though the preparation is immaculate.  Likely the frame has a pedigree, and Spondon Engineering has quite a following, even a fan website for reference.  Power-to-weight is probably more important here than on a factory machine, and the weight should be closer to 300 than 400 lbs.  Evidently inspected by Oregon DMV, it is titled and has road registration, which speaks to how close to completion the bike is.  RG and RGV did well in the 500cc years of Grand Prix racing, accounting for four championships and seven constructor's titles.  Automania invites knowledgeable comment and asks $16,995 for this one-of-one, and can be reached at (541) 479-8888 or emailed - here -.

Featured Listing – Street-Registered 1986 Suzuki RG500 Racebike
Honda March 12, 2018 posted by Donn

Featured Listing – 1986 Honda VFR700F

Update 3.14.2018: SOLD in 2 Days! Congratulations to buyer and seller! -dc

VFR fans might remember this special 700F from last spring's write-up.  Over the past year just a few hundred miles and a new starter are of note. 

The VFR700F was an interim model which ducked under a tariff limit on engine size, making a huge difference in MSRP from the VFR750F.  Performance was comparable and the model received two updates even though it was only imported for two years.  This edition is a late 1986 F2, with the angular console inkeeping with the times.

The F2 was a significant re-design from the 1983 introduction, and the entire engine was new in response to the update to the cam lubrication problem.  The frame was now a twin-spar aluminum, adding a sixth speed, air-adjustable forks and revised Pro-Link monoshock.  Still it was 81 hp pushing just over 500 lbs. wet, though the racing team did wonders with theirs - Fred Merkel won the AMA Superbike 1984-86 and was the new WSBK champion 1988-89.

This particular VFR was a rescue but looks like a show dog these days.  Fairings were repaired by plastic welding but are factory original.  Nice touches like the bronze powder-coated engine cases and up-to-date black wheels compete with knowledgeable fan updates like the 17-inch front wheel and shortened and cored mufflers ( with correct jetting ).  A lightening trim to the front fender shows the restorer's expertise and sharp eye, and maybe a little nostalgia with the NOS tank emblem.  Check out the restoration blog - here - .

By now most VFR's have half-again or twice as many miles, as they are a rider's bike.  Most have never even heard about a restoration like this.  Renewed for another life, with its 2nd generation alloy chassis and stock paint and graphics, it could easily hold its own at a show or concours.  Owner Scott asks just $4,000.

-donn

Featured Listing – 1986 Honda VFR700F
Ducati March 12, 2018 posted by Donn

Live from Hollywood – 2005 Ducati 999R

Long ago when V-twin Superbikes made do with a mere liter, Ducati made a smashing revision to the 916 series.  Like some other revolutions, it was voted down - but the monoposto 999R is the apex of the short-lived Tamburini design.

2005 Ducati 999R for sale on eBay

 

Ducati produced just 200 of the R-spec for homologation purposes, and while not quite race-prepared, they had the equipment that the WSBK team wanted to be able to use.  For the 999R, that meant a slightly different engine with revised heads and a lot of titanium, resulting in 150 hp at a low 9,750 rpm, and a flat torque curve.  Headstock angle is adjustable, as is the seat console position.  Öhlins are found front and rear, fully adjustable with revised valving and nitride-treated fork legs.  Clutches were "free" or unconstrained by the rule book, so the factory was not compelled to add a slipper clutch, though the big twin calls for one.

 

Looking very stock and showing just under 10,000 miles, this 999R is apparently in the care of a specialty dealer in Florida.  Maybe not subject to the endless polishing and re-farkeling it would get at home, but very good shape with only one scrape, though how it got there without a lot of collateral damage is a mystery.  From the eBay auction:

This motorcycle is in excellent condition, and has been cared for properly since day one. Starts runs and drives perfectly. 2005 was the first year of the deep sump 999R 150HP motor, and big swing arm. The previous year came with a weaker motor, and less robust swing arm. It also has the full carbon bodywork.
There are a few tiny scratches, and a small bit of road rash on the underside of the belly fairing, but overall it is in amazing condition.

 

The base 999 has a lot of awe-inspiring details, and the -R has them as well, but executed in carbon or forged alloy, and often adjustable.  But turning some of these knobs requires some expert knowledge, besides open track time and a mechanic or two.  Like winning the lottery, it would be fun to give it a go.  Not sure if there is a "starter" 999R, but this might be it - ready for a valve adjustment, new rubber, a little paint work, and maybe a personalizing update or two.  The Make Offer button beckons...

-donn

Live from Hollywood – 2005 Ducati 999R
Featured Listing March 6, 2018 posted by Donn

Featured Listing – 1990 Honda VFR400R / NC30 – Super Clean !

Update 4.16.2018: This bike is SOLD! Congratulations to buyer and seller! -dc

Long-time friend and regular around RSBFS, Greg at Deftone Cycles had some kind of luck with his last shipment of gray-market machines. This 1990 VFR400R has just about 14,000 km ( 8,500 miles ) but the condition is exceptional.  The third generation was certainly the charm for the petite Honda, as the NC30 variant had the widest torque band, least twitchy handling, and outstanding build quality.

1990 Honda VFR400 for sale on eBay

The NC30 was built for 4 years, an eternity in the fast-moving sportbike world.  Honda's well-tested 399cc V-4 generates the nice whir of gear-driven cams, as well as 59 hp.  The NC30 re-introduced the 360-degree crankshaft, where pairs of cylinders fire together for a torquier delivery.  The chassis was revised for the 1990 model year and reviewed as the strongest and most stable of the 400-four stroke group.  House suspension is adjustable for preload and rebound, and triple discs are appropriately sized at 269mm.  Styled like its 750cc sibling, the VFR400 shows off the single-sided swingarm with a 4-2-1 left side exhaust.

Requiring very little refurbishment, this monochromatic VFR is stock except for the exhaust and without most of the usual corrosion.  Greg has this to say about the bike :

100 percent stock. Except aftermarket Header and Silencer.
Condition: Excellent.
Right side lower fairing stress cracks.
Small hairline fracture upper left.
Mileage: 8,647 / 13,917 Km

Though shoot-outs from the day accused Honda of resting on their laurels, the easier-to-ride VFR400 may have been the best solution for its intended fledgling riders, if not aspiring racers.  The drivetrain is more tractable than the usual pint-size, and the package is surprisingly capable for a junior - skilled riders will find their rewards.  Deftone Cycles asks $7,500 for the pleasure and Greg can be reached - here -

-donn

Featured Listing – 1990 Honda VFR400R / NC30 – Super Clean !
Suzuki March 6, 2018 posted by Donn

Low Mile Lookalike – 1979 Suzuki GS1000E Wes Cooley

I had expected an "S" with the GS1000 badge on this sparkling Wes Cooley commemorative, but the differences between the -E are minor and hardly detract from the aggressive looks of this AMA Superbike commemorative.

1979 Suzuki GS100E Wes Cooley for sale on eBay

Suzuki and Yoshimura joined forces and were almost instantly successful on the AMA Superbike trail.  Lightness was given priority, which helped the air/oil-cooled four's 90 hp move things in the right direction.  Pneumatic rear shocks were replaced with regular hydraulics on the -S, though forks remained air-charged.  The solid triple disks could handle the heat but not a light touch, squeaking around town.  Suzuki nailed the chassis geometry and came away with a quick-handling package that could accept a 1000cc engine's power.

Not many miles has elapsed for this GS1000, replica paint still shines, and aluminum castings made before today's miracle coatings look good.  Period Kerker is polished nicely.  Might be nice to try the rear quarter view without the luggage rack.  From the eBay auction:

Purchased in 2005, bike had approximately 5K miles on it

2005 - installed after market rack and rear tire; had front and rear tires rebalanced, and professional valve adjustment

2014 - new clutch and speedometer cable installed

2016 - new battery

No disappointments in running condition; bike runs as good as she looks! Bike has always been garaged and well maintained. This bike had the after-market Vance & Hines exhaust system (4 into 1) when I purchased it, so I do not have the original stock pipes.

Bike as you see it is exactly as I purchased it in 2005; has not been altered or repainted. The only addition / change I made to it was the after-market rack, rear tire and mechanical items (as mentioned above).

Lifting the bikini fairing from BMW's R90/S gave designers the excuse to fit a lower handlebar, receiving a sporty riding position as part of the bargain, helping high speed stability.  Suzuki played a little catch-up with the -S, it was originally just offered in Europe, but stateside dealers clamored - after all, it was the AMA winner !  Which might explain the -E instead of -S, maybe a dealer-done special or early example.  A close look at the rear wheel might divulge, the -S had an 18-inch rear.  Maybe a knowledgeable reader will have the whole story, meantime we will just have to enjoy...

-donn

Low Mile Lookalike – 1979 Suzuki GS1000E Wes Cooley