Author Archives: Marty

Full Name: Marty G Website:
Info: owner, zanemoto zane laverda nutter, currently owning more than I should bit of a collector too
Bimota September 24, 2018 posted by Marty

Unobtainum alert: 2011 Bimota DB8 Oro Nero with 5 miles

2011 Bimota Oro Nero with 5 miles on ebay

Back in the early days on RSBFS there was an ongoing debate about what made a bike a true rare sportbike and  was mostly centered around Bimota models such as the SB6 which seemed to be available on eBay pretty much constantly.  Some  claimed that any bike that was readily available couldn't be a rare sportbike while the other side claimed availability wasn't as big an issue as factors such as technology or condition.   While I can't remember who got the final word, a set of criteria did result that I often use to evaluate whether a bike is truly a rare sportbike.  These criteria are

► extremely low availability/production numbers
► technological or historical significance 
► location 
► desirability 
► condition
► high original price, especially compared to other models in the same manufacturers lineup

Obviously not every bike posted on RSBFS has all these criteria but the more of these criteria that a bike has the more it seems to qualify as a rare sportbike.  Perhaps most importantly, if a bike has ALL the criteria listed above then its considered to be "unobtanium" and definitely worth a post.  Today's post is a 2011 Bimota DB8 Oro Nero, a bike that seems to meet all the unobtainum criteria.

Let's run through the criteria starting with availability.  According to Wikipedia, only 10 Oro Nero were built.  The seller indicates this Bimota Oro Nero is #11 of 11 produced which seems odd at first but the seller has a plausible explanation for this which can be read on the Bimota forum (link here) and anyone who has dealt with the Italian manufacturers knows how a few extra models tend to appear here and there based on supplies.

As for technology, the Bimota Oro Nero wasn't just a pretty carbon-fiber face; it was actually  the first production bike to offer the combination of a carbon fiber frame, subframe and swingarm.

Location?   It's currently located in California, the heart of sportbike country in the USA.

Desirability?  Well if you are like me and you like the pure carbon fiber look then damn this thing is sexy.   The pics provided by the seller aren't the best (they seem to  indoors and don't give a full walk around on the bike) so I reached out to the seller and they were kind enough to share some additional video links along with pictures on the ebay listing, see below

Vid 1 - coming home in the sun

Pic 1 - Upper frame in carbon

Video 2 - Walkaround

Pic 2 - Rear swingarm in carbon

Video 3 - rolling it into the garage

As for condition/maintenance, with 5 miles since new there isn't a lot to talk about on this one.   The pics the seller includes on the ebay listing do seem to show recent maintenance (not sure where/when this was done though) and I think I spot a new tire sticker in the last video.  The fluid in the brake reservoir does look its due for a change though.

The last criteria for being a rare sportbike is OEM price.  The Oro Nero was originally offered for $80,000 USD so the sellers Buy-It-Now price of $91,000 USD isn't as outrageous as it might first seem (and the ebay auction indicates that offers will be considered).

Now that we have reviewed this bike's unobtanium qualifications we arrive at the final question - is this this bike something to put on your collection list?  $80,000 USD is still a fair chunk of change for a bike that has a plastic gas tank cover and what appears to be a phantom pillion seat pad (no footrests for a passenger).  Also the full carbon look isn't really exclusive to the Oro Nero; other options include the Aprilia Nera, the Kawasaki H2 carbon or if money is really no object there is the MV Agusta F4cc.

Even though the Oro Nero is definitely worthy of a post here on RSBFS it doesn't seem likely it will appreciate much in the near future.   It seems like its more of a long term investment that will appeal to a deep pocketed and patient collector or perhaps to a Bimota collector looking to complete their lineup.   While it will probably never ellicit a reaction like an RC30 or Desmosedici whomever buys it will be able take comfort in the fact that have something that even the famous Barber and Solvang museums don't have.

Martin G/Dallaslavowner

Unobtainum alert:  2011 Bimota DB8 Oro Nero with 5 miles
Yamaha August 23, 2018 posted by Marty

Great bike, bad timing: 1992 Yamaha YZF 750SP with 4,017 miles

Today's post is a bit of homolgation era goodness, a 1992 Yamaha YZF750R/SP.  The SP isn't currently as desired by collectors as other 750cc machines, such as a 1st/2nd generation Suzuki GSXR-750R or Kawasaki ZX7RR, nor is it as technologically important as the OW01 or R7.  Yet the YZF750SP was dominant for multiple years in Superbike racing and was recently rated as possibly the best 1990's 750cc homolgation machine by Practical Sportbikes (April 2017).  Combine this with it only being produced from 1993-1996 and with this one showing only 4,017 miles, it certainly seems worthy of a post here on RSBFS.

1992 Yamaha YZF750SP with 4017 miles

Ask a group of sportbike fans what the "best" 1990's 750cc machine was and you will no doubt get a variety of answers.  Some will say it was the GSX-R750, the bike that really launched the repli-racer craze and the last of the air cooled monsters.  Others might say it was the Yamaha OW01, R7 (Ow02) or perhaps the Kawasaki ZX7RR...you might even get a few votes for the landmark Honda VFR750, a progenitor of the V4 philosophy that now rules MotoGp.   Ask this same group about the Yamaha YZF750R SP and perhaps you get a few comments of "um..yeah..nice bike" or shrugs but very few would probably initially list it as the best 750cc of the 1990's.   But consider this...it won the Suzuka 8 hour in 1996 which made it the the only non-Honda to do that in over 10 years and it dominated in Superbike Racing in the UK from 1996-1998.  Think about that timeframe for a second..notice anything?   It means the SP was dominant on the track for 2 years after the company stopped making it, a truly amazing result.

In case you are wondering how Yamaha achieved this the answer is in typical Yamaha fashion the SP was developed as an evolution, not a revolution.   Like the preceding OW01, the SP came equipped with Yamaha's EXUP system which delivered both high rpm performance and good mid-range.  The 3/4 liter powerplant was wrapped up in a new deltabox frame designed by the same man who would lead Yamaha's R1 effort. And handling was done by adjustable forks and 6 piston calipers, a first on a production machine.  The SP also came with flatside carbs, a close ratio gearbox, adjustable swingarm pivot and lots of other trick goodies designed to help it dominate on the track.

Now let's turn out attention to this particular offering.  Listed as a 1992 model imported from Japan, this one looks to be in excellent condition.  The seller does provide some  recent maintenance history, the summary of which is as follows:

  • 4017 miles (6465 kilometers)
  • Imported from Japan and now has a legal Washington State clear title
  • Carburetor was recently ultrasonically cleaned and adjusted, and a full service tune-up was performed which included new, tires, spark plugs, chain, air filter, brake pads, an oil change, and fluids flushed. All of the lighting, switches and electrical components work as they should
  • No cracks on any of the body panels, but there are some minor nicks and scrapes on a few of the panels. The wheels are perfect with no rock chips or scratches anywhere. The frame and engine have no corrosion and are nice and clean

NOTE:  I did note a fairing scuff on the riders right side lower (zoom in on the pic below on the ebay auction, you can see it in the 'Yamaha' Blue lettering) and I am not sure if the exhaust is OEM or aftermarket but other than that this bikes looks completely OEM.  I do wish the pics were taken in more direct sunlight though.

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So this brings us to the question, is this bike worth the $13,000 USD asking price?  Well when it was new the YZF asking price was $15,000 so the asking price is actually not outrageous and finding one in this condition and mileage seems unlikely anytime soon so the price seems right on.  Still this is a 26 year old motorcycle so its not going to appeal to a lot of people/the chances of major price appreciation from this point seem small.   Personally I think this one will appeal most to a homologation-era collector. I can envision it parked between a OW01 and R7 or maybe gleaning in the sun next to a ZX7RR.

Marty/dallaslavowner

Great bike, bad timing:  1992 Yamaha YZF 750SP with 4,017 miles
Yamaha July 31, 2018 posted by Marty

Phase Shifter – 1983 Yamaha RZ500

Here is one that will appeal to riding collectors, a 1983 Yamaha RD500LC, more commonly known as the RZ500.  Never brought into the states, this particular unit is listed as having been imported from Australia and appears to be excellent condition, although not 100% OEM.

1983 Yamaha RZ500 for sale on eBay

Some readers may wonder why the RZ500 is prized by collectors.  After all, 500cc isn't a lot of displacement by today's standards.   But what is forgotten is that the 500cc two strokes dominated motorcycle racing for almost three decades.  Due to the smaller engines, these bikes were fast.  I mean really fast.  Towards the end of the two stroke era companies were building two strokes that weighed about 130kgs (286lbs) and produced almost 200hp.  It should perhaps not be surprising that these bikes developed nicknames such as "the Unrideables"... "Death on wheels"... "The biggest, baddest, most evil racing motorcycles ever to see a race track."

This California RZ has had a startling amount of improvements, engine rebuilt, intake, cooling, and exhaust systems either new or rebuilt, but the whopper is the set of late-model R6 forks and swingarm tailored for it.  With refreshed drivetrain and 30-odd years of suspension and braking improvements aboard, this might be the 500 two-stroke experience without the age-related foibles of a "classic" superbike.  Here is the owner's list from the eBay auction:

*Bill Wilson Faze 1 built motor ~ 7,000 miles, ~100hp

*Custom Bill Wilson throttle junction / choke / oil injection cable / junction box

*Powder Coated frame

*28 mm Mikuni flat slide carbs- all rebuilt and just tuned. Custom individual tuned length throttle cables

*2010 -Yamaha complete R6 front end. Custom triple clamp adapter. Stock forks, triple clamps, clip-ons, brakes and 17” R6 wheel

*2010 -Yamaha custom R6 swingarm- $2100/ in parts alone- striping, machining, polishing and anodizing,

 *New 520 sprockets and chain. Custom brake line. Rebuilt caliper. Galfer disc and pads. 17” R6 wheel

*Jim Lomas stainless Steel expansion chambers w/ carbon fiber silencers

*Rebuilt Works Performance rear shock

*New radiator and hoses. Automatic and manual fan on switch,

*New rebuilt CDI ignition

*New rebuilt YPVS box

*Newly repainted and braced, side and bottom panels

*Custom under seat oil injection tank with indicator light

*Gas tank interior sand blasted and coated

*Current California registration

*Re-wiring extensive electrical

*Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 17” tires

Obviously not meant for the display or museum, this is a rider's RZ.  The experience of accelerating a 500cc two stroke cannot be replicated, and it's nice to know this one can brake and turn its way out of a jam.  California registration is just the cherry on top.  Occasionally you hear that a leading manufacturer should re-introduce their classic bike, sports or muscle car with some up-to-date technology - this might be the next best thing...

-donn and Marty

 

Phase Shifter – 1983 Yamaha RZ500
Honda June 4, 2018 posted by Marty

Dorian Gray: 2005 Honda Interceptor in Silver

A lot of people consider the Honda RC30 and RC45 as the best Honda sportbikes to own but those are fully track oriented machines not really setup for daily use on the street.   Additionally much of the success of the RC bikes can be traced to the VFR V4 editions (and ironically much of the RC tech then found its way back into later Honda models such as the 800cc VFR).   Today's post is a 2005 VFR 800 in a beautiful monochromatic silver and with 12,000 miles which for a VFR is barely broken in.

2005 Honda VFR800 on ebay

When Honda introduced its V4 streetbike configuration in the early 1980's, the result wasn't what the company expected.  Honda engineers deeply believed that a V4 engine would produce nearly optimum power and torque but problems arose with the camshafts in the larger displacement/700cc models.  Given the new technology of the V4 system it probably shouldn't have been a surprise that there would be issues but what was surprising was the inability of Honda, a company that prided itself on its engineering ability, to find a quick resolution to the issue.   The VF700 received a mind-boggling 8 camshaft revisions in its first year alone and the VF series quickly earned a moniker of "chocolate camshaft - it melts in your hand!" with sales being drastically impacted in the following year.

Fortunately for Honda, the company was large enough that the issues with VF series wasn't a make or break proposition but they still had to decided whether to keep working on the V4 design or walk away from the concept.  The later option was actually the financially safer choice; its what Suzuki would do with TL series and what Bimota wish they could have done with the V-Due.  But for Honda's motorcycling division, the issue was more than just a financial decision; their reputation for engineering prowess was at stake.  Honda went back to the design board and the result was the 1986 VFR, a machine engineered to a detail that was unheard of previously.  Rumor has it that the VFR was so over engineered that Honda actually lost money on every one it sold but there is no arguing that the VFR restored the companies reputation as an engineering powerhouse with the VFR winning bike of the year in its first year.  Most impressively it kept winning its market segment year after year and was even anointed as "bike of the decade" for the 1990's by CycleWorld.  Despite changes in displacement and technology the VFR line is still going strong.

NOTE:  An excellent history of the VFR lineup and the changes in each edition can be found here.

This particular VFR800 looks to be in amazing shape, although the silver color combined with the direct sunlight could potentially mask some small paint imperfections.  On the plus side the seller indicates a recent refresh including rubber and misc items.  On the negative side some frame sliders seem to be in place in some pics so its unclear as to how the bike has actually been used.  Also the seller does not indicate if the optional ABS that was available with this model is included on the bike.  This is an important question because while the VFR came standard with a linked braking system (which worked very well indeed), the VFR has a wet weight of over 500 pounds so having ABS was a major upgrade.

Here is what the seller has to say

  • New tires Michelin Pilot Power 2CT
  • New spark plugs
  • New brake pads
  • New K&N air filter
  • Fresh battery
  • Fresh oil every season.
  • All stock, except license plate mount. It was removed by the previous owner.
  • I have panniers Givi Monokey V35 for extra $500. They are barely used.

Admit it, those exhausts are cool and look great with the silver color scheme.

So is this 12,000 mile VFR worth the current asking price of $3,500 USD (extra for the hard luggage)?   While this generation of VFR will probably never appreciate as a collectors bike, if your intent is to actually ride your bikes then that price seems like a great deal.    Also the VFR is a renowned touring machine so this offers an opportunity for both at a low price.  Personally I think this would make an excellent every day rider for someone who already has their track bike or for someone who wants to move into longer distance riding without moving into the everything-but-the-fridge-goldwing segment.

-Martin G/Dallaslavowner

Dorian Gray:  2005 Honda Interceptor in Silver
Kawasaki May 25, 2018 posted by Marty

Unloved Zed sled: 1995 Kawasaki ZX9R with 6,813 miles

Kawasaki's ZX-9R has always been a bit of mongrel bike; situated between the legendary ZX7 and ZX11 series, the 899cc bike was initially developed as a response to the Honda CBR900 but never achieved top status in the segment.  Although the configuration lasted for nearly 10 years, sales were never huge for Kawasaki and it isn't considered to be a historically or technologically significant bike by collectors. Still today's offering is an ultra clean model with less than 7000 miles in its over 23 years, is in the rare for the model candleberry-wine-red color scheme and appears to have all OEM bits available so it seemed worth of a post.

1995 Kawasaki ZX9R on ebay

The ZX9R was somewhat hastily developed by Kawasaki as a segment response to the CBR900 Fireblade.  The problem for Kawasaki was that as a smaller manufacturer they didn't have the resources to launch an all out assault against the class leading Honda (it would take a few more years until Yamaha's R1 did that).    Kawasaki instead tried to stake out a middle ground, offering a 900cc bike that wasn't an ultra-light-weight repli-racer fit only for the track but was also not a large capacity "sportbike" touring machine.  To do this Kawasaki essentially took their legendary but now outclassed ZX7/ZXR750 and incorporated a number of ZX11/ZZR-1100 design features.  Suspension was an upgrade over the 750 with fully adjustable 43 mm upside-down KYB front forks and a fully adjustable remote-reservoir KYB mono-shock while the brakes were Tokico front and rear.  The most obvious  change came in the engine but even there parts were shared with the majority of the engine pieces (crankcases, clutch and gearbox) coming from the 750cc while the cylinder head was from the ZX11/ZZR-11100 with different valve actuation.  The result was more grunt and a red line of 12,000 rpm (the Fireblade stopped at 10,500 rpm).  Put it all together and you got exactly what Kawasaki intended - a mid sized bike that existed between the ends of the segment.

While the ZX9R delivered on its intended purpose, it never really developed a strong following like the Fireblade, GSXR or the soon to follow Yamaha R1.  In retrospect is seems Kawasaki  misjudged the long term impact of the "less is more" movement begun by the Fireblade.  Also the first models of the ZX9R were heavier compared to the competition and had the typical-of-the-time Kawasaki build quality issues, especially with the paint.

As for this particular ZX9R, the bike looks to almost completely OEM but the pictures aren't the best...I mean seriously, how hard would it have been to move the truck?  The seller doesn't give any service info other than "newish tires" so I would expect there to be a need for fresh fluids with particular attention paid to the brake system (a known issue for Kawasaki bikes of this period if left standing for long periods).  On the plus side the bike looks clean with no evidence of indicator or rear tail modifications common of the era and even the exhaust looks OEM and pristine.  The only non-stock item appears to be the windscreen and the seller indicates the OEM unit will be included in the sale.

So let's jump to the question - is this low mileage and apparently almost completely OEM ZX9R worth the current Buy-It-Now price of of $3999 USD?  Well a quick search through sites like Cycletrader show that price to be a bit more than expected but not out of range given the mileage of this bike.   As for value, I don't think this one will appeal to collectors and will probably never appreciate significantly but it isn't something you are going to see at your local bike night and might also be a good fit for people who always liked the bigger ZX11/ZZR1100 in this color scheme but found that bike too big to handle easily.  Based on the pics and the mileage the current owner is not a major Kawasaki fan so they might be motivated to move off the asking price, especially if you can offer something Suzuki-related in trade?

-Marty/Dallaslavowner

Unloved Zed sled:  1995 Kawasaki ZX9R with 6,813 miles
Sport Bikes For Sale May 13, 2018 posted by Marty

Quail Motorcycle gathering 2018: Munro Racer, Flying Merkel and more

Another year and another good time at the Quail Motorcycling gathering in Carmel California last weekend.   This year was a bit warmer and was the 10th anniversary event.  Almost all the prior year winners were present and highlights included an actual race Yamaha, the Burt Munro racer and some amazing one off customs including my personal favorite a 1985 Yamaha 500cc two stroke melded to a modern day R1 chasis.   Enjoy the photos!

Rainey Yamaha, windscreen and seat were replacements but everything else looked like it had come off the track.

Here is the one I mentioned in the header.  The sign on the front is a bit hard to read due to glare but it says 1985 Yamaha RZV500.  Bodywork looks like a 2nd gen R1.  Sadly I didnt get to hear it fire.

Is that the Burt Munro Indian special?  yup..super cool

Note:  for anyone who hasn't seen the Burt Munro movie with Anthony Hopkins, definitely worth a watch.

How about some rotary engine goodness?  there was actually a whole selection of these, this was the cleanest and had a super cool rotational dash unit that sadly I didn't get a photo of in operation.

A fair selection of mid 1980's and 1990's sportbikes:

Classics including this years best in show, a Flying Merkel:

Many of the winners from the last 10 years were present too:

Some super cool customs were on hand too, including this Yamaha GTS that looked like something master chief would be on:

Some old and new electric bikes showed how far these machines have come. The past:

The present:

Last but not least, a bit of fun - the bat cycle...admit it, you heard the classic theme in your head:

There were also lots of good bikes out in the parking lot but my memory was running low so I didnt take any shots.   There were also vendors on hand including Bonhams and Aprilia and Moto Guzzi were offering test rides.  All in all, a truly great way to spend a spring day.

Note:  Price for a ticket was $75 via advance purchase and included parking and a really nice lunch, crowd was about 3000 over the course of the day.  I got there early and was able to get up close and personal with a lot of these machines.   While the next trip I have on my motorcycling bucket list is to the Barber Museum, I plan on returning again in the future.

-Marty/dallaslavowner

Quail Motorcycle gathering 2018:  Munro Racer, Flying Merkel and more




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