Author Archives: Mike

Kawasaki January 14, 2017 posted by Mike

Mechanics Special: 1974 Rickman Kawasaki CR1000

This is definitely not our usual material, but you may have notice Mike has returned to make regular contributions on the site. He's a bit of fanatic when it comes the tuner specials and felt inspired to write this one up. Let us know what you think in the comments! -dc

RSBFS does not normally post work in progress project bikes, basket cases, or "piles of parts" specials. But what if the motorcycle in question originally came that way? Because what you are looking at is a Rickman CR, offered to consumers in kit format. Provided with a frame, bodywork, suspension and wheels, the avid buyer needed to supply engine, tranny and electrical - usually from a donor bike. Thus, this is somewhat true to the original kit offered by Rickman. Does that make it fair game?

1974 Rickman Kawasaki for sale on eBay

The Rickman brothers created wonderful toys - think of them as the UK equivalent of Bimota. With handcrafted frames welded in stainless and evocative fiberglass bodywork that rivaled the best the Italians had to offer, Rickman kits were assembled into fantastic creations. And as the bodywork and the frame were the biggest pieces of the kit offering, this appears to be your chance to get back to the kit bike days and build one of your own. With no manual, instructions or parts list the risk is definitely on you - but Rickmans are not exactly available on a daily basis. This is rare indeed, although not as desirable as a clean, running example.

From the seller:
Here is your chance to own a rare Rickman Kawasaki CR. Mostly complete with tons of parts and upgrades. Like fresh orient express big bore kit, D ported GPZ head, original body work. The list goes on. All parts are in good shape and a great start for your vintage road race project. Sold with bill of sale. ((No Title))

This is NOT the bike for sale, but a good representation of what the finished product could look like:

This project could make for an awesome cafe racer - but you need your rose-colored glasses for best effect. There is much work to be done between the current state and the finished product, and there are a great many unknowns in between. If those chasms can be successfully negotiated, you would have yourself a rare bird indeed; if not, this remains a pile of parts. With a starting bid of $4,500 USD and a BIN of $6k, everybody must be wearing optimistic lenses these days. I can see the potential, but historic values might suggest this is priced closer to a runner than a collection of cool parts. Check it out here and let us know what you think!

MI

Mechanics Special: 1974 Rickman Kawasaki CR1000
Suzuki January 13, 2017 posted by Mike

One Year Only: 1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo

The Eighties were a wild time in terms of motorcycle development. Manufacturers experimented with all types of engines, suspensions, chassis, materials and design. Like Darwin's theory of Natural Selection, those bikes best suited to their environment survived; other, less fortunate machines fell to the onslaught of progress. This 1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo is one such casualty. Offered only in 1983 (in the US at least - the model actually survived 3 total years of worldwide production), this rare bird is the rarest of the factory turbo bikes, and offers a terrific glimpse at how hard Suzuki was working at evolution.

1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo for sale on eBay

Powered by an air-cooled inline four-cylinder displacing a mere 650cc, the addition of fuel injection and an IHI turbocharger maxing out at approximately 12 PSI of boost upped the ante considerably. Still, the XN85 is not the most powerful of the turbo set; while the "85" in the name is supposedly the horsepower figure, that was optimistically taken at the crank. Real world numbers are closer to 70 ponies at the rear wheel. Notably, the XN motor incorporates oil injection on the backside of the pistons - a feature that was enhanced to become the SACS system on the air/oil cooled first generation GSX-R750 models.

From the seller:
1983 Suzuki XN85 turbo. 14800 Original miles. The motorcycle has just come out of long term storage. All fluids changed and fully serviced. Runs beautifully. A few marks and dings on the tank, because the previous owner stupidly piled items haphazardly around and on the bike.

Outside of the novelty of the Turbo setup, the XN85 was also the first US street bike to incorporate a 16" front wheel. This GP technology was based on the fact that the smaller diameter wheel developed a smaller gyroscopic force, enabling quicker handling. While this fad was later reversed due to better suspension, tires and frame geometry, the XN85 was considered one of the best handling sportbikes of the day. Wrap it all up in futuristic-yet-minimalistic bodywork and you have a rare piece of ride-worthy sculpture.

This bike is located in Florida and is looking for a new home. XN85 machines are not like other Suzuki products; parts are hard to come by, with many no longer in stock/available. If the foundation is good, the cosmetics can be repaired. Tire selection is quite limited these days due to the 16" combination, but they can still be found. The Suzuki XN85 Turbo is an interesting machine in concept, a great looking bike in person, and a terrific machine to ride. Prices really have not risen much over the years, so this may be a future collectable as well. Check it out and let us know what you think!

MI

One Year Only: 1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo
Kawasaki January 10, 2017 posted by Mike

Collectable Icon: 1983 Kawasaki GPz550

For riders of a certain -- ahem -- level of experience, the GPz model lineup was the quintessential sport bike during a time of alarming advancements. This was a watershed era for sport riders everywhere, as the Big Four labored tirelessly in the pursuit of new technology. By comparison, this era of the GPz could be considered one of the last "basic" layouts; the best of the old school tech. The next step involved liquid cooling, suspension advancements, brake advancements, fueling evolutions and chassis revolutions.

1983 Kawasaki GPz550 for sale on eBay

Although it does sport a Uni-Track single shock rear suspension - which not only saved weight over twin shocks, but more importantly introduced the revolution of rising-rate linkages - very little else on this GPz could be considered high-tech. Instead, Kawasaki relied upon execution excellence by assembling an air-cooled four-cylinder engine using two valve heads (a hot-rod version of the KZ motor), good for nearly 60 horsepower. Triple disks all the way around (albeit with single pot calipers) and an air-adjustable front fork promised sporting credentials. As an overall package, the GPz delivered.

From the seller:
Low mileage
Original paint
Perfect running middleweight four
Triple Disc brakes
Electronic ignition
6-speed
Fuel gauge
Amp meter
New clutch , fresh battery
Factory keys, owners manual
Air charged fork
Adjustable unitrack
Adult owned
Clear Massachusetts title

In the world of touch-enabled smart phones, this is a Motorola flip phone with no text option. Even in the day it was shockingly fundamental. All would change in another year for Kawasaki with the advent of the Ninja (initially as a 900, then later as a 600), but the writing was on the wall for the air-cooled GPz series; within 5 years they would all be gone. Here is your chance to go back in time and re-live the glory that was old-tech expertise. The pictures could be better, preventing close inspection (i.e. is that rash on the left side case?). As always, RSBFS recommends talking to the seller and visiting the bike in question if at all possible. Bidding has been very light, so this might be a January bargain. Check it out and let us know what you think!

MI

Collectable Icon: 1983 Kawasaki GPz550
Suzuki January 2, 2017 posted by Mike

Retro Dream: 1999 Suzuki GSX 400S Katana

Up for grabs today is something so rare that in the States most people won't even know it exists. I know you think you're looking at a 1000cc Katana from 1981. But in fact, this 400cc version was produced nearly 20 years after the fact! Retro was very big in Japan (and continues to be), and this smaller version of the Katana was meant to cash in on the big model's original heyday. Unfortunately for those in the US, this was a Japan-spec model limited to home country use, with some limited exportation to Asia-Pacific countries. Small bikes rule in Japan, and so we see a great deal of attention to detail in the sub-500cc sector.

1999 Suzuki Katana 400 for sale on eBay

This 400cc model looks so close to the original that you'd be forgiven if you wrote it off as another anemic air-cooled putt-putt. Cleverly disguised to remain aligned with the retro theme, the seemingly air-cooled mill was actually sourced from the 400cc Bandit (which was actually a derivative of the GSX-R400 power plant). What looks like an oil cooler is actually the radiator. Cast wheels that mimic the originals, Tokico calipers (another nod to the Bandit/GSX-R line), as well as the cool retro piggy-back shocks round out the aesthetics.

From the seller:
1999 Suzki GSX 400S Katana located in Santa Ana, California. This bike has 2273 KM = 1363 Miles. This is a true low KM JDM original bike. This bike has a 400cc engine and is sold in Japan only. The carbs were cleaned about 10 months ago. They do need a light cleaning now because the bike has been sitting. This bike is being sold with a bill of sale only. I don't have a title for the bike and can not get one, so don't ask. More info is available on our website. If you overseas or Canadian buyer, you will have to make your own shipping arrangements. I can help USA buyers with the shipping, or you can arrange your own shipper. Bike is being sold as is, no returns. Ask questions and look at the pictures carefully before you bid. Again, this bike is being sold with a bill of sale only, NO TITLE.

I'm not sure what importation looks like, given that this is an 18-year old motorcycle that looks like it's going on 40. Much of the heavy lifting has been done as the bike is already Stateside - except it is missing a title and other niceties that would allow you to register it. As with most things it's likely verboten in California, but I imagine it is possible in other (more lenient) States. It might be some effort, but you could pretty much guarantee that you would *never* see another one like it on the road. Check it out here, and good luck!

Retro Dream: 1999 Suzuki GSX 400S Katana
Ducati January 1, 2017 posted by Mike

Holiday Blues: 1993 Ducati 888

I know what you're thinking: Ducati Triple Eights never came from the factory in blue. In fact, they never came in any color other than "check me out, I'm hot and I'm Italian" red. Therefore, we are obviously looking at a repaint. And repaints tend to scare me simply because you don't know what caused the respray in the first place. So shields up, my friends; where we go there may be dragons.

1993 Ducati 888 for sale on eBay

Despite the potential warning signs, I can't help but like the way this bike looks. It has a striking, vivid appeal to it - from a distance. Closer in, I question the quick-release fasteners in place of the traditional cap head screws. And is that a zip tie holding down the lower-most right side bodywork? The pictures don't seem to do the spray job any favors either, with some pretty apparent orange peel. And why go through all the work of a repaint and not address some of the damage that may have instigated the project in the first place (such as on the cans)? Still, I'm intrigued. After all, 888s don't come around every day.

From the seller:
Available for sale is this 1993 Ducati 888 which is damaged as shown in the attached pictures. Please review the pictures and feel free to ask questions. New bodywork and paint, runs great.

In the end, this is a bit of a pound puppy - great DNA and ready for anything, but may take a bit of work. Then again, it may be fully sorted with only minor cosmetics to deal with. Given the mileage, it has clearly been ridden. The asking price for this one is a cool $9k USD, which may be a bit high for its non-standard appearance. What do you think? Is this one something you can work with, or would you let it pass in favor of a more stock machine? Share your thoughts here. You've got to admit it catches the eye! Check it out here and good luck!

MI

Holiday Blues: 1993 Ducati 888
Honda December 28, 2016 posted by Mike

1991 Honda VFR400 NC30 for sale in Canada

Oh Canada! Home to some of the most coveted bikes never imported into the US (yet still completely accessible to those in North America), our friends to the North have often been the source of wonderful importation machinery. Call it trickle-down ridernomics - from Gammas and RZs to NSRs and other fine two-stroke machinery, to four-stroke exotics; much of what was not originally imported into America originally is here due to the availability and proximity of Canada.

1991 Honda NC30 for sale on eBay

The VFR400 is also known as the NC30, which denotes its similarity and likeness to another classic machine: the RC30. Like its big brother, the NC30 has a screaming V4 engine with gear driven cams, an aluminum twin-spar chassis and that wonderful single-sided swingarm. While originally designed to facilitate faster tire changes during endurance races, single-sided swingarms eventually became a critical design element across many manufacturers (e.g. Ducati 916).

From the seller:
Beautiful NC 30 with normal age related wear up for grabs. This bike is indeed the replica of the famed RC 30 and it mimics it right down to all details which made the RC so great. Superior brakes, handling, acceleration (for such a small machine) and a complimentary 14500 rpm screaming engine. Fluids changed, engine runs smoothly and pulls well through the gears. For those who are not used to JDM bikes, they are a hoot to ride and this one is no exception. One of the most enjoyable machines of all times!

Not many pictures and not too much info on this one (check it out here). The mileage listed is likely in KM, making this an approximately 33,500 machine. The current bid is USD $1,719.67, which is a real bargain at the moment, although a reserve is still in place. If you live in a state where importing an older bike is a possibility, this could be a good one for your collection. Good luck, eh?!

MI

1991 Honda VFR400 NC30 for sale in Canada