Author Archives: Tad Diemer

MV Agusta February 14, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Jacket Included: 2005 MV Agusta F4 1000 Tamburini for Sale

Limited by budgets and economies of scale, many smaller car and motorcycle manufacturers are stuck rehashing the same product line, trying to keep pace with much larger companies capable of significant revamps and updates of their models to keep pace with the ruthless advance of technology and changing consumer tastes. Certainly, the Italian brands have often fallen victim to this and, until pretty recently, even Ducati was often forced to generate excitement through "limited editions" that amounted to performance and appearance upgrades to existing, sometimes obsolete machines. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially when your existing, obsolete machine is as spectacular as Massimo Tamburini's most beautiful creation, the MV Agusta F4.

Out of date the F4 may have been by 2005, but when the original bike looks so good and offers such a high level of performance, that phrase is of limited importance. It may have been 40 pounds heavier than more affordable competition like Suzuki's benchmark GSX-R1000 while offering very similar power, but it's not like the F4 was by any measure slow. The biggest issue, aside from purchase and running costs, was how much harder you had to work for that speed: ergonomics really are pretty brutal for anything other than committed riding, and anyone considering an F4 today should keep in mind that the bike is devoid of any electronic safety net, so you'd better be sure of the road surface or be fully upright before pulling the trigger. In an era of 200hp superbikes, it's easy to dismiss a 170hp machine, but inexperienced riders do so at their peril.

To drum up interest in a bike that had basically been around since the 1999 introduction of the F4 750, MV Agusta took their more powerful 998cc version and basically made everything lighter or better or at the very least carbon-fiber-ier and created the F4 1000 Tamburini. The result was still nearly 20lbs heavier than a GSX-R1000 but I'm not sure anyone with the means to buy one really cared. Power was up just a few ponies, but the big news was the addition of MV's interesting and effective Torque Shift System that used two sets of intake runners to improve midrange power without sacrificing the top end.

Inline fours can sound a bit bland to me when they drive past, but the sound of the F4 from the saddle is entirely different, much more frantic and exotic than something like a BMW S1000RR, and the soft stutter of the Engine Brake System on the overrun adds a layer of additional interest. That system was fitted in lieu of a slipper clutch and basically holds a couple of valves on once cylinder open on a closed throttle. It works very well, allowing hard downshifts without locking the rear wheel.

Most sportbikes go through a period of time where they just look out of date, before becoming "classic," but the F4 somehow missed that phase entirely. It's shocking how much attention even an ordinary example can generate, and how good it still looks in the flesh. It's like owning an affordable Ferrari: it doesn't really matter that you bought that 308 a few years back for $25,000, everyone still thinks you're some kind of rich guy, because Ferrari. Of course, if you're interested in today's Tamburini edition of the F4, it would probably help to actually be rich...

From the original eBay listing: 2005 MV Agusta F4 1000 Tamburini for Sale

2005 MV Agusta Tamburini #254 our of 300 ever built. Mint condition with 1,400 miles. I am the second owner was originally purchased locally in Dallas TX at an MV dealer will come with all original documents, COA, etc and an MV Agusta leather jacket.

Oooh, a jacket! Well that's it then, I'm going to drop the $38,000 asking price if it includes a gen-u-ine MV Agusta jacket [not pictured]! Hey, considering the original $43,000 asking price, not adjusted for inflation, that price seems almost reasonable. There's not much information in the listing, but what is there really to say about a "mint condition" bike with so few miles? Normally, I'd want to know if the little things that are typically done to improve the F4 have been taken care of, but I'm pretty sure it's safe to assume they haven't considering the mileage and the bike's collectable nature. I'm sure no one will really care all that much about the fragile fuel connectors being replaced with more robust bits, or a Power Commander being fitted and dyno-tuned, but who knows? Maybe someone will get dinged thirty years from now for those sensible changes at some obnoxious, concourse-style event where they judge that kind of "originality" to be critically important.


Jacket Included: 2005 MV Agusta F4 1000 Tamburini for Sale
Suzuki February 10, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Rare Screamer: 1987 Suzuki GSX-R400 GK71 for Sale

Most times, even if their models share no significant components, motorcycle manufacturers go to great lengths to make sure their bikes all share a strong familial resemblance. In fact, the most recent GSX-R600 and 750 are virtually identical and appear to share their frames and body panels, with only their engine displacements, graphic treatments, and tachometer faces to differentiate them. That makes particular sense at the moment, since the GSX-R750 has pretty much been in a class of one since the the ascendance of the 1000cc machines and developing a bike that shared most of its important components with another mass-produced model was virtually a requirement. Ironically, with the seeming demise of the 600 supersport class, I wonder if it won't be the 750 that has the last laugh... In any event, the designers of the GK71 version of the Suzuki GSX-R400 clearly didn't get that memo.

Taking a look at the bigger 750 and 1100 versions of the GSX-R, this 400 looks markedly different. The tail is sleeker, with a pronounced taper when viewed from the rear, the fairing has several rows of gills, like a small, primitive shark, a single headlight in place of its bigger siblings' round units, and an actual dash, instead of a foam instrument surround. All-in-all, it's very obviously a Suzuki, but looks very little like the larger GSX-R models.

The seller refers to this as a 1987 and a shot of the title confirms this but, supposedly, the 1987 had twin headlamps and gold brake calipers, so this may in fact be a 1986 model year bike, since that appears to have been the only year with the rectangular headlamp. The exhaust pipe would also have more of a perforated style shroud like the 750 and 1100, but the aftermarket Micron fitted here makes it hard to say for sure. Regardless, you're looking at a 398cc inline four making 60hp and backed by a six-speed gearbox, hung in an aluminum twin-spar frame with a weight of 337lbs dry.

From the original eBay listing: 1987 Suzuki GSX-R400 GK71 for Sale

Here we have a rare, well maintained, and super quick Suzuki GK71 GSX-R400. This is a clean machine sporting corrosion free aluminum frame/swingarm, stock fairings, and only minor imperfections. It sounds great, and pulls linearly all the way up to redline. I had great fun running this bike over the mountain during last year's TT races on the Isle of Man. It ran faultlessly, and was the impetus of many a conversation with other race fans.

The GSX-R400 was rarely seen outside Japan, and there's been little interest in the bike for the most part, as it wasn't nearly as exotic as the Honda NC30, as refined as the CBR400, or as agile and affordable as the FZR400. It was a bit crude in comparison, but was still a very competent, relatively sophisticated machine, and a slight lack of performance compared to rivals shouldn't discourage anyone at this point. 30,000 miles is on the high end for a collectible sportbike, but assuming it's been properly maintained and cared for, that wouldn't put me off too much assuming the price was right. And considering the bidding is up a bit over $1,500 I think you'd have a hard time finding something else that offers this combination of rarity and unintimidating performance.


Rare Screamer: 1987 Suzuki GSX-R400 GK71 for Sale
Ducati February 7, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Improving Perfection: 2005 Ducati 999R for Sale

Many people assume that whatever dusty, badly-lit, low-resolution photographs they’ve taken will be enough sell their valuable motorcycles and include almost no additional information. But it’s easy to head in the other direction and go full-on used car salesman, which the listing for this Ducati 999R has done, going so far as to describe it as being “built like a MotoGP bike…” Hyperbole is fine: I obviously indulge in stylistic excess regularly. But comparing an homologation superbike to a pure prototype racing machine suggests someone who is more of a salesman than a knowledgeable enthusiast.

Considering that the 999R has basically little in common with a MotoGP machine other than the Ducati name and the fact that it has two wheels and an engine, "built like a WSBK bike" would be much more accurate, and much closer to the original point. So if the 999R, even a “custom” one, is really nothing like a MotoGP race bike, what exactly is it?

Well unlike the 999S that was basically a spiffed-up version of the standard 999 with nicer suspension and some carbon-fiber farkles for "weight savings," the 999R was intended to homologate the bike for competition, AMA Superbike racing in particular. Titanium rods and valves meant less reciprocating mass, a completely new cylinder head design meant better breathing, and bore and stroke were completely different than the standard bike, much more oversquare, to increase the bike's appetite for revs: 104mm × 58.8mm versus 100mm × 63.5mm for a displacement of exactly 999cc, instead of the 999's 998cc... Compression was higher and the crank knife-edged where it lived behind the sand-cast engine cases, all of which added up to 134 rear wheel horses and 76.6 lb-ft of torque.

The seller suggests that this customized 999R is even more desirable than a completely original bike, and lists everything that's gone into it. The main issue here is that in hyping up changes that supposedly make the bike "more bad-ass," he's missing the real point of the 999R’s value. Originality is often critical in establishing the desirability of limited-production bikes like this and, as the listing describes the “custom” touches, I’m imagining the value dropping in the minds of potential buyers. That’s not to say that the changes are bad, mind you, and the modified engine definitely could prove to be enticing to buyers who actually plan to use their purchase for track or fast road work. But I'd definitely want someone other than the person who wrote the listing to tell me about the build in more detail.

From the original eBay listing: 2005 Ducati 999R for Sale


THIS IS IT! The Ducati 999R - Motorcycle History. If you are looking for one the baddest bikes ever made - this is it. Pure Ducati. Period!

When owning one of the rarest bikes in the world is not enough we invite you to take a look at our custom 2005 Ducati 999R. This is your once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of motorcycle history. This bike is in perfect condition with very low miles. Truly breathtaking! This 999R is highly upgraded:

- $10k Engine Rebuilt with Lighter Titanium Rods by Ducati Race Technician
- BST Carbon Fiber Rims
- NCR Rear Sets Custom Made
- Brembo Brakes and Master Cylinders
- Custom Seat
- NCR Race Gas Cover
- STM Dry Clutch
- EVR Cylinder
- Dark Upgrade Windshield
- New Rear Brake and Turn Signal
- 6112 Miles on Bike Overall (After Engine Rebuild Less than 1000 miles)
- Garage Kept
- Bike Has Never Been Down

There’s no other way to describe the Ducati 999R than as a race bike with lights; it really is that close to the real thing.

Breathtaking quickness—0 to 60 mph comes in less than three seconds—is matched by the bike’s Brembo brakes. The Ducati 999R is built like a MotoGP bike so it’s dripping with exotic parts. The Desmodromic motor is packed with titanium, specially coated alloys and magnesium. Many carbon fiber parts and the exhaust heat shield is from a carbon/ceramic composite.

Mileage is pretty low and the bike does look very sharp, helped by some high-quality, professional photography. Of course, all of the 999 models had dry clutches, so the listing is probably referring to an STM slipper clutch [and cool slotted housing], and I'm pretty sure the bike had Brembo brake and clutch masters originally, just not the radial units seen here. Also, when did "Dark Upgrade Windshield" become a selling-point for a rare and collectible superbike? Are the original parts, especially the wheels, included? At least any missing peripherals can likely be cheaply sourced at the moment to get it closer to stock condition. The $19,880 Buy It Now is on the higher end for an original R, but the question remains: do the changes made to this particular bike increase or decrease the value?


Improving Perfection: 2005 Ducati 999R for Sale
Suzuki February 2, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Big Style, Modest Power: 1991 Suzuki GSX-R400 GK76 for Sale

I ran into a nice young rider the other weekend while I was eyeing his flat grey EBR 1190RX. We talked about the bike and all its neato Buell-y features, and he asked me what I was riding, so I introduced him to my Daytona, which also happens to be grey... "Aren't you a little big for that?" He asked.  Obvious "that's what she said" jokes aside, it highlighted a common misconception, at least here in the USA: smaller sportbikes are "learner" machines, and serious riders should move up to a "real" bike as soon as possible. Of course, bikes like today's Suzuki GSX-R400 are an argument that maybe smaller is just fine, and that there's plenty of fun to be had on a motorcycle that offers serious handling, but only modest straight-line performance.

Strict licensing and taxes on displacement mean that bigger bikes can be flat out impossible in many overseas markets, no matter your experience or skill. In those places it was often the 400cc class that was hotly contested throughout the late 80s and early 90s: witness the fact that the FZR600 was the lowest-spec bike of Yamaha's sportbike range with a glaring, low-tech difference: it used a relatively heavy steel frame instead of a lighter aluminum unit as seen on the 400cc and 1000cc models. In fact, the very first GSX-R was actually a 400cc model, and Suzuki applied the lessons learned to their smash-hit GSX-R750, although many aren't aware that the earlier bike even existed.

The third iteration of the evergreen Gixxer is also currently the least desirable, and this GSX-R400 is styled to match its bigger siblings. Not only does this generation still exist in that nether region between classic and modern, the bikes were generally heavier than the bikes they followed, with less performance. The Gixxer was peakier and a bit cruder than competitors like the CBR400, and as a result it was a bit of an also-ran, although it should still offer plenty of bang for your buck. Weight for this version of the GSX-R400 was 367lbs dry and the little 398cc inline four made 59hp at 12,500rpm.

From the original eBay listing: 1991 Suzuki GSX-R400 for Sale

Up for No Reserve auction we have a 1991 Suzuki GK76 GSX-R400. This bike sports slick OEM graphics, and is quite a good looking machine. It has recently been tagged and registered in Tennessee and is ready for the road. On the performance front I feel the carbs would benefit from a good cleaning. With that said, the bike starts up easily enough, idles, and runs right on up to redline. These are rather difficult to come by, and this one will make a nice addition to someone's collection.

Considering how popular Suzuki's sportbikes have been worldwide, it's surprising we haven't seen more of these up for sale here in the US, now that they can be legally imported. They certainly weren't the the best 400s but, being a Suzuki, plenty were sold. The seller includes a nice little video of the bike being zapped up and down a backroad, and it's nice to see that the bike is a solid runner, because it's not in showroom-perfect condition: aside from some scratches and plastic bits that have naturally discolored with age, the end can looks to be in pretty sorry shape and the non-standard turn signals are small and unobtrusive, but their fake-y "carbon" finish isn't very tasteful and originals might be difficult to source, depending on whether or not they're exclusive to this model... But all of that can be overlooked if the price is right, and with just two days left on the auction, that price is a mere $2,225 which could make it a screaming deal of a little screamer, if the bidding stays low.


Big Style, Modest Power: 1991 Suzuki GSX-R400 GK76 for Sale
Yamaha January 27, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Race-Kitted: 1990 Yamaha FZR750R OW01 for Sale


"Homologation" refers to the process by which a manufacturer makes a particular machine eligible for production-based racing classes. In most cases, mass-produced motorcycles include significant compromises in terms of their materials, construction, components, and even geometry that seriously hinder their racetrack performance. You can't sell every machine with radically oversquare bore and stroke, titanium engine internals, magnesium engine cases, and adjustable steering-heads, or the average GSX-R1000 would cost as much as a decent car, and Suzuki wouldn't sell too many. So to get production bikes into a form more suitable for racing, manufacturers build a small run of tricked-out, "improved" versions that often include very exotic features or parts, and those "homologation specials" are produced in limited quantities and often sold at outrageous prices. The number required varies by racing series and year, but at the end of it all, you end up with something like this, the Yamaha FZR750R OW01.

Unlike Honda, who basically just created a whole new machine to meet the requirements with their trick RC30, the OW01 could easily be mistaken for a regular production FZR750 at a glance: the most important modifications are under the skin. The five-valve, 749cc engine included magnesium castings, titanium rods, twin-ring pistons, and flat-slide carburetors. The revised Genesis engine used much more radically oversquare dimensions, compared to the stock bike, and it's naturally more rev-happy as a result, although the expected EXUP valve does keep things reasonably streetable.

The OW01 also used an aluminum fuel tank with an endurance filler cap and a removable aluminum subframe to reduce weight carried up high, quick-release axle clamps, Öhlins suspension, and a set of 17" hoops at both ends, although the pièce de résistance was probably the hand-welded aluminum Deltabox frame, a bit of gorgeous industrial artistry. This example has been further sweetened with a raft of kit Yamaha Engineering Co racing parts, as listed in the seller's description.

From the original eBay listing: 1990 Yamaha FZR750R OW01 for Sale

For sale is a gorgeous, race kitted 1990 Yamaha FZR750R OW-01.  Potential buyers will already understand and appreciate the scarcity of homologation race bikes, so I'll spare you a long description of their rich history.

The story behind this particular OW-01 is that prior to taking delivery, the original owner instructed his dealership to order and install any additional factory race components that were available, which included:

  • Marchesini Wheels
  • Brembo Rotors
  • Brembo P34 Calipers
  • Ohlin Forks
  • YEC Racing Triple Clamp
  • YEC Racing Clipons
  • YEC Racing Rear Sprocket
  • YEC Racing Swingarm Kit
  • YEC Racing Caliper / Dogbone
  • YEC Racing Ram Air Tubes
  • Early YEC Racing Lower Radiator
  • Dry Clutch and Gearbox
  • Rare Magnesium Kit Alternator

This bike was ridden, but reportedly never raced.  Note: The Marchesini wheels do not drive the odometer, which currently reads 4/10ths.  The bike has a few minor scratches and nicks here and there, but is in wonderful condition overall.  It has been on display for a couple years, so a service will be in order if it is to be ridden.  Also, the original components that were replaced when the bike was kitted were not passed along.

While not as successful overall, compared to Honda's RC30, or as well-known these days, the OW01 is certainly one of the most desirable sportbikes of the era. This example was up previously on eBay but failed to sell, although bidding got as high as $26,500. The current starting bid is set at $31,000 with no takers as yet, so the seller may be aiming just a little too high on this, in spite of the exotic racing components: the YEC parts are valuable for sure, but the bike's lack of pure originality may keep the price lower than they're expecting


Race-Kitted: 1990 Yamaha FZR750R OW01 for Sale
Honda January 25, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Fun Size: 1991 Honda VFR400R NC30 for Sale

A recent influx of  Honda VFR400R NC30s means they're in danger of not being nearly such rare sportbikes as they used to be... But relatively few were made for all markets, so there's no real chance of them ever being a common sight, especially here in the US where they've only recently become legal to import. Basically, a smaller version of the Honda's homologation superbike RC30, the NC30 used the same formula, only with less weight and displacement.

The NC30 used stiff, lightweight aluminum beam frame to suspend the heart of the bike, a 399cc V4 with gear-driven cams and a six-speed gearbox. Fully-faired, endurance-racing style bodywork with twin round headlamps helped support the family resemblance, as does the distinctive, single-sided ProArm swingarm out back, something that wasn't all that much use in World Superbike competition, but was handy for endurance racing. Plus, it obviously looked cool enough that the nobody's-idea-of-a-long-distance-anything Ducati 916 used a single-sided swinger just because.

So why build a smaller RC30? Well the NC30 was intended to form the basis for machines that would be used to compete in the hotly-contested 400cc class that was pretty popular everywhere but, you guessed it, here in the USA. With just 59hp, it's obviously no powerhouse, but the bike's 313lb dry weight means a respectable 130mph top speed, more than enough for a road bike or a shorter, tighter track. It's a bike that obviously stressed handling over power, and the "big bang" V4 has a wide powerband, making it easy to be in the right gear, and makes a distinctive drone.

From the original eBay listing: 1991 Honda VFR400R NC30 for Sale

Honda VFR400R NC30. NO RESERVE 11,035 Miles (17,758 Kilometers) Completely original and unrestored. Mechanically Sorted. Cosmetically does have touchup paint and some cracks and scratches. Some pitting on the aluminum especially at the swingarm. Please see images. All fluids are fresh.  Shifts and revs to redline perfectly.  Starts effortlessly every time. Very Honest OEM Bike.  Fuel tank is Rust Free. Bike has Vin Matching State of Ohio Title.  NC30-1101*** Buyer is responsible for their own State Requirements. Imported into the States through all legal channels. Sold as is. Buyer responsible for shipping. Thanks for looking.

As with many of Deftone Cycle's offerings, it isn't museum quality, but is complete, clean, and mechanically sound, with fresh fluids. In addition, a short video of the bike starting and running is included. Bidding is up to $4,500 with a couple days left on the auction, although I'd expect it will go higher. How much higher? Well recent examples of this mini-endurance racing replica have sold for somewhere between $7,000 and $8,000 so we'll see where this ends up.


Fun Size: 1991 Honda VFR400R NC30 for Sale