Author Archives: Tad Diemer

Laverda August 18, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Objet d’Art: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC for Sale

Wow, two Laverda 750 SFCs in one week, both with very serious pricing. Although, of the two, this one appears to be more original and is in much nicer, if less patina-d condition and appears to... what the hell, it's decorating a New York City apartment?! Oh well, I guess if I had the money for real estate in NYC with a stylish freight elevator, I'd probably do exactly the same thing...

It has no real bearing on its quality but, since I don't get to see most of these bikes in the flesh, I do appreciate some decent photography, and the SFC is certainly a deserving subject. I realize that orange isn’t likely to be too many people’s first choice for their fantasy motorcycle, but it just looks so right on a Laverda: it’s a brash color on a purposeful bike. These really were road-legal race bikes, the ultimate development of Laverda’s rugged parallel-twin platform before their switch to the triple, and the SFC had a history of racing success.

Laverda got their start making agricultural machinery, and their natural tendency to overbuild everything to increase reliability extended to their motorcycles. The two-cylinder engine had five main bearings and the very highest-quality components were used wherever possible: Ceriani provided the suspension, Bosch the ignition components, and Nippon-Denso the starter. Introduced as a 650cc machine, the displacement was quickly increased to 750cc so it could compete against bikes from Triumph, Norton, Ducati, and Moto Guzzi.

The SFC or "Super Freni Competizione" was named for its enormous magnesium Ceriani four leading-shoe front brake, although the later machines used a more effective dual disc setup as seen here. The 1974 model also featured improvements to the frame to make it lower and lighter, and suspension was updated as well. Engines were far from standard, and the bikes produced between 71 and 80hp.

The seller mentions that the sale is motivated by a move to the West Coast. New York City seems to an outsider like it'd be an amazing place to be a biker, and the traffic means motorcycles make huge practical sense. But road surface quality that wouldn't look out of place in Berlin at the end of World War II and traffic that more closely resembles gladiatorial combat than any sort of cooperative endeavor combine to make motorcycle riding in NYC less fun than it should be. Traffic in much of California is pretty awful as well, but legal lane-splitting, beautiful roads, and year-round riding weather would have me reconsidering a sale of this one if it were on display in my living room...

From the original eBay Listing: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC for Sale

Original 1974 "17000 series" Laverda SFC #17093 in perfect unrestored condition. If you don't know the history of these extremely limited and hand-built racers, just Google them.  She is the best time capsule in existence for sure. She has not been on the road since the late 70's.  Previous to my purchase as third owner, she was in a private collection for 30+ years in the Southwestern USA. I purchased her from the second owner as he was selling his collection due to his advanced age and he wanted her to go to a collector who would hopefully leave her untouched. This SFC also has its original "2-into-1" exhaust pipe that I removed as the original "2-into-2" exhaust pipe looks better when the bike is on display.  The original "2-into-1" pipe is included in the sale. I have turned over the engine every other month over the last few years. She still has all of her original fuel lines, taps and all hardware as included from day one. The only missing item is the original battery... lol. She has 2,930 miles and still has her original tires. I have a collection of over 20 motorcycles of which this is my clear favorite. She resides in my home office in New York City and I get to admire her every time I work at home. Time for her to find a new home as I am downsizing my collection as we are planing a move to the West Coast. I believe she deserves to reside in a museum or as any new owner seems fit. Re-commision her and take her to the track! I have often thought of re-commsioning her and taking her out as she should be ridden; but I never seem to be able to remove the original fuel lines and tires, etc. to make that happen. These time capsules are original only once in its life, and she remains that way to this day. I am happy to answer any questions.  f you would like to see any particular pictures, just ask. The bike can be seen by appointment in New York City. Deposit due within 24 hours and final payment by wire or bank check. If by bank check, bike does not leave my possession until the funds are cleared.  Good Luck!

This example is basically a museum piece, less a living document and more of an archival record, although the owner does "turn the engine over." I think he means "by hand" so I'm sure it will still need recommissioning if the new owner plans to ride it. It has a the full dash with both a tachometer and speedometer, something relatively rare among the SFCs I've seen for sale in the past few years: like many exotic bikes and cars of the period, they were a bit like snowflakes, and no two were exactly alike. With fewer than 600 produced during the entire run, the SFC is one of the most desirable sportbikes of the 1970s, and prices have obviously been increasing as a result. What's it worth? Well last week's was obviously a bridge too far for our readers, but this one, while still a very expensive proposition, is slightly less of one: the Buy It Now is only $135,000! Perhaps the nearly perfectly-preserved condition helps justify the asking price, although the last couple examples we featured were less than half that and in very nice condition...

-tad

Objet d’Art: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC for Sale
Bimota August 17, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Styling Exercise: 1998 Bimota DB3 Mantra for Sale

Bimota's stock-in-trade has always been aggressive, lightweight racebikes for the road but, every once in a while, they throw us a curveball. Or even the occasional knuckleball like this DB3 Mantra. An unapologetically road-biased machine, Bimota's third Ducati-powered special featured upright ergonomics, an oval-section trellis frame shared with the later DB4, a roto-molded fuel tank that included a storage cubby at the back in an ill-advised nod to practicality, and styling could be called "wild" if you were feeling gracious.

It was polarizing then and now, but if you like the looks, you shouldn't let anything discourage you from buying one: the hard parts are all easy to service, reliable, and pretty entertaining. Ducati's air and oil-cooled two-valve v-twin has been around forever, and is relatively simple to service and parts are readily available to maintain them. Yeah, the regular belt-changes are kind of annoying, but easy to do if you know your way around an engine, and the valves generally aren't too much of a problem either. And if the bike's 85 claimed horses from the 904cc twin don't adequately blow your hair back, you can build yourself a high-compression, 944cc monster that should do a pretty good job of stretching your arms.

The styling was slightly insane, but the bike handled very well, with a 43mm Paioli fork out front and an adjustable Paioli shock out back. The oval-section trellis frame was stiff and very light: just 11 pounds. Basically, it was a lighter, weirder, much more expensive Monster with better suspension. Like all Bimotas, it makes no sense from a financial perspective, as performance advantages over a Monster that cost half as much were minimal. But 454 Mantras found buyers, which makes the bike pretty much volume production for Bimota.

This example is a second-generation Mantra, with updated styling at the front, tubular handlebars instead of raised clip-ons, and Antera wheels to replace the earlier Marchesini hoops. I have a soft spot for these, as it was one of the first bikes that, as a non-rider, really caught my eye when it was new. Weird as they are, I still kind of dig the DB3 and would have one in a collection if I could afford to:

A: Have that plastic, burl-wood dash replaced with something stupid, like genuine wood or some nice carbon fiber.
B: Replace the horrible four exhaust pipes and the ludicrously-styled hangars with something much simpler.

Remove the taller screen, fit some simple bar-end mirrors and have fun.

From the original eBay listing: 1993 Bimota DB3 Mantra for Sale

This is an excellent example of a DB3. 400+ made, 23 in red. Very few in the US. Very low mileage at under 9200. Ducati 900 engine just has been serviced with new belts, oil and plugs. New AGM battery. New Conti tires. Previous owner removed the complicated fuel pump system and now it is just gravity fed.

Here are the 3 issues. Without a choke cable, it is a little hard starting until fuel gets in the carbs. With a cable, I imagine it would go on the first try. Once started, restarts fine. Tach works 50% if the time, loose connection? Lastly has a slight whistle noise at an exact rpm. Ducati said it is caused by lack of the factory air box. It hurts nothing, just the flow of air... These are 3 minute things, but I go for full transparency. The bike is in great shape. Very unique Italian styling.

"Very unique Italian styling" might be the epitome of understatement in this case. But the bones are good and the DB3 should make a pretty great weekend roadster for cruising, carving up traffic, and shocking onlookers. "What is that?" is something I'd expect you'll hear pretty often, riding the Mantra. So what's it worth? Well the Bimota pedigree and rarity certainly makes it more valuable than an equivalent 900SS or Monster powered by the same engine, with similar performance. But by how much? Values for 90s Bimotas are currently at a bit of a low-ebb, although I doubt that can continue forever. Bidding on this one is very active and up to just about $5,000 with another day left on the auction.

-tad

Styling Exercise: 1998 Bimota DB3 Mantra for Sale
Ducati August 11, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Featured Listing: 2008 Ducati 1098R for Sale

After the relative failure of the 999 series of superbikes, Ducati needed a win, badly, and they got one with the 1098. The design was much more conservative than the Terblanche-penned 999, but it shared stylistic elements with the 916 and had a recognizable “face.” But for serious riders, the changes under the skin were more important, and today’s Featured Listing 1098R is one of the rawest ways to experience Ducati’s two-cylinder fury.

It’s not that the Panigale that followed the 1098 and 1198 wasn’t even lighter, more aggressive, and more powerful. It obviously was. But the 1098 and especially the 1098R came at the tail end of the era of the truly analog sportbike. In fact, the 1098R is significant in that it represents an actual bridge between the pure, undiluted sportbikes and the proliferation of multi-level traction control, anti-wheelie systems, cornering ABS, and ride-by-wire.

Many of Ducati’s pre-Pani superbikes have power outputs that seem… tame. The famously beastly SPS? Just 124hp. Of course, those earlier bikes were still deceptively fast, and had huge torque figures and fat midranges, compared to inline fours. But by the time of the 1098R, you were still seeing a peak of nearly 190hp and 99ft-lbs of torque with the included race ECU and exhaust. That's a terrifying prospect in a bike that has only the most primitive form of electronic traction control.

And the R was a landmark bike in that it was the first roadbike to include a traction control system designed to allow the rider go faster, to help the rider tame the nearly race-bike levels of performance for both increased safety and better lap times. The DTC was deactivated on the bike as delivered, but installation of the included race ECU and Termignoni exhaust switched it on. Not that anyone would do that on the road, of course... The Testastretta Evoluzione v-twin fitted to the 1098R had the usual raft of titanium engine parts to save weight and help the bike spin up quicker, and the 1198.4cc was at the very limit for WSBK homologation purposes. A factory slipper clutch and the Öhlins TTX36 twin-tube shock helped keep things under control at the rear of the bike, and top-spec Öhlins forks and Brembo brakes did the same up front.

From the original eBay listing: 2008 Ducati 1098R for Sale

Race ECU and full Termignoni exhaust. No modifications. Always garaged. Not ridden in rain. Super clean. Maintenance up to date. Tires have plenty of tread left. Selling this and a couple others to make room for older bikes. I bought this 1098R from original owner/collector in 2012 when it had 1062 miles. Just relisted. Lower reserve. Lower Buy it Now price. Clear title in hand.

I believe all of the 1098Rs shipped with the Race ECU and Termi exhaust, but they weren't installed because, [cough, cough] they were "intended for offroad use only" and weren't anywhere near legal. Having heard one of these up close, I'd say it's pretty clear they didn't even bother trying to make the Termignoni exhaust meet noise standards... Anyway, mileage is low on this one, and the Buy It Now price of $17,700 is right in the ball park, if not a teeny bit on the low-side.

-tad

Featured Listing: 2008 Ducati 1098R for Sale
Laverda August 10, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Blue-Chip Classic Friday: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC for Sale

Back in the 1960s and 1970s you could buy race cars and race bikes that were basically road-legal, vehicles you could actually drive or ride to the track and reasonably expect to be competitive with pretty minimal changes. Of course, those days are long gone: race machines often share very few components with their road-going counterparts and frequently bear little resemblance to any sort production vehicles whatsoever. But today's Laverda 750 SFC was a machine from the tail end of that earlier era and was very much a race bike with some lights and signals slapped on to make it vaguely road-worthy.

I mean, just take a look at that taillight: was it thoughtfully integrated into a specially-designed cut-out? Nope, it was literally bolted to the sloped rear face of a solo tail section that was obviously designed with a number-plate in mind. The instruments are basically just a tach, ignition barrel, and indicator light bolted to the inside of the fairing: this thing is the epitome of crude, at least in terms of creature-comforts and finish. Speedo? Who cares? Just figure out what revs approximate which highway speeds in top gear and assume you could just outrun cops of the period anyway.

But forget refinement: the mechanicals are where it's at, and the bike has those in spades. Early models used a huge alloy drum brake, and later machines like this one a pair of discs, giving the bike it's name: "Super Freni Competizione" or basically "Super Braking Racebike." Laverda used the very best components available everywhere they could, and the basic parallel-twin was overbuilt and very durable, making it ideal for endurance racing.

Ceriani forks, Bosch ignition, and Nippon-Denso electrical components, and that 744cc parallel twin with five main bearings, backed up by a five speed gearbox that put the bike's claimed 75hp to the rear wheel. This example isn't some museum-piece and the seller mentions it's done quite a bit of track time. How much? Who knows: like many SFCs, this one lacks a speedometer, and therefore an odometer. The tach looks non-standard, although I've seen several different types fitted to the original bikes. It's hard to tell from the pic, but maybe it's a Scitsu unit?

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC for Sale

Am 76 and it's time to let go of my collection. Started collecting about 50 years ago and the main objective was to buy one owner high end cars and motorcycles for pleasure and investment. I won't bore you repeating the history of the 750 SFC Laverdas - If you are reading this you already know of the Laverda 750 SFC's iconic competition accomplishments, background and rarity. Hand built by a small number of employees, there were only 100 of these limited production Laverda 750 SFC competition motorcycles manufactured in 1974. Recently brought out of storage, it is an authentic two owner (I am the 2nd owner) matching numbers factory original survivor. I purchased it from the gentleman who bought it new at a dealership in Florida. He raced it on every motorcycle race track East of the Mississippi up until around 1984, when he found out he had terminal cancer and put the bike in storage. He did not want to sell it but had to liquidate his holdings. It is a beautiful piece of art. The engine had a complete overhaul from a company called Megacycle in California after it's last race and is in fresh like new original condition. Runs perfectly. What a sound. An exhilerating deep throbbing sound that can only come from a Laverda 750 SFC. It has been cleaned and the brakes rebuilt. It is in it's original racing condition complete with period stickers, as it came off the last track. The engine mount tab is indeed stamped "SFC" from the factory. My collection included many motorcycles but I kept this one for the last and had no intention of ever selling it - but to be realistic it needs to move along to another caretaker. I have framed photos of it being raced at different tracks and the original 1974 owners manual. Please read the complete description so you will understand all conditions and any issues. THERE IS NO TITLE - Sold on a Georgia bill of sale and Georgia Sheriffs Department inspection certificate. I will answer all email questions and consider offers.

Just 549 total were built between 1971 and 1975. So the Buy It Now for this race-bred classic? A mere... $195,000?! Well, maybe that's a mistake. I mean, it is eBay after all. So the starting bid is... $150,000?! Wow, I guess he is serious. Well I'll be curious to see if anyone bites. Seems like a major auction might be a better bet for something like this, but who knows? Certainly the SFC is one of the most valuable and collectible bikes of the era, and prices are certainly headed in that direction.

-tad

 

Blue-Chip Classic Friday: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC for Sale
Yamaha August 7, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

One-Eighty: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale

It's been a while since we've seen a Yamaha TZR250 3MA for sale, and the bike is both very rare and also a sportbike, so we're posting this one, even though it isn't in perfect condition. I'm a huge fan of this particular iteration of the TZR, because of course I'm a fan of the weird, slightly less-than-successful version of any bike. With competition very fierce in the 250cc sportbike class and specifications so similar, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, and occasionally Kawasaki were all looking for a competitive advantage. The bikes all had aluminum beam frames, liquid-cooled two-stroke twins, and power valves to boost midrange. Light weight meant incredible agility and the triple disc brakes were almost overkill for the 300lb machines.

Although two-stroke engines are very compact, routing the bulky de rigueur expansion chambers meant design compromises: the typical quarter-liter solution meant asymmetrical "banana" style swingarms that looked cool and allowed the expansion chambers to tuck in close to the centerline and maximize cornering clearance, but added weight.

Yamaha had a different idea. Why not flip the cylinders of their parallel twin around 180° so that the carburetors were at the front and the exhausts exited toward the rear? Since two-strokes lack camshafts or valvetrain, this was pretty simple to do for the 3MA version, and meant there were no worries routing the exhaust and expansion chambers around the bike's lower half. Instead, they went straight back and out through the tail, creating a slight bulge in panels just below the seat.

The concept was sound but the bike was produced for just two years and is generally considered a failure, although its reputation for mechanical unreliability is apparently a bit of an exaggeration. It was light and handled brilliantly, but the reversed-cylinders offered no real advantage. A failed experiment, the bike was only officially sold in Japan, although the bike did find its way to parts of Europe as a parallel import.

This little TZR is a complete machine and appears to be original, but is a little scruffy around the edges, although it's hard to tell from the pics. I'm seeing the typical corrosion and discoloration you'd expect on a Japanese bike of this era, especially one that likely spent it's first few years in the salt air of its homeland.

From the original eBay listing: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale

1989 Yamaha TZR 250 3MA, no reserve
New tires, chain and sprockets, carbs rebuilt, fresh service
Very low kilometers, runs good, aftermarket exhaust chambers, bodywork is OEM
I can send running video, call me or text me 954-809-8596
My name is Mike

Hi, Mike! This isn't my favorite color combo for this bike, but you can't go wrong with basic black. The $5,500 opening bid is probably in the ball park, but I wonder what the reserve is. TZRs are rare, but seem to generally be less desirable than NSRs. Personally I love the look and general weirdness of the 3MA, but there was no performance advantage for the backwards cylinders, and I've read that parts are harder to source than for earlier parallel twins or later 3XV v-twin TZRs. Basically, it's a cool bike, but it's the oddity and style that appeal most, and this one is a runner, but in need of a bit of cosmetic TLC.

-tad

One-Eighty: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale
Honda August 3, 2018 posted by Tad Diemer

Unconventional NC30: 1992 Honda VFR400R for Sale

Purists and Honda fans might want to avert their eyes now... Styled like a baby RC30, the VFR400R NC30 has long offered Honda V4 thrills and character in a more affordable, less intimidating package. Of course, the steady rise in RC30 prices means that values for the NC30 are on the way up as well, as the bike has always been like a gateway drug for folks craving a Honda V4 rush. But because the NC30 was made in greater numbers and the bike has been pretty affordable, the bike can be considered less sacred, and is more likely to be subjected to modifications...

At a glance, you could easily confuse an NC30 for an RC30. The design is intentionally very similar, although the NC has smaller headlights and looks overall a bit like an RC that's been through the wash in hot water. It shares the RC's beam frame design, Pro-Arm single-sided swingarm, and V4 configuration. And the difference in displacement and overall performance is mitigated by a substantial weight disparity: the NC weighs 401lbs wet, compared to the RC's 488lbs wet.

We've gotten used to 200hp road missiles but, with sophisticated electronics needed to help manage these beasts, I think we sometimes underestimate just how much fun a pure, unadulterated 60hp motorcycle can be when it's this light and this thoroughly developed.

The rise in prices will also likely lead to purists being more offended by bikes like this one. Honestly, the modifications, although fairly extensive, are pretty tasteful, carefully thought out, and easy to miss at first since the bike retains the iconic HRC colors. Personally I'm kind of a fan of endurance-racing squinty-eyed headlamp setups like this. Airtech makes some neat ones for the GSX-R and ZX-7 and it makes a great, but maybe too-familiar design look fresh.

Head on over to eBay for a whole bunch of additional pictures of this little resto-mod.

From the original eBay listing: 1992 Honda VFR400R NC30 for Sale

This bike has been a project to build a very cool VFR400 I have worked on over the last couple years after I purchased it from a friend who owned it for quite a few years. This bike has been in the US for many years, it does not suffer from much of the corrosion issues that many new Japan NC30 imports are plagued with. This bike has a 17 digit VIN, which is how I bought it. Currently titled and reg'd in Arizona this bike IS LEGAL TO REGISTER IN CA with the 17 digit VIN. 

This NC30 is turn key, ready to ride, track day or display in your collection. EVERYTHING is new or fresh.

The following is BRAND NEW in last few weeks:

  • Complete fresh paint and bodywork $3500
  • Brand new Bridgestone S21's front and back, no miles  $350
  • Brand new Tyga Full exhaust System $800
  • New Tyga fork adjusters and re-freshed forks $300
  • Freshly powdercoated wheels front and back $300
  • New Thermae upper and lower oversized radiators $600
  • NC35 17" rear wheel $350
  • Full service front to back, oil, filter, coolant brake fluid front and back.

You can probably not build an NC30 like this for less... and I have more in it than I am asking for!!!

This is a 1992 VFR400. It is wearing a Tyga Suzuka Style cowling with an NC35 solo style tail section. The bodywork has just been freshly professionally painted in RC30 style classic Honda tri colors.

  • The bike is on an NC30 3.5x17" front wheel with NC35 rotors, the rear wheel is an NC35 17".
  • Wheels freshly powdercoated and wearing brand new Bridgestones. 
  • Tyga Performance Full Stainless exhaust system with carbon can. 
  • Tyga Performance rear sets
  • Tyga Performance fork caps with Full rebound adjustment
  • Ohlins rear shock
  • Thermae Oversized race radiators
  • HRC rear brake reservoir
  • Samco hoses
  • Braided brake lines

This NC30 is very clean and well sorted, it has a rare Ohlins rear shock, the NC35 17 inch rear and looks incredible with the Suzuka style bodywork. The bike is very clean for its age, please look at the photos with the lower bodywork removed. No leaks or mechanical problems, carbs recently cleaned, jetted for exhaust. Everything works, currently the bike does not have front blinkers installed, but I have a Tyga set that can go with the bike and be installed at your discretion. 

All other electrical works as it should, and it has an updated reg/rec, so no issues with the stock Honda ones that often fail. This bike is also equipped with an aftermarket top speed de-restrictor to get around the JDM 180 kph limit.

Not a stock NC30 by any means, but I think it has all the right mods, looks incredible and will make someone VERY happy... and you will NOT see another one like it at your next bike night!

Please check out all the pictures, contact me with ANY questions or if you need more photos!!!

So it's not completely original, and it isn't even close to stock, but the seller is obviously a knowledgeable enthusiast. Modifications like the NC35 rear wheel make plenty of practical sense and, if you're looking for the V4 experience on a budget and have an irreverent streak, that $10,500 Buy It Now price represents a screaming deal.

-tad

Unconventional NC30: 1992 Honda VFR400R for Sale




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