Author Archives: Tad Diemer

Honda May 1, 2017 posted by Tad Diemer

Race-Kitted: 1985 Honda VF750F Interceptor with Full-Factory HRC Engine Kit for Sale

Honda has been a believer in the V4 engine configuration for a long time, and it really started with bikes like this VF750F that includes a genuine HRC racing engine kit! Introduced in 1982 and available in a variety of displacements, including 400cc and 500cc versions, it was really the VF750F that really defined the breed, as it was the displacement eligible for AMA competition. V4 engines are complex and expensive to produce, but make flexible power, are very compact, and make some of the best noises in the motorcycling world. Unfortunately, some early VF750's suffered from the notorious "chocolate camshafts" where cam lobes crumbled and caused engines to fail. This was swiftly corrected and didn't affect all models, but Honda's reputation took a hit. The upside that is the bikes that followed, particularly the VFR750, were so massively overbuilt and lovingly bolted together that they helped to cement Honda's V4 machine in the public's mind as the ultimate sports-touring motorcycle.

By now, that shouldn't be a problem for a bike like this one that has already had 18,000 miles roll under the wheels. And if problems do appear, you can just swap in that HRC engine kit! That kit replaces the stock bike's timing chains with a set of precise gears as you can see in the photo below, just like on last week's VF1000R.

Part of what makes the 90° V4 so charismatic is that it's no high-strung screamer like an inline four. The 748cc engine put a claimed 86hp through a five speed gearbox and could push the 487lb dry machine on to 134mph. At nearly 550lbs wet, the bike wasn't exactly light, but it was agile, powerful, and even a little bit practical: the traits off the later jack-of-all-trades VFR are present even in this early incarnation.

From the original eBay listing: 1985 Honda VF750F with Full-Factory HRC Engine Kit for Sale

Very rare piece of race history with the HRC engine kit.  Build your own HRC Spencer replica!

Starting with a 1985 VF750F.  This bike has been with the original owner up to 2015.  Bought new and lovingly maintained over the past 32 years.  Now in my possession, I have recently installed a NOS period correct (1983) Supertrapp exhaust.  The bike has 30,000 KM, ( 18,000 miles).  it looks new with no blemishes or flaws.  It is in incredible condition and runs flawlessly.  It is a perfect platform to start your replica build.  I have the original bill of sale too.

The bonus piece and the reasons for the price is the full factory HRC engine kit included with the bike.  There is a full engine supplied to make this a Freddie Spencer HRC VF750R replica, (Freddie Spencer decals included).  Race fairing and rear cowl is included as well.  All that is needed to complete is the exhaust and radiator/oil cooler combo, (or just use the NOS supertrapp currently on).

Specific on engine:  1983 HRC NC5 VF750 Gear Driven Superbike engine. This is one of about 25 HRC Kit engines which were imported from HRC to American Honda's Race Team, some were used in house and others were sold to priveteers.  (*Carbs in picture not included in sale*).

 This engine will need to be assembled. The rods/piston's are not in the motor. Most parts will be suppiled for the rebuild as in new rings, new pistons, Titanum rods. The HRC manual will be supplied for information, set up, complete list of all kit parts and part numbers.

These kits were about $9500 new in 1983 and included Magnesium valve covers, clutch, ignition and oil pan in Mag. The HRC parts included in these race motors included the following, Gear Driven Cams, Close Ratio Trans, Titanuim Rods, Titanium Valves, HRC Ported Heads with byrilum seats, HRC Crankshaft, oil pump, Dry Clutch and ignition. *Carbs in picture not included in sale*.

I am not sure where you will ever get another opportunity like this.  Act fast, my email is already loading up with messages!

The seller is asking an eye-watering $13,900 for the package, which seems pretty shocking until you consider that engine. Maybe it's best to think of it as a Honda race engine with a spare bike included, since VF750Fs currently aren't especially valuable at the moment, although prices appear to be on the rise. That being said, from the few photos of the actual bike that are included, this appears to be an exceptionally clean, if not 100% original example of this significant machine.

-tad

Race-Kitted: 1985 Honda VF750F Interceptor with Full-Factory HRC Engine Kit for Sale
Triumph April 29, 2017 posted by Tad Diemer

Grand Touring: 1999 Triumph Daytona 1200SE for Sale

Motorcycling history is littered with storied nameplates undone by economic changes, and many have tried and failed to resurrect those brands, but one of the enduring success stories continues to be Triumph. Sunk by a changing economy, a changing market, and an inability to compete with the reliable, affordable, high-performance bikes from Japan, Triumph's long, slow slide into irrelevance was over by 1983. John Bloor originally purchased the defunct Triumph facility with an eye to razing it and building residences, but somewhere along the line, a bit of nationalistic inspiration struck him and he instead decided to revive the brand. Attempts to compete head-on with sportbikes from Japan a second time were always going to end in failure, so Triumph wisely chose to focus on quality and heritage instead of outright performance. That's not to say that bikes like today's Triumph Daytona 1200SE didn't have brawn to match their good looks, but that performance was never going be as focused or as inexpensive as it would be with something like a GSX-R1100. Instead, Triumph went for a different customer, one more concerned with quality and class than top-speed numbers or lap times.

The biggest limitation to ultimate performance was Triumph's decision to go with modular design based around a spine frame. That same basic frame and two engines, a triple or an inline four, could be wrapped in different bodywork to create an entire range of motorcycles and quickly add models to react to market changes, which gave versatility for a fairly low cost. Unfortunately, it meant a bit of a jack-of-all-trades quality, with too much weight carried too high for optimal handling. Nothing wrong in the engine room however: 147 horsepower may not sound all that impressive, considering the 1180cc engine, but it was one of the most powerful motorcycles available at the time and a claimed 85 lbs-ft of torque is BMW S1000RR territory. So the big Daytona can move out smartly and, most importantly, can sustain that 159mph top speed seemingly all day long, with plenty of wind protection from the big fairing and all-day ergonomics.

Styling is always subjective, but I think these look pretty cool, with that dual-round headlamp endurance racing style, but without the aggression or wild graphics of a 90s Japanese sportbike. The monochromatic color treatment, especially the black seen here, makes it look classy and elegant. I think they've aged well and prices mean you can have a classic road-burner with all-day comfort for relative peanuts. Personally, I'd prefer one of the hot-rod three-cylinder Super III models, but in either guise you're looking at a deceptively fast motorcycle.

From the original eBay listing: 1999 Triumph Daytona 1200SE for Sale

I purchased this bike three years ago to add it to the other two Daytona's I already have. The reason for the sale is that I have my hands full with my other D-12's and the other bikes we have. So... In the three years I have owned the bike I have put less than 400 miles on the it. I replaced the left and right fairings as well as the front fairing, windshield, with trim, clip-ons, fork seals, tires, and battery. I am the third owner, from what I was told. I have the bike stored in my climate controlled basement since I brought it home. The bike is completely stock. All parts used are Triumph parts. There is a very small ding on the tank. On the right side from previous owner. Also a small scratch/rub on the left side rear body work. The only thing missing is the Union Jack that gets mounted on the side fairing underneath "Special Edition". I have not located one yet. The last thing the bike needs is a carb tune. I have not done this because I wasn't riding it. I have a shop that has tuned my other D-12's that has the bikes producing 120hp and 80ft.lbs. at the rear wheel. I can have them do the work for around, $400.00, or we can discuss other options.

Full disclosure is something we all appreciate when shopping for a bike. When obvious stuff is wrong but not mentioned, we bike folks think, "Hmmm... if he's not being up front with that, what else isn't he telling us?" Being upfront about minor flaws suggests that, not only is the seller honest, but that they are a bit obsessive themselves. I'm not obsessive about minor flaws like the ones present here, but I sure want to buy a bike from someone who is. For a bike meant to cover big miles at big speeds, this one shows remarkably little wear and tear, although mileage is pretty low and the seller is asking $5,199.00 for what appears to be a very nice motorcycle. This is another bike like yesterday's VF1000R where most examples that show up for sale seem to have held up very well, considering the fact that they're 20 years old devices that go belting along highways and back roads at speed, which speaks not only to build quality, but to attentive ownership. But then again, that's exactly the kind of customer Triumph was shooting for in the first place.

-tad

Grand Touring: 1999 Triumph Daytona 1200SE for Sale
Honda April 28, 2017 posted by Tad Diemer

Overbuilt Race-Rep: 1985 Honda VF1000R for Sale

Values of Honda’s overbuilt homologation special VF1000R have been shockingly low up until very recently, but these red-white-and-blue beasts are starting to see a significant increase in price. They’re not lightweight or nimble at nearly 600lbs with a tank of fuel, but Honda’s build quality and engineering prowess are on display throughout the bike: the 998cc V4 used gear-driven cams in place of chains, Torque-Reactive Anti-Dive Control forks for better performance under braking, modular Comstar wheels and radial tires when radial tires were still rare and exotic, quick-release axles, adjustable bars, and even a vented rear brake... No, I don’t mean cross-drilled, the rear brake was vented.

The style of the bodywork reflected the VF1000R’s endurance-racing roots and features some interesting little quirks: you can see where Aprilia got some design ideas from those funky mesh side-panels. Two different headlight configurations were available, depending on year: the dual-headlight setup is generally considered more desirable, although they’re both tucked behind a single rectangular lens so they don’t look like you’d expect if you’re picturing something like an RC30. This example uses the single headlight that has a couple of additional vents around the sides and top to take up the space left by the bigger unit. Why two styles? Honda was worried the dual setup wouldn’t pass US regulations and created an alternative treatment, just in case.

All-in-all it was typical Honda overkill, which is fine unless it leads to a significant increase in weight which blunts performance significantly: the VF1000R certainly isn’t a slow bike, but it’s not all that fast either. Handling was a bit ponderous, but good set up can help quite a bit and the positive news for road-riders is that the available performance is pretty effortless, the fairings provide good wind protection, and the bike can cruise at its near 150mph top speed with ease.

From the original eBay listing: 1985 Honda VF1000R for Sale

This was the superbike of the day in 1985. I looked long and hard to find one in really nice original condition as it is getting hard to find good ones. This one was always stored inside and I have in in a climate controlled facility. I don't think it has ever been laid over as it is basically scratch free EXCEPT for on both sides of the front fender there are scratches that I guess were caused by someone's poor quality tie downs. You can see the scratches in the pic's. It has new tires. It has he original pipes which is unbelievable in itself.

The seller is right that these are rare bikes, although nice ones do show up pretty regularly on eBay. They're the kind of bikes people bought and cherished from new, so thrashed examples seem more like the exception rather than the rule. Which is good, because finding replacement parts is pretty difficult and the aftermarket is basically nonexistent. So why didn’t these capture the public’s imagination in the way the later RC30 and RC45 did? Probably a combination of the aforementioned visual and physical bulk. But maybe it also had something to do with the V4’s negative perception at the time that resulted from a few of the early VF750’s chain-driven cam lobes de-lobing, sometimes referred to as the “Chocolate Camshaft” syndrome. That issue actually affected only a small group of the early V4 bikes with chain-driven cams, but Honda's reputation took a big hit and required the incredible high-quality of the VFR750 that followed to erase that black mark.

-tad

Yamaha April 27, 2017 posted by Tad Diemer

Collector Alert: 1988 Yamaha FZR400 with 94 Original Miles for Sale

Sometimes, the amazingly low-mileage bikes that we stumble across surprise me. I mean, who at the time it was new would think to ferret away a pristine Yamaha FZR400? Of course it was always a cool bike, but the kind of thing you'd buy and preserve as a collectible? Seems strange, but the upside is that someone gets to bid on this example that has the classic white-and-blue "speedblock" graphics and just 94 miles from new.

Modern vehicle technology is incredible, offering up reliability, safety, and efficiency at an affordable cost. New motorcyclists are almost spoiled for choice these days, with slick, utilitarian offerings from Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, and even KTM that look good and perform well. They don't offer much in the way of inspirational engine notes or cutting-edge handling, however: all are powered by parallel twins or singles and sound a bit agricultural or slightly obnoxious, depending on whether you have a Two Bros exhaust fitted or not.

The middleweight sportbike class is fast disappearing as well, with just the GSX-R600 and R6 left as Honda and Triumph discontinue their 600cc sportbikes. But in the late 1980s, you were spoiled for choice, and the FZR400 offered a stepping-stone up in terms of refinement from something fast but a bit crude like a TZR250. Most of the 400cc sportbikes never made it to the USA officially, as demand for what would be considered "small" sportbikes has always been pretty non-existent. We got a few bikes with their genes like the Honda CB1, but those never sold well either, making all bikes in the class pretty rare and desirable these days.

The FZR400's 399cc four-cylinder produced a claimed 64hp, still plenty of power for a bike that weighed 410lbs wet, but, with little power below 5,000 rpm, the rev-happy motor meant you had to work it like a two-stroke to make fast progress for maximum rider involvement. Interestingly, the FZR400 was a much more serious weapon than the bigger 600 although they look nearly identical at a glance. The 400 made less power but handled better due to the lighter, stiffer aluminum frame used by the smaller bike, versus the 600's steel part. Yes, the 600 fits into the 400's frame, so if you come across a 400 with a blown or high-mileage motor, you might want to consider finding a 600 to rebuild and slot in instead.

From the original eBay listing: 1988 Yamaha FZR400 for Sale

Up for your consideration is a very RARE, very nice low mileage almost new 1988 Yamaha FZR 400 3EN1 with only 152 Kilometers (94 miles). It is in mint condition and has new battery, Yamaha filter & engine oil, new coolant flush, new fork seals and fork oil,  new brake fluid, new spark plugs and original air filter was serviced. Runs like the day it was new. Carburetor jets and needles are original and still comes with the factory jetting set from the factory. This FZR in mint condition and near museum quality. It still has the original factory tires, however there are age cracks in the sidewalls. There is patina here and there as you would expect from a 29 year old motorcycle. This FZR still has its original chain & sprockets, original brake pads and all original fairings and factory components. There is a small crack in the windscreen, however I have a new windscreen that will come with the bike. I haven't installed it to preserve the originality of the bike.

When we received the bike, It was taken apart and cleaned and inspected along with the full service. The muffler was chromed and re-finished to look new again. This FZR would make a excellent candidate for restoration, making it a true museum piece for your living room or just keep it and ride the hell out of it and make your friends jealous, lol. This FZR comes with a clean Utah title in my company name that will be presented to the new owner.

Okay, so the $8,999 asking price is pretty stupid money for a 400cc Japanese sportbike. Or at least is is right now: scoff all you like but I bet in a few years, Yamaha fans will be wishing they'd jumped in when these were so cheap... Especially at this mileage, although part of what's so cool about the FZR400 is the light weight and agile handling, so it's kind of a waste as a museum piece. I'm also not sure even very many of your motorcycling buddies will be very jealous if you have this in your garage or living room, let alone your more normal friends. Bidding's already up to $7,600 with plenty of interest, so I'll be interested to see if it makes it to that Buy It Now price.

-tad

Collector Alert: 1988 Yamaha FZR400 with 94 Original Miles for Sale
Yamaha April 26, 2017 posted by Tad Diemer

Head on Backwards: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale

Competition between the Japanese manufacturers in the 250cc sportbike class was fierce, with each trying for some small advantage in terms of performance, given the limited displacement and government-mandated power cap. On paper, they all seem to follow a pretty standard template: a compact two-stroke twin cylinder engine, power-valves of one sort or another, and an aluminum beam frame. But each manufacturer went their own way trying to maximize performance within those fairly narrow parameters. While development eventually led to the NSR, RGV, and TZR all using v-twins, there were a few experiments along the way, and today's TZR250 3MA represents an interesting attempt to solve the packaging issues inherent in two-stroke design.

Obviously, two-stroke engines are very compact by nature: with no overhead-valves or cams, they're short, simple, and very light. But while the exhaust expansion chambers required for a performance two-stroke may not weigh all that much, their bulging shape takes up valuable real estate in a motorcycle. The famous "gull arm" swingarms of the period were one solution to the problem and allowed the chambers to tuck in close to the centerline of the bike to maximize cornering clearance. But the 3MA version of the TZR250 went a different route by reversing the cylinder head so that the carburetors were at the front, with the exhausts exiting directly out the rear of the bike instead of curving around the sides or underneath. The bulbous expansion chambers fitted neatly into the seat, with the exhaust exiting through the tail.

The design was eventually replaced by the v-twin 3XV version introduced in 1991 after just two years, so the experiment can be considered a bit of a failure. But there's nothing inherently wrong with the idea, and this is one of my favorite bikes of the era, at least in terms of looks and the weird factor: it's my deep and not-so-secret shame that I haven't ridden one yet, but here's hoping that the stars will align and I'll be able to find a decent California-titled example when the time is right. Scouting around the message boards, it seems that the bike's reputation for poor reliability is exaggerated but, as these were not often seen anywhere outside of Japan, parts availability will prove difficult.

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

The parallel twin reverse cylinder version. The bike is imported from Japan. Not registered yet in the U.S. This bike is sold without title. (NO TITLE) Start engine. Original Cowl. New Aftermarket Front fork innre tubes. Dragging brakes. Need to change tires (flat tire) and a battery. Some scratches and rust, so look carefully all pictures and video. This motorcycle is 28 years ago. Sold as is.

11271km (7003mile) LOW MILE. Sold as is with NO warranty NO refunds NO return. Buyer responsible for vehicle pick-up or shipping to your location. (ITEM AT CARSON NOW)

There's also a helpful clip of the bike starting, running, and revving. The seller's English is a bit limited, but it looks like the bike runs from the video and just needs a little TLC: a brake rebuild, new tires, and some minor cosmetic issues. Normally nothing you'd find shocking in a 28 year old motorcycle, but make sure you're prepared to troll eBay and use Google Translate to track down parts to keep this running. It's certainly not pristine and it's not the cleanest example we've featured on this site, but if the price is right, it won't take all that much to get this one on the road. Obviously, the usual titling issues apply, so I doubt this bike will remain in Southern California.

-tad

Head on Backwards: 1989 Yamaha TZR250 3MA for Sale
Ducati April 25, 2017 posted by Tad Diemer

Signed and Numbered: 2006 Ducati Paul Smart 1000LE for Sale

 

Different motorcycle manufacturers have different ways of mining riders' nostalgia and their own history: Triumph makes motorcycles that look like they rolled straight out of the 1960s but perform like modern machines, while Harley Davidson makes actual 1960s motorcycles, only heavier and with 1980s brakes and electronics. Ducati's retro bikes manage to straddle the line between vintage and modern styles, so designs for their Sport Classic and Scrambler models have classic colors and shapes, but you'd never mistake them for actual vintage machines. When released, bikes like the Paul Smart 1000LE caused a sensation, but demand died out relatively quickly and the line was discontinued after just a few short years, with only the GT soldiering on until 2010.

Values for them second-hand have been surprisingly strong however, particularly for the 1000LE and Sport models. I'm a huge fan of the offset monoshock that looks like a dual-shock setup from the left side and the tubular swingarm, although that setup on the original bikes meant a solo-seat option only. Performance was fairly tame on paper, although 92hp is really nothing to sneeze at and can be put to good use because of the bike's excellent handling. This was a bike pitched at a more mature crowd and experienced riders who appreciate a fast motorcycle but weren't interested in bench-racing or pointless horsepower-measuring contests.

Paul Smarts show up pretty regularly on eBay, considering how few were built, often with low miles and exorbitant prices. This particular bike certainly fits that description, as the asking price is $27,500 only with even lower miles and the added bonus of Paul Smart's signature on the bodywork, which should be like catnip for Ducati collectors. I'm glad the factory pipes are included for originality's sake, but they are very ugly things clearly designed to be replaced by the owner as soon as possible. The Keihan exhausts currently installed suit the classic style of the bike, but are almost too vintage for my tastes, and are likely too quiet as well. Maybe some Termignoni pipes would be more appropriate? Or those wild Zard high/low pipes that only work on the solo-seat models?

From the original eBay listing: 2006 Ducati Paul Smart 1000LE for Sale 

2006 Ducati Paul Smart 1000LE Limited Edition. Perfect condition with just under 700 miles.  Autographed by Paul Smart on the tank and tail. Both have had a clearcoat applied over them. Always garaged. Collector owned. The bike is located in Washington DC, but I can arrange for shipping anywhere. Aftermarket Keigen pipes, but the originals will be included in the sale. More photos available upon request.

Aside from a relatively uncomfortable riding position, the 1000LE makes for a pretty great roadbike, with excellent handling, adequate power and a rich midrange, wind protection, decent fuel economy, and reasonable reliability, assuming you take good care of it. But in such perfect, low-mileage condition, and with that Paul Smart signature on the bodywork, I doubt anyone would want to destroy the bike's value by actually riding it. So it's a shame that such a practical exotic will  probably spend most of its time in an office, living room, or heated garage, sealed away as an investment.

-tad

Signed and Numbered: 2006 Ducati Paul Smart 1000LE for Sale