Author Archives: Tad Diemer

Honda September 1, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

For Display Purposes Only: 1994 Honda NSR250SP Rothman’s Edition

Originally posted in July, this NSR is back on eBay. Links updated. -dc

This is actually a very nice NSR250R SP in Rothman's livery, a road-legal version of Honda’s 250 race bike that obviously includes all the necessary lights and signals to keep you looking suitably responsible. The little 250cc two-stroke v-twin pumped out about 45hp as stock, but up to 60 when suitably de-restricted. Which, when pushing a bike that weighs under 300lbs dry, would make it quite the surprise for much bigger machines, considering the snarly little leaf-blower noises and heavy smoke dripping out of the pipes.

1994 Honda NSR250 Rothman's Edition for sale on eBay

rothmansrelist1

1994 Honda NSR250 Rothmans R Side

If you’re not familiar with the Rothman’s name, they were a premium tobacco manufacturer that sponsored Honda’s GP motorcycle racing efforts between 1985 and 1993. Their stable of brands also included Players and Dunhill, two other brands famous for their motorsports connections.

This is a very slick little machine, but presents a serious problem for someone like me. It’s way too nice to beat up on the track, and without a title there's not much chance of you using it on the street, unless you live in a state with a very permissive DMV. So this one looks to be a collector's item, forever doomed to sit in an office, garage, or museum, never to turn a wheel in anger...

1994 Honda NSR250 Rothmans tail nose

From the original eBay listing: 1994 Honda NSR250 Rothman’s Edition

The MC28 SP bikes represent the fifth generation of Honda 250 two-strokes.  They were significantly upgraded from the fourth generation MC21s throughout the bike. The memory card “key” is very slick, the bodywork also had been upgraded for sleeker aero dynamics, and better looks to match the all new single sided swingarm (PROARM).  While there were previous versions of the Rothman’s edition, the MC28 SP was the last, and only 1,500 were made. Finding a 1994 Rothmans MC28 SP is quite rare and expensive due to the limited numbers.  This is the real thing, not aftermarket bodywork on a plain 250.  Check the VIN as well as the official part label on the tail section in the photos.

Bike comes with a limited edition Rothman’s embroidered jacket; size 52 Euro.  It also comes with a 1994 NSR250SP Parts Manual (Original), Part # 11KV3RJ5 (in Japanese), code #; D 200.2005.01, 142 pages.  You can also see more information about NSRs and an English language service manual at nsr-world.com. 

1994 Honda NSR250 Rothmans Damper Detail

With no valid title, I’m curious as to how this picked up as many miles as it has. The laws regarding what constitutes "road legal" varies from state to state and who knows? Maybe you live in a state where this kind of thing might be doable. I’ve spent most of my life in New Jersey and California, and neither place has a very friendly DMV.

Honestly, I'd be tempted to buy this little dinger, put the beautiful original bodywork on the wall of my office, throw on some Airtech race plastics, put all the road equipment carefully in a box, and ride the living hell out of it.

-tad

1994 Honda NSR250 Rothmans Dash

For Display Purposes Only: 1994 Honda NSR250SP Rothman’s Edition
Triumph August 28, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

1990’s Budget Britbike: 1997 Triumph Daytona T595

Fast, classy, and just a bit different, this Triumph Daytona T595 represented a huge change in thinking for the recently resurrected company. Early on in Triumph's John Bloor era, cost-cutting measures that didn’t compromise reliability or quality were in full-effect, and basically all of their bikes were based around a common frame and two engines, which gave plenty of versatility to create new models by simply swapping parts around. So a 900cc triple or a 1200cc four could be slotted in, with different bodywork and suspension fitted to create a range of motorcycles that eventually included a dual-sport, a sport bike, a sport touring bike, and a naked roadster.

1997 Triumph Daytona R Front

The resulting motorcycles were never be able to compete directly with more pure and focused designs: multi-purpose engines and frames were always going to be too heavy, and not optimized for specific tasks. But the designs were modern and significantly improved on the reliability and usability of the older Triumphs, helping pave the way for the Triumphs of today.

And even though the bikes were generally not focused enough to really compete against dedicated sportbikes from Japan, they had far more character, good looks, were sized for larger riders, and were uncommon enough for folks looking for something different than the usual shrieking fours. The original Daytona came in both four and triple flavors, although the added weight of the larger four cylinder moved it even further towards the sport-touring end of the spectrum.

1997 Triumph Daytona R Rear

The second generation of the Daytona was a big leap forward in terms of both style and performance. While the unfortunately-designated T595 sounds like it should be packing a 600cc motor, it’s got a big, meaty 955cc triple that pumps out 130hp. Like the earlier Daytona, the T595 was a bit too heavy for serious track duty, but as a road-weapon it was hard to beat, with a comfortable seating position, excellent brakes, and plenty of torque. Very much a GT, the perfect bike for folks who wanted to buy British but also wanted a completely modern machine.

Some minor low-production-volume quirks aside, the Daytona delivered.

1997 Triumph Daytona R Side

From the original eBay listing: 1997 Triumph Daytona for Sale

Check out this super cool and hard to find bike!! 1997 Triumph Daytona T595 in Strontium Yellow. A real classic sport bike. Lots of performance and great styling to boot. The 955cc in line three cylinder engine with 130 horses and 74 foot pounds of torque makes this baby boogie. With almost a five gallon fuel tank, a six speed transmission, and a low weight of only 435 pounds you can great range and travel on this bike.  This bike has super low miles for the year with only 11,280 clicks on the odometer the Daytona has only averaged about 660 miles a year. Very clean bike and freshly serviced. Priced right and ready to roll today.

These aren’t especially rare, but they’re pretty hard to find in such nice original condition. I loved the styling at the time, especially in silver, and I think it’s aged pretty well. Too curvy by far to look modern, the proportions are very nice and a lack of outrageous graphics favored by Japanese manufacturers keeps things simple and elegant. This is one of those bikes that, like the GSX-R 1100, I’d love an excuse to buy: a long highway commute, or as a weekend getaway machine.

1997 Triumph Daytona L Rear

It’s unfortunate that Triumph doesn’t make a big-bore Daytona today: just take a Speed Triple and fit a fairing. It wouldn’t be competitive in  any eligible race classes, but neither was the old one. In today’s market, where “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” seems to be less and less of a concern and bikes with oddball-displacements like Kawi’s 636 and Ducati’s 899 offer additional choice and high performance in a very sporty package, it seems a no-brainer, especially considering the success and popularity of Triumph's 675 Daytona.

-tad

1997 Triumph Daytona L Side

1990’s Budget Britbike: 1997 Triumph Daytona T595
Bimota August 26, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Drink the Kool-Aid:1998 Bimota Mantra DB3

Even a storied manufacturer with a portfolio of glorious bikes can make a misstep. A trend of questionable taste taken just a bit too far, a design compromised by budget, a stylist given too free a hand. The Bimota Mantra may have been all of these things working against it: it’s a bit of an overwrought mess, powered by a twin but with four exhaust pipes, giving the usual low-mount cornering-clearance problems with but additional weight and complexity, included at no extra charge! Although considering the price of these new, there may have been a line item on the original sticker for “Reduced Cornering Clearance”, too… The dash is walnut. And what were they thinking with that storage cubby at the back of the dummy tank?

1998 Bimota Mantra R Front

All that being said, these are distinctive motorcycles and no mistake, and I do like that Bimota was trying for something different. This was their first bike intended purely for the street, they went a bit overboard making this bike's street intentions visually clear...

1998 Bimota Mantra L Front

Thing is though: it’s still a Bimota. Weird exhausts and extroverted styling aside, a stiff frame, quality suspension, and strong brakes mean this will get a serious wiggle on, if you want it to. And they’re rare, with only 454 made between 1995 and 1998. Powered by Ducati’s air and oil cooled, two-valve v-twin, maintenance and hop-up parts are readily available, so you can at least leave the people laughing at you in a roiling cloud of tire smoke leaving intersections.

1998 Bimota Mantra Front

From the original eBay listing: 1998 Bimota Mantra for Sale

Original price was $ 20,000.|
BIN is less than half of that. Reserve a bit lower
Added it to my collection in 2004 with only 8010 miles.
Rare red color with only 25 made from what I have read, with a total of 454 made, mostly yellow.
Looks and runs well, but there is some paint blister on tank.
Can't see in pictures, so may have to circle areas after I look at bike, tomorrow.
It's dry and paint original from 1998.
A re-paint would be an easy color to match, or leave as - is.

Look, I have to be honest: I thought these were really cool when I was young and these were brand new. They were different, something exotic, but useable: a practical fashion statement. And having not yet been indoctrinated into motorcycle aesthetic standards, they looked exciting to me.

1998 Bimota Mantra Clocks

If I had a big bike collection, I’d probably still want one, although I’d remove that taller windscreen tout de suite and look into some other solution for those exhausts… Or maybe I’d just fit some little two-stroke carbon cans to really confuse people.

If you’re looking at starting your Bimota collection and realize you’ve no intention of spending time at the race track, and actually want to ride your acquisition, this might be a great place to start.

-tad

1998 Bimota Mantra L Side

Drink the Kool-Aid:1998 Bimota Mantra DB3
Suzuki August 23, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Budget Widowmaker: 1997 Suzuki TL1000S

Introduced in 1997 and made until 2001, the TL1000S was a shot across Ducati’s bow. Tired of the Bolognese firm getting all the press for their sexy, thunderous twins, Suzuki did them one better: a reliable, low-maintenance, liquid-cooled v-twin that made the power of Ducati’s 916 at the price of their air-cooled 900SS…

While 125hp may not sound particularly scary now, it was a pretty big number for a v-twin in 1997 and the grunty power delivery, combined with relatively light weight and a compact wheelbase, made for notoriously “entertaining” handling.

1997 Suzuki TL1000S L Side

In contrast to Ducati’s “L” twin, Suzuki rotated their 90° motor backwards in the chassis, allowing better packaging at the front of the bike. This left less room at the back for a traditional shock, so Suzuki whipped up a “rotary” damper that was far more compact than a traditional “linear” shock. Unfortunately, one of the reasons traditional spring/shock combos are so widely used is that they’ve got 70 years of development behind them and just flat work. When ridden hard, the TL’s rotary unit gets hot and loses its damping ability, which may contribute to the bike’s reputation for “tank slappers”, unintended wheelies, and all-around beastliness.

On paper, the TL1000S should have stomped Ducati flat, but that really never happened. But while the first bike to house Suzuki’s new twin may not have set the world on fire, the potential in the engine was obvious. It became the Engine That Powered a Thousand Bikes, finding homes in Bimota’s SB8 and the Cagiva Gran Canyon and Raptor models, and it still thumps on in the Suzuki VStrom.

1997 Suzuki TL1000S FR

From the original eBay listing: 1997 Suzuki TL1000S for Sale

A 1997 TL1000S. This V twin super sports bike was only made for a few years and this just happens to one of the cleanest one's around. This bike has never been raced or molested. It has some tasteful upgrades and that's it. The bike has a full Vance and Hines carbon fiber exhaust, not just slip on's. The rear has a turn signal eliminator kit on it, the turn signals are in the brake light. It looks very clean. Tires are good there are currently no issues with this bike at all. It is one of the cleanest TL's still around. This bike is has one of the most unique sounding engines due to the factory gear drive timing. If you’re looking at this then you know what you are looking at. This bike has a cult following. Here is your chance to pick up a very nice ride!

This is a very clean bike, it has been garaged its whole life! Must see to believe. There are no paint or decal flaws

1997 Suzuki TL1000S Dash Front

Later reviews toned down the emphasis on the TL’s “widowmaker” tendencies, suggesting that things had been exaggerated just a bit at the time. And, if you do plan to really ride this bike hard, a modern steering damper will help keep things under control, and kits are available to change out the rotary damper for a more traditional unit.

The 996cc engine does sound amazing with a set of aftermarket cans fitted, and the bassy thump that pumps out of the twin exhausts is pretty distinctive, like a very good computer simulation of a Ducati, with added bass.

The TL1000S is aging better than I would have expected: the bulbous 90’s styling is handsome at the front, although the rear is still a bit awkward to me. This example is in very nice shape, with under 11,000 miles. With bidding at $3,300 and just three days left, this represents a ton of performance and character for very minimal outlay of cash. The motors are pretty bulletproof, parts should be readily available, and would make a great day-in, day-out bike for someone who wants big twin noise and feel, but doesn’t feel like paying for Ducati maintenance.

Or someone that really, really likes wheelies.

-tad

1997 Suzuki TL1000S R Side

 

Budget Widowmaker: 1997 Suzuki TL1000S
Ducati August 19, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

The Price of Perfection: 2014 Ducati 1199 Panigale Superleggera

I’m not one to gush over a bike, and usually, this sort of thing doesn’t interest me: a limited-edition Italian superbike with tons of possibly pointless bling thrown at it, colorful anodized and blacker-than-black carbon everything, the slightly matte rainbow glow of titanium piping, all stuck to the bike to make it more “exclusive.”

But the Ducati Superleggera isn’t really that bike.

2014 Ducati Panigale Superleggera R Side

Many of these I’m sure will end up cocooned in heated garages, squirreled away in collections, never to turn a wheel in anger, except for an annual roll-out into the sun where they will sit, blinking dazed into the light, while they're licked clean by owners too terrified to damage their investments and egos by putting miles on something this unforgiving. But these bikes were built to be ridden, not collected...

Normally, bikes like these are the province of Ducati-specialists NCR, who can actually improve your Desmosedici by making it both lighter and more powerful. But Ducati took a page out of NCR’s playbook book and just built their own nearly unobtainable special.

This is the superbike, perfected.

Not “perfected” like a BMW S1000RR HP4, with techno-geek sophistication and nods to everyman affordability, but with every part lightened, replaced, or improved in infinitesimal ways, cost-no-object. The frame replaced with… Well, it never had a frame to begin with, but the normally aluminum airbox/headstock is replaced with cast magnesium…

2014 Ducati Panigale Superleggera Subframe

The price for the finished bike? Well the Buy-It-Now price on this one is $66,995...

From the original eBay listing: 2014 Ducati 1199 Panigale Superleggera for Sale

Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of motorcycling history!!  With only 500 units being made worldwide and only 200 slated for the U.S., Ducati says once those are sold, that will be it for the Superleggera

The rest of the listing is just a reprint of specs. Which is sort of pointless, if you asked me, but what else is there to say? There’s no history for this example, with 32 miles on the clock. No mods, no customization, nothing but the window sticker, and some included “race” bits that includes an Akrapovic titanium exhaust.

2014 Ducati Panigale Superleggera Dash

Weighing in at 390lbs with a full tank of fuel, more than 70 pounds less than the aforementioned BMW, with 200 claimed horsepower at the crank, you’d have to add weight to be legal in any racing class. With no regulations to conform to, this thing is lighter than a World Superbike. In fact, it doesn’t meet the requirements for any race class. It’s pointless. It’s useless. It’s better than you are, better than you will ever be, a testament to the idea of speed.

These bikes aren’t friendly: the electronic aids aren’t there to help you go faster. They’re there to allow you to go faster, if you have the skill to exploit them.

2014 Ducati Panigale Superleggera Front Wheel

And I’m sorry, but I think we can safely say that you don’t. Honestly, you will probably be faster on that BMW: this isn't some smooth, refined experience. It's an animal. A brutal, terrifiying, hairy-chested thing. You must be THIS tall to ride this ride. Under 18 not admitted without parent or guardian.

2014 Ducati Panigale Superleggera Clutch Cover

Look, I was never really a fan of the 1198. While the 999 maybe took too many stylistic chances, the 1198 didn’t take enough: basically a modernized 916, it was sleek, but bland. The Panigale, on the other hand, looks like nothing else, and is much more exciting for going its own way. The Superleggera just turns the volume up to 11, to indulge in one last cliché.

-tad

2014 Ducati Panigale Superleggera Triple Clamp

The Price of Perfection: 2014 Ducati 1199 Panigale Superleggera
MZ August 16, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Rare and Practical: 2005 MZ1000S

Most attempts to resurrect a defunct or struggling brand start with high-performance, limited-edition hypersports machines that inevitably get compared to the GSX-R1000, and generally not in a good way. So it was interesting when a revitalized MZ chose not to compete directly with hypersports bikes from Ducati and Aprilia, instead creating a classy gentleman's express that they hoped would be judged on its own merits.

Produced between 2004 and 2007, the MZ 1000S represented a new era for formerly East German MZ. Known in classic circles as pioneers in the two-stroke revolution, their later range of bikes was powered almost exclusively by the 660cc Yamaha single. Great, practical everyman transportation, but MZ needed something to compete with more refined machinery.

2005 MZ 1000S L Side

Unfortunately, one of the reasons people create hypersports bikes in the first place is that folks with more money than skill or sense buy them as dangerous fashion accessories, and the MZ1000S disappeared with barely a ripple... In fact, this is the first one I can ever remember seeing for sale.

But don't let that discourage you: reviews may not have been glowing in terms of track prowess, but then it wasn't that sort of bike. It worked as intended, as a rideable, practical exotic that stands out in a crowd. And stand out it surely does.

2005 MZ 1000S R Side Garage

From the original eBay listing: 2005 MZ 1000S for Sale 

Gloss Black/Silver graphics Color scheme with Remus Slip on Exhausts made specifically for this bike - engine is bone stock - fuels beautifully - complete paper work from first owner and myself - factory tool kit - Digital service and owners manual in ENGLISH - parts readily available from Grahams In the UK - Pazzo Clutch and Brake levers (I do have OEM levers and they are in mint condition) Sprockets are Yamaha parts and oil filter is standard K&N item. Slight light scratches in clear coat on tail section, only noticeable up close and in full sun from first owner running soft luggage while sport touring. I do NOT have the stock exhausts.

Bike is an incredible sport bike, while she's big sitting at rest and tall in the saddle (If you have a short inseam - this might not be the bike for you - I'm 6'0" and I'm solidly on the balls of my feet at a stop.) But get it going and the size melts away - it is capable of staying with modern 600's easily in really twisty tight mountain roads and the torque is simply addicting - come out of a corner and just roll it on - you are pulling away while everyone else is downshifting like crazy to match your drive out of the corner - and like a BMW K1200/1300 or Moto Guzzi sport bike - incredibly confidence inspiring and OMG easy to ride fast!

The MZ 1000S was powered by their in-house parallel-twin, bucking the v-twin sportbike trend that saw every niche market motorcycle powered by Ducati, Honda, or Suzuki v-twin engines. This choice certainly came with built-in limitations: parallel-twin engines are very compact and less expensive to produce, but vibrate like the dickens, especially in larger-displacement applications.

Just ask Norton and Triumph.

2005 MZ 1000S L Side Garage

And they really aren’t generally rev-happy engines, happier to punch out useable torque. Even with a balance shaft or two, you’re never going to get screaming revs out of 1000cc parallel twin. Also, there’s a certain bias against the configuration: the very advantages that speak to efficiency in manufacturing suggest a certain… pragmatism that is at odds with an exotic image.

But you will get character and packaging advantages galore, and a torquey powerplant ideal for the sports touring bike MZ had in mind.

Parts availability is a big question mark, although the seller mentions that servicing has never been a problem. This is the epitome of a “mature” sport bike and should be comfortable on both long rides and fast canyon runs on Sunday morning. This could be a really cool buy for someone looking for a bike that will really stand out from the crowd.

-tad

2005 MZ 1000S L Side Rear

Rare and Practical: 2005 MZ1000S