Author Archives: Tad Diemer

Yamaha June 26, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Exotic Suspension for the Masses: 1994 Yamaha GTS1000

Only sold for two years in the US, the Yamaha GTS1000 was available from 1993-94. Styling is conservative 90’s Japanese, but without the garish graphics that often distinguish sportbikes of the era and the look is handsome, but so relatively unremarkable that it’s easy to miss the bike’s true standout feature: the forkless front end.

Almost missed that, didn’t you?

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 R Side Front

Conventional telescopic forks have well-known limitations: under braking, they compress and throw a motorcycle’s weight forward, upsetting weight-distribution, and this shift disturbs suspension geometry as well. In addition, the forces being channeled through and being amplified by the tubes means that triple-trees and  headstocks need to be very beefy, increasing weight.

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 L Front End

Plenty of alternatives have been tried since the dawn of motorcycle suspensions, but most have fallen by the wayside: they may improve in some areas, but usually at the cost of increased complexity or reduced steering feel, exactly the kind of things engineers were looking to avoid. They exchanging simple for complicated with no real upside, except as an exotic calling-card for owners of bikes like the Vyrus or Bimota Tesi who don’t mind the additional maintenance expense.

Interestingly, the suspension on this machine provides the best of both worlds: suspension compliance and braking stability as well as relative simplicity and reliability.

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 Dash

Yamaha's "Omega-Framed" GTS1000 was an innovative, ambitious attempt to bring exotic swingarm front suspension technology to the masses. Alternative suspension maverick James Parker, who is still hard at work developing this concept today, licensed his technology to Yamaha and the engine was from Yamaha’s FZR1000, a 1000cc five-valve four cylinder that was detuned for touring duty, although that’s likely easily changed to something approaching the donor bike’s 145hp without too much trouble. The bike also included a great deal of exotic technology like electronic fuel injection, anti-lock brakes, and a catalytic converter.

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 Frame

From the original eBay listing: 1994 Yamaha GTS1000 for Sale

Two words. RARE, Collector! This GTS1000 is in fantastic condition and yes, it's a pretty difficult find. The GTS was only available in the states from 1993 to 1994. It was still available in Europe until 1999. The previous owner took exceptional care of this. If you're a collector or an enthusiast, this would be a great bike. Not to mention, it's still a great bike to ride. For those of you who looked at this listing earlier, I did get the bags and the brakes. Please see pics. The only thing that is any concern is that the ABS is disconnected. I do have a box of all the parts for the ABS (see pics). The previous owner disconnected them as he didn't like ABS. Overall, this bike is in great condition and would be a wonderful motorcycle to have in any collection.

Reviews at the time suggest that the suspension performed as advertised. Unfortunately, while the bike was innovative, it was very expensive and the de-fanged powerplant combined with a surprisingly limited range to muddy the waters: exactly what was this bike for? The main advantages of this design were really wasted on a heavy sport-touring bike like this, and it seems odd to combine relatively primitive ABS with a suspension designed to provide increased braking ability at the limit.

Poor sales killed the bike after just two years, although it sold until 1999 in other markets. I’m not sure these are really any sort of huge investment opportunity, but they have a strong cult following and parts for the engine should be readily available, although bodywork and suspension bits could be a problem. As an affordable sport-touring mount, it’d be hard to beat, so if you’re looking for a weird bike with reliability and subtlety, this interestingly technical machine could represent an opportunity you never knew existed.

-tad

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 L Side

 

Exotic Suspension for the Masses: 1994 Yamaha GTS1000
MZ June 25, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Low-Buck Fun:1997 MZ Skorpion Cup

While I love the idea of owning a 200hp Italian exotic, the realistic side of me recognizes the limitations that come with that purchase. It'd be like owning a great white shark as a pet: the “wow” factor when people come to visit is definitely there.  It’s a beautiful animal, a stunning apex predator, and a great way to get rid of unwanted guests. But maintaining both could be a truly horrific problem in terms of cost and inconvenience.

Basically, a great white shark would make an impressive, if very impractical pet.

But what’s the motorcycling equivalent of a Labrador Retriever then? Something that won't especially impress anyone, but makes for a great day-to-day companion. Probably something frisky and fun like this 1997 MZ Skorpion Cup.

1997 MZ Skorpion Cup R Side Front

For a while there in the late 1990’s, MZ had a whole range of bikes available in the USA, all based around Yamaha’s sturdy, 48hp 660cc single. There was the dual-sport Baghira, a bike with a name so evocative, you’d buy it for that alone. The supermoto-styled Mastiff, a twin-headlight machine with brutal looks right out of a Mad Max movie. There was the Skorpion Traveller, a vibe-y single with a fairing and hard bags... And today’s Skorpion Cup, the raciest of the bunch, not counting the Replica which was a hotted-up version of the Cup.

1997 MZ Skorpion Cup L Side Close

MZ [sometimes "MuZ" for "Motorrad und Zweiradwerk"] actually was famous for its pioneering role in the two-stroke revolution. Successful in racing for years due to their singular understanding of how to optimize two-stroke engines, their luck changed when racer Ernst Denger defected and took the proprietary technology with him. MZ is no longer with us: Wikipedia tells me that the former factory is now a nightclub called "MZWerk".

1997 MZ Skorpion Cup Dash

From the original listing: 1997 MuZ Skorpion Cup for Sale

Immaculate 1997 MZ Skorpion. 7,751 careful miles. German made bike with a 660cc single cylinder Yamaha engine. Comes with solo cowl, owners manual and new front tire. (back tire still good) Not many of these were brought into the country, and few are left in this condition. Runs and rides great, no problems. 

The listing also includes a nice video of the bike starting up and chugging happily away during the walk-around. Pricing on these is generally very modest, parts for the engine are easy to come by, and the bike makes for a fun back-road-boogie partner or a great, low-buck racebike. It's hard to find more fun for less money, with a price of $3,500. If you want a trackday single, and can't pony up for a Ducati Supermono or a Bimota BB1, then this is your ride.

-tad

1997 MZ Skorpion Cup R Side Rear

Low-Buck Fun:1997 MZ Skorpion Cup
MV Agusta June 23, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Painfully Beautiful: 2000 MV Agusta F4 750 for Sale

Okay, so the MV Agusta F4 is on my short list of “must own” bikes. The 1000’s are fairly common, but somehow I’m paranoid those extra 250cc’s will be the death of me. When they were released the 750’s were a bit disappointing, with performance on-par with Suzuki’s GSX-R 750 and a much higher price tag.

But these days, prices for F4’s are shockingly affordable, assuming you stay away from any that have “Oro,” “Senna,” or “Tamburini” in the name. Notice I'm not saying anything about maintenance costs: I had a buddy with a 750 Brutale that was, shall we say, "less than reliable..." And with dealers sometimes thin on the ground and some parts shipping from Italy, things can get dicey if you actually want to, you know: ride your motorcycle.

But with a bit of luck, these days you can get yourself a gen-u-wine Italian exotic for under $10k.

2000 MV Agusta F4 750 L Side

Reportedly developed with input from Ferrari, the F4's engine mostly follows standard superbike specifications, with four cylinders, four valves per actuated by dual overhead cams, hemispherical combustion chambers [see listing] Then it gets weird: Radial valves.

Radial valves are simple enough in theory, with clear on-paper performance advantages. But making those work in practice isn’t quite so easy, which may explain why basically nobody else uses them. With no measurable performance advantage over traditional parallel valves, and some very real downsides in terms of complexity, these sound cool, but fall into the same category as Desmo valves: probably not worth the trouble, except as a marketing tool.

So the F4 is more complicated than a GSX-R, much more expensive to maintain, and not likely to be faster on road or track. So why buy one? Well just freaking look at it:

2000 MV Agusta F4 750 Front Rear

Rumors have swirled that this was originally penned to be Ducati’s 916 replacement before designer Tamburini left the company. Regardless of the truth of that, this is a truly gorgeous motorcycle, even ten years on. The tail’s a bit chunky, but otherwise what would you possibly change?

And it's not like it isn't a fast motorcycle, it's just not appreciably faster than more mundane alternatives. It'll still blow your hair back just fine, and the 1000 version will pull it out by the roots... Figuratively: of course you're wearing a helmet.

From the original eBay listing: 2000 MV Agusta F4 750 for Sale 

The F4 was created by famous motorcycle designer Massimo Tamburini at CRC (Cagiva Research Center), following his work on the Ducati 916. The F4 is unique with its four pipe undertail exhaust, single-sided swingarm, large front forks (49 or 50 mm diameter) and traditional MV Agusta red and silver livery. The F4 is also one of the few production superbikes to have hemispherical chamber 4 valves per cylinder engine.

The F4 engine is a liquid cooled inline four cylinder (4-stroke) with two overhead camshafts (DOHC), 16 radial valves, electronic multipoint injection, induction discharge electronic ignition.

Be ready to turn some heads with this one of a kind motorcycle. This is a rolling piece of art. All hand built in conjunction with the engineers of Ferrari.

Other nice feature of the 750s is that nice yellow-faced tach. I’m big on interesting tachs: I figure you’ll probably spend a good bit of time with it stuck in your face on the road, might as well be looking at something cool, and I can't name another bike, except maybe modern Benelli, that has a yellow-faced tach.

The seller may not be an expert, but the bike looks very clean, with low miles. And $8,900 seems like an awfully fair price. Miles wouldn't stay very low for long if I bought it.

-tad

2000 MV Agusta F4 750 Dash

 

Painfully Beautiful: 2000 MV Agusta F4 750 for Sale
Laverda June 21, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Out With an (Orange) Bang:1988 Laverda SFC1000

Unable to compete with the ruthless, technological march of the Japanese manufacturers, Laverda’s SFC 1000 was an attempt to capitalize on their past endurance racing glories, a last gasp before they went under, prior to their relatively brief resurrection in the 1990’s. To be honest, I didn’t even realize that Laverda was still making bikes in 1988, so I’d imagine this was bike was built 1985 and sat untitled for a couple years.

1988 Laverda SFC 1000 L Side

1988 Laverda SFC1000 for sale on eBay

SFC originally stood for “Super Freni Competizione”, basically “super braking competition” a reference to the huge drum brake on the front of the very first SFC twins, later replaced by a pair of discs. Powered by a 750cc parallel-twin , the original SFC was produced in very limited numbers, the epitome of a “racer for the road” and many were quickly stripped of their street-legal lighting for track duty. This was probably for the best: the SFC was fast and very brutal, and probably didn’t make a good road tool for casual riders.

Not so with the SFC 1000, which was basically a renamed and slightly restyled version of the “executive express” RGS, the SFC1000 was a far more street-oriented bike built around Laverda’s charismatic three-cylinder engine. Earlier triples had a 180° configuration that ran like a four-cylinder with a miss, but later examples like this one used a smoother 120° engine that lost some character but was much more user-friendly.

1988 Laverda SFC 1000 Engine

And while the big triple had evolved into a more conservative machine in terms of its mission, don’t think it couldn’t hustle: on track, you could lean these over enough to grind the generator cover into dust.

From the original eBay listing: 1988 Laverda SFC1000 for Sale

Very clean, with upgrades–all easily reversible to full factory-original, if desired.
Imported by me from New Zealand in 2010.
Never dropped, raced, or mistreated.

I am the second owner since new.

New coils, wires, plugs, timing chain, electronic ignition, custom slanted intake manifolds, Mikuni carbs, lubricants, bar-end mirrors, battery, throttle cables, grips, windshield, air filters, tune-up, rear brake caliper rebuild, sprockets, X-ring D.I.D. chain.

Valves meticulously adjusted.
Custom Mikunis by Mike Nixon.
Custom manifolds by Red Cawte.

1988 Laverda SFC 1000 Dash

They may have been obsolete at the time they were sold new, but these Laverdas actually represent an opportunity to buy what amounts to a classic bike at the pinnacle of its development: in 1988, this may have looked like a dinosaur, but today it just screams “useable classic”!

Which might explain why this particular bike featured over on our sister site not too long ago: Classic Sport Bikes for Sale 1988 Laverda SFC1000.

1988 Laverda SFC 1000 Rear Suspension

Overall, this example looks to be in excellent, very orange condition. One caveat: the bike was originally imported from New Zealand, so make sure that you check with your local DMV to make sure there won’t be any issues with registration before you park this in your garage. Or living room.

-tad

1988 Laverda SFC 1000 Engine2

Out With an (Orange) Bang:1988 Laverda SFC1000
Moto Guzzi June 17, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Planet of Boom: 1996 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport for Sale

In spite of their pedigree and style, these Guzzis are odd ducks. Or “geese,” I guess. They’re not really sportbikes: way too heavy, and a bit clunky. And they’re not really designed for comfort, so they’re not really touring, or even sport-touring machines, unless you start modifying them with HeliBars and Corbin seats.

Back when Guzzi’s line of sportbikes was conceived, their air-cooled, shaft drive configuration worked on both road and track, but the game has moved on, and Guzzi’s glacial technological development has relegated them to backmarkers in the sportbike game. Actually, since their absorption into the Piaggio Group, they’re sort of out of that game entirely.

1996 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport for sale on eBay

1996 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 L Side Front

Although the clinical wail of a water-cooled four may be the Sound of Power, they're all a bit same-y, and that’s where the Guzzi’s traditional mechanical specifications pay off in spades: the clanking, throbbing engine and that longitudinal crankshaft, causing the bike to twitch right on the throttle. If you think it’s odd on the sidestand, imagine it on the move! It’s a bit disconcerting, the first time you feel it. You definitely get used to it, but that first moment of the bike rolling right slightly on the throttle has you thinking, “what the…?”

1996 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 R Side Rear

The thundering, shuddering v-twin is something you won’t soon forget: the bike that hooked me on Italian twins wasn’t actually a Ducati, it was a Moto Guzzi Sport 1100. I was walking in Burbank years ago when a bright, red beast thundered by and I thought, “Ah ha. Now I get it.”

1996 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 Dash

The original eBay listing can be seen here: 1996 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 It's a dealer listing and there's not much information there, other than fine print in Legalese, but there are plenty of very pretty pictures.

Interestingly, Guzzi adopted fuel injection pretty early on for their bikes, but this Sport 1100 still has carburetors and looks very classy in silver. I actually hate the rectangular headlight on these US-spec models: some markets got a trapezoidal lens that compliments the sleek half-fairing and, once you’ve seen one with the proper headlight, it’s hard to look at the front of these without cringing a bit.

1996 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 L Engine

Sport 1100s used quality suspension components and Brembo brakes, but they’re a bit on the heavy side, minimal spine frame and bodywork notwithstanding: that huge powertrain package is just kind of a heavy lump. But on a Sunday morning blast up the coast, riding at 7/10ths, grooving on the spread of torque, high on boom, this kind of bike makes plenty of sense: charisma over raw power, finesse over absolute limits.

-tad

1996 Moto Guzzi Sport 1100 L Side

Planet of Boom:  1996 Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport for Sale
Aprilia June 12, 2014 posted by Tad Diemer

Blowing Smoke: 2001 Aprilia RS250 for Sale

I started reading the British bike magazines back in the late-90’s, when Suzuki’s TL1000S was busy making headlines for its wayward behavior and monstrous 115whp. My girl at the time was working at Tower Records in the San Fernando Valley, and every month, unsold magazines had their covers ripped off and returned to the publisher, while the bulk of the pages were simply thrown out. I got to dig through and take my pick.

2001 Aprilia RS250 R Rear

2001 Aprilia RS250 for sale on eBay

I’ve got dozens of old, coverless Brit biking mags lying around, full of filthy, irreverent language, “Page Three” style photo spreads, and pages of phone-porn and dating service ads in the back: so different than the sterile American publications, much more fun. So what if one month they thought a bike was “the tits” and two months later, the same bike was “bollocks”? I loved the attitude and insanity.

If the British biking press extolled the Aprilia RS250, then that was enough for me.

2001 Aprilia RS250 Tail

The Aprilia was powered by a heavily-tuned Suzuki RGV250 motor pumping out 60hp and wrapped in sleek bodywork patterned after their dominant 1993 250GP bike. Aided by light weight and a well-developed suspension package, featuring a distinctive “Banana” swingarm designed to allow the exhaust’s expansion chambers to be tucked up close to the centerline for good cornering clearance, with brakes that would stop a much larger machine, the RS250 is a corner-carving animal.

From the original eBay listing: 2001 Aprilia RS250 for Sale

What a smokin’ blast this bike is to ride – sorry, had to do it. I bought it with 8,500 miles on the odometer in January 2011 and am now parting with it because I need to make room in the garage for other toys. It currently has 13,456 miles with new pistons installed at 7,500 miles.   All miles I put on the bike are street miles with the exception of 1 track day. Other than the Arrow exhaust, Pipercross air filter, and clip-on risers, the bike is stock with oil injection intact and working perfectly. It starts from cold in 1 or 2 kicks, idles glass smooth, and has never been crashed.

This has a valid NY title, and that’s a plus: a big draw for RS250 shoppers is a valid title, and bikes with these command significantly higher prices: many were imported as track bikes with no road equipment, and if I remember correctly, some years Aprilia was only able to sell them that way, since they didn’t meet emissions standards. The RS250 was one of the first bikes to feature an onboard lap timer but there is no electric start, so you modern bike guys will have to learn to “kick it”. Or bump it I guess.

2001 Aprilia RS250 Dash

Not long ago, all of the top-tier racing championships were ruled exclusively by two-stroke bikes and, until emissions standards killed them, they terrorized the streets as well: two-stroke bikes’ characteristic smoke is as dirty as it looks, and they tend not to have modern standards of durability in terms of engine internals… The RS250 ceased production in 2004, and these always generate interest when they come up for sale. They have an impeccable reputation for being able to do “what it says on the tin.” No false advertising here: this is a track bike, with the barest concessions to road use.

I’m generally not the biggest fan of “smoker” noise and clatter, but these are gorgeous, exotic, and two-stroke multis always sound like a gang of chainsaw-wielding maniacs has been let loose on the track, which has to count for something.

-tad

2001 Aprilia RS250 R Side

Blowing Smoke: 2001 Aprilia RS250 for Sale