Author Archives: Norman

Buell January 25, 2023 posted by Norman

Not Like The Other Girls – 2003 Buell XB9R Firebolt

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2003 Buell XB-9R Firebolt

I’ll admit, it’s not allll that rare. The remnants of what could’ve been one of the most unique sport bike brands in history are littered all over the place. Parts are available too. A couple die-hards private companies make replacements/upgrades and St. Paul Harley Davidson still pretty much sells everything you need to keep these on the road…which is actually not that much. Anyways, what’s actually pretty hard to come by is a Harley-powered Buell in good condition. It’s a different group of unsophisticated goons who butchered these than the group of unsophisticated goons who butchered many of our favorite 90s bikes but, nonetheless, too many of these can grouped into the write-off pile today.

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The Lightning variant has always been a little bit more palatable than the Firebolt to consumers but I feel the Firebolt look is starting to grow. The Lightning fit the naked bike description more squarely while the Firebolt was a big departure from the normal design language of the time. One must realize at the end of the day, Buells weren’t bred for the track and they were air-cooled. That lets/forces you to strip the fairings and posture up a bit in the seat.

This seems to be in excellent cosmetic condition and is finished in one of the two most desirable colors: red or blue. It seems like there is not even any dirt in the cooling fins which is a great sign.

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If you could question anything about the Buell it was the design. The overall performance wasn’t groundbreaking but it was more than enough to clearly distinguish it as a successful sports machine. A souped up Harley Evo delivered it’s signature torque down low but new heads, throttle bodies, a tank-sized intake, and a valved exhaust all contributed to the 92 hp at the crank. Fully adjustable Showa suspension carried the weight while the single rotor/caliper and wheel design lowered the leftovers of the Showas.

Although the engineering was new and many parts had more than one function, the design was still fairly simple. Most DIY mechanics should be able to complete common maintenance and fix the common issues. You’ll just have to get used to draining oil from the swingarm and only getting 1 set of brake pads.

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Some of the most unique and innovative designs have historically come from small builders who are allowed to build and test what they want. The radical designs always receive a healthy dose of skepticism, as they should, but not all of them are bad and that’s certainly not always the reason that they go under. Sometimes you just have bad timing. The Financial Crisis took millions of victims and Buell was merely swept up in the wake.

We’re all enthusiasts here. I think the reason most of you all read this site is because you think the modern stuff is cool and comfortable but that’s not what tickles your fancy. Speed-induced adrenaline is something you like but you know there’s more to it. I think these are fantastic bikes to ride and own because they offer one of the most unique experiences in motorcycling. Listening to the brutish v-twin and it’s deep roar as the revs… eh I’m not going to do these any justice with my cliche adjectives. The real thing is always better than the magazines. Go ride one. You don’t have to like it.

With 4K miles you’ll be hard pressed to find one with lower miles or in better condition. However, you should be able to get some movement on the price. I think the market isn’t there yet so deals can be had. It’s low-risk addition the collection that anyone will respect. If it’s good enough for Barber it should be good for us!

My questions to the audience:

  1. What were your first impressions after riding an air-cooled Buell?
  2. How do you think Buells are aging?
  3. Where you think values will go in the medium-long term?

Thanks for reading!

Norm

Not Like The Other Girls – 2003 Buell XB9R Firebolt
Honda January 19, 2023 posted by Norman

Well On Its Way – 2003 Honda Fireblade 954RR on BaT

2003 Honda Fireblade 954RR on BaT

If you rewind the clock on the motorcycle industry one of the more interesting things that you should notice is the breadth of engines that are floating around in the wake of today’s 200hp superbike motors. You’ve got your massive v-twins, V4s, boxers, and singles and the list goes on. In my opinion, the variety is what makes so many different bikes from different segments entertaining to ride. It’s also what makes the different companies stand out from each other. All the manufacturers have contributed to the engine-rich history of motorcycling but one of stands out above them all: Honda. This 1.2k mile 954RR and its sub liter motor is merely a section of a bygone chapter in Honda’s motorcycling biography but it soon may be one that we come to enjoy revisiting more and more often.

The 954 marked the end up the sub 1,000 cc track-focused suprbikes from Honda. The factory released 5 generations over a decade so when they got to the 954, there wasn’t much left to do. The 929RR engine was already seriously lightened but the engineers were able to shave yet another 2 pounds off for the 954. The displacement increase came from boring out the jugs by 1mm and this resulted in a oversquare setup in the 954RR. All the weight savings and power increase resulted in a 2.4 lb/hp power to weight ratio which is not too far off from some of the liter bikes today. I think what draws me to some of these early 00s sport bikes with motors between 600cc and 1,000cc is the torque. You get close to liter bike-levels of torque but with hp figures that are slightly more manageable. The lightweight chassis also get you closer to a 600 in weight. That combination of hp, torque, and weight seems spot on for delivering an experience that’s both exciting and accessible for the common man.

There’s not much else you can do the 954RR to make it perform better. Power upgrades tend to be intrusive and there aren’t many full exhaust systems on the market. I also think this low mile bike should be kept as stock as possible. An easy cosmetic change is an upgrade to the RC51 rims. The 3 spoke wheels on the 954RR are not my favorite and the 5 spoke RC design fits my tase much better.

 

From the listing

Features include a full fairing, a solo saddle, a passenger pillion, and a four-into-two-into-one exhaust system with a Two Brothers Racing slip-on muffler as well as black-finished 17″ wheels, triple disc brakes, and rearset foot controls. The bike is said to have spent approximately a decade in storage before it was acquired by the selling dealer in November 2022, and subsequent service reportedly included replacing the battery, the chain, and the rear sprocket in addition to flushing the fuel system and changing the oil. This CBR954RR has 1,200 miles and is now offered at no reserve with an owner’s manual, a tool kit, two keys, a Gorilla alarm fob, the removed slip-on muffler, and a clean California title.

If anything is true about the 9xxRRs it’s that they age well mechanically and cosmetically. Early model year Fireblades have seen the most appreciation but as time passes the later model years find themselves higher and higher on the value curve. I remember seeing nice 954s transact for $3-$4k about 3 years ago. Of course the market still sits higher than it once was but clean examples are getting harder and harder to find. This example is extremely low miles and seems to be in top cosmetic condition.

To me, this is a long-term collector buy. Fireblades haven’t hit the hockey stick part of the value curve but I think they slowly will. I usually like to post rideable bikes but considering the showroom condition I think this one should be to be put on display.

The bid currently sits at $6.5K at the time of writing. Good luck!

Thanks for reading,

Norm

Well On Its Way – 2003 Honda Fireblade 954RR on BaT
Honda January 12, 2023 posted by Norman

Without Further Ado – 1990 Honda VFR750R RC30

1990 Honda VFR750R RC30 

Another easy one for the masses. This bike needs no introduction. Early Honda sport bikes are some of the most desirable and well known pieces of two wheel machinery that exist in the enthusiast community. Honda was spending heaps of money in R&D to produce some of these championship winning designs as made evident by the MSRPs that followed suit on homologations such as the RC30. If I’m not mistaken the RC30 was $15k. Gear-driven cams. 16 valves. ss swingarm. Yata yata yata. Like I said, this bike needs no introduction. I should listen to myself and just spare you all the time and move on. I’d rather belabor my opinions on turbo engines, genetic modification, and bicyclists.

Red, white, and blue means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. God Bless America and Toby Keith. For Honda sellers or buyers, we know the ol’ RWB means $$$. The seller notes some cosmetic blemishes on the plastics and a small dent in the fuel tank. I wasn’t able to find a picture of the dent in the fuel tank but I wouldn’t dwell over it much. 20k miles means she’s slept around a bit…as she should.

I’ll admit I probably don’t know as much about these bikes as some of the market so I’ll have to pass the magnifying glass over. One of the commenters on the auction, outobie, calls out the following parts being modified:

 “the lollipop reflectors are missing, the chain guard is missing, the fuel cap is the wrong color, the frame, swing arm and rearesets are polished, the “elf” badging is missing, the OEM rear stand that it was shipped with is not mentioned and doesn’t appear to be present. windshield is missing it’s trim, license plate bracket and tag light are missing, aftermarket rear reflector bracket, Left bar end is missing and right appears to not be stock, brake pedal rubber is missing. What if any of these things are included with the bike”

These bikes have always been popular so I doubt it ever ended up in the hands of a buyer that would make these changes for no reason. More likely than not they were made for track use which seems fair for a track bike. The seller acknowledges he’s not selling a museum piece. I can help you get started bringing her back to stock with this stock rear shock. Just make sure you are sitting before you click and see the price. Clean up the Ohlins and keep her in the back pocket.

You don’t see these too often with a polished frame and I really don’t know what the general sentiment is on polished frames. I would love to hear thoughts in the comments. I’m personally a fan and I think it adds to the “retro-ness” of some of the 90s products but that’s just me. Maybe not the most fitting here.

The seller mentions in the comments that the bike had sat for 10 years prior to his purchase. We all know what happens to seals, gaskets, filters, etc when a bike sits but the seller seems to have addressed all of that. He even recommends buyers to speak to the shop who serviced this RC30 in 2022. I’m sure the shop and tech remember this bike. You don’t see them often.

A piece from the seller-

” The bike is equipped with red, white, and blue bodywork over a twin-spar alloy beam frame, and additional equipment includes a quick-release fork, a monoshock, a single-sided aluminum swingarm, triple disc brakes, aluminum wheels, a four-into-one exhaust system, a solo seat, and a side stand. The bike is said to have been kept in storage for a decade prior to seller’s acquisition in 2021. Recommissioning work in 2022 included cleaning the fuel tank, repairing the exhaust system, changing the fluids, fitting aftermarket turn signals and Brembo front brake calipers, overhauling the clutch, petcocks, brakes, and carburetors, and replacing the battery, thermostat, horn, intake manifolds, tires, radiator caps, and fuel cap. This VFR750R is now offered with a 2022 service invoice, a copy of a 2019 issue of Motorcycle Classics magazine, removed front Nissin brake calipers, and a clean Virginia title in the seller’s name”

I’m excited to follow this auction. The bid sits at $25k with 5 days remaining at the time of writing. Sub 1k mile examples have routinely transacted for $80-$90k but that’s the ceiling. If you’re looking for a floor, Iconic sold an RC30 with 70k mi for $26k in 12/2021. There have been a number of transaction between those two numbers I think the comments on the auction offer lots of education on this specific bike and should help guide the price. Believe it or not there’s a 2×3 painting of an RC30 that sold for $2.5k Congrats to the buyer?

We’d love to hear thoughts on price guidance or any stories/memories you have of the RC30 in the comments!

Good luck and thanks for reading!

Norm

 

Without Further Ado – 1990 Honda VFR750R RC30
Kawasaki January 10, 2023 posted by Norman

Once A Champion – 1989 Kawasaki ZX-10 “Tomcat”

 

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1989 Kawasaki ZX-10 “Tomcat” 

With a trophy in the cabinet for the GPZ lineup, Kawasaki was likely feeling very good about their successes in the late 80s. There was no shortage of publicity and it only made sense to try and use the same formula to sell bikes while all the eyes were on them. The ZX10 “Tomcat” was the successor to the GPZ 1000RX, which was the GPZ 900’s bigger brother. While the 900 always overshadowed the 1000 due its role in the cinema, there was no doubt about a growing thirst for faster and faster bikes in the American market.

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The ZX-10 was known mainly for it’s top speed. The motor was largely similar to that of the outgoing GPZ 1000 but one of the main differences included angled intake ports that called for a semi-downdraft carb. Improved aero and a lighter curb weight along with the engine is what ultimately allowed this bike to use all of its 131 hp to propel it to 165 mph. The frame was coined as an “e-box” frame as denoted on the front fairing. The use of aluminum was starting to really take off and was one of the major sources of stiffness and weight-savings in the era.

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Evolution of the motorcycle during the 1980’s was elevated to new heights. Manufactures were taking the leap and pushing the limits of performance, speed and style and Kawasaki was at the forefront of this movement. The ZX10 was hailed as the new flagship performance bike for Kawasaki and took the world by storm in 1988 by building the world’s fastest production motorcycle for the 1988 model year. 135hp, 165mph top speed, quarter mile under 11 seconds, the ZX10 “Tomcat” was the bike everyone wanted to own, but never wanted to line up against. Cycle World Reported in 1988, “A motorcycle visually, mechanically and functionally awash in velocity, it is the new Sultan of Speed, a sportbike insuperable…. Nothing else mass-produced on two wheels even comes close. Now we have entered the Starship Enterprise era: “So radical is the engine’s intake-port angle that the tops of its canted Keihin carbs actually sit higher than the uppermost part of the cylinder head…” That engine’s now confined inside Kawasaki’s first aluminum perimeter frame, proclaimed “e-box” on the fairing because of “its egg-like oval shape when viewed from above.” Radial tires-17 inch front, 18 rear-and twin-piston brakes let the big Ninja stop in 107 feet from 60 mph, the shortest we’d ever recorded.”
This example with under 5k miles is an extremely nice example for any collector, rider or enthusiast. Bang for the buck and appreciating classics like this don’t last long, you won’t want to miss this one.

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The GPZ and ZX-10 led to the battle between Honda, Kawasaki, and eventually Suzuki for the top speed crown. The Blackbird, ZX-11/12/14, and Hayabusa all traded heavy punches throughout the ’90s and early ’00s. While the Blackbird and GPZs have cemented their status, some of the Kawasakis have been lagging slightly but that doesn’t take away from their credibility as actual sport bikes. They were market pioneers and leaders in the segment with this bike. The example today has extremely low miles for a 1986 and seems to be in fantastic condition. The seller mentions there was a repaint done a while back but it is certainly hard to tell from the pictures. A Vance and Hines slip on and upgraded seat are mentioned as well.

The bike is listed at $5.9K but I suspect there would be some room for negotiation if you make an offer. The price is such that you can collect it or ride it without much worry. It’s no secret that bikes we can buy today aren’t the same as the 80s and 90s in terms of feel and emotion. The retro-inspired options offered today are nice to look at but lack some of the character provided by the motors and chassis of the decades past.

Thanks for reading!

Norm

 

Once A Champion – 1989 Kawasaki ZX-10 “Tomcat”
Honda January 5, 2023 posted by Norman

Before & After – 2019 Honda Grom 300cc Build

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2019 Honda Grom 300cc Swap

One of the comical benefits of browsing the internet for motorcycles (or really any vehicle) is that you get to see some custom work that should have been killed in the brainstorming stage. Sometimes you get to see some really good custom work and you can’t help but be envious of the level of skill possessed by the craftsmen. Then you have bikes like this 300cc (250cc + the big bore) Grom Swap. While it’s nothing  I’d ridicule, I imagine something like this falls in the middle of the Venn Diagram for good and bad custom builds. I have so many questions.

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Bolting large engines into the Honda Grom is not a novel idea. A few companies make swap kits and a quick Youtube search yields a lot of interesting videos. The CBR250R swap is the most common since it also employs a single cylinder setup and therefore requires no frame modifications.This builder has gone a step further and tacked on another 50ccs of bore with a Chimera kit. Additional engine mods include a larger throttle body, upgraded cams, and an engine tuner. There aren’t any estimated hp numbers in the listing but a CBR250R makes mid-30s and the cams add about 4 hp per the DCR site. Add the big bore kit, tuner, and throttle body and you’re probably looking at mid 40s to the crank? Frankly, the hp number could just say “Too Fast” and that should send the right message.

One of the more concerning aspects of the build is the amount of torque and stress going through the chassis. More weight from the engine and more speed are going to push this bike out of the intended performance envelope. Don’t be fooled by the aluminum frame covers. The stock steel tube frame lives underneath. All of that being said, the goal was probably not to build a 1:2 scale Fireblade from a performance standpoint so we can’t hold it at gunpoint for that reason.

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The attention to detail on the aesthetic is what really stands out here. You’ll dismiss it as yet another liter bike if you are scrolling too quick. The builder seems to have spared no expense. The only thing the cockpit seems to share with a stock Grom is…nothing?

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If Honda ever wanted to slap Ohvale around in the mini-race bike market they should call this guy. he might be able to save them a couple bucks in R&D. Start to finish this Grom (if you can even call it that) looks great.

Bike does not have Ohlins suspension! Just stickers . Bike does not have an Akrapovic exhaust ! Just sticker , It is all stainless exhaust . 84mm 12.5 comp piston and new cylinder kit , 42mm Throttle body, 6 disc clutch pack , over size injector , custom aluminum 90 degree intake for proper placement of the injector . complete ARacer 5 computer system with data logger , the ARacer system is completely adjustable from an app on my phone . Speedo correction link , hydraulic clutch kit , lithium battery, DCR S2 cam shaft kit with springs and valves , new cam chain and solid tensioner . All the bolts for the engine are titanium and many on the bike are also . The body kit is from Thailand and is all fiberglass, there are some nicks scratches and cracks . It’s good but not perfect . You can see all the rest of the parts installed . The Grom had under 300 miles when I started this build.

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As cool as this build is, the reason it has to live in the middle of the Bad & Good Build Venn Diagram is the price… After seeing all the parts and quality of the finish I fully believe the seller spent a small fortune putting this together. The frame, forks, and rims may be the only stock parts on the whole bike. Unfortunately the old adage says a custom build is always worth far more to the builder than the buyer… Unless you’re Jesse James. In that case the first owner get’s raked over the coals. I don’t mean take any credit away from the build. From design to execution, this guy has hit the mark. I’d bet one would spend more time looking at this at a museum or bike meet than some of the other high dollar attendees.

Thanks for reading!

Norm

Before & After – 2019 Honda Grom 300cc Build
Featured Listing January 4, 2023 posted by Norman

Featured Listing – 1987 Suzuki GSX-R 1100

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1987 Suzuki GSX-R 1100

As RSBFS writers, we often get first dibs at some of the Featured Listings that we write up. Our meager earnings from the site keep our tanks full and the insurance man happy but they’ll never stack high enough to take advantage of the first looks we get. Initially, it hurts a bit to watch a some of the excellent listings pass by but you eventually get used it. Then every once in a while a good man named Bob comes out of nowhere and dangles 3 dimepiece Zookis in front of you… So close yet so far. Thanks Bob!

Who is Bob? Bob Benyo is the Chief of Restoration at Globe Motorcycles, a private collector/restorer dedicated to bringing vintage motorcycles back to factory condition. Hopefully a future friend of the site as well. Bob has been stripping screws, busting knuckles, missing apexes, and eating chicken strips since the 80s when he graduated from the AMI. He’s one of those cats who has forgotten more about the game than most will know.

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This GSX-R 1100 is one of 3 Zook’s and one of two 1100s our seller is getting offload of this week. If you’ve been patiently waiting out the storm for the past couple years for a classic sportbike this is an opportunity worth exploring.

The GSX-R 1100 was a quick successor to the GSX-R 750 which needs no introduction. The big bore market in general was not new of course but the big bore sport bike market…well that was uncharted territory at the time. Suzuki quickly understood that certain markets had an appetite for big horsepower and they quickly developed an offering based on their 750 platform. A 1,052 cc oil-cooled mill generated around ~120hp and ~70 lb ft of torque at the crank. Throw that in a pot with a lightweight (for the time) chassis and you get to 160 mph pretty quick… That’s surely far quicker than whatever the po po were using to chase GSX-R owners at the time. The powerplant was reliable as well. It became a favorite of tuners and drag rats as they could easily shove more hp through the engine without any issues. I suspect that the engine reliability played a big part in allowing the seller to offer this bike with a healthy engine today. Speaking of the engine, this one exhales into in a period correct SuperTrapp SS exhaust. Those types of bits are always hard to come by on the classics.

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Motorcycles are pretty simple and direct. That being said, there are still multiple parts to the system and the motor is just one part that helps deliver the experience we seek from these types of machines. While I believe the motor is arguably the most important part of the system, it’s only ever so slightly ahead of handling which is another strength of the 1100. Remember, the starting point for this was 750 which was a proper track bike. Much of the engineering that made the 750 great dynamically was carried over to the 1100. The 435 lb dry weight surely is the main character but steering damper, electronic anti-dive tech, and the cartridge-style suspension all carried their weight in supporting roles.

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The other GSX-R 1100 Bob is selling is the stock, low mile one in perfect condition. This one seems to have been the evening cruiser of choice and has some mods that allowed inflexible Bob to enjoy his ownership. The main one of those is the bar riser kit. The 1100 is a loooong bike with a loooong tank and spending even 5 minutes at the helm seems like a test of one’s physical fitness. A tinted Lockhart windscreen and upgraded brake lines come installed as well. A prior seller has painted the original bodywork in red/white/blue which actually looks high quality and stock.

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Even the inside front of the belly pan is clean… That’s a surefire way to determine if someone is OCD about their toys…

All said and done, this seems like as good as an opportunity as any to snatch up an early ancestor of the Suzuki lineup. The seller has considerable experience in owning and maintaining these bikes so from a quality standpoint, I see very little risk. From a collector standpoint, status has already been achieved and value is a function of time at this point…and Jerome Powell. I think you should gather more details from the seller but it seems the bike has had an interesting backstory as well so there’s your cherry on top.

The “Buy It Now” price is $16K and there have been 0 bids on the auction which starts at $10.5K. BaT sold an ’86 1100 for $14.5 in July ’22 and an ’87 1100 for $11.5K in December ’21. Reach out to Bob directly at skyad1@aol.com with any questions.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Norm

Featured Listing – 1987 Suzuki GSX-R 1100
Cannondale December 8, 2022 posted by Norman

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – 2003 Cannondale S440

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2003 Cannondale S440 

I’m going to guess we’re all in for a bit of a lesson here. Cannondale? Motorcycle? My only initial objection to this is the fact that I really don’t like bicyclists… Especially road bikers who occupy a lane/shoulder and idolize a dude with one nut and a few stripped titles. Move out of the way because there’s a better way to get around on two wheels. Bicyclists also have zero humor. I once summited a Vietnamese mountain peak on a CRF150 and ran into a couple on holiday who had had ridden their bicycles to the top (with a chase van behind in case they got tired). I tried explain to them how the the holy trinity of air, fuel, and spark can go BOOM but got nothing. I think they were European…

The RSBFS audience probably feels that this one hangs on to the niche by the skin of it’s teeth but I disagree and there’s far too much going on here to ignore. For the naysayers, please watch the the extensive S1GP Championships on Youtube and if you’re not convinced these are sport bikes you probably still believe the Earth is round…

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Origins stories are hard to come by for motorcycles. Google is good but it doesn’t have everything about everything. I’m sure word got around paddocks and magazines back in the day but as I’m sitting at my keyboard, my eyes and ears aren’t long enough to read those pages or hear those stories. As any responsible member of the automotive journalism community would do, I shall speculate:

Joe Montgomery, Jim Catrabone, and Ron Davis all founded Cannondale in 1973 as avid mountain bikers. We must give all credit there; It has become a super successful and innovative company. At some point along the way some Chad dirt biker must’ve made a comment or given a look that rubbed the folks at Cannondale the wrong way. The dirt bikers were probably looking down on the “lame” cyclist population and stealing all the girls which left the cyclists angry. Or Cannondale wanted a share of a massive dirt bike market and figured they knew enough about aluminum to make things work. I prefer the former. One thing I can tell you about the origin story is that the S440 started as dirt bike and Cannondale eventually opted to make 52 street or “S” versions. These came with different gearing, Brembos, and a sumo wheel and tire combo.

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The S440 and X440 had a few new innovations when it came out. This isn’t uncommon for new market entrants. Buell, Ghezzi-Brian, and Bimota are just a few examples but they all entered a competitive market and brought new ideas to the table. It’s a lot easier to get into a creative flow when you don’t have to fend off a bean counter on your way to take a piss. Anyways, aside from the wide variety of high-spec parts tacked on to the bike the main novelty was really the engine which was a new in-house design. Reliability, power, and refinement all ended up being off the mark and you have to make sure you at least have either reliability or power to build trust (or hope) with a customer base. The novel part of the powertrain was the orientation of the engine. Traditionally, MX bikes keep the filter/airbox on the real of the cylinder to avoid dirt inhalation and the exhaust up front. Cannondale opted to stash the filter behind the front number plate where it was supposed to “ram” the air but ultimately struggled to breathe. The American outfit eventually had to add a secondary filter under the tank which complicated a simple filter cleaning job. In theory the exhaust could be shorter and the all the routing would be simpler. However, a short exhaust proved difficult to tune. Yamaha ended up adopting this design but extended the exhaust with a couple turns in order to get adequate power from the system. An electric start was also part of the package but struggled to start the bike after it hit operating temperatures. That would have been harmless except a kickstarter was not part of the package.

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Weight isn’t unwelcome on every bike. There are stability and tuning advantages depending on your riding application. A lack of high-level riding experience on dirt bikes was probably missing during the design phase because the 440 was 30-40 lbs heavier than the competition. We all learn to live with a few extra pounds but we all also know that going from 175 lbs to 200 lbs is a lot tougher to stomach than going from 200 lbs to 225 lbs. Riders and critics have other faults with Cannondale’s experiment but I’ll stop ragging now. I’ve never been one to kick a horse while it’s dead.

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This specific bike seems to have been well taken care of by the seller. A factory odometer didn’t make it’s way onto the 440 so it’s unsure of exactly how many mi or hours are on the bike but this seller has just gotten the motor fully rebuilt by a Cannondale specialist. Any and all known engine reliability upgrades were also completed prior to the seller’s acquisition. The chassis and plastics all look fairly clean so I’m going to guess this thing hasn’t done Goldwing miles or been laid down. Check out the listing here to see a full list of mods and upgrades completed by the seller. A running video can be also be seen here on Youtube.

From the seller:

This summer I discovered this motorcycle in the window of a local bicycle shop.  The owner said he bought it 10 years ago to put in the window of his bicycle shop.  If you search youtube for the term “Deerfield Beach Cannondale S 440” you will find a video he posted from 2012 of the bike at his shop.  If you want to learn more take a look at the facebook groups or contact the retailers for parts on these bikes who are aware of this bike/history.
 
After buying it this summer and consulting with a Cannondale expert I discovered there are known engine updates that typically need to be made.  I sent the engine to Blackwidow and they informed me the updates had already been done there in 2012.  Since they had the engine and it had been sitting for 10+ years I had them rebuild everything new piston to crank shaft and port the head.  The ECU map they provided they said should be around 50whp but I have not verified that on a dyno.  Invoice is attached.  

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I don’t want this post or my opinion of this bike to be misunderstood. An American dirt bike that saw production and time on dirt tracks around the country is nothing to be scoffed at. It’s a hell of a story to be able to tell your grandkids at the least which is probably worth more than profit. I’m not saying these guys pioneered the segment or permanently altered it’s course but rather the criticism was too harsh and expectations too high. There must be just a handful of “perfect” first generation designs let alone from new companies. On the bright side, it seems the enthusiasm was there for an American dirt bike to rival the Japanese. Pride in riding American machinery has never been in short supply stateside and this bike even won a “Bike of the Year” award before it was released. This award had no doubt played a part in building up the high expectations and subsequent let down. The performance let down, lack of cash flow, and tarnished brand weighed on the company and ultimately led to the sale of the motorcycle division and end of the 440.  It was no doubt a valiant and exciting effort that earned 440 a place at the Barber Museum but not much else.

So what do you pay? The seller is looking for a $6.5K starting bid. I think you shouldn’t pay that. Used examples have traded for far less over the years but so few “S” models are traded and conditions vary enough to the point it’s hard to pin down value. It’s certainly a rare and interesting piece that will get you an in with the bicycle community but that’s whole different set of risks and is arguably worse than overpaying.

Thanks for reading!

Norm

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – 2003 Cannondale S440
Honda December 2, 2022 posted by Norman

Track Day Thursday – 2000 Honda SuperHawk

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2000 Honda SuperHawk Track Bike Conversion

I’ll admit that writing about a small niche can sometimes become a bit difficult in the sense that there are only so many angles to approach some of thee bikes we come across. Every once in a while you will get something super unique and eye-catching which is not only great for us but also our audience. I think it’s fair to say this find checks those boxes. This 2000 SuperHawk that started as a stock bike has undergone quite the cosmetic and mechanical conversion in order to make into a track weapon. It’s hard for us to determine how sharp this knife is from where we sit but I think everyone at the track would be at the pitwall as you roll down the straight. Regardless of what other people think, we live in a world where one can identify as whoever they want so if a SuperHawk identifies as MotoGP bike, who are you to say no?

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Hard to say this things looks bad. The color scheme, stickers, and windscreen are all pretty damn cool. Some people who take this route try a bit too hard and completely over do it while trying to be different but I don’t think that’s the case here.

Does the tasteful approach to the cosmetic surgery cross over to the mechanical side? Let’s see what we can gather from seller’s mechanical mods

Chassis: Custom subframe & subframe brace, Penske rear shock, 04′ CBR1KRR front end, MotoGP brake and clutch master cylinder from 2000 MotoGP bike

Electrical – Coil on plug upgrade, battery relo

Powertrain – Custom 2-1 exhaust

That wasn’t an exhaustive list of the modifications but there are some other pretty cool things the seller has done. Definitely check out the listing for an exhaustive list. A positive here is that nothing seems to have been done to the motor and nothing is terminal outside of the custom subframe since the seller has retained the original parts. That being said, any time you buy a custom bike the quality of work is a concern but it looks like the seller hasn’t gone full Allen Millyard on us and has kept the technical complexity relatively low. I’ve successfully pasted on a front end before and if you watch me turn a wrench you might be tempted to grab the wrench and hit me with it.

Picture 5 of 7From the seller:

“…The bodywork fits so nicely, the upper and lower carefully matched right up to stock mounting points. The bike is 99% complete, just needs a minor bit of buttoning up and then taken to the track.

Also comes with a huge pile of stock parts, complete front end, alternate dual exhausts, lights, etc etc.
Title is clean, Florida title not yet reassigned to me. If you want it registerable in your state, please add $350 for paperwork fees. This 996cc v twin engine is perfect for the occasional track day warrior, and bike now qualifies for vintage series. Way cheaper for parts than a Ducati, RC51, or Aprilia, but same amazing torque band and rideability. “
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The Japanese have blessed us with a few two cylinder track bikes in the past; Think RC, TL, and SV. Furthermore the Italians have been doing it forever. The formula works. I think the question here is if the whole is really greater than the sum of it’s parts? Does adding a MotoGP master cylinder really mean anything? It’s certainly a conversation piece. As much as I would like to answer that for our audience, I’m broke. If only one of the readers would be so kind.

The listing has been up for two days with zero action and a starting bid of $3k. At the least check out the listing and let us know what you think in the comments about your experience with SuperHawks. Good luck!

Thanks for reading!

Norm

 

Track Day Thursday – 2000 Honda SuperHawk