Is now the time to invest in a classic motorcycle?

Hidden gems auctioned. Bargain prices for future classics

Posted: 20 February 2013
by Ben Purvis
BMW's K1 ... investment grade motorcycle?

BONHAM’S recent auction in Paris might have contributed to a best-ever year for the firm but it wasn’t the big-money lots that caught our eyes.

Perhaps it was because they were being sold in front of an audience more tuned in to traditional vintage and classic bikes, but many of the more recent machines – those from the 1980s in particular – looked like bargains. The Garelli Grand Prix collection, for instance, started with complete bikes going for as little as €6900 (£6000) – a figure that would have bagged either a 1988 or a 1989 works 125cc GP machine (ridden by the likes of Fausto Gresini), and most of the firm’s bikes were in the same ballpark, with several 250cc GP machines starting at around €10,000. Most were the radical monocoque-framed bikes – not winners, but technically interesting nonetheless.

Stepping away from the GP machinery, other misfits that might look like bargains when we look back in a few years’ time included a virtually as-new 1990 BMW K1 with only 1158km on the clock, sold for €6670 (£5840), and a 1986 Honda VF1000R first owned by a certain Wayne Gardner. At €4370, surely it must represent a worthwhile investment for whoever grabbed it.

Pricier, but still looking like a bargain, was a championship-winning, ex-Fred Merkel WSB Honda RC30, used by the Rumi team for Merkel’s 1989 title-winning campaign and during 1990. Given that stock road-going RC30s in decent nick are pushing £20k in the classified, €26,450 (£23,000) for such an illustrious racer looks cheap.



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It has been a a good idea for a while now, i bought a Laverda Jota in 2007 for £5,500 and sold it last year for £11,500.... and had 5 great years of riding it and enjoying it too..

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 16:31

Dont do it .theoretical high prices are only attainable on vincents and broughs plus a few other raraties and they have reached prices that wont move upwards for a long time and will probably fall.i know a couple of guys who got there fingers burned buying certain to appreciate classics,stay clear.

Posted: 22/02/2013 at 17:18

Are you buying an investment or a motorcycle?

Sorry, but I buy vehicles strictly for transportation and fun. If I want an investment there are a lot better ways to spend my money.

Posted: 24/02/2013 at 01:27

i would say buy it if you want to ride it. Hopefully it will raise in value. My memory of older machinery was it was always good to get the latest model. handling, brakes, reliability is improved in time. why go back to old bikes unless you have another reason.

Posted: 24/02/2013 at 17:02

Nothing wrong with older bikes to ride you just accept their limitations,some would be great to ride and own so long as you dont expect to make money


Posted: 24/02/2013 at 18:39

an investment is only an investment when you sell it to make a profit, if you keep it you then theoretically neither win nor loose, perfect!

the only time you lose money on a bike is when you sell it, so don’t sell it, just ride it till the wheels fall off and you park it at the back of the toybox with your other toys, just like the concert T shirts in the back of my wardrobe that dont fit me anymore, they stay there cos they are souvenirs of my own life. Life and memories are worth more than money

Posted: 27/02/2013 at 19:49

It is possible to invest in Classic motorcycles, but people should only do so if they know about the machines and never put themselves in a position where they have to sell quickly. It is becoming clear, that there are three powerful sectors of emerging markets in the world of the classic motorcycle. Firstly the 1960s-1990s Japanese classic motorcycle. Secondly the Italian sports motorcycle from the 1970s-1990s. Thirdly the off road motorcycle from 1960s-1980s.
These markets are exploding and have enormous ground to make up on the British motorcycle marques and they will cover that ground rapidly for three reasons. Firstly the generations of buyers of British machines, inspired by nostalgia, are ageing and dying. Yet the generations of buyers of the new emerging classic motorcycle markets are acquiring more wealth, their children have left university and they are concerned about safe havens for their wealth (It has already been hinted that the theft of bank balances in Cyprus is the new template for bank bail outs in Europe).
The nostalgic drive of the Japanese and Italian machines people our age drooled over as adolescents make them desirable- far more desirable than the anxiety and lack lack of interest of leaving our hard earned cash stuck in a suspect bank.
Secondly there are limited supplies. There are only 35 Honda CB750 Phil Read Replicas left in the world of 150 made. There were only 299 Honda CB750 die cast machines ever produced. There were only 500 Ducati 916SPs, 996 SPSs, Honda RC30s ever produced.
Finally, the cost of restoring these machines far out weighs their value and the availability of parts has now dried up in many cases. Another factor is that these machines are reliable and fun to ride. How many 1970s Triumph Bonnevilles can manage a trip to Italy and back without self-destructing? Yet a well restored Kawasaki Z900, or even RD250 will manage it requiring only a cheap service once home.
 Since 2008, many of these machines I’ve mentioned, along with the moto cross and trials motorcycles from the same era, have increased in value by 100%, have a limited supply and have an enormous amount of ground to make up, with more people chasing each machine every day that passes.
It is always far more economic to buy a machine which is restored over restoring a machine yourself or paying for a machine to be restored. And machines in incredible unrestored condition are always going increase in value, in the long term, over a restored machine- it’s all about the patina.
But the most important point is, buy what you like, ride it, maintain it well and enjoy it. Never put yourself in a position where you have to sell quickly and you will probably see your machine increase in value. Also, as our countries are printing more money, they are devaluing our currencies- look at the Japanese Yen! You can't print more Yamaha XS1100s, Suzuki GS1000s etc etc. Enjoy your bikes and you may well increase what ever hard earned cash you put into them. But most of all enjoy these wonderful machines and get them back out on the roads.

Posted: 12/04/2013 at 08:55

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