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It’s the middle of winter and there’s nowt much interesting to do. So if you’re willing to waggle the spanners somewhat, you could bag yourself a project bike bargain…
The weird thing about this credit crunch is that it’s tightened up the supply of desirable classic motorcycles. So bikes which normally fetch top money are still being sold at premium prices. However, at the scruffy end of the market things seem to have slowed somewhat, which means there’s quite a few less-than-perfect machines being offered at sensible money. They tend not to hang around, however, so you need to be quick…
If a tiddler tickles your fancy then BSA Bantams are always in plentiful supply and depending on condition they are going cheep-cheep (…sorry) right now. Someone who is prepared to completely restore one might fancy the D7 for sale in Leyland; the project has been started and some parts have been painted and the wheels have been re-spoked. The seller has been gathering spares together (including two tanks), and we reckon he’ll take £150 for the whole lot (07813 031407).
Andy Tiernan also has a rolling chassis project Bantam, another D7, which would be 175cc if it had an engine… which it doesn’t. Still, it’s just £150 and it wouldn’t take too much trouble to find a motor to fill that gap. See www.andybuysbikes.com
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Or if you’re looking for rather less work, Doug at Honoroak has been taking care of a 1969 B175 Bantam for a wee while. He says it’s a good runner; a very original little bike which has been off the road for five years or more which means it’ll need full recommissioning to get back in action. Yours for £675 (or make him a sensible offer; Doug’s never averse to haggling!). See
Moving up the capacity stakes somewhat, the 250cc class offers a lot of choice and all of it for less than a grand. Northants Classic Bikes have a 1966 BSA C14 which needs work for £895 (01933 355525), while our classified ads reveal an absolute bargain Honda CB250RS – just £180 for a bike with good tyres, Motad two-into-one exhaust and nearly-new chain and sprockets. There’s an engine fault so the motor won’t run cleanly without cutting out – do you fancy the challenge? 01304 202492 if so!
Bargain MZs on eBay
AJS and Matchless lightweights are also firm favourites in the low-budget stakes. These bikes are straightforward to work on and offer frisky fun once you’ve got them up and running. Andy Tiernan has a 1962 AJS Model 14, which is a 250 (and kind-of similar to the machine featured in RC56), which comes MoT’d for £900. Or a private AJS 250 CSR might still be available if you don’t hang about: it’s a 1962 machine which is MoT’d through to November 2009 and could be ridden or restored. Up for £750 from 01543 570317.
Prices do rise once you start looking at 500cc and above, but you can still find big singles which won’t bust your budget. There’s one such AJS model 18S, a 500cc single from 1957, in our classifieds. The owner is honest enough to admit that it has a charging fault but reckons it runs OK otherwise – and he’s asking £1600 for it on 01733 203933. Or Honoroak might be able to tempt you with a solid old slugger, a rigid BSA M21 600cc single. It hasn’t been used for about a dozen years, hence the price tag of £1900. You’ll have to do some work to get it up and running again – but you also get to revel in its original, oily-rag condition.
If you’re more familiar with maintaining Japanese machines then Llandow Classics have 1977 Honda CB550 restoration project for £550 (01446 771160). You might want to check spare part prices before diving headlong into that one – remember, four sets of most things go into the engine… Llandow have also got a Jawa 350 TS with a gearbox fault in stock; they will provide the spare parts to fix it if you’ve got £450 to pay.
Royal Enfield Crusader Sport …
Other machines which caught our attention include a 1964 Triumph Tiger Cub being offered by Northants for restoration, complete with new exhaust pipe, silencer and badges for £400. Or if you’d rather someone else did the hard work for you then there’s a Royal Enfield Crusader Sport in our classifieds at £700. It’s been rebuilt with plenty of new parts as a non-standard ‘fun bike’ with 12-Volt electrics, new wheels, rebored engine and such – might still be available from 01706 875386.
Two final tiddlers are a 1961 James Cadet at Honoroak; a good running original machine for just £595 and – for people who just love being different – a 1965 Velocette LE at Andy Tiernan’s. The engine turns over OK and the gears engage, but this is a project which will need some TLC for £800.
The final thought is another motorcycle on sale at Northants Classic Bike Centre. It’s a 1970 Triumph T120 Bonneville, which you could buy now for restoration at £3000. If that sounds like a lot of money then it’s worth considering that Northants may do the job themselves – and once restored the T120 would be up for a sniff under six grand. Might be worth a look to see how much work it really needs to get it back on the road…
If you go to look at any of these bikes (or similar machines which pop up on eBay and the like) then do bear in mind that you’re unlikely to recoup the cost of your time spent spannering, even if you produce a concours champion at the end of a restoration. Very often it makes more sense to check the bearings, change the oil, put air in the tyres and petrol in the tank and see if you can’t startle some life out of a sleeping beastie. Quite often you can resurrect an old bike for just a couple of hundred quid – and then you’ve got the double pleasure of a new toy to ride in the Spring plus the knowledge that you’ve brought a slumbering motorcycle back to the land of the living.
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