Classic Japanese Motorcycle News



Steve Cooper from the VJMC brings us up to date with some information about next year’s Uttoxeter Show, and contemplates the value of originality…

The VJMC Uttoxeter show will be running again in 2011 over the first weekend of July as usual, from the 1st to the 3rd. For the 2011 event the VJMC are pleased to announce that Geoff Selvidge Sales and Marketing Services will be running the show on the club’s behalf. Geoff has many years of motorcycle exhibition experience and will be focussing on delivering a great show for the participating clubs, commercial exhibitors and of course, the visitors. The club would like to thank George and Anne Beer for all the hard work they have put into the show over last four years and fully appreciate their decision to step down and enjoy a somewhat quieter life.

Meanwhile, just when you thought the world of classic bikes couldn’t get any more contentious, fate gives you another kick up the proverbial. Is it just me or has greed in general and online bidding in particular increased the cost of our hobby / passion / way of life? Are some people blessed with so much disposable income that they really no longer care about the cost of restoring a bike?


1969 Yamaha YL1, 100cc

Quite possibly this column is not the place for a moral debate but when you hear of brake hoses selling for well into three figures you do begin to question whether this really is ethical. Perhaps my view is outdated and too principled here but if you have that sort of money to throw at a piece of rubber tubing then I’d respectfully suggest that there are better and more worthy things you might be doing with your dosh. OK, we all choose how we spend our disposable income but everything needs to be kept in perspective. Apparently the item in question was the subject of bidding war between three parties and was obviously a ‘must have’ for one of them. This means (presumably) two of the prospective owners will have to go through the whole sordid scenario again at the feeding frenzy.

It doesn’t matter what bike you own, run or restore the same basic metric applies; if you can’t find a NOS widget you either have to refurbish the rusty one you have or get a new one made. This scenario is likely to have significant consequences on the classic Japanese scene in the not too distant future. All of this may have an interesting impact on a largely, and often ignored, facet of classic Japanese biking; the original machine. Not so many years ago few would have paid serious money for anything that wasn’t 100% perfect. In the USA there has been a steadily increasing appreciation of genuine machines that bear the patina of use. Looking at the sales prices for a barn find 1920s Excelsior, Indian or H-D shows that quite a lot of serious enthusiasts would rather have a machine with a visible history than a sterile restoration where its entire history has been erased.


That's what the future looked like in the 1960s...

Classic Yamahas on ….

A recent UK auction saw a used but very tidy 1969 100cc Yamaha YL1 sell for £3450. Is that pure madness or genuine appreciation of a viable and eminently usable classic? Compared to our brake hose scenario earlier I’d say it was a reasoned purchase. What’s more the new owner can ride this bike without fear of damaging a potential concours restoration and have immense fun with something costing rather less than many spend on a bland used car or that ‘must have’ fitted kitchen.

Unrestored and original bikes have a very real place within the classic bike movement, they are there to be enjoyed, fettled, appreciated and ridden. They are the quintessential link to our motorcycling history.


Membership of the VJMC currently costs £5 on top of the £25 per year standard rate. All the info is here: with an option to pay online.

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