Classic or crap?

Classic or crap?

So there I was in a slow moment between beers, surfing through old stuff on the net and I came across this little gem from 2009.

Back then , in Bristol UK, it seems  it was illegal to push your bike across a pavement (sidewalk) and into your garden to park it up safely.  A guy called Nick Morris did just this. He ended up being warned and might have faced prosecution all because a local policeman had decided that being overzealous about a law was the best thing to do that day. 

Luckily Nick Morris had the balls to respond correctly, calling the Policeman, Colin Salmon, a “complete moron” in the national press.

Some things from the past are great, others not so much….

As it is winter and having a bit of time on my hands I have been  browsing through EBay and other sites considering buying a crashed, project or old dog to either rebuild, restore or otherwise play about with.  I know that it is mainly window shopping and the chances of me actually getting off my ass and doing anything about it are remote but that is not the point of this moan.


As I browsed something started to dawn on me, many bikes that are a bit long in the tooth are now being called classics, and they are being advertised with the lead line that they will be a great investment after you have rebuilt them.  Every heap of crap is a barn find or a gem with just a little work and bikes that have been bought in and stripped down and forgotten are unfinished projects with loads of potential.

Take CX500’s for example; the press will have you believe that these were lovely sweet handling bikes with power and torque in plentiful supply. However, being someone who actually rode one back in the day I will tell you that they were heavy bastards that had very interesting handling characteristics due to the shaft drive and their V engine…oh and a high centre of gravity. They had two saving graces in my opinion. Firstly they had a great big comfy seat and after initial problems they were as reliable as taxes. One telling comment is that back in the early 90’s just over ten years since its appearance, no one in my circle of mates would spend more than £500 on a plastic maggot and most of us would not even spend that.  They were never a great bike, but they were a good solid workhorse perfect for dispatch riders and people who wanted to save their good bikes for weekends. 



Bringing us up to the now and current trend is to take one of these and turn it into a Café Racer look alike.  Ok, fair enough, some of those lookalikes are beautiful bits of machinery but the trendy press, dealers and other sellers are jumping on the bandwagon promoting these bikes as some sort of classic hoping to cash in.  Now you are hard pressed to find a CX500 for less than £1000 and that is probably going to be a rusty heap with a seized engine that is of course an “easy restoration project”.  


Don’t get me wrong, it is great to build something from a pile of crap, but be careful what pile of crap you choose and don’t think you are going to make a lot of money doing it, you won’t, you will lose money. Whatever you think you will be able to sell your restored bike for when you come to sell it, halve it and you might be lucky.  When you build a bike you are building it for yourself so choose a bike you like, not one that is the latest fashionable thing. Don’t get taken in by the “It’s a classic” trend, most of them are not, not even my Z1100 shafty (which you can buy for £8000…easy restoration project for this, iconic, hard to find classic muscle bike from the early 80’s!)  Try to talk to someone who actually rode the things back in the day, try to find original reviews, try to ride one yourself before submitting to your dreams and remember it is going to cost you, big time. Finally ask yourself this question, “what would you really prefer to ride, a 500cc, push rod engined V twin with 48bhp, or a Ducati 748?”


And just in case you think I come across hard on CX500’s but think yourselves lucky I didn’t start ranting about Yamaha XS’s.

Stay safe



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