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Why you should invest in a vintage motorbike

Jeremy Curzon, motorcycle specialist at Cheffins, gives the lowdown on why to invest in vintage motorbikes

1949 490cc Norton Model 30 International

Classic motorbikes are an ideal investment as they cost relatively little in comparison to classic cars, take up very little room and are a total hoot to ride.

Prices have grown year-on-year and are showing no signs of slowing. Around ten years ago, there was no such thing as a six-figure motorbike, however recent trends have seen some achieve over £300,000, such is their rise in value.

The high prices for the most exclusive of models has had a knock-on effect on some of the lesser examples, which are now seeing elevation in price too.

The past two years has brought more folk into the motorcycling brigade, lockdown No.1 and subsequent furlough coincided with the most glorious weather, as the lockdown rules eased certainly the roads which were quite free of cars became a two wheeled domain for a while with various classic and vintage bikes being dragged out of sheds and garages and once again put to use.

The rarer quality machines have undoubtedly gone up in value, for example, a 1936 BSA J12 V twin that I sold in 2015 for £22,000 I would now confidently expect to achieve somewhere close to £30,000.

For those looking to just get into the motorbiking world, there are still options to pick up fabulous machines from around £2,000 to £20,000

However, for those looking to just get into the motorbiking world, there are still options to pick up fabulous machines from around £2,000 to £20,000. Examples from the 1970s and 1980s have most of the market’s focus presently, and are fast appreciating in price, particularly as buyers are looking to seek out the motorbikes of their teenage years.

A good example of this would be the Yamaha FSI-E (Fizzy) moped, which would have been bought for around £300 in the 1970s and is now making into the thousands, particularly as so many were ragged around and eventually scrapped by teenagers, there are now few left in good condition.

Ten years ago a Fizzy might have made around £1,500, but now I would expect them to sell for between £3,000 - £5,000, the odd one has actually achieved £10,000.

Bikes such as the Fizzy and the Kawasaki KH Triple were so popular in the 1970s when as a youth you could jump straight on without any training and ride them indefinitely on L plates.

The Fizzy was probably the most iconic and beloved of them all and to this day holds a very special place in the hearts of those that were teenagers in the mid to late-1970s, myself included.

Investment motorbikes

P&M 'Rob North' Triumph T150

P&M 'Rob North' Triumph T150 racing motorcycle

Triumph has got to be one of the most iconic of all motorbike brands. Once again in production, thanks to hefty investment, Triumph lives on, however there is nothing more iconic than the Triumph 1970s builds. This one, which is dated around 2006, is a particularly exciting machine as it is the result of a collaboration between a Triumph frame builder and P&M Motorcycles and is a rare example of an all out 930cc engined racer. Sure to go fast and look elegant with it, utterly perfect art for the hallway

Estimate £10,000 - £12,000

1958 Triumph Thunderbird

1958 Triumph Thunderbird

Forever associated with Marlon Brando as his ride in the 1953 film The Wild One, this later example is a complete and matching numbers period piece and perfectly transplants from the café racer days to today’s café culture. These machines have seen a sharp rise in value over the last 5 years and currently are hard to find in this order. Cool is the word.

Estimate £5,000 - £6,000

1993 Suzuki RGV250

1993 Suzuki RGV250

A GP racer on the road, this is where the market is at currently. Japanese two-strokes have seen a meteoric rise in value and show no signs of stopping. The RGV is almost a straight copy of a GP racer and will still embarrass much larger capacity machines on the road or track. It also comes with a shrieking wail of a soundtrack, this is a mercifully un messed with example.

Estimate £5,500 - £7,000

1950 499cc Norton 500T Trials

1950 499cc Norton 500T Trials motorcycle

The legendary Norton 500T was stated to be the finest factory rigid trials machine ever produced and it certainly proved its competition worth in both factory and private hands. The short wheelbase and alloy barrel and head make for a light and manageable machine, perfect for runs out of town or even to the office. Norton motorbikes have been appreciating steadily in value over the past decade, and this particular example has had only three owners from new and would be a worthwhile investment, whilst still providing tons of fun.

Estimate £7,000 - £9,000

1949 490cc Norton Model 30 International

1949 490cc Norton Model 30 International

Another legendary machine from the Norton stable, the Internationals overhead camshaft engine had been thoroughly developed on the works racers and was essentially a racer on the road with lights. This is a beautifully presented machine that has spent the majority of the last 50 years on display in the collection where it appears to have been well cared for and will have been carefully turned over on a regular basis up until 6 years ago.

Estimate £15,000 - £20,000

1978 249cc Kawasaki KH250

1978 249cc Kawasaki KH250 motorcycle

One for 1970s’ fans, this is a superbly presented example of the legendary KH triple. This is the type of bike which is seeing a massive growth in popularity currently, and would be a smart buy for someone looking for something not too large to store, which is great fun and looks set to appreciate in value. It sounds awesome too.

Estimate £4,000 - £5,000

1969 349cc Ducati 350SCR

1969 349cc Ducati 350SCR motorcycle

This is a well-presented example of the very desirable Ducati Street Scrambler. Classic Ducatis have all the style of the modern machine, but at a fraction of the price. These types of bikes represent a great entry point for someone to the world of collecting, and this particular machine needs no renovation and is ready to buy and ride off into the sunset. It exudes Italian chic and class.

Estimate £4,000 - £5,000

1991 904cc Ducati 900SS

1991 904cc Ducati 900SS motorcycle

This is not necessarily the bike of choice for motorbiking aficionados, however it’s a flashy machine, sure to turn heads and available for a good price. Again, this 1980s/1990s style is showing increased interest in the market and would likely increase its value over the years being from the first year of production and considered a style icon.

Estimate £1,500 - £2,500

1977 Yamaha FSIE moped

1977 Yamaha FSIE moped

Forget a Vespa! A Yamaha Fizzy is far more retro. This is a great example of the sixteener specials and these have been seeing growing prices in the second-hand market, mainly from nostalgia-driven collectors looking to recapture their youth. A good buy for town use, be warned, you will draw a crowd.

Estimate £2,000 - £4,000

1968 BSA Bantam D14

1968 BSA Bantam D14

For a certain generation this was everybody’s first motorcycle, they are now finding a new generation of appreciative owners. Simple to ride and maintain, very period to look at and easy to live with. Even though they’ve doubled in price lately they are still great value

Estimate £1,200 - £1,800

All of these motorbikes will be going under the hammer at the Cheffins Vintage Auction on 23 April, hosted at Cheffins Machinery Saleground, Ely, CB6 2QT, or you can bid online at cheffins.co.uk, call Cheffins Auctioneers on 01353 777 767 for more information, or email Jeremy Curzon directly on Jeremy.curzon@cheffins.co.uk

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