Motorcycle aficionados the world over reveled at actor Steve McQueen’s motorcycle jump in “The Great Escape,” a cinema classic set in World War II; cyclists, especially, appreciated his war era Triumph TR6 Trophy motorcycle as much as the action. Vintage motorcycles hold an appeal for collectors far and wide. For anyone considering purchasing an old motorcycle, use these tips to kickstart your decision process.
Gain a Historical Perspective
If you are to undertake the time consuming, expensive and challenging process of buying and maintaining a vintage motorcycle, you should be passionate about the task. Your passion should hit two areas: First, embrace the process as it unfolds over the years. Second, take on the mindset of a historian by researching as much about the prospective bike and its place in motorcycle lore. For example, reading a Portland OR motorcycle book about 1919’s Cannonball Race can put you in the right frame of mind to appreciate a motorcycle from that racing era.
Pay the Price
You can either pay upfront for a clean or fully restored motorcycle, or you can invest over the long-haul to restore or partially resurrect the bike. In either case, the machine will require ongoing costly maintenance, since old running gear will be more finicky than modern moving parts.
Check Out Engine and Electricals
Ideally, you can find a motorcycle that runs, even if it is not in top condition. Then you can enjoy riding the motorcycle while refurbishing it. Check the motorcycle’s running lights and brake lights. Make sure the engine starts in both hot and cold conditions. Drive it down the road with a friend following to check that the frame appears aligned.
Attaining a classic motorcycle can be a labor of love. A buyer should look at the process as an investment in time, money and research. Still, when that journey ends in your rumbling down a winding road with the sound of a vintage engine thumping in your ears, you will feel the effort to be worth it.