Just like cars, motorcycles are treasured collectibles. Despite their desirability, however, they trade hands on average at far lower values than cars. The car auction record, too, is nearly 50 times that of the motorcycle auction record. Generally, the lower end of the bike market is full of nostalgia-driven purchases; the top is littered with historical significance and racing pedigree.
Based on digital views of our newly-released Hagerty Motorcycle Price Guide, here are the 10 bikes in which Hagerty is seeing the most interest, arranged by price from low to high.
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No question, the RD350 should be in this group. I was starting to think this was a list of the top 10 Hondas....Hey, they aren't the only ones making collectable motorbikes
I have the 1979 RD400 Daytona Special. Mine is heavily modified and looks like a cafe racer but all original examples are pulling quite a bit of cash considering it was only offered in the model year 1979.
I had a 1975 RD350, expansion chambers, flat "drag" bars, Accel auto coils, very fun very fast and nimble. What a GIANT killer. I lived close to Lebanon Valley Dragstrip and dragged there, always fun. all I can say with those expansion chambers, bing, bing, bing what a sound.
Agree on the RD350. I scanned through this article and was surprised not to see the RD350 or some form of it. My first street bike experience in the 70s was on a Yamaha 1972 R5. Bought my own in form of a 1985 RZ350 (last road going US sold two stroke). Just bought a 1973 RD350 and bringing it back to rideability.
Actually, in most (maybe all) of the USA, they were never banned from the street. They just could not meet emissions standards of the day, with the technology then available. It seems very likely that a two-stroke could be developed today, using technology such as direct injection (as an Evinrude E-Tec or Mercury Optimax used), to meet current emissions standards. There seems to be no interest among manufacturers to do so, though, and probably insufficient interest among enthusiasts, either.
I had a 1973 RD-350 with Toomey Pipes and later a red RD-400. I liked the RD-400 more. I bought it and parked it in a parking lot to find it on it's side when I got back. The side stand dug into hot asphalt and in the process, broke the gear shift off. I went into the drugstore and bought a pair of channel locks and used it as a makeshift shifter for the 30 minute drive home on the Freeway. I was wearing flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt. I got pulled over by California Highway Patrol to see if I had a pink slip. (crazy, now that I think of it.) The RD-350 seized up at about 95 mph. The shop had not put the right side pipe on flush and it was leaning out. Locked the rear up and instinctively pulled in the clutch until I rolled to a stop. Let it cool for 30 minutes and still drove it home from 20 miles away on Hwy 94 in Jamul, CA. Years later, met a guy that described a black RD he owned. It was my old bike. It turns out that the shop put an RD-400 piston in one side, a RD-350 piston on the other. This from a motorcycle race shop. No wonder it ran like crap when I got it back from repairs. Two different compressions. The 1979 Daytona Special was my first RD ride from the back in high school with Dennis Robinson at the beach in San Diego-riding a long wheelie in Mission Beach-I was hooked! I ride a BMW R1200GS Adventure these days-with all my gear on.
I mowed lawns in 1973 to buy my first motorcycle. I was fifteen. My buddy and I ordered two new Suzuki GT 250 Hustlers. They came two in a crate from Japan , end to end , front wheels removed and tucked inside. We ordered a crate. $1380 + Tax each. Dad wouldn't let me open the crate until I got my drivers licence. I passed my exam on my sixteenth birthday. When I drove home in Dads car he was standing in the garage with a crowbar to help me open the crate. He mounted the wheel on the front fork himself. I fueled it, checked the oil level , got on it, and drove it from Truro Nova Scotia to Cape George Point, Nova Scotia. ( look it up ) My ass and wrists were numb from the two stroke engine but I was absolutely in heaven .
Okay, not bad, but that was only 85 miles, where did you ride after breakfast? Alright....pretty good for a 16 year old on his first motorbike. I still want to know where you rode the rest of the day. I think you could have at least made one loop around the Cabot Trail before sunset.
Great conversation. I have been fortunate to own many of the bikes discussed here. Nice maiden voyage on the Suzuki. I rode my H1 Kawwy triple from Phoenix to the Bay Area and sold it. Couldn't face the return trip without a ride-along chiropractor. And I was 19. Horrible seat. Funny how you forget the comfortable but boring trips on newer rides. But the ones that test you...are etched permanently in your memory.
The value of these bikes is in their originality. The example you show of the CBX1000 is a long way from original. I can supply an image of an original CBX if required. The International CBX Owners Association (ICOA) is a unique club for not a Manufacturer, but just a model motorcycle following. Check out www.cbxclub.com
The Honda CA77 305 Dream and the later CB350 (and on/off and off road variations) were so popular because that power/size (displacement) was perfect for an all-around transportation bike -- at least for one adult around 200 pounds. It was powerful enough to cruise the interstate at 65-70 (again, with one!), and scoot out of the way easily in city traffic. Even with two on it you could run around town comfortably. Though I wouldn't want to take a long interstate trip with a rider, you could take hour long trips easy enough. I had a Honda 175 twin from the early 70s. It was great around town, but struggled to maintain 60 on the interstate -- didn't up any sizeable hill. Had a 250 and 315 Suzuki two-stroke. The 250 struggled on the interstate over 55 mph like the 175, but it was "well worn" when I got it. The 305 fared a bit better, but was also "well worn". In fact, the 315 became the 250... bottom end was the same, 250 just had smaller bore. When the 315 (Suzuki model was a T350) burned a hole in the piston due to timing being so advanced to get it to run I discovered the advnaced timing was necessary due to cylinder wear -- not much compression until near the top!! You could nearly ring the cylinder like a bell with the piston and rod as clapper! A local bike shop had a wrecked 250 and noted that the bottom end looked the same -- so we did some quick measurements. Low and behold the 250 pistons and jugs bolted right up, and I was back up and running!! That 250 had some wear on it too though... Got a Suzuki T-500 two stroke after that -- only stopped running it because the CDI ignition started going out and would be expensive to replace. Plus it needed tires and a new seat! A friend of a friend said I needed to look at the 1980 GS1000 he had parked a few years ago. This was around 1993, and I figured he wanted more than I wanted to put into it at the time. He had a 14 year old that was asking about the bike, knew it needed some work from sitting for 4-5 years, and made me a deal I couldn't refuse!! Got it for half what I thought it was worth. cleaned carbs, rebuilt brakes, drove it until 2015.
The 71-77 Suzuki GT750 triple WATER COOLED two-stroke should be on here as well. That was a rocket! I had just got my GS1000G when a local shop had one recently restored. i was over talking to the guy when he showed it to me, then asked me if I wanted to take it for a spin! I got on and drove it like normal. Noticed the light poles seemed to be going by awful fast.... Looked at speedo and I was doing 70 in third gear, two more to go!!! I was still in city limits, in a 45 mph zone, so immediately slowed, but it impressed the heck out of me that I was just shifting like I would have on the GS1000 and it accelerated so darn fast!! He wouldn't trade me even...
How about the 1974 Kawasaki 750 mach IV triple 2-stroke (widow maker). Bought mine in 11980 and sold it for dirt cheap to get out of of my mom's garage (I wish I had it now).
My list is so big I'd get banned, but here's some star attractions and some of the reasons. As mentioned already the Kawasaki Mach IIIs in 500 or 750 (H1 and H2). Spooky fast. 65 Electra-Glide, 1st and only electric start Panhead. While we're on Harleys, a 72 Superglide in black "Sparkling America", and a 71 XLCH Sportster in red, white and blue Sparkling America. Sportsters through ealry 73 stayed true to their roots. Superbikes? The 1st year V65 Magna changed the paradigm and Pee Wee Gleason made it the world's fastest, which then was answered by Yamaha with their nearly insane VMAX. Posted also below is another personal fave from the UK, Norton 750 Commando. I could simply look at it every day. Back to superbikes, those "in the know" are familiar with the Suzuki GSXR 750...from 1985...the venerable "Slab Side" which was basically a road legal GP racer. 85s has to be imported and we didn't get a US version until 86 or 87. Everything about it is pure detail and engineering and is often missed by collectors, but try to find one. An 85, that is. Pure madness and racing success has to be the o e and only Yamaha TZ750. A legend, the winner of the Daytona 200 9 CONSECUTIVE years. Again, beautiful and engineered to dominate. I think that engine went on to become the basis of the Yamaha VMax 750 snowmobile power plant. It too was an animal in it's class although a bit heavy. Just to dream a little, gotta throw in a 30s Brough Superior. It isn't really "this" or "that", but where it came from and how it looks is just enough to earn a spot in my lottery-winning dreamscape. Again, too many to list for my ultimate stable. Did I hit anyone else's views here?
The Honda CB750 in the picture looks identical to the one I owned back in the early 80's. I bought it barely used. That was a great bike and never spent a dime on it. Meanwhile, my Dad had a 75 Harley that constantly leaked oil, always needed something, and constantly out of tune (my Dad was a mechanic, so it wasn't his skill that was lacking). His was a hate-hate relationship. One weekend I guess he got tired of me talking about my bike and next thing I know, a brand new Goldwing was sitting in his garage. This a was monumental change of heart because he was ex-GM union worker and at a time he wouldn't let me park my "fereign" car (280Z ) in the driveway! If a bike can change that attitude, it deserves special recognition!
I would nominate the Bridgestone 350 GTR/GTO. 10K built between June 1967 and March 1971. Only sold in English speaking countries and not in it's home country of Japan.
So, all the Honda 350s get lumped into one, but the 77s get individual entries. The CB750 and CBX makes 7 Honda’s in a list of 10. Z1 and 2 different /2s makes 10, with 4 more on your list. Now, we get to the really funny stuff. Indian Chief, HD EL/FL knucklehead, and Vincents? Those bikes have been collectible since they were practically new. What’s the point in “watching” them? Usually an article like this offers some insight or speculation of what’s happening in the collector market. You just googled “collectible motorcycles” and checked the Wikipedia page.
When I was in high school, I thought the 250 and 305 Honda Scramblers were the neatest looking and the best sounding motorcycles around. I never owned one but I thought of them a lot. A few years ago I found a 67 cl 77 scrambler in very good condition. I bought it and added a couple of minor things it was missing to make it 100% original. Every now and then I start it up, 1st. or 2nd. kick, and take it for a ride on the paved country roads around here. The sound of the sweet exhaust brings back the mystic that I've always had for this Honda.
I would nominate the Maxim X, Fazer and the FZ 750 from the 80s. Over 100 Horsepower from the 5 valve engines. I owned one of each and they could eat 1100s of the day for dinner. Also, the 85 V Max, 145 horsepower, unheard of in those days. And I had one of those as well. You best hang on tight when the V Boost kicked in. I know that there are new bikes that eclipse their performance, but back in the good old days, they were exceptional.
I have a 1981 Yamaha 400 Special II. How do I find out what it is worth and where would I sell it. 2 tank dents and the the pipe between the dual exhaust is cracked at the weld.
2004-05 Honda Rune. Honda went where no manufacturer had gone before. They actually took a concept vehicle to production. Allegedly it cost $100,000 for them to build and they sold it for $27,000. Gorgeous motorcycle.
A very nice bike From Suzuki the "650 Tempter" with a 4 stroke air cooled DOHC Parallel twin Could make the list. Sold for only two years in the states 1983-84. A really fun bike to ride.
I was really hoping to see the Norton 750 Commando's mentioned in the article, we just picked up a garage kept original, survivor 1973 750 Commando that hasn't been run since the early 80's. Not a bike motorcycle guy but couldn't let it go to someone that wouldn't look after it properly. If your a Norton collector look me up, may let it go to the right guy.
What, no BSAs?!! The Gold Star from the '50s were just as historically significant to the British bike buyer as the Harley Knuckleheads were for the Americans. Plus, it had a significant racing pedigree. Then, in 1969, the Rocket 3, along with it's stablemate, the Triumph Trident, were the first to be acclaimed "Superbike!" by the motorcycling press, beating the CB750 to market by just weeks. Though they had one less cylinder, used pushrods to operate the valves and drum brakes for stopping, they never-the-less were quicker, handled better and stopped faster than the offering from the Japanese upstart. They took the first three places at Daytona in 1971, and class wins at Isle of Mann from 1972 to 1975. The Gold Star has occupied, along with the Vincent and Brough-Superior, the top tier of motorcycle collectibles for decades, while the Rocket 3 has shot up in value over the past few years. Triumph Tridents are still relatively affordable, for now....
My concern with this list is that with a single exception, all of these motorcycles have been "discovered" by collectors. The CB350 Honda is ubiquitous and generally unloved, I'd hardly consider it a candidate for future love.
What I would add are purebred competition machines. Similar to race cars, these will always be valued as pinnacle examples of their era. Air cooled Yamahas, the TAs and TDs, for example. Honda's equivalent RS series as well. Also, lesser known but very successful racers like Bultaco's TSS grand prix bikes. In the lower price ranges, but rapidly gaining in value are European motocross motorcycles; Maico, Husqvarna, and the Spanish brands, etc. Most of these are priced below British examples of the same, like BSA Gold Stars, etc., yet are more rare and generally have great histories. All the requirements for future positive valuations.
I traded my first car a 68 Camaro for a 72 H2 750 and pushed it home my father whooped my ass I busted my ass all summer dumped almost $1000 in performance parts into it and the next summer I raced anything on wheels at the track or on the street I got my money back and then some plus a few nice helmets for the shelf in the garage I loved the smell of aviation fuel and 2 stroke oil laying down times in the low 10s well worth the beating for the best memories of my life