Ask a non-motorcyclist to name a classic bike and they would probably pick a British bike. Early Nortons, Triumphs and BSAs are considered typical classic motorcycles. But for someone considering buying a classic British bike, where do they start looking?
As with all classic motorcycle buying, research is the key. Classics are often offered for sale at considerably more than they are actually worth. The owner may have inherited the bike, for example, and because it's old and British it must be worth a lot of cash. In some instances this is true, but only research will find the true market value.
As a starting point, the would-be classic British bike buyer should decide on a total budget. How much you pay for a classic motorcycle should include making allowances for repairs, updates, and even shipping if the bike is many miles away (or in another country).
With a budget in mind, reference to buyers' guides such as NADA's or Kelly's Blue Book (in the US), will give an estimation of the current market values.
A major consideration when considering an early classic British bike is parts availability. Although certain makes and models have an abundance of parts available, Triumph Bonnevilles for instance, others will be in the hard-to-find category; and some will need to be manufactured! Again, research is very important before buying.
With the web offering excellent search possibilities, locating a classic is relatively easy-but making an offer on an advertised bike (on eBay for instance) that has not been seen or inspected is risky: assume the worst, bid accordingly, and be happy if the bike turns out to be good.