It could be argued that race replica motorcycles have been around since motorcycling first became popular. Many of the early manufacturers used racing as a marketing tool, and soon buyers wanted the same machines they had seen racing at the weekend.
Today, replicas of famous racing motorcycles are everywhere. Current production machines are available replicating the color schemes of their MotoGP™ or AMA cousins. For classic bikes owners, the availability of race replicas is good, and some examples realize high sale prices—a Mike Hailwood replica Ducati is a good example.
But a classic replica buyer should realize that the term replica is more of a generalization, in most cases referring to the color scheme or the cosmetic appearance only. Needless to say, buying an exact replica of a unique works racer would be prohibitively expensive. There are exceptions to this rule, though, with the advent of World Superbike regulations requiring manufacturers to sell a quantity of exact replicas to the general public (often bought initially by other race teams).
Many racing motorcycles utilize a fairing for improved aerodynamics. The fairings offer a large area for advertising, which brings to the various race teams much needed revenue. Aftermarket companies offer replicas of the racing color schemes in matching paint and/or decals.
Some of the more popular race replicas include:
One of the most famous motorcycle racers of all time, Mike Hailwood, was coaxed out of retirement by Sports Motorcycles owner Steve Wynne to race a Ducati at the TT.
The factory NCR 900-cc machine was prepared by Sports Motorcycles and repainted in red, white and green of the bike's sponsor, Castrol. (The factory bike had been painted in Silver and red.)
The machine, with Hailwood on board, won the 1978 TT Formula One race, setting fastest race and lap times.
A 1979 version in perfect original condition is valued between $20,000 and $35,000.
Wes Cooley replica Suzuki GS1000s
Developed for the AMA Superbike class, the Suzuki GS1000S was based on the standard Suzuki GS1000E and developed by tuning specialist Yoshimura. Cooley won Suzuki’s first AMA title in 1979 on this bike.
The street replica, knows as the Wes Cooley replica, was basically a standard GS1000E with different styling, in particular the headlight fairing.
Values of the GS1000S vary considerably. Also, as these bikes are getting rarer, their values are increasing. Expect to pay between $4,000 and $8,000.
Suzuki had capitalized on their Grand Prix winning motorcycles by selling street bikes that carried similar graphics to their works machines.
One of the most popular of these race replicas was the Pepsi ™ decaled machine that resembled the championship winning 500-cc bikes of Kevin Schwantz. The 250 street versions were introduced in 1987 and gave exceptional performance due to their light weight of 282 lb.’s (128 kgs), and 68 hp engines.
RZ350 Roberts Replica
The RZ350LC was a replica in paint color only. Nonetheless, the Yamaha was very popular and is a collectible classic today.The RZ (RD in the UK) can trace its history back to the TZ road racers. The engine was a 348-cc water cooled (hence the LC for liquid cooled) parallel twin 2-stroke. The racers made the Yamaha factory color scheme famous best known among which was former 500 world champion American Kenny Roberts to which the replica owes its name.
Kawasaki KZ1000R Lawson Replica
The Kawasaki was based on Grand Prix winner Eddie Lawson's AMA Superbike colors and paint scheme. It was sold in the US as a Limited Edition.
The renowned reliability of the big Kawasaki four cylinder engines makes this replica a favorite among classic collectors.
A 1982 version in perfect condition is valued at around $4,400. However, they often fetch much more as these machines are becoming rare.