Classic Motorcycles: Most Popular Articles
Carburetor problems generally fall into three areas. Diagnosing carburetor problems is relatively easy and follows some telltale symptoms.
Rebuilding a motorcycle engine can be very easy (a single cylinder 2-stroke) or complex (a multi-cylinder 4-stroke). But the same basic rules and procedures apply, regardless of the type or size. However, the sequencing for doing an engine rebuild is very important to the ultimate success of the project.
Some motorcycles just handle badly! But which classic bikes make the top ten for worst handling bikes of all time?
Putting clothing on during hot weather seems crazy. But for the classic motorcycle rider who wants to be safe and cool, there are some specially designed pieces of riding gear to consider.
If the final deciding factor on buying a classic motorcycle was whether it was chain or shaft driven, which way would you go? Both final drive systems have advantages and disadvantages.
Done properly, a bobber is a motorcycle that has had unnecessary components removed (unnecessary in the opinion of the owner) and is styled to the owner’s taste—no rules.
Building a cafe racer today is even easier than it was in the 60s. With such a well known style, specialist suppliers can be found for almost every item.
Bleeding motorcycle brakes is not difficult, but as this task is obviously safety related, it is very important to follow correct procedures.
Fixing a motorcycle carburetor need not be a daunting task to any reasonably competent mechanic. By following some basic guidelines the bike can be up and running again in no time.
For information about a specific make or model of a motorcycle, the owner must have the frame (chassis) and engine numbers. Locating a frame number on an early machine, especially one that is dirty and in need of restoration (barn fresh for example), can be challenging.
Most motorcyclists have heard of cafe racers. But what are they, and where did the name come from?
To come up with a list of the ten best handling classics of all time, it is necessary to select one considered the best. Most riders who have experienced a Norton Featherbed’s handling will use this chassis to judge all others.
There are few more satisfying tasks when restoring a classic motorcycle than buffing and polishing the engine cases. With some basic tools, and a few hours work, the surface on a case can be transformed into a chrome like finish.
For most street riders, the handling of their motorcycle rarely comes into question unless something is worn or broken. However, occasionally the suspension settings will need adjustment.
The Yamaha Virago was the first Japanese V-twin cruiser. Model code XV, the Virago was a serious attempt by Yamaha to claim some of the market share of Harley Davidson.
There are two common ignition types associated with classic bikes: contact points and fully electronic. One of the shortcomings of the contact point ignition system is the tendency for the heel on the points to wear, which has the effect of retarding the ignition.
There are many individual components on a motorcycle that can, if broken or damaged, stop the engine from starting. But in essence, an internal combustion engine needs three things before it will run.
Painting motorcycle parts is relatively easy. By following some guidelines, the home mechanic can get good results.
Restoring a classic motorcycle seems like fun, on the face of it. It is, however, a long process requiring dedication, organization, mechanical skills and some tooling. But, for the most part, it is not beyond the average owner with good mechanical skills to restore a classic motorcycle.
Of all the paint finishes on a motorcycle, the fuel tank is the one that most people will be drawn to. It is, after all, the most prominent item on a motorcycle. In the case of a motorcycle restoration or in a situation where a fuel tank has received damage in an accident, the tank should be repaired and resealed on the inside first.
Knowing the timing system before disassembling or reassembling an engine is critical, but one aspect of timing comes before all others: crankshaft position.
Riding a motorcycle in hot weather requires some planning. In some areas it can be too hot for man and machine.
How much should you pay for a classic motorcycle? Let’s face it: sometimes your heart rate will be the determining factor. But if you’re concerned about practicality, it is essential to do a little research when considering purchasing a classic motorcycle.
There are many ways of transporting a classic motorcycle, but the main priority is to safeguard the bike during the trip.
Replacing the wiring harness, or loom, on a motorcycle is a relatively easy task but can be time consuming.
To completely rewire a motorcycle, the owner or mechanic must have considerable previous experience, or at the very least, the ability to read a schematic wiring diagram. That being said, it is a relatively easy task.
Making a motorcycle control cable is relatively easy and requires few tools. If the cables are to be made from scratch, the mechanic must first establish the length of the outer cable.
Carburetor balancing on multi-carb, multi-cylinder engines is very important. The most accurate method of balancing these types of carburation systems is by using vacuum gauges. When attached to the inlet systems, the vacuum gauges measure the amount of vacuum drawn on each gauge as the engine is running.
The first indication that a motorcycle engine requires a rebore, and/or new rings, is when the rider or mechanic notices the engine emitting smoke. This applies primarily to 4-strokes. On 2-strokes the rider will notice a drop in performance and difficulty in starting.
By far the most popular clutch design is the multi-plate layout. Depending on the rider and type of riding he or she does, most multi-plate clutches will last for many thousands of miles. Typically, the first indication that the clutch is in need of maintenance is when it slips under heavy acceleration.
How often should you change oil on your classic motorcycle? What is the correct grade for your bike? Should you use additives? An oil company expert answers these questions and more.
Over the years, all of the major motorcycle manufacturers have produced beautiful classics and some ugly brutes, too. This list of ten ugly motorcycles represents the views of many riders as to which motorcycle deserves the title of ugly.
Protecting the various components and systems during long periods of storage, such as winter time, ensures a motorcycle will be in good condition when it is time to ride it again. However, if a motorcycle was winterized, it will need some basic checks before it is ready to ride.
Checking the internal condition of a motorcycle engine with a cranking pressure tester is a simple task the home mechanic can undertake.
European motorcycles are characterized by their styling, handling, and in the case of classics, by their unique riding experience. We take a look at ten of Europe's best. Page 2.
As motorcycle engineers gained more knowledge of the 2-stroke and its working principles,it became obvious that to increase power they needed to have a method of varying the exhaust port timing. The invention of the 2-Stroke Expansion Chamber was the result.
Carburetor balancing on twin-carb engines is very important. Each carb must supply the same amount of mixture (fuel and air mixed) for the engine to run smoothly, develop good power, and maintain fuel economy
Ignition timing lights or guns offer an invaluable way of checking the ignition timing dynamically. Most modern gauges also offer RPM reading and dwell angle checks on LED screens.
The name Excelsior was used by three separate companies, one in the UK, one in the US and one in Germany. Excelsior USA was famous for their board track racers. They used racing to promote their machines, and even had a race track on the roof of the factory!
Riding a motorcycle for the first time is often exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. If the bike happens to be a rare classic, the owner will be very nervous too. But there are some basic riding rules that the first time rider must adhere to that will alleviate some of the potential problems.
For an internal combustion engine to run properly it needs three things: gasoline, air (compressed), and a spark. However, having the gasoline/air mixture ratio right is very important for performance: too rich or too lean will affect the performance.
Identifying a classic or vintage motorcycle is generally easy, but every now and then, a motorcycle comes up for sale with none of the telltale pieces intact. How to identify a classic or vintage motorcycle.
The Kawasaki three cylinder 2-strokes were unique motorcycles. For street bike performance, the H1 was unrivaled; at least as far as acceleration was concerned.
John Alfred Prestwich is famous for a number of designs including cinematography equipment. But he is best known for his motorcycle engines known as J.A.P. engines.
The Yamaha XS 650 has a large following all over the world. This basic robust machine has been used in almost every conceivable form of motorcycle style. From commuter bikes, to road racer, drag bike to café racer, the XS has been a great success.
Throughout the history of the motorcycle, sidecars have been attached to most solos at one time or another. But learning to ride these machines takes a special skill set.
Motorcycle engine changing, or swapping, has not been limited to café racers. Many motorcycle owners have created their own versions of the ideal motorcycle by replacing the stock power unit—some out of necessity, some by choice. However, although it sounds simple to do, fitting an engine into another manufacture’s frame is not easy and there are many safety implications to consider first.
The working principles of a 2 stroke are the simplest of all internal combustion engines. They have the least number of moving parts and are becoming popular amongst classic bike collectors.
There are few more useful modifications to do to a motorcycle than replacing the rubber brake lines with braided stainless steel lines. For the home mechanic, this task is relatively simple.
For all mechanics, learning how to undertake mechanical work must be done in stages; it starts with basic jobs and progresses, as the knowledge base increases to more challenging work.
To counter the problems associated with hot weather motorcycle riding, a number of companies such as Moto-D, Fieldsheer and Alpinestars have developed undergarments specifically designed to make hot weather riding more pleasant.
The main advantage of the 2-stroke was its power to weight ratio and its reduction in moving parts compared to the 4-stroke. Alas, with emission legislation getting tighter all over the world, the days are numbered for the 2-stroke.
The working principles of a 4 stroke are relatively simple. Popular amongst classic bike collectors, 4 strokes have powered motorcycles from simple commuter bikes to Superbikes.
Balancing a spoked motorcycle wheel is a relatively easy task. By following some basic guidelines a competent mechanic can ensure his wheels are balanced.
For the home mechanic who may be restoring a classic motorcycle, there are some plating kits on the market designed specifically for home use or do-it-yourself plating.
Motorcycle manufacturers have tried many different types of carburetors on their machines since the beginning. But it was the CV (Constant Velocity) type carburetor that ultimately became the accepted carburetor for motorcycle (and scooter) use.
The TS250 is a reasonable all round classic motorcycle. Prices for an early example in excellent condition are relatively low at $2,000 compared to an equivalent Yamaha DT1 at $4,200 which would suggest the Suzuki is due for a price increase.
For many classic bike restorers, having the seat recovered is a must. Removing the old cover is relatively simple. However, before paying to have the seat professionally re-covered, the owner should check to see if there is a cover available, or a complete seat, as a spare part.
Setting the ignition timing on motorcycles with contact point ignition systems is relatively easy. By following a few basic rules the home mechanic can set his or her timing with just a few hand tools.
The condition of a used motorcycle is is generally described by one of six conditions: perfect, excellent, very good, good, fair and poor. But what condition must a motorcycle be in to fit into one of these categories?
The GS Suzuki’s were very popular in the late 70s early 80s. They were good all round bikes, being capable of long distance touring on the one hand, or production and superbike racing on the other.
The early bicycle frames used the lug construction method of frame assembly. Later motorcycle frames used various welding types including brazing, shielded metal arc, MIG and TIG to join the various tubes.
Learning to ride a motorcycle with the gear change on the opposite side to what a rider is used to takes time and practice. However, once mastered, it will allow the rider to transition from one system to the other easily.
First introduced in 1972, the RD range of 2-stroke twins were developed for street use from the Grand prix racers of the 50s and 60s, firstly in air-cooled form, then later with water cooling (known as the RD LC range).
Motorcycle trials were one of the earliest forms of competition for motorcycles. The courses generally consist of a number of sections laid out on natural terrain. Each rider must complete the sections without stopping, or placing his feet on the ground.
Although the Vespa’s have proven to be reliable machines, during a restoration a scooter must be fully disassembled to check for damage or cracks on the chassis which may need welding.
Many classic motorcycles use drum brakes. These simple, reliable brakes have been around since the beginning of motorcycling. Adjusting and maintaining them is also relatively simple.
Combined with direct oil injection, the Suzuki GT750 was a sophisticated motorcycle in its day. It was produced from 1971 (GT750J) to 1977 (GT750B) after being shown to the public for the first time at the Tokyo motor show in 1970.
Although the job of replacing rims and spokes on a motorcycle wheel is somewhat complex, it is not beyond the competent home mechanic.
Of the many performance enhancing items to be made for the Japanese bikes, none were more popular than the 4 into 1 exhaust systems.
The Suzuki RG500 Gamma is based on the factory racing machines. It is more of a racer replica than a straight street bike. With a power to weight ratio of 95 hp: 340 lb's, these fast classic 2-strokes are highly sought after.
Adjusting the free play of motorcycle control cables is a relatively simple job, but there are safety issues that must be considered.
For the average mechanic with a set of good quality tools, the restoration of a classic motorcycle should not be beyond his or her capabilities.
If you own a twin, or any multi-cylinder 2-stroke, and the clutch side exhaust system begins to smoke more than the others, this is an indication that the crank oil seal on that side needs replacing.
Motorcycle riders have been personalizing their machines from the beginning. Taking a stock bike and improving the looks or performance is one of the pleasures of motorcycling.
There are many popular classic Hondas around, but the early 250 and 305 models (CA71 and C76) are particularly popular due to their reasonable prices and part’s availability.
Occasionally, a motorcycle will develop a noise that is not typical and needs serious investigation. For the most part, noises can be both traced, and the root cause diagnosed, without disassembly.
Many classic motorcycle owners change their bike’s gear ratios. This is particularly true on racers, but it does apply to street bikes too.
Special tools are essential for certain jobs on classic motorcycles. One job in particular is removing the flywheel from the end of the crankshaft.
Motorcycling is not without its dangers and incorrect use of the brakes can make it a whole lot worse.
Riding on when a problem arises on a motorcycle can be dangerous. Sometimes it is imperative to pull over and check.
Setting the points gap on motorcycles with contact points type ignition is essential to ensure correct ignition timing. Luckily it is a relatively simple job.
During the service of a cylinder head, the mechanic is often faced with the question of whether or not to replace the valve guides. The good news is that by following the correct procedure, replacing guides is relatively easy.
All of the components on a motorcycle wear. One of the first items to need replacement is the drive chain and/or the rear sprocket.
Before getting into classic motorcycles, there are a number of important things to consider. Classic motorcycles are often considered investments. But just like stocks or shares in a company, values can go either way—up or down!
History of the Vespa scooter. The first Vespa's were designed by aeronautical engineer and inventor Corradino D'Ascanio, with the first machines being offered to the public in 1946.
During a motorcycle engine rebuild, it is good practice to replace the bearings and oil seals. The cases will need to be heated to expand them (away from the bearings and seals) and in so doing will make it easier to drift them out.
Servi-Cycles were manufactured by the Simplex Manufacturing Corporation in New Orleans. The little 2 strokes were produced from 1935 to 1960.
With a few exceptions, all parts on a motorcycle have undergone some painting or plating process; the most well known of plating processes is, of course, chromium plating. The highly reflective bright finish of chrome has long been a favorite of manufacturers and owners alike. But what is chrome plating?
For the most part classic motorcycles will operate without problems when using modern gasoline formulas. However, there are a number of precautions the owner should take, particularly when storing his or her bike.
For a complete classic motorcycle restoration, an extensive list of replacement parts will almost certainly be required. Establishing this list at the outset will save a lot of time.
The design of brake bleed nipples makes them prone to seizing and braking, particularly in older motorcycles. Luckily, removing a broken brake bleed nipple is relatively simple.
The Yamaha DT was not only a perfect fit into a gap in the motorcycle market, the timing of its release was also perfect.
The largest selling motorcycle of all time, the Honda C series.
For the classic bike owner who performs service and repairs on their bikes, the ability to identify bolts is essential.
Motorcycles have been used in combat from the beginning. Classic motorcycle enthusiasts looking for a reasonably priced classic, with a plentiful supply of parts, should consider ex-military motorcycles.
Sooner or later a classic motorcycle owner will need to replace a control cable. Replacement may be part of a restoration project or due to a breakage, but either way, routing and following the correct procedures is very important.
There are a number of different options to repair damaged threads, Heli-Coil® wire inserts are one of the top choices for classic motorcycle owners.
Kawasaki produced the longest manufacturing run of street bikes with a six-cylinder engine in the Z1300. Today these six cylinder motorcycles are amongst some of the most desirable, and affordable, classic machines available.
Classic motorcycle owners are unlikely to have problems with noise outputs as many countries exempt older machines from the current laws. However, to keep a motorcycle period correct, classic restorers must ideally find NOS (new old stock) items or modern replicas for their machines.
For the new owner of a barn find classic motorcycle, there is a great temptation to put fresh gas in and attempt to start it. However, considerable damage can be done to an engine without some basic checks being done first.
Measuring the amount of wear on pistons and rings is relatively simple (once an engine has been disassembled) and requires few tools, primarily a feeler gauge.
Motorcycle fenders, arguably, are subject to the most abuse from the environment, from riding (trials and MX bikes in particular) and from mechanicing. Sooner or later they will a repaint. With a careful approach, this job is relatively easy.
The management of the Honda importers in Canada kindly agreed to let members of their riders’ association (all employees) to restore two motorcycles which ultimately will be on display in their museum. A CB750F and a CX500 Turbo.
Before doing maintenance or repairs on motorcycles, it is sometimes necessary to remove fairings, tanks, and seats. Although removing these is relatively simple, for the beginner, there are some important does and don'ts.
Thanks to the recommendations of Frank Farrer, Villiers 2-stroke engines have powered many different classic motorcycle manufacturers’ products, and everything from lawn mowers to milking machines.
For the owner/rider who does not want to work on his or her classic, finding a good dealer is important. Arriving at a fair price for service or repair is important for both dealer and owner.
To return a motorcycle component (such as a frame) to its original “as new” condition often requires the use of a sand or grit blaster. However, there are some important rules to follow before grit blasting.
During the 60s in England, the youth of the time fell into one of two subcultures: mods or rockers. Home base for many of the rockers was their local café. What had once been a small café supplying transport drivers and local factory workers, blossomed during the 60s into a meeting point for hundreds of motorcycle riders.
For the classic bike owner with a motorcycle that does not handle well, there are some changes (even modifications) that will improve the handling of his machine. However, before making any changes, it is very important to establish what is causing the handling problem and in particular when did it start?
From the 1960s onwards, Japanese motorcycles dominated the world’s markets. Of all the motorcycles designed and produced in Japan, the following four were highly significant for differing reasons when offered to the motorcycle market.
For many riders, a 250-cc 2-stroke was their first experience of a performance street motorcycle. In particular, three Japanese machines had a large following when new, and are being collected now as classics. The three in question are the Kawasaki KH, the Suzuki X7, and the Yamaha RD.
The evolution and development of motorcycle wheels have typically followed performance increases. But not all new designs were successful.
Classic motorcycle tire changing is something the home mechanic can undertake with a few tools and an understanding of the intricacies of the job.
High mileage engines generally need their valves re-seating and their seals (where fitted) replacing. For the home mechanic, servicing the cylinder head will generally be limited to decoking the combustion chamber and re-seating the valves.
Classic motorcycles come in all shapes and sizes, from 50cc commuter’s to 200 mph superbikes. Between these two extremes, there are many different categories and styles. But the majority of machines will fit into one of the following categories.
Examination of a spark plug can tell a lot about the conditions within a cylinder. From worn rings (oily deposits) to incorrect jets, the spark plug's condition is representative of the workings of a cylinder
Measuring motorcycle engine components is a task generally entrusted to a technician or an engine machine shop. However, when checking for wear, or when compiling a list of parts, the owner/mechanic will often be required to make accurate measurements of a component.
The Norton Commando was introduced in 1967 to replace the aging Atlas. The early Norton Commando is, and always has been, a favorite amongst collectors and enthusiasts alike, but it does have a number of quirky issues that the rider needs to be aware of.
Established in England in the late 1800s, the name Royal Enfield is still used today on motorcycles made in India. The company can rightly claim to have one of the longest running production runs of any motorcycle with their Bullet model.
Changing a spark plug is probably the easiest job on a motorcycle, but if you've never done it before, a little guidance is always welcome.
Disassembling a motorcycle engine can seem a daunting task, but with careful preparation, this is a relatively easy job.
To ensure safety and longevity, motorcycle chains must be correctly tensioned and lubricated. For most classic bike owners, this is a simple task. But there are some important aspects to consider. See a step by step guide to motorcycle chain adjustment.
Maintaining a classic in original condition may also preserve the value. Restoration does not always increase a machines value.
There are many considerations when buying a classic motorcycle, we take a look at some of the most important.
Personalizing riding gear by painting helmets is something motorcyclists have done since the very beginning. The home mechanic, with access to basic painting equipment, can transform a standard helmet into a custom designed unit.
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?
The first motorcycles consisted of an engine bolted or clipped to an existing cycle frame. However, development was rapid. Within a short time there were single and double loops, monocoques, backbone, frontbone, and many variations of these designs, being used for frames.
In the early part of the twentieth century, motorcycles were little more than cycles with a motor. As each decade saw new technology introduced, the machines of the 1980s were similar in name and concept only. Page 6.
Many classic motorcycle owners will face the possibility that their engine needs to be rebored. However, a compression cranking pressure test and a leak-down test will determine if a cylinder (and its associated components) requires attention.
The electrical system on a classic motorcycle is a typical example of a system that requires special attention for service and inspection. Electrical system or component failure can, in most cases, be avoided by these simple checks and some basic maintenance.
Definition of: Before Top-Dead-Center (BTDC)
On the face of it, rotary engines are ideal for motorcycle applications. Unfortunately they have a number of inherent problems. Included in these problems are apex sealing issues, overheating and the exhaust emissions.
Worn ignition contact points can cause a number of problems for a classic bike owner. From poor starting to misfires, a worn set of points will make the bike run badly. Typically, points performance deteriorates due to two issues: a worn heel, and/or a buildup of metal from one contact face to the other.
After a prototype sandcast CB750 Honda sold on eBay for more than $148,000, the internet has been abuzz. We interviewed builder Vic World for the low-down on this bike.
Before starting a club, it is essential to research the legal requirements, if any exist for your type of organization. The legal requirements generally revolve around the status of the club and its tax reporting status.
Classic motorcycle collections often start out by acquiring a single machine, the owner soon finds the experience so enjoyable that he purchases other similar machines, typically from the same manufacturer.
Although each classic motorcycle will have different specific items to service (see owner's manuals where available), they will all need some general service. For instance:
Increasing the performance of a classic is typically confined to changing items such as the pistons and camshafts and having some head work done. But one Gold Wing owner decided that supercharging was the way to go.
In 1958, Ariel introduced their Leader model and its sporting version the Arrow. The machines were an immediate success, so much so that in 1959 the company decided to stop production of all their 4-stroke machines.
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Motorcycle parts can be examined in a number of different ways. These include examination of a part (or component) by visual means, pressure test, NDT'g (Non-Destructive Testing), measurement, inspections for color change, and a touch test (checking for roughness).
Having the correct tools is essential when removing a clutch. In particular, the mechanic must have some means of locking the clutch so that it will not spin when the center nut is loosened. Making a tool for this job is relatively easy.
Occasionally a classic motorcycle will have a bracket break or the machine will be involved in an accident which requires the use of welding to produce an effective repair. The owner of a classic, whose machine requires welding, must make some careful decisions before committing the motorcycle to a welding or fabrication shop.
Two Japanese companies motorcycle dominated the 500 GP class between them from 1975 until the introduction of MotoGP in 2002: Suzuki and Yamaha. Both built replicas of their racers: the Gamma and the RZ500R or RD500LC.
Kawasaki has produced many significant models over the years, predominantly with an appeal to sports riders. The knowledge gained in international motorcycle competition (including Grand Prix racing and world Superbike) has been used to good effect on many of their street machines.
The Matchless story is a familiar one, from making bicycles to motorcycles to decline in the 60s. But over the years Matchless could claim many firsts, including winning the first TT.
Threads in aluminum engine cases are also prone to damage or wear due to continuous use or over tightening. In most cases damaged threads can be repaired, or more precisely, replaced.
When fully disassembling a motorcycle engine, most of the work should be done in the frame (to hold it steady). However, the final phase (complete disassembly) must be done on a suitable work bench.