Author Topic: Advise on my first vintage purchase  (Read 800 times)

Offline Kit352

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Advise on my first vintage purchase
« on: October 29, 2019, 04:30:44 PM »
So, I am finally in a position to purchase my first truly old motorcycle.  I have experience in bikes from the early 70's onwards but I want to try something different this time. 
What I want to buy is a single seater pre-war bike.  Something along the lines of a new imperial or matchless looking bikes.  So with that in mind I have no idea what models or manufacturers I should be looking at.  I think it's best I list my wants and needs and take it from there.  I welcome all advise and discussions.

Budget- £6000 tops.  I see bikes ranging from £2k and up with a majority of them around £5000 so I think my budget is good.

Must be a single seat.

I would prefer a prewar but new ones are possible too.  Looks like the style I like dies out around mid 50's.

I would like one with a twist throttle and lighting.  I've never ridden a lever throttle bike but I dont think I would get on well with it.  Lighting is a nice add on but realistically I could build a rechargeable lighting system if the bike didnt have any.  I doubt the bike would be ridden at night but you never know.

Hand shift

I'm a bigger guy at 6ft and around 110kg.  I'm not sure how the power works on these old motors but I am thinking I need a bigger motor.  Question is how big?  Frame size may also be an issue.

Reliability and parts availability need to be pretty good.  I know thats a relative statement but I dont want to buy a bike that I have no chance of repairing if something simple goes.

Where is the best place to look to buy one?  I've been watching Ebay and a few other sites lately.  I've seen a few nice bikes I wouldn't mind checking out but i feel i lack the knowledge to make a good decision at this point.  I am planning on taking the long drive to a few dealers in the coming weeks to see some first hand.

Offline Rex

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2019, 08:27:50 PM »
Your last sentence makes the most sense. Got to Verralls or Andy Tiernan and have a good look around to decide what you might like and you might be able to strike a deal. I don't see that anyone else could advise you what to buy as it's a personal thing.
That said, £6k really doesn't buy a lot in the type of bike you're looking for, so I hope you're good with advanced mechanics?
Pre-war girder/rigids were the poor relations for years but now they're sought-after, and even the mundane doesn't come cheap. :'(

Offline 33d6

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2019, 09:38:18 PM »
Rex’s advice is spot on. In addition go along to one of the VMCC Training Days where they provide a range of machines for you to try. You will then get a good idea of the reality and have more idea of what to look for.

Offline Kit352

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2019, 06:33:18 AM »
Thanks for the tips.  I had looked at verralls before but they have nothing that I can even come close to affording.  Andy Tiernan on the other hand has lots I could happily buy right now but i haven't been to the shop yet.   I particularly like the Favor he has, the small Cotton and an AJS at the top of my budget.  There are also numerous BSA bikes available as well but for now I trying to avoid the easy brands.

Offline Rex

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2019, 10:49:17 AM »
Here's another tip for you then, don't touch the Favor with someone else's barge-pole, let alone your own. Small French motorbikes have been discussed many times on here and the general consensus is to avoid.

Both seem reasonable although personally the Cotton is a little small engine-wise, but that's only my opinion. The Ajay seems OK but like any unfinished resto you really need to see it in the flesh. The restorer may have passed before he completed it but that doesn't mean that it hadn't stalled before that due to some difficulty or other. :-\
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 10:57:40 AM by Rex »

Offline Kit352

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2019, 01:22:38 PM »
I agree on the ajs but it may not need that much to bring it back.  It's something I can discuss with them I am sure.

Thats too bad about the favor but its good info. I almost certainly would have bought it if I saw it in person and not known what I got myself into. 

Your comment on engine size brings up a question.  In modernish bike a 125cc 2 stroke is far better than a 125cc 4 stroke.  I would equal the 125 2 stroke power closer to a 250 4 stroke.  Does that not hold true on the truly old bikes as well?  I know none of them will be speed racers but my gut says a 2 stroke might make them more ridable in a lot of respects unless I get a large engine bike which looks to be out of my price range.

Offline R

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2019, 09:10:28 PM »
2 strokes didn't have ANY performance until MZ in the 50s cottoned on to pulse tuning
so they were mostly basic transport prior to that (with the exception of 500cc Scotts, but they are expensive).
So forget that notion....

We were chuckling that BSA Bantams were quoting 150 mpg at some quite low average speed, which meant
that the 2 gal tank would go 300 miles - and take 10 hours to do !!!

Its perhaps worth mentioning that sidevalve WW2 bikes like the BSA M20 and Norton 16H had about 11 or 12 hp
on tap, which means they have a flat-out speed of about 62 mph give or take a few mph, and a happy cruising speed
of rather less than that. So don't expect earlier smaller bikes to be speed demons by any means, back roads and relaxed
riding are what these earlier older bikes are all about.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 09:14:33 PM by R »

Offline 33d6

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2019, 11:33:23 PM »
To add further confusion you need to remember people were smaller a few generations back. We mainly have figures from Army medicals to refer to and they show the average British soldier in WWII was 5'7"- 5'8" tall and weighed 75kg. And they were the fit and healthy of their day. You are physically too big for something like the Andy Tiernan Cotton. You would quickly find it uncomfortable to ride for more than 10 minutes or so.

If you are two-stroke minded (and R puts up fair points about early two-strokes) then the Francis Barnett Cruiser Andy has ticks all your boxes. Within budget, single saddle, hand change, a 250 Villiers so will cruise at 45 or so on side and back roads plus has a few advantages that you aren't aware of. It appears to have a four speed box (the Cruiser was available with both 3 and 4 speeders). A 4 speed box is a monumental improvement over a 3 speed. Francis Barnett dropped the Villiers direct lighting and fitted a regular 6 volt dynamo for lighting. I can see the dynamo. It was Francis Barnett top of the range model so has all the bells and whistles of its day.

And finally, it is missing the factory fitted leg shields which for you is a big plus. Firstly it gives you a bargaining point with Andy and secondly they would drive you nuts if they were fitted. A close mate of your height and weight had a very brief romance with a Cruiser for that very reason. He constantly battered his knees on the things and couldn't sit comfortably. They are a major feature of the Cruiser but also a major nuisance to big blokes.  It's worth a thought.


 

Offline Kit352

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2019, 07:51:04 AM »
I saw that FB cruiser as well and I know it ticks every box for me but I think it's very ugly. It's the lower bullet shaped area that kills me.  Everything else about the bike seems perfect to me.  If it was cheaper it would probably swing my vote but I think I can get something more my liking for similar money or a bit more. 


Offline iansoady

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2019, 11:29:52 AM »
Remember that dealers need to make a profit, run a workshop / showroom, possibly deal with returns etc so your £6K is only goping to buy £4K from them.

I sold this 1931 Sunbeam Model 10 (ticking most of your boxes) a couple of years ago for £6,300. Fully rebuilt, evrything working, cosmetics nice but not concours. So they are out there.....

http://www.iansoady.org.uk/Sunbeam/Description.html
Ian
1952 Norton ES2
1982 Moto Guzzi V50

Online TGR90B

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2019, 12:42:21 PM »
Just let us know the result when you've bought something. If you ever do.
Getting grumpy.

Offline Kit352

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2019, 02:03:36 PM »
I imagine I will have something to go under the tree Christmas.  I just need more knowledge to buy the right one, whatever that may be.

Offline mini-me

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2019, 02:22:29 PM »
    FFS Do what the rest of us did, buy anything and learn from your mistakes,on the job as it were.

But what ever you do, don't buy french tat.

PS, I always liked those FB cruisers, would I buy that one?... or from there?? :(   it's debatable, the crimp on wiring is asking for trouble, look at where the fuel pipe runs so close to the chain.
bound to find more.
Anyway I never did like @, bloody numberplate dealer.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2019, 02:29:34 PM by mini-me »

Offline Kit352

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2019, 03:25:08 PM »
    FFS Do what the rest of us did, buy anything and learn from your mistakes,on the job as it were.

But what ever you do, don't buy french tat.

PS, I always liked those FB cruisers, would I buy that one?... or from there?? :(   it's debatable, the crimp on wiring is asking for trouble, look at where the fuel pipe runs so close to the chain.
bound to find more.
Anyway I never did like @, bloody numberplate dealer.


I have made many, many motorcycle buying mistakes in my past and while I know I am sure to make more I would like to have as much info as possible for buying one of these.  They are just out of my realm of general knowledge.  I'm not worried so much about the running of them, it's the parts availability to keep them running.  I dont want to end up with a beautiful bike that i cant ride because a brake pad wore out and i cant find a replacement.  I have an old gsxr400 right now that suffers from something similar.  I've been trying to find one rubber piece for nearly 2 years now.


Offline mini-me

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Re: Advise on my first vintage purchase
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2019, 03:57:50 PM »
No disc brake pads on old bikes, the joy is, every thing is fixable, just don't expect it off the shelf at Halfords.
As for your old jap bike you can't get bits for that's the idea, planned obsolescence.

anyway no more from me as getting well fed up with these oozlum bird posts.

yours
Meldrew