The Buyer: ‘Ask yourself why a bike is listed as rare?’

Published: 28 October 2015

‘Rare bike’ it says in the advert. You read on, and if you’re like me you start chortling.

here are rare bikes and there are rare bikes, and the one thing that counts is why they’re rare. Some are rare because they were impossibly exotic when new. Something that was massively desirable when new is unlikely to be undesirable after a few years. Think Ducati 888, Yamaha OW01, Honda RC30, and Kawasaki H2. Desirable and expensive is always a good combination.

Then there are ‘limited editions’. Look, a tarty paintjob and a little plaque on the headstock declaring yours to be Number 48 out of 500, isn’t enough to guarantee a resale premium over the ‘stock’ model.  This was demonstrated in 1977 when Triumph launched the Silver Jubilee Bonneville – a T140 with a special silvery paint job. People are now dragging them out after nearly four decades of suspended animation and are discovering that they really aren’t worth any more than a standard paintjob Bonnie.

Honda discovered this anew a while ago when they painted up some VFRs in red and silver retro racing colours. Sure, they look nice, but paint is all you’re getting.

There are a few limited edition specials that are worth a premium. Ducati’s 900SS Superlight is one. Sure, it’s mechanically the same as any other 900SS, but it got a nifty single seat, an even niftier paintscheme, and quite a few carbon fibre bits. And there’s also Triumph’s old 900 Daytona: Super Three: the one with the Cosworth-tuned engine. This is definitely worth paying extra for.

And then there are the bikes that are rare because they were crap when new. Fancy a Triumph TT600? No, nor did anyone else.

Words: Neil Murray