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Old is not always gold

Published: 06 August 2017

Updated: 04 August 2017

Bikes for sale

Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish greed from optimism. I see a bike, usually something old-ish and described as a classic (anything over 20 years old seems to be called a ‘classic’ these days, in the way every shonker found in the back of a garage is a ‘barn find’), but then my jaw drops at the price.

There are two types of seller doing this. One is somebody who has taken a lot of time and money painstakingly restoring or refurbishing a bike. He has decided that because he’s spent six grand on doing it, the bike has to be worth that and more, to take account of his time. Sorry, but no – it’s not.


The second person is someone (usually a dealer) who’s flying a kite, having seen the prices that some people are paying. If you’re buying from an acknowledged marque specialist, this may just make sense, but otherwise not.

Right now, I’m looking at an advert for a Yamaha RD125LC. The seller says it’s fully restored and looks brand new, but the price is £3800. I’m sorry, but it’s just not worth that. You’d pay that for a truly superb RD350 YPVS, and more for a ditto original RD350LC. I’d be looking at a late (2006-on) Aprilia RS125 instead. They represent real race bike quality for half the price. The Aprilia will appreciate, but the Yamaha won’t – not for 20 years, anyway.

Then there’s the guy who thinks an admittedly very tidy Kawasaki GPZ1100 is worth £5600, or roughly the same as you’d pay for a 2009-10 low-mileage ZX-10R. ‘Has a massive following in Japan’, says the advert. Yes, well, so do violent pornographic cartoon books, but that doesn’t mean they’re in huge demand here. Don’t do this. Don’t buy what you think is a desirable classic just because it’s expensive. Do some homework instead.

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