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Step away from the project: Why it’s best to avoid someone else’s mess

Published: 04 March 2018

Bikes For Sale

Taking on an already-started project is OK if you’re looking at some old classic and you know that there’s going to be a lot of work needed, and you’ve got the expertise to do it. The personal rewards are great – the financial ones less so, of course.

I looked at just how many project bikes were actually sold on eBay in the last 90 days. Guess how many... One thousand, five hundred and sixty-six. More than 1500 potential hellhounds and these are the ones that people actually shelled out for.

Understandably, the vast majority were classics. A 1937 Brough Superior engine mated to a Norton ES2 gearbox and installed in a 1937 Ariel Red Hunter frame must be worth eight grand, because that’s what somebody paid. Me? I’d blink and wander in the other direction.

But, what about modern stuff?

An Urban Tiger Honda FireBlade for £2000 sounds good, but when the seller says he’s run out of time after fitting new plugs and battery and having the carbs cleaned, you suspect he’s realised there’s a lot more to do than he first expected. Mentions of gravel rash and 47,000 miles bear this out. It was worth it for someone, but not me.

A 2003 Kawasaki ZX-12R with a ‘popped’ cylinder might be an easy fix, or it might not. It would be easier simply to source another engine, but as the bike itself was £1245 and a good 12R can be had for about a grand more, I wouldn’t consider it.

You could sum it up like this: ‘easy project’ means it’s a tough job; ‘project’ means it’s a bitch of a job, and ‘unfinished project’ means turn, run, and keep running like Usain Bolt.

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