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-   -   What cheap 35+ year old bike would be the best? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/which-bike/what-cheap-35-year-old-35159)

peter-denmark 12 May 2008 02:36

What cheap 35+ year old bike would be the best?
I am unfortunate enough to live in Denmark. This is a nice enough place if you dont like motorcycles, but with a 180% tax on vehicles it is hell if you do.

shitty bikes from the 80's are the cheapest at around 3000 euro for a not very good one and dont even get me started on the never bikes.

I prefer cheaper bikes for travelling but I simply can't get one in my country and if I have one that is registered in another country I am risking getting the state on my neck (they see it as tax fraud).

I have different options ofcourse, but one of them is (as the title states) to get an old bike from another country and register it under the veteran motorcycle rules. Then the import tax is very low. But it has to be more than 35 years old.

So can I get a good, fun, reliable and cheap bike that is that old and what am I looking at?

Enfield bullet from the british isles?

Old beemer from germany?

Which models would be good?

I am more for dirt roads than tarmac and high speed is not as important as versatility. Reliability or easy of repair is important. I am not a good mechanic, but I enjoy trying (-:

I would prefer not to pay more than 2000Euro.

tmotten 12 May 2008 04:28

I would try and find a R80 GS and rebuild it. Should go for ages. There is a heap of info on the Enfields, but aren't they meant to be very unreliable? Not sure.
I've seen piccies of a Kiwi (New Zealand) bloke on a fifties or so Norton Pantera who was a few months ahead of us. He needed a heap of oil for that one.

Crap, I just read that the R80 is about 10 years to young. Might have to go to an older boxer.

Sam I Am 12 May 2008 04:48

That's my vote too
An R80 GS was exactly what I was going to suggest as well. More on-road I'd probably go for an R60 or R75 /6 or /7. Spend some time learning the rather simple mechanics of it and you'll find it very reliable. There is more information on the internet about the "airhead" models than you can possibly absorb. Lots of helpful advice and information. I find parts to be readily available and surprisingly inexpensive. Besides, they will hold their value or only go up in time.

peter-denmark 12 May 2008 05:16

well the R 80 GS's are very nice, but they are too young!

The R 60 / 5 is old enough but not alot of ground clearance.

Flyingdoctor 12 May 2008 06:47

A late Triumph Bonneville can be a good steed. Especially if it's used every day, it can be quite reliable. The parts are available, in the UK at least. Go for a late 750. Earlier bikes are way too expensive but I don't think you'll find anything for 2000 euro's that doesn't need a rebuild. Otherwise you're looking at late 70's Jap bikes which are starting to get expensive now as people are reliving their youth on them. Good luck in your search I know the first time I met a Dane and found out about your crazy tax I nearly fell off my chair!

What about a Nimbus outfit? I met a load of them in Norway a few years ago and they looked great!

Threewheelbonnie 12 May 2008 08:01

Totally agree with all the above. I have a Hinkley Bonneville and that works great, so I assume the older ones do too. I am also an ex-Bullet owner and would say they will go anywhere so long as you have the time and a bike that's had certain tweeks. How about an XT? Too new/expensive? There used to be a lot floating round in France that could be bought up for decent prices.

My other suggestion would be an MZ. Very cheap to buy, simple and reliable with enough ground clearance and lightness to go pretty much anywhere.Parts are highly interchangeable, so can bring something like a late 70's ETZ 250 up to late 90's standards if you feel the need. My 301 cruises about 10mph/16 kph faster than the 500 Bullet did which means you don't feel like you'll end up as a hood ornament on a truck if you go on the motorway. The downside is you need stroke oil and will only get 50-60 mpg while the Bullets turn in 70+. The last UK MZRC mag has an article about a chap who toured South America on one.

If you buy in the UK, don't forget you'll need to buy a headlamp glass and maybe a speedo. I'm pretty sure the Danish police won't like our left dip beams or MPH clocks.


backofbeyond 12 May 2008 08:46

35 years old = pre mid 1973.

Virtually everything from that period (in the UK at least) has either been rebuilt at least once or is rusting quietly in the corner. The rebuilt ones are now "fast appreciating old classics" with a whole industry dedicated to selling them / supplying parts for them at suitably inflated prices. Think of any 60's / 70's bike and you'll find a dedicated website somewhere where owners are complaining that parts you couldn't give away 15yrs ago now sell for national debt levels on ebay.

I'm guessing that the rebuild from a pile of scrap option is not a route you want to go down.

I think you'll struggle to get anything British that's pre 73, usable and under €2000. Perhaps stuff like BSA Bantams but to me that wouldn't count as usable!
With BMW's I think you'll only have the /5's and certainly here they would be more than €2k
I'd consider MZ's from the early 70's. They're still cheap. You could probably buy a whole fleet for your budget. Were Russian Urals available pre 73? It must be about that time I first came across them in the UK.

Plenty of Japanese stuff around but most pre 73 is either a "project" (= you'll spend two years searching the world for parts and still be missing the left hand silencer) or you'll be buying someone else's finished project and priced accordingly. The latest UK VJMC magazine has plenty of cheap(ish) late 70's bikes but only a couple of pre 73ers under €2k (eg a 72 500/4 Honda -£1850 (ok, that's more than €2000 but it won't be soon!)).

I would have thought you should have been able to find a reasonable 750/4 Honda in Germany though or if you can wait a year or two how about a 75 400/4 Honda. My last suggestion would be an XS1 /2 Yamaha 650. I bought a pretty good one a year or two back for less than €2000 and there is a good parts specialist near Kiel.

jkrijt 12 May 2008 08:54

I would look hard for a BMW R60/5
These bikes run forever and most parts are still available.
That can be a big problem with some older Japananese bikes.

It's not smart to buy a cheap bike but having no parts for it.

xr200 12 May 2008 09:14

I have to agree with the choice of BMW. As you live in Denmark it should be easy enough to get any spares needed from Germany.
They are simple and reliable and most importantly made to last.

Matt Cartney 12 May 2008 10:07

The Bullet might be a good option for you. Don't know how strict your contries registration rules are, but you might even be able to retro-fit one of the new lean-burn engines into an older frame, giving you the frame number you need for tax reasons and the new, reliable engine you'd want for touring.

Even if you can't, there are absolutely loads of aftermarket goodies available for Bullets which will fit an older bike. Many of these are made in Europe and while there are plenty of performance enhancing mods available, there are also lots which are made to enhance reliability.

If an enfield is looked after (you have to perform 'old style' maintenance on them, like regularly checking and adjusting points and tappets etc.) they are actually pretty reliable. There are a few bits and pieces of the Indian bikes that are a bit rubbish, true, but once these parts are replaced with european aftermarket stuff, the reliability of the bikes shoots up.
You've said you are not much of a mechanic, but are learning. That's pretty much how I'd describe myself, and the Bullet is a great bike to learn on as it's so simple and everything is very easy to get at.

I recently pulled my 2002 Bullet out of the garage after a three year lay up and after checking the points and giving the plug a quick clean, she fired up fourth kick! (And that's with three year old petrol in the tank!)

On a general note: people have taken Bullets all over the world, so they are clearly capable of travelling long distances. Out riding mine on Saturday, for the first time in 3 years, I had a grin the size of Hampshire on my face. They are a gentle, slow bike but amazing fun all the same!

Matt :)

henryuk 12 May 2008 12:16


Originally Posted by backofbeyond (Post 189096)
35 years old = pre mid 1973.
Think of any 60's / 70's bike and you'll find a dedicated website somewhere where owners are complaining that parts you couldn't give away 15yrs ago now sell for national debt levels on ebay.

erm, I have found spares for British bikes of this age to be readily available, wide choice of suppliers and cheap as chips. This is in no small part due to the fact that the BSAs and triumphs had a lot of shared parts (admittedly there was a lot of annoying small changes over time that affected some compatability), with nearly all electrical bits coming from one manufacturer (lucas). Unit and pre-unit singles are fantastic bits of kit, light, basic and easily understood. I paid £0 for my TR25W (found it in someones shed) and it cost me about £100 and four or five days work to get it running sweet and electrics working properly. If you get one and rebuild it yourself you can get a great bike, more reliable than they were originally and total understanding of the mechanics, all under budget. A full engine rebuild with overbore, new pistons gaskets, seals etc will set you back about £120 ish, which is peanuts.

Plus when you are done you can 'restore' the vehicle to showroom condition and sell it for a lot of cash....

What is the tax situation with a rebduild, i.e. buy a bike frame for very little money, declare that as the cost of the vehicle and then essentially the rest of it is a repair cost.... would this work?

Sorry about the figures being in GBP but I am a lazy lazy man

indu 12 May 2008 13:10

Try to check out old Guzzis. The beauty of these bikes is that it's easy and very cheap to find spare parts. They are built very sturdy, and are quite capable of looooong trips. From 1973 you can for instance find a good 850 T,


or perhaps a 850 California


Personally I'd go for a 850 T which has the famous Tonti frame. They used it until way into the 90s. If ground clearance is an issue and you want a more off road capable bike, the 850 T is great if you want to build this one:


It's fairly straightforward to build one of those, using some Guzzi Quota parts to heighten it. The dry weight of this baby is barely 188 kgs, btw.

Check out deals on mobile.de and ask the good people at the Danish Guzzi Club Moto Guzzi Klub Danmark for additional info. They are a really helpful bunch, I assure you.

charapashanperu 12 May 2008 13:12

Only One !
I can't believe this is even a question!! The man says: "Pre-1974", and "I prefer dirt". So there is only one option:


The early Honda XL's were the cream of the crop (in 4-strokes) back then and won many of the BAJA races. There are thousands still out there, and stuff STILL made for tricking them out. The one I drive, I bid $0.99 for on ebay AND GOT IT!! :D

This is my sixth one and they have never let me down. My first, a '72 XL250, I boosted it up with some Ohlins, put on some 6-ply run-flat knobbies, and rode all over the Amazon. They are bullet-proof ! (Yes, I know about the kick starter idler gear!) :mchappy:

Check out this website:http://http://www.oldrice.com/xl_page.htm

backofbeyond 12 May 2008 15:13

XL250's rule!
Despite having one in the early 70's they're not that common in the UK at least (pre 73 ones that is)
Mine was one of the original grey motosporters and I remember it as being ok when I could get it started! Nothing beat it for cantankerousness until I bought my XR 600.

I think you're better served with cheap old Jap stuff on your side of the pond. I have a friend in NJ who has collected just about every 70's bike he ever wanted for what is essentially pocket change - similar to your $0.99c XL

kbikey 12 May 2008 16:07

Ever consider leaving Denmark for a while? In the U.S.of A. where I live the are multitudes of bikes for far less than e2000. With todays exchange rate thats about $3000.00.I have bought 3 bikes this year and the most expensive was a Guzzi Convert with a sidecar for $2050.00. Also a DRZ 125 flattrack racer with a special frame for $1355.00. And finally a XV920 rh, 1983 vintage with 20,000 m iles on the clock for $750.00.
There are some Irish fellows I've met living here,one's a horse trainer the other a finish carpenter. They both own several bikes and though they get glazed looks in their eyes when speaking of home, they stay and enjoy the afordable life they have here.
I know not everyone wants to live in the U.S.A. and there's not room for ereryone anyway ,but if you are smothered by the economics and can get away ,this is an option.

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