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Discussion Starter #1
It was suggested, by McQueen, who's very clever, that I make an appearance over here in the CLassics forum. The reason being that I'm going to come home with a classic one of these days and I don't know scat about buying or maintaining them.

I know the different model years of the Bonnevilles, and the later ones have the 750 and the ignition and so forth, and the Tiger is a one carb Bonnie, but that's about it.

THere's a shop nearby me that specializes in classic british iron. He has a dozen Bonnies and Tigers and as many BSAs, Nortons and other Tri-oomphs just sitting there on the showroom floor. It's a regular museum. Most of them are just runners, not restored or necessarily very pretty. Some are.

They run from $3,200 up for a Bonnie. I think he puts them in good running order before he sells them to you.

Then I see a very nice '79 w/5000m in the classifieds for $5,000, which is probably more than I want to spend.

WHat am I getting into in terms of blown gaskets, seals, heads, magnetos and other repairs? Are these old things reliable in any sense? WHat should I look for? Are the later years just as good, or better than the earlier years?


Maybe I should just buy a new Camaro.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
For example, I just called on a 1970 and the gentleman, who was very nice, told me to be sure that the numbers match. I would never have thought of that.

How do you determine if the numbers match? WHere do you look? How much difference does it make in terms of value?
 

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-WHat am I getting into in terms of blown gaskets, seals...

Buy the bike with no blown gaskets and you should be fine

-heads

Should be fine if the bike runs well. Not much different from any other air-cooled twin

-magnetos (and distributors)

Not applicable on models 63 and later

-...other repairs?

Too open-ended of a question. If you have that Brit bike shop nearby, you should have no worries.

-Are these old things reliable in any sense?

They can be relatively reliable if properly sorted and maintained.

-WHat should I look for?

Again, too open-ended. '68 - 70 are the most desireable GENERALLY SPEAKING.

-Are the later years just as good, or better than the earlier years?

Yes, to the first part of the question, and a matter of opinion to the second part of the question.

-How do you determine if the numbers match? WHere do you look?

On the left side of the frame's steering head, on the tube dropping down, the numbers are stamped in a single horizontal row, model and serial number together.

On the engine's left side, on the space just below the finned cylinder base, the numbers are TYPICALLY stamped in a "stacked" format, model on top, serial number on the bottom.

-How much difference does it make in terms of value?

Could be anywhere from $500 to $1,000 to a collector or purist, even more for certain rare models.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
THank you. I know that these questions have been asked once or twice before, and it is a pain.

But how does a Norton 850 compare to a Bonneville? Or a BSA?
 

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I am speaking only from a position of having owned and ridden many more Triumphs than Nortons, and a few more Nortons than BSAs, hopefully it is relatively objective in that sense.

(In no particular order)

Norton Commandos SEEM to have more power on tap than Triumph or BSA, but then you are talking about an added 200cc! there's not an equivalent 30% increase in power, so there you go. Commandos have a long, lean look to them; the first impression of thier style, to me, was that the tail feathers stick out WAY too far past the rear wheel. The style has long since grown on me and I like them just fine now. Of all the bikes I've seen, none look better with a Corbin seat on them than a Norton Commando with a Corbin Gunfighter; personally, I HATE Corbin seats for what they do to my skinny butt. Mechanically, they are not much BETTER or WORSE with the possible exceptions that the Norton head is fiddly to install while on the bike, but the clutch is easier to work with than Tri/BSA.

Triumph, to me, are the most beautiful of the three. My experience is that they are more reliable, BUT THAT IS ONLY MY EXPERIENCE. They are near equal with BSA, but I haven't owned or ridden as many BSAs, so take it for what it's worth. I like the main bearings much better than the timing side bushings of the BSA.

I like BSAs for the one-piece rockerbox cover and ease of service to the entire head. The chrome and painted tanks are pretty danged cool, but the rest of the bike seems too oversized for the engine. I've heard plenty of horror stories about spun timing side bearings, the side-feed seems inadequate for the loads imposed by a 650cc lump near the top end of it's rev range.
 

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and as for availability and price of spare parts between the three ?

my experience has only been with triumph but my searches involve scouring the brit bike parts suppliers and auctions and triumph wins hands down .

maybe GPZ , McQueen and whoever else that own the others too will chime in on that point :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I am so miserable about this winter that I drive myself to thinking about motorcycles incessently just to have something to do. I really can't stand it.

I went to the shop I mentioned up above, but his stuff looked all junk, he was rather stand-offish and reluctant to talk with me, and I left. I don't think I'd do business with him.

I know of a 1968 Bonneville w/69 original miles. It's essentially new. I called him up and he's talking about selling it to me. I guess I'd prefer the better brakes and ignition of a later model, but it is a beauty.
 

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"I guess I'd prefer the better brakes and ignition of a later model, but it is a beauty."

yea i'd go for a later model too NOT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

you need to hang out here and read more Jamo .

a '68 with only 69 miles ?

yea i'd pass on that one too . just out of curiouseity where is it just so i can steer others clear of it too .

hey mcqueen , this is a friend of yours right ?
 

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Hey Jamo, If you think this '68 w/ 69 miles is actually all original and not a restored bike with 69 miles that would be pretty incredible. You'd have to wonder if the fluids have been changed and the bike started every so often, but that would be an amazing find. Definately go take a look at it and take a few digital photos and post them here, I'm sure every one would love to see this baby.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hey Jamo, If you think this '68 w/ 69 miles is actually all original and not a restored bike with 69 miles that would be pretty incredible. You'd have to wonder if the fluids have been changed and the bike started every so often, but that would be an amazing find. Definately go take a look at it and take a few digital photos and post them here, I'm sure every one would love to see this baby.
Oh, it is. It was carefully put away with the fluids drained and the whatch - em-a call-it put on the gaskets and in the cylenders. Always in a temperature controlled environment. I'll definatley take a few photos and post them. I've known about it for years and I've asked about buying it all along. The fellow is just now loosening up about selling it, but he hasn't given me a price.

I'll post some photos as soon as I can get them. I'd like to know what a knowlegable person believes its value to be.
 

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. The fellow is just now loosening up about selling it, but he hasn't given me a price.
.

Expect to be be surprized, it's not going to be $3000, not $5000.
If you're not a collector or have a particular passion for that year, it may be hard to justify where the market has prices in that vintage now.
 

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"I know of a 1968 Bonneville w/69 original miles. It's essentially new. I called him up and he's talking about selling it to me."
...
"I'd like to know what a knowlegable person believes its value to be"

Without a single picture or description of the bike, we'll assume 100% accuracy in the following:

1968 Triumph T120R Bonneville 650 with 69 ORIGINAL miles, perfect ORIGINAL condition - Market value in the U.S., NOT including shipping - (based on most recent Las Vegas vintage bike auction prices) $12,500.00 for a "1" condition bike, approximately (if a "3" fetched $7,250). It could go much higher at auction if there were two people seriously interested, and if the seller had good prominance to back up the originality claim. $15,000.00 is not an exaggeration IN THAT CASE.

PERFECTLY RESTORED condition - $9,500.00 approx.

AVERAGE restoration value - $7,500.00 approx.

It's way too wild to speculate and assume as much as the above; but, there you go.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This is how the seller describes it in an email I just received from him. I've known him personally for about 12 years, I've bought two other motorcycles from him, he is very knowledgable, and I trust his representation.

I thought it was a Bonneville, but it is a TR6. Is that a Tiger?


"Just getting back to you on that 1968 Triumph TR6. I talked to my father over the weekend, and he said that he would let that go for $****.**. That's about a grand less than I thought I could sell it for. I checked the odometer and that bike actually has "34" original miles on it. The guy who my father bought it from, showed us the two awards he won with it at cycle shows. Its a very unique vintage bike that is in showroom condition. It has a book rack on the gas tank. The brits used to call it the professor bike because of that. You wouldn't have to do anything to it. The tires are the only thing not original because those were dry rotted. They are still Dunlops though. If you would like to discuss it further, please give me a call."
 

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This is how the seller describes it in an email I just received from him. I've known him personally for about 12 years, I've bought two other motorcycles from him, he is very knowledgable, and I trust his representation.

I thought it was a Bonneville, but it is a TR6. Is that a Tiger?


"Just getting back to you on that 1968 Triumph TR6. I talked to my father over the weekend, and he said that he would let that go for $****.**. That's about a grand less than I thought I could sell it for. I checked the odometer and that bike actually has "34" original miles on it. The guy who my father bought it from, showed us the two awards he won with it at cycle shows. Its a very unique vintage bike that is in showroom condition. It has a book rack on the gas tank. The brits used to call it the professor bike because of that. You wouldn't have to do anything to it. The tires are the only thing not original because those were dry rotted. They are still Dunlops though. If you would like to discuss it further, please give me a call."
It is a terrible, stodgy old bike. I'll come and remove any temptation to purchase said bike....just call me and I'll be over promptly....with cash, of course.:D:D

Derswede
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just to keep things interesting, my friend also has a Norton for sale. He described it to me thusly, in an email I jsut got from him:

The Norton is a 1974 Commando 850 Roadster. It has 10,254 miles but it's just as clean if not cleaner than the 1968 TR6. We think the paint may have been re-done at some point because it is almost too perfect for a 35 year old bike. That's ok though because it is the exact color match that it was in '74. I'll have to talk to ... again to make sure my price is right on this one, but I should be able to let that one go for around $****.**.


What does anyone know about Nortons, other than that they are great looking? What do you think of the value or desireability of that one? For one thing, I could ride it without worrying so much about ruining the mileage. What else?
 

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Have a look here: www.inoanorton.com. Norton Comandos had something called isolastc suspension which really helped quell that big vertical twin vibration, making them a little more comfortable than their Brit bike counterparts. Among certain items that require fettling are the exhaust pipe nuts stripping threads, isolastic shim wear, swing-arm spindle wear, air filter box assembly, all of which have fixes along with the usual electronic ignitions, sleeved carbs, and other classic bike mods. Those Norton pea-shooter pipes emit a sound that is pure music and a little different than Tri., and B.S.A.
 

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I don't know how far you're looking to go or what you're looking for exactly, but I just created a new post with several vintage Triumphs in the DC area. One is a real nice looking 77 (or 79, I can't remember now).
 
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