Thursday 23 September 2021

The Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group

The Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group:

"The Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group (CVMG) is a not-for-profit organization aimed at promoting the use, restoration and interest in older motorcycles and those of historic interest."

Sounds like my kind of people!

I just joined.  I ran into them at the Toronto Motorcycle Show in 2014 but never followed up, I have now!

Being a member would allow me to participate in classic trials events with the Southwestern Ontario Classic Trials Group.

I'm sure there will be other connections to be made, more to come!

The 2021 Dream Stable

 Some selective motorcycle wishes for 2022:


1986 Yamaha TY350 Trials Bike

about $2600CAD

A well looked after old bike that comes with lots of spares.  It would also let me tackle the Ontario Amateur Trials Association's season of events and get my head around trials riding.




This is the accessible option in GasGas's competition range of trials bikes.  It's a lightweight, 2-stroke competition machine that isn't quite as mad as their 300cc beasts.


about $25,000

This is a tricky one!  Old bikes are vanishingly rare in Ontario so I'd have to go overseas for this pre-war Triumph Tiger 100.   It's £12,000 ($21k CAD) and I'd need to get it shipped over this way which would probably add some more thousands on there in terms of shipping and duties.



It's not for sale so this isn't exactly an easier classic, but it's local and it's a lovely 1961 BSA.  I'd have to convince the owner to sell it and I'm not sure what it'd need for the road, but it looks fantastic!


$2000 (but I'd offer $1500)

750 GSZ 750 F with 42k kms on it.  Not asking much and it's ridiculous, but I like it for that - it's a full 90's colour commitment!  I'd actually like an 80s Katana but they're hard to find.  It'd be my first Suzuki!  I like the organic shapes, but it's a heavy old bus for the power output.


¥ 69,878 clip-on set
¥128,667 Katana body kit for SV650
¥198,545   (that's about $2300CAD, maybe $3k with shipping/customs)

You need a 2016 or newer SV650.  The new ones are $7500.  A lightly used (5200kms) 2018 with some nice extras is $6300.

With a $10k CAD budget I could create a modern special as an homage to the classic Katana.  A bit more on top would get it a period accurate paint job. It wouldn't have that big air cooled work of art on it though.


$2500 (I'd offer $2200)

It's been dropped and has some scratches, but I'd want it to track ride so I don't care about the aesthetics.  It'd get stripped down and ridden only on track.  It's only 167 kilos to begin with and I'd take even more off.  This one's only got 32k on it.  It'd get lightened up and mechanically sorted and then do what CBR600s do best - take corners at speed.

I still need a vehicle that could move this stuff to where I need it, but that's another story.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Trials Maths

Some more trials bike mathematical considerations on a Sunday night:

The madness of Ontario used off-road bike prices continues.  Here's a 20 year old bike that needs a lot of work:

2001 gasgas TXT 200 trials bike in good shape, runs good , needs fork seals and brake work.
$3200 obo

So, you drop over three grand on it and then have to buy parts and rebuild the suspension and brakes.  You're probably over four grand before you turn a wheel on this old, worn out thing.


A 2021 (as in brand new) Tanaci-Wong TWL200 Trials Bike:

Integrated electric start
Electronic fuel injection
Butter smooth hydraulic clutch
Ultra-progressive hydraulic brakes
Lightweight billet aluminum swing arm
Adjustable billet aluminum brake pedal
Billet aluminum triple clamps
High-quality flexible plastics
Transparent fuel tank means no more guessing
All chassis fasteners are high-grade stainless steel
Well protected exhaust system means no costly replacements

$3495 plus PDI/shipping/taxes

So, my option is to drop four grand on a 20 year old, broken bike, or spend the same amount on a brand new machine?  Someone's going to say, "yeah, but that's a Chinese bike."  Where do you think all the parts on the GasGas were made?  Bet it wasn't Spain.

Saturday 18 September 2021

2021 Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival

TMFF kicks off this weekend and, after a year of only fully remote streamed films they're also doing live showings in theatres again. Back in 2019 in the glorious ignorance of the pre-pandemic we went down to Hamilton to watch a live screening of some of that year's top films.  It was a great night out in a theatre full of russling motorcycle gear (pretty much everyone in the audience rode to the theatre).  I'd like to go for a ride to see films live but with my government turning me into Typhoid Mary I don't think it prudent to share my burst pandemic bubble with others.  Fortunately, TMFF is still doing home-streaming and they're showing one I've been looking forward to by Leaving Home Funktion's:  972 Breakdowns:  On the Landway to New York:

The technical setup is straightforward and they even shared a test-your-connection link this week so I know it won't be frustrating when I sit down to enjoy this adventure.

The list of films this year is long and distinguished.  If you're in Ontario you can watch them in the theatre if you've been missing that, but if you're still in a defensive posture with COVID you can also just stream to your home.

In a year where I'm missing extended riding trips and feeling very much trapped by my circumstances, the chance to follow Leaving Home Funktion on their adventure across the world will feel like a much needed breath of fresh air.

Saturday 11 September 2021

Old Bikes Have Soul: A ride out to Ross Hergott Vintage Cycle in Wellesley

This caught the eye of Alanna a few weeks ago and we rode out to Wellesley, Ontario to Ross Hergott Vintage Cycle today to have a look:

We're both still in recovery from week one of year two of pandemic school, but we finally got ourselves into motion after noon and made our way through some fierce winds to Wellesley, which is one of those places that's only 45 minutes away but I've never been too.

The goal was this all day vintage motorcycle ride-in and we saw old bikes on the road coming and going.  While we were there at least a dozen riders were hanging about, chatting and looking over what Ross had on display along with what they'd ridden over on.

Ross has a fanastic shop - the kind of place that looks like it has grown out of the ground with layers upon layers of collectables, tools and bikes that could only look like it does because he's been there for decades.

We had a chat with a guy who rode a 125cc 1950 BSA Bantam over to the meet.  The tiny bike had been in his family for generations and he knew a lot about its history and restoration.  Old bikes like these tell a story simply because they are survivors.  Of the tens of thousands of BSA Bantams churned out in the 50s and 60s, only a handful remain, and to see one of them in fine fettle at this meet was a real treat.

My trouble-making pillion suggested the kid with the chopper pit bike take on the Bantam in a race.  It wouldn't be much of a race (they didn't exceed the speed limit at any time because they couldn't), but it was fun to watch the kid stall out and the old BSA putter off down the road to victory:

There were a couple of well looked after 70s Triumphs for sale at this meet.  Going for about five grand, they put the lie to that Tiger I'd been looking at online in a previous post.  I'm still hoping I can find a reasonably complete older British bike that I can rebuild from the inside out for a couple of grand and then bring it back to working order.  I'd thought that project would be a Triumph but after seeing some of the lovely BSAs at this meet (I'm a sucker for a polished alloy tank) I'm starting to think that perhaps something from Birmingham Small Arms might be in my future.  I'm hoping for a simple, light-weight, air-cooled machine that lets me get analogue in a deeply mechanical way.  A twin would be ok but a thumper would be even more on point, and BSA made some wonderful thumpers...

That blue BSA back there scratches an itch!

I'd feared it would be a Harley Davidson snooze fest but there was an interesting mix of old British bikes in addition to the HDs on hand - no Indians though, which was a shame.  Harleys always make me think of mennonites (Wellesley is in the middle of mennonite country so they were on my mind).  At one point Harleys were state of the art machines but they suddenly decided to stop evolving and just push out variations on the same theme for decades.  The motor company's recent bikes show a rejuvinated interest in modernizing their designs.  From Charlie and Ewan's latest Long Way Up on electic HDs to their Pan American adventure bike and newest Sportsers, HD is flexing some engineering muscle and suddenly considering them doesn't seem as absurd to me.  I hope this new forward-thinking approach pays off for them.  I want to be a fan.

We had lunch at the Nith River Chop House (great food, but don't be in a rush, they won't be) and then rode over to a Eco Cafe on the Connestogo River in St. Jacobs for a nice coffee on the patio overlooking the river.  There we ran into an old fella named Albert who must be closing in on 100 years old.  He's dealing with terminal bone cancer but told us some amazing stories about the decades he spent farming in South Western Ontario as the world evolved around him.  I'm feeling old and this guy had over 40 years on me.

I don't often head into farm-world to the west of us (lots of bugs due to the livestock and tedious, straight roads), but this ride out to Wellesley had me looking at the landscape in a new way, and knowing there's an interesting classic/custom shop out that way means I'll be keeping it in mind for future rides.  If nothing else, the chance to ride on roads I haven't been round and round on during this past year of pandemic lockdown felt like a breath of fresh air.  The chance to see old bikes was the cherry on top.

HD have always had an eye for style - this modern art inspired badge is lovely, then they stuck it on with a couple of philips screws, which casts a light on the other side of Harley ownership.

I get the urge to customize but at some point throwing away a bike's ability to handle for looks ceases to make sense to me, though you've got to appreciate the effort, I just don't share it.  I like a bike that prefers corners to straight lines.

A 1971 Triumph TR6 650.  This fifty year old survivor was also in excellent shape, and only five grand!

If you love chrome, HD have you covered.

I can't say Nortons have ever lit my fire, though I can appreciate the brand's historical significance.  Having said that, this 750 Commando is a lovely thing!  Look at those pipes!

1970 Triumph Daytona, Seven-Thousand, five hundred of your finest Canadian Dollars!  Restored in 2014, it's been sitting in someone's recroom ever since!  A close-up look revealed a lovingly looked after old machine.

Birmingham Small Arms Bantam - and one of the smalled, simplest carburetors you'll ever lay eyes on!

If any of these get your motor humming and your wallet out, get in touch with Ross, he might be able to help you out:  Ross Hergott Vintage Cycle.

Monday 6 September 2021

Winter Project Wishes in Absurdist Ontario

Trawling online advertising for a next level winter project and I've come across an interesting option, but then I remembered where I am. 

1968 Triumph Tiger 

An old Tiger built the year before I was born?  You have my attention.

This is a brown Tiger with a hundred sixty plus K on it?  They say it runs and it's stock but it needs work - that might be the understatement of the year.

Either that 163,908kms isn't accurate or this thing has been run into the ground.  If that's the case, it's not stopping them for asking four and a half grand, FOUR AND A HALF GRAND (!!!) for it.

Canadian prices for bikes, even old ones that look like piles of shit, never cease to amaze me.

Just for giggles I set FB Marketplace to the UK and had a look at what's on offer back home.  Here's a lovely, well restored and ready to ride 1961 Triumph Tiger with less than 2000 miles on it for £2100 ($3645).  Luckily I live in Ontario where a steaming pile of pooh will cost me a thousand bucks more before I then have to pour that much into it again to make it work.  I live in an absurd place.

The other nice thing about the UK is that they tend to honour their history and keep things going.  Canada has a much more use-it-and-chuck-it-in-the-bin approach.  There are some lovely pre-war bikes kicking around on UK's bike marketplace.  If my novel took off and I was minted, a pre-war Triumph Tiger like the one my hero rides in the book would be on my wishlist.

Here's just such a thing!  A 1938 Triumph Tiger 80.  It's meticulously looked after and I'd greatly enjoy being the steward of this piece of history before passing it on to someone else who would keep it rolling into the future.

It ain't cheap (dream machines never are).  They're asking £12,000 ($20,828) for it, but it'd only go up in value, unlike a new Honda Civic (they cost about the same).  It's been on sale for a month.  Bet I could get a bit off.  It wouldn't be a daily rider, but on the days I did ride it, oh baby!  The project would be keeping it going and learning the maintenance and repair on it.

In Ontario this bike doesn't exist.  If it did exist, some berk would want half a million dollars for it.