The 2017 Rails & Roads Motorcycle Show was held yesterday and here are the results.
Before I dive into the numbers and pictures let me say thanks to all that came out to support the show, and to Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group who provided the trophies for the show.
I’d also like to acknowledge those who provided swag & door prizes, especially Carolina Honda in Columbia S.C. for the helmet & gloves that they provided. Thank you so much.
We gave out awards in 5 classes. We had trophies for 7 but no one with Kawasaki or a Suzuki showed up ( I guess they were afraid of all the Hondas ). Even so we still had at least 25 or 30 bikes in the show itself. All voting was done strictly by people choice and here are the results;
Class 1 American
2nd place went to a gentleman named Tony (last name escapes me) and his beautiful ’96 Harley Davidson Road King.
1st place went to Mark Fisher who brought out his wonderful 1941 Indian Chief pictured above.
Class 2 European/British
3rd place went to Daniel Horn with his original unrestored ’72 BSA Victor 250
2nd place went to Doug Parker & the very nice 77 Moto Guzzi Convertible that he rode to the show.
1st place went to Mark Fisher and the absolutely stunning 1952 Vincent Black Shadow shown at the beginning of this section.
Class 3 Honda This was the largest class with machinery ranging from 1964 all the way up to 1989.
3rd place went to Bryan Bentley and his 1964 C102 Cub.
2nd place went to Todd Brown & his wicked looking ’80 CB750SS Cafe Racer.
1st place went to Donald Wiseman & the well restored ’73 CL350 shown above.
Class 6 Yamaha
3rd place went to Tony Berry and his 1979 XS1100
2nd place went to Bryan Bentley and his little 2 stroke 1969 Y5
1st place went to Donald Wiseman who brought his unrestored original 1973 TX500 in the image above.
Class 7 The Freak Show; while mainly intended as a custom class it was also used as a catch-all class for orphaned Japanese makes as well.
2nd place went home with Mark Krengel & his Kikker 5150 Bobber
1st place was claimed by Jerry Cole who brought the fantastic little bike in the above picture a 1972 Hodaka Wombat 125.
Best of the Rails & Roads Motorcycle Show
The voting for this trophy was a tight race between two black motorcycles. My gut instinct told me that just like in the ’50s the only thing that would beat a Vincent was another Vincent. But when all the votes were counted Best of Show went to the stunning 1980 Honda CB750SS of Todd Brown. Featuring an upside down fork & other serious upgrades, including custom wire wheels (Honda’s funky old Comstars are stock on these bikes) it was a truly tasty custom. The best part of all? He rode it to the show and it sounds as good as it looks.
We’re really happy to report that we were able to raise $175 dollars that was donated to the S.C. Railroad Museum to help with the upkeep of the museum and its rolling stock.
We made a few missteps, adapted on the fly, learned some lessons and we plan to return to Winnsboro S.C. next year with an even bigger better Rails & Roads Motorcycle Show presented by the VJMC of The Carolinas.
As I drove around last Saturday to hand out flyers and solicit door prizes for the upcoming Rails and Roads Vintage Motorcycle Show(September 16th 2017 in Winnsboro SC) I stopped at a few dealerships and a few independent shops. In all places the welcomes were warm, but I noticed something very strange. In most cases there was almost no one in the stores besides the employees. When I worked at my local Honda dealership, every Saturday was a madhouse; an empty store on a Saturday was unheard of. It must have been inevitable that after decades of main stream success that it may be time for a rightsizing of the motorcycle industry.
Of course the recent news that Harley Davidson was going to layoff some production workers was something no one could have imagined 10-15 years ago. Before that Polaris announced the shuttering of their Victory motorcycle brand. The one bright spot in the market for Polaris is the success of the Indian brand that merged the solid technology of the Polaris company with an old legendary American brand name.
It’s not just cruisers, sport bike sales are off too. All across the market things are not as exciting as they used to be. The big 4 Japanese manufacturers are fortunate enough to have the ATV & side X side UTV market to keep them going, but even that segment has been affected by the tightening of the consumers spending habits. And this seems to be a global slide as the Nikkei Asian Review recently published an article entitled “The Motorcycle Becoming Thing of the Past.” According to this article, motorcycle sales in Japan are only 11% of what they once were. It’s sad to think that motorcycling is going away in the country that proved to the world that it was possible to build reliable, oil tight, powerful & lightweight motorcycles.
The bright spot in the world market for motorcycles is the increasing demand in India where according to the Times of India demand for 500cc and up motorcycles has increased at a 23% calculated annual growth rate from 2014 to 2017. This has led to a number of large players building factories there to pry some of this lucrative business away from Bajaj & Enfield.
Another happy trend is the vintage motorcycle industry. Although it is in very real danger of falling victim to the same over-exposure & over-saturation as the “American Chopper” crowd from a few years ago, right now the demand for genuine vintage motorcycles whether restored or customized in either the “café racer or “Bratstyle,”is extremely high. Now when you buy that old Japanese 4 or even small displacement twin you have to pay real money for it, if you don’t someone else will. A lot of motorcycle manufacturers have noticed this trend and now offer ready to ride retro style machines to allow you to experience the joy of vintage motorcycling without the misery of actually restoring a vintage motorcycle.
But the motorcycle companies are not the only ones that suffer from a soft demand for motorcycles, the Touratech company makers of some of the finest accessories for the adventure touring market filed for bankruptcy protection this year. This is yet another symptom of the rightsizing of the motorcycle industry. According to the Touratech U.S.A. blog operations will continue as normal during the company’s reorganization.
Motorcycle magazines are another thing hit hard by the rightsizing of the motorcycle industry. The audience is fickle even when times are booming it’s tough for publishers. Two of my all-time favorite motorcycle magazines came & went during the nineties at the height of the motorcycling boom in the U.S. The Old Bike Journal was one and the other was Twistgrip. Both of them came and went pretty quickly, The Old Bike Journal lasted longer because it had a broader audience, but both of these publications came and went during relatively good times.
Recently on Facebook, Buzz Kanter the publisher of American Iron Magazine shared his thoughts on the state of the industry giving some examples of how tough it is to survive and thrive in today’s market. I am going to share his exact words with you in the succeeding paragraphs. (Yes he generously granted permission for all to share them.)
“Call it Industrial Darwinism if you wish. But the business world is really all about the survival of the fittest. I have questioned for a few years how the motorcycle industry could support so many manufacturers, distributors and magazines. I now believe we are about to have a serious shift and downsizing.
I predict a growing number of changes in the motorcycle industry in the next year or so.
Too many motorcycle-industry businesses are over finanically over leveraged and will not be able to carry the debt. Others seem to be poorly managed. But others look healthy, creative and sustainable.
I expect more consolidation of big name motorcycle industry brands, some companies going out of buisness, and a very significant reduction of motorcycle magazines.
Paisano (Easyriders Magazine, V-Twin Magazine, Wrench Magazine, Road Iron Magazine) has announced they are folding all their motorcycle magazines except Easyriders, which they are reducing from 12 to 9 or 10 issues a year.
Bonnier (Cycle World Magazine, Motorcyclist Magazine,Hot Bike Magazine, Baggers Magazine, Sport Rider Magazine, etc) has been cutting back on their magazines’s sizes and frequencies. They just announced they are folding Sport Rider, and I expect more radical cuts in staff and product there.
So what does this all mean? I believe the motorcycle industry is ripe for a “rightsizing” where there will be a rebalancing of supply and demand. As demand for motorcycles, motorcycle parts and motorcycle services continue to decline, so does the financial support of those who serve these markets.
We at the growing family of American Iron media (American Iron Magazine, American Iron Garage, American Iron Salute, and American Iron Powermagazines, plus our growing on-line operations) are working hard to understand and react to these changes with strategic and creative ways. We’d like to thank everyone involved with the amazing world of motorcycles for your support as we move ahead into the future.
If you have read this far, I’d appreciate your reaction and suggestions, also please feel free to share this post.”
This is sobering stuff from an acknowledged industry leader. The cuts at Bonnier especially bug me because Cycle World is the only one I subscribe to and is the current home of my favorite motorcycle writer of all times Kevin Cameron, but time and the economy march on relentlessly so we must all adapt or die.
Now this all sounds like a lot of gloom and doom, but there could be a lot of positives to the rightsizing of the motorcycle industry. As motorcycling has grown and become more mainstream the many of the long time hardcore motorcycle enthusiasts (especially American motorcycle loyalists) have resented being taken for granted and seemingly being pushed aside as the dealers and motorcycle companies ran chasing after the hordes of trend followers who saw motorcycles as cool fashion accessories to be discarded when the next big thing comes along.
Another advantage is that the companies that survive the rightsizing will be more competitive and have a sounder financial footing for the future. I just hope the ones that do can produce products that I like and still stay in business.
Part of the problem with the motorcycle industry is enthusiasts like me, people with eclectic tastes in motorcycles that no one else but me really wants. The problem with modern motorcycling for me is there are so few motorcycles available that I would have. The short list in order by desirability is;
Triumph Bonneville Street Twin (Yes the 900cc version I’d never miss the other 300cc.)
Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer or Bobber (I prefer the Roamer with its chrome and 19” front wheel)
Honda CB1100 (This bike can do no wrong and would actually be my first choice for a cross country ride, it just blends into the background too easily.)
Honda Africa Twin (Only adventure bike I’d want)
Royal Enfield Bullet (Love the style, riding position etc. but I’d have to keep a Honda in the garage next to it, you know just in case.)
Look at this list other than the Triumph does anybody else want one? I must not want one too badly either, the newest bike I own is a scooter an 01 Honda Helix, the next newest one is a 1980 CB650, & the others are from 1964, 1971 & 1972. Too many people bitch on the internet about what they want but when someone builds it they don’t go buy it. I plead guilty as charged to that. Prices are too damn high, income is down, and my 37 year old ratbike is just as roadworthy & reliable as anything I can buy.
This friends leads to the real reason for the “rightsizing of the motorcycle industry”, the customers just aren’t buying. There are a million reasons why not. In my case personally it’s the value of what you get versus what you pay. I can sign the line and get any motorcycle I want, but quite frankly to me they’re not worth the cost. Others just simply don’t see anything new that they want even though they don’t mind spending the money. Plus many vintage bikes especially the Japanese ones are damn near as reliable as anything made today for a fraction of the cost once they get fettled properly. Combine this with a general decline in interest in the experience of driving by younger people it’s easy to see why the industry as a whole is downsizing. The customers just aren’t buying.
It all started like so many bad ideas with an Ebay auction, followed by a six hour car ride the day after the auction ended. I had been sort of casually looking for a Honda CT90 or CT110, not to restore but just to get running and ride it around on the farm and at bike shows. At last years AMCA Southern National swap meet in Denton N.C. I missed 2 of them that were in my price range by just a matter of minutes. In fact when I spotted one of them and started walking towards it another gentleman had who was much closer walked up and handed the seller cash and they were filling out the paperwork by the time I got there. Since I’m always scanning online sales sites, backyards, junkyards, and trash piles for interesting stuff, I knew sooner or later a Honda CT90 or 110 would cross my path for the right dollar amount.
This one popped up on Ebay down in Ladson S.C., it was not running and missing a lot of parts, but I bid what I thought it was worth and was pleasantly surprised when it actually sold for what it was worth and didn’t run up to a stupid price like things do on Ebay sometimes.
I’m going to confess that I staged the rest of these pictures the next day after work, but the surroundings seem to work really well and you really can almost imagine stumbling across something like this abandoned in the woods.
She hasn’t traveled far in 47 years, only 3,353 mile on the odometer.
The muffler and battery box are gone, and the wiring harness is a bit of a mess, but the engine still turns free.
One of the coolest features of the early Honda Trail bikes like the CT90 was the rotating handlebar mounts designed to make them easier to transport on bumper mounted motorcycle carriers. You pulled up on the big lever in the center of the bars and then you could turn the bars sideways for more room.
Another great feature that was introduced in the middle of the 1967 model year was a dual range transmission giving you a total of 8 forward gears. Low range was for serious off road work and the high range was for normal trail and road use. A lot of people swap Lifan engines into them for more power and reliability but my plan is to keep the original engine just so that it will still have the dual range transmission.
That’s it for now, I’m going to check it out further and will keep you informed on the progress as it happens. I also have another antique motorcycle project going that I haven’t shown on this blog yet but it has been all over my Facebook page & Instagram if you want to check those out.
It’s been a while since I’ve featured a great useful website so today I’ll tell you about one of my favorite places to shop for motorcycle parts and riding gear BikeBandit.com!
Regardless of what you are shopping for you owe it to yourself to at least check Bike Bandit while you are shopping for motorcycle parts and accessories, especially motorcycle OEM parts. In addition to their very competitive pricing they have the diagrams (aka micro-fiche), and part numbers from the following manufacturers; BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Polaris, Suzuki, Triumph, and Yamaha. This covers most major brands of motorcycles, all terrain vehicles, side by sides, dirtbikes, scooters, personal watercraft, and even generators!
They also have a decently written professional blog filled with tips on riding and wrenching that is worth looking through on a regular basis.
Seriously click here right now and go check out the great selection of motorcycle OEM parts. Yes I really purchase OEM parts from them on a regular basis and those of you who know me, know just how cheap I am, even though I demand top quality customer service.
If you are a regular reader of this blog then you know that I am a stickler for protective riding gear. When I get on my bike in the morning to go to the office, I always wear boots, pants, jacket, and gloves along with a full face helmet. Some may think this is overkill but I am really attached to my skin, especially the skin on my face so for me a full face helmet is the only way to go.
I have greatly enjoyed this little Passport over the last year and a half that I’ve owned but it is time to let it move on to someone who will love it and enjoy it for what it is. It has been completely refurbished. It’s not a true restoration, as the paint is Ford blue rather than the original Angel blue. All of the plastic parts except for the sidecovers are new aftermarket parts. It has new Michelin Gazelles, with all new tubes, rim strips, wheel bearings, and brake shoes. The muffler is a new replica. The carb has been cleaned and tuned. The fuel lines are new, and there are a pair of filters installed under the tank. It has a Shorai lithium battery, and an aftermarket headlight assembly with a replaceable bulb. Being a 1982 model it has a factory 12 volt charging system and CDI ignition. It runs better than it looks, and it looks pretty good. The mileage is correct at 3352 miles but may go up as I will ride it occasionally to keep it running correctly.
My price on it is $1400 firm but I may consider interesting trades for certain project bikes. I am located in Eastern South Carolina and would be willing to assist your shipper or meet you at a safe public location within 150 miles of my place.
Contact me at email@example.com if you’re interested, but please be patient with me as I am still operating on batteries due to the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew so please allow up to 24 hours for a response.
Friday at the Destination Eustis 2016 Motorcycle Show
There wasn’t really a lot going on yet when I rolled into the Destination Eustis 2016 Motorcycle Show early on Friday March 4th. So I went ahead and set up my base camp for the weekend. To stretch my budget this year, instead of staying in a hotel I decided to sleep on an air mattress in the back of the enclosed trailer. This actually made a decent camping arrangement as a simple tent heater kept it nice and cozy on the cool early spring nights.
Afterwards I went digging around the swap meet just to see what was there. I didn’t take as many pictures this year because I had an actual shopping list of parts that are needed for two very different bikes, one a 45 cubic inch Flathead Harley and the other a Honda CT70 Mini Trail. Didn’t find much for the mini but there were a couple of vendors that had some good deals on parts for the Flattie.
One of the absolute coolest things there was this little Model T replica for sale. The seller drove it around all over the place, and I hope some happy person took it home.
Other than a little shopping I just hung around the main exhibition hall and offered my meager assistance to the really hard working folks in the VJMC who were getting everything ready for the show on Saturday. Once darkness had fallen and supper was over it was time to retire to my little campsite and knock back a brew before turning in.
Saturday at the Destination Eustis 2016 Motorcycle Show
Fresh perked coffee early in the morning, sitting in a chair outside while cooking breakfast over a camp stove. The only way it could have gotten any better would be if my lovely partner had been there with me, but alas she had to work.
After making myself reasonably presentable it was time to head over to the main hall again and watch as the neat old bikes filed in to register for the show. Rather than trying to post them individually I put a few of them in a slideshow for you.
There were of course a few extra special bikes that really stood out and demonstrated that even though this may be one of the smaller “Bike Week” events it attracts some really high caliber machinery.
First up is an ultra rare Flying Merkel, who doesn’t enjoy seeing an old timer like this in good running order?
There have been a lot of custom cafe racer or muscle-bike style custom Goldwings showing up on the internet and it was great to see this wild ‘Wing show up to take home 1st place in the custom class.
No vintage motorcycle show is complete without at least one classic American racer, and the stunning Indian flat tracker fits the bill perfectly.
The Best Of Show award went to my friend Mike, who brought this absolutely immaculate 1975 Kawasaki Z1B. He restored this bike himself from a rusty derelict. Look for more pictures of this one in the next week or two.
One of the best things about going to a VJMC organized show is the fact that the judging is done by audience voting. This makes results almost completely unpredictable, and does away the bullshit & hurt feelings that result from selection by a panel of judges. I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of the Vintage Motorcycle Alliance, they run the swap meet and set up the vendor areas and without them and the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club, this event would not be what it is.
It all started out innocently enough, a guy I know just happened to post a picture of a dilapidated 1982 Honda Passport for sale on Facebook, and I thought that would make a great pit bike to putt around on at giant events like the Barber Vintage Motorsports Festival. So we worked out a trade and I dragged it home one night and with the help of my beautiful assistant got it running. Little did I know that it was just the first step to developing Scooter Mania.
We got it going and got all the paperwork straight and made it safe for the road so it could be thoroughly checked out. With my 230 pound self in the saddle it topped out at 41 mph, just a little above moped territory. Once it was determined that it was in great condition for the long haul, this little Honda C70 became a full blown restoration project. Here’s a shot of how it looks right now as I type this.
Next step to Scooter Mania came as a Honda Helix 250…
A short time later, the second more serious stage of Scooter Mania snuck up on me without warning. It started out innocently enough, with me listing my Suzuki TS185 for sale on Craigslist. Almost immediately, I got a message from someone offering to trade me a 2001 Honda Helix 250 for it. My initial reply was let me think about it a few days. Another scooter was not what I had in mind, in fact cash was the objective, partially to finance the restoration of the Passport but mainly so that I could purchase this cool 1/8 scale Redcat Racing RC dune buggy and mount my video camera to it for a future project that I have in mind.
After 3 or 4 day of irritating low ball offers and what seemed like a thousand scammers posing as U.S. military personnel, I sent the Helix owner a message & told him that I’d trade & we agreed to meet at a public location between his place & mine. The plan was never to keep the Helix, but to try and flip it on Ebay, but I made two mistakes. Mistake number one was that I rode it. Mistake number two was taking Mrs. Psyco out for a nice long ride on it. When we got back home she said that it is far more comfortable than any of my motorcycles. So I replied, “I guess we should make this one a long term adoption,” to which she replied yes. Now it’s sitting in the shop on brand new tires, and I’m waiting for the Ram mounts for the camera & GPS to get here. In the past it had crossed my mine that a maxi-scooter would make a fine touring rig, but a 650 Burgman or a Silverwing was what I was thinking of, not a Helix. Scooter Mania strikes again!
Of course the only downside is that scooter riders get no respect around here even though the Helix is larger and longer than most motorcycles, the first words out of every idiots mouth is moped. They don’t have a clue that there’s a whole lot more to the world of scooters than 50cc Chinese whiskey cycles. What’s really fun is when you are passing someone on a four lane highway and see the look on their faces as they realize that you are on a scooter. The really great thing about being the age I am now is that I no longer give a shit what anyone else thinks of what I ride, but am still young enough to enjoy it.
This doe not mean that Motopsyco’s Asylum will become a scooter blog, fine vintage motorcycles will always be my first love, late model stuff and ATVs will continue to be covered as well, just think of the scooters as one more cool thing we can have fun with! Just watch out, Scooter Mania can be very contagious.