Buying a vintage motorcycle such as a Honda CBX1000 for investment. This is such a great proposition that even the FT, How To Spend It, now declare Honda’s CBX1000 a vintage motorcycle and buyers have been chasing them down with gusto since 2010. It’s an iconic motorcycle that shut up the greasy haired Japanese motorcycle haters who branded anything made in Japan as “Jap crap!” They usually spouted such abuse while trying to fix their leaking broken down motorcycle, muttering at least their one was made in Britain, as it emptied its sump into the gutter. Those casually racist “bikers” were silenced by the CBX1000. They couldn’t stand in pools of oil and spout their nasty mantra anymore. And they never would have dreamed that a proper Honda CBX1000 would be worth four or five times what their beloved Bonnevilles are worth today.
The CBX1000 is a vintage motorcycle for many, many reasons. You can see my video about them here to understand their place in history where I touch on some of the issues around these iconic motorcycles. But buying such a vintage motorcycle is, and also is not, really like buying many others. You need one hell of a lot of mechanical knowledge and to really understand this bike or you could lose your shirt. Each machine has its issues, quirks and defining properties that make them investment grade. Having spent fourteen years working so closely with vintage motorcycles, what I will say is few are so potentially problematic to acquire in investment grade and to set up as a Honda CBX1000.
The pit falls of buying one are early ones have the engine numbers underneath the airbox, so access to viewing it is very, very difficult indeed. Many people believe they have the correct engine in their motorcycle only to find out later that it was either replaced by the factory, or a second hand motor was stuffed in due to engine failure.
Why did they suffer engine failure?
Plenty of reasons. People bought these bikes, especially in the UK, and wheelied them thinking that they looked just like the publicity pictures and the test riders in Motorcycle News. Many people thought they were on a race bike, owning the first 105 BHP motorcycle, and they just thrashed them. If they did so when the motor and oil were cold then they were in for big trouble. So the abuse these machines have suffered in their forty odd years will have done serious damage.
It’s a very big motor and if it’s been dropped at anything over the pace of a gentle stroll risks a bent frame and much faster can destroy the crank and crankcases as the motor is so wide. They have two cam chains and two tensioners. If the oil has been changed every 1000 miles and the filter every 2000 miles, then all will be well. But the odds of a UK bike having been treated that way are slimmer than remote. Conrods are probably made of chocolate, they are very small and prone to bending if the bike has ever been abused. I have come across many CBXs, and walked away from them, which ride fine but if you know these machines then you will know it has a bent conrod. Valves are two piece items and there twenty four of them. If they haven’t been regularly serviced and kept within serviceable limits then they are prone to snapping, resulting in a black hole in the wallet department. When we buy them, if there’s a tight valve we remove the head and replace all the valves and springs. It is just not worth risking it. Alternators often need rebuilding after all this time. If the motor has been brutally treated when tilting it forward to service the valves or carbs, then airboxes can leak. This will cause lean running and valve damage or worse. Carburettors have to be set up exactly or you can cause engine damage.
So why buy one?
Because we have stripped a Pro Link CBX to restore it for a customer with 300,000 kms on it and the motor was in really quite incredible condition for the mileage. It was a one owner bike and the owner was meticulous and fastidious about the servicing regime. A well looked after CBX is a fantastic and iconic vintage motorcycle and a great vintage motorcycle investment. These machines are very difficult to find in investment grade condition. People laughed at me when in early 2014 I said they would go to £20,000 by 2020 and they will easily hit six figures before 2030.
What is an investment grade Honda CBX1000?
Assuming that all of the other issues have been addressed correctly, there is still a lot to understand. Comstar wheels can be problematic and very, very expensive to deal with. Frame paint underneath the bodywork is usually spidering, even though it looks good where you can see it. Likewise, engine paint is usually poor after forty years. Even if it looks good, once you get the carbs and airbox forward you’ll see it failing at the back of the motor where it can’t be seen. Then there’s the issue of replica exhaust systems, suspension units, indicators, mirrors etc etc. Yes they look very good, but the bikes that make the big money when they sell don’t have such parts on them. If the frame has been powder coated, then just walk away from the bike.
If you can’t see it then why worry?
Because unattended problems only grow with time and our Honda CBX1000s are ready for the next forty years use. It’s these machines that will make the big money in the future and they will be investigated thoroughly before they are purchased. As far as paint is concerned, unattended, that rot will spread and the rest of the paintwork will fail. We usually spend about a week in the spray booth, often more, on machines that look very good with the bodywork on. We repair the paint and it cannot be seen where we have been at the bike. We use 2K and keep it dull and leave light orange peel, just like the factory finish. Although the replica parts look good, when you come to sell your vintage motorcycle, no one is going to pay for a replica, they want a genuine motorcycle.
Our CBX1000s, at The Motorcycle Broker, are usually in our workshop for about five weeks before delivery. When we adjust the valve clearances, we ride it for fifty miles, then do them again as they settle. Then we do another fifty miles and check them again and then we balance the carbs, after they were set up with feeler gauges. Then we ride the bike three times for about fifty miles once the carbs are balanced and do them again. Then the bike is ready for the road. Once set up correctly, these machines are great, reliable long journey mile munchers. We acquire investment grade Honda CBX1000s for our customers because they know they can rest assured that they have bought an investment grade vintage motorcycle from us and they will get the best return on their investment. Our customers buy on a fixed price contract and if we find any problems we fix it at our expense. So you know what you’re paying and you know you won’t be asked for anything more but you will be getting an investment grade vintage motorcycle. You know that your motorcycle will deliver many, many miles of trouble free motoring and fun.
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