Buying and selling on internet auction sites Part 2

As I have already said in part 1 of this blog, I have not bought or sold any machines in my personal collection for some time. Selling classic motorcycles is an art. Anyone can give a machine away, but achieving the full value takes time. Over the years, since the internet took over from hardcopy selling, everyone is an expert.

Classic motorcycles
A beautiful investment and fun too.

I was selling this completely original 1972 Yamaha DS7 (or RD250) on an auction site that might just rhyme with flea spray. It has matching engine and chassis numbers, 26,000 kms from new, the tank could do with a re-paint, as could the outer engine cases (less than £400 of work to make it immaculate and original). I was called by a potential buyer who said that he wanted to buy my bike, which was £2,750, but he only wanted to pay £1,700, because there was another on the site at that price.

As I knew the machine he was talking about, I pointed out that he would have to find original exhausts at about £1,000, re-chrome them at about £300, rebuild the wheels having found original rims and re-chromed those at about £500, find original cables, an original saddle, original handle bars, handle bar levers, the frame re-painting, full engine rebuild an MOT, pus re-wiring. The bike would cost about £5,000 to buy and restore, plus his time. The flea spray expert told me that he wanted something to “do up” in his shed, but my bike was just too expensive. I told him to buy the bargain basement bike at £1,700.

Three months later, the same person called me saying that he didn’t realise what he was getting into, how much work was involved in restoring a bike and how much it would cost. Would I buy his DS7 for £1,700, now in pieces in his shed, so he could buy my DS7 for £2,750. I said no and explained to him that it is worth taking advice when asking for it. He asked if I would give him £1,000, to which I answered no. What would I give him? I wouldn’t give him anything for the bike, as I don’t want to break motorcycles and sell them off as spares, which was all the bike was good for. I was not being cruel, or punishing him, I just don’t fancy doing bikes up in my shed at vast expense and enormous personal time and energy.

Similarly, I was selling my genuine, original 1978 Honda CB750 Phil Read Replica at £9,500. Honda made 150 of these and there is a gentleman in Middlesborough who has tracked down all of the genuine ones, including mine. They fall within a specific chassis number range. He told me that he has found only 35 over a three year research period (and he’s married apparently).

Now, Honda did offer a kit to convert your CB750 to a Phil Read Rep, but it was expensive and it means that these bikes are Phil Read Replica Replicas and not the one of the 150 genuine Honda Britain machines. Also they have lots of little detail parts, which although they could be bought at the time, people omitted these parts, because they were expensive and it looked like a Phil Read Rep, which was all they cared about.

I received another call from a flea spray user (why can’t they just use those little liquids you put on your pets neck and last six months?). He really wanted to buy my bike, but he just can’t see why my bike was £6,000 more than the dog he was looking at on this auction site on the internet. I explained that the machine in question, which I had looked at quite closely, needed well over £6,000 to restore and an enormous amount of time invested.

“Six grand?” He guffawed at me. “How come?” It had a Marshall four into one exhaust and the only available replica exhaust system available costs £1,000. Then rebuilding and refinishing the engine, assuming not too much needs replacing or machining, will cost him £1,000. Repairing and refurbishing the Comstar wheels would cost nearly £1,000. Repainting the frame £700, re-spraying the entire fairing and body £1,000, finding an original seat, if you can find one a few hundred quid. There will be odds and sods which will come to over £1,000, so this bike would cost him at least the same as mine. He would then have to probably spend a year sourcing unique, very difficult to find and expensive parts, assuming he could even source them. He would have to spend a great deal of time exiled to his shed, carrying out the unpaid work to restore the machine.

So, our expert decided not to listen, bought his Phil Read Replica from a tin of flea spray and went silent for six months. Then he called. He said that he wished he had listened to me and he didn’t realise how much the bike would cost to restore. Having decided to do the engine and strip and rebuild and wiring himself, he had priced the parts and services he required at £7,500. I asked if where the ignition switch was on his bike and he told me the handle bars. I told him he would need an ignition switch too, as they are located by the headlight in the fairing. He asked me if I would buy the bike off him for what he paid for it, fully stripped and including his new exhaust system. He wanted to pay me £9,500 for mine if I would allow him £3,500 against his. I turned him down. He then asked me to check if his was a genuine Phil Read Rep and gave me the chassis number. It wasn’t a genuine Rep. Yet another expert believing that they can restore a rare motorcycle for peanuts. You can’t.

How to invest your wealth safely with classic motorcycles
This is a genuine Honda Britain Phil Read Replica and is very original.

Flea spray appears to have an unintended consequence of making everyone a misty eyed expert, who will make their fortune tinkering away, doing up an old motorbike in their shed. Restoring is the expensive way to own these machines. It can also destroy your marriage, alienate you from your children and make you socially awkward with nothing but motorbikes to talk about.
The internet has made everyone an expert. That’s why every man, woman and child are all multi millionaires, because they knew exactly when to get into gold, out of stocks, into property and exactly what to trade and when. Because the internet told them what to buy, when to buy it and they all know exactly what a complete heap of a Yamaha DS7, or Honda CB750 Phil Read Replica, replica, is worth. Flea spray has created a bizarre arena where a complete wreck needing vast sums of cash, time and expertise, which will never be original, is worth far more than an original piece of great beauty, or an already fully restored motorcycle is worth.
I say let them tinker in their sheds while the smart people invest in one of the best performing tax-free assets and stores of wealth. Let them tinker in their sheds, trying to find a seat that doesn’t exist, or the right fastenings. Let them try to find one of the last remaining stove enamellers and we will pull up at The Ace Café and enjoy the crowd gathering round our pride and joy, sharing with us the pleasure of our super-rare motorcycles.

So, whether you have a classic motorcycle, or classic motorcycle collection, you want to sell for its true value. Or if you are wanting to make a great tax free investment in buying and taking possession of an emerging market classic motorcycle. Then call Paul Jayson, The Classic Motorcycle Broker on 01803 865166 or go to and avoid the nasty pitfalls of auction sites that could rhyme with flea spray.

Paul Jayson

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