Classic motorcycle market round up for 2023 part 1

This classic motorcycle market round up for 2023 part 1 is somewhat late as early 2024 price increases have taken up a lot of our time and attention. If you go back to our two articles about what to invest in for 2023 at for part one and part two is here Part 3 is only available to Inside Line members, follow the link, create an account or sign in and you’ll see part 3 in Market Trends and Analysis at the bottom of the page. As always we do play safe with choosing which models to invest in as we are classic investment brokers and not classic motorcycle speculators. However, we did start to demonstrate that diversifying a little more with the Japanese classic motorcycles is now prudent and it proved to be the case. 

1969 Honda CB750K0 Sandcast mid corner
If correctly built, the Honda CB750K0 Sandcast can still be a joy to ride.

Invest safely in classic motorcycles

We advise all of our clients to invest safely in classic motorcycles and had anyone followed our pointers in those three articles, they would be doing very well today and very much ahead of the game. The Ducati green frames, MV Agustas, 916 SP, 888SP and 851 SP series are all flying and continuing to increase in value. Kawasaki Z900s have really started to take off along with Honda CBX1000s. Honda CB750 Sandcasts are due an increase which means that now is the time to buy these. The highly undervalued Honda CB1100Rs, are increasing in value and the RC30s and 45s continue to increase in value and desirability. The export market is really strong for RC30s, 45s, R7s and all of the Japanese homologation specials, especially the Honda CB1100R series, so many of these are now leaving the UK and depleting stock. Now the NR750 is going crazy, sorry we didn’t get a chance to write that article last year, but it was on our radar. All of the machines we earmarked are really tough to find in investment grade condition and the cost of getting them up to standard, still outweighs the value once the work has been done. This scenario has already played out in the car world and now buyers pay out for cars with the correct ingredients and then undertake no expense spared restorations. They know that the value of the car will increase to more than cover the purchase and restoration costs. This mindset will start transferring to the motorcycle market and those that think they’ll get some kind of magic bargain will come unstuck, as they always do. Japanese classic motorcycle prices must rise as I wrote in this article in August 2023, all the signs have been screaming at us for ages. I will write another article about this situation, but it’s a signal from the market of price increases. 

Bike stripped in bits9
The cost of restoration far outstrips the value of the restored classic motorcycle, a sure sign of future price increases.

Prices are rising

Classic motorcycle prices are rising for investment grade examples and machines which will become investment grade examples. There is a massive force underneath the prices of the machines we picked out to invest in and at some point the wave will break and the prices will become unrecognisable. If buyers in the UK don’t pay the price, then buyers from abroad will, which will make investment grade examples even rarer and more expensive. Once the machines have been exported, if British buyers want them back in the future they have to pay a lot for transport plus import duties and paperwork fees. The exact same thing already happened in the Japanese market, they exported all of their decent examples and now they are buying them back and re-importing them at great cost. The same is true for America and the Indian and Chinese markets are very slowly starting to acquire these machines already, although their markets aren’t officially open yet, but they will be. Machines which can never be investment grade are all languishing in their own blood on auction sites and some auction houses are just giving some old British bikes away. Meanwhile other auction houses continue to set world records for prices, which is symptomatic. 

Honda CB750 Sandcast Motorcycle Main 1600x1203
World record-setting Honda “Sandcast” prototype sold by H and H in 2018

Market division

This is symptomatic of classic motorcycle market division, whereby authenticity is ignored for shiny, cheap restoration processes and cheap replica parts. The only avenues to sell these machines is with auction houses who only move mass numbers with little due diligence, collector to collector and internet sites. These machines get moved along with undesirable classics en mass to create massive turnover for the selling platform, pure misery for the new owners and quite often the sellers too. This area of the market is the blood bath and a world record will only ever be set by Mecums by fluke when a buyer is mistaken about what they’re buying, much to the delight of a seller. The real world records and markers in the sand are set by the hard working auction houses, of which two come to mind, who do undertake due diligence and understand the market. We wrote about this market division at the start of Covid in this article from August 2021, it is just becoming more acute now. The cream always rises to the top and it will always remain there. There are very few investment grade classic motorcycles in the market, no matter how pretty and shiny an example looks. I have waded through so many collections and kept my lips sealed at what I’ve seen and it really is the rule and not the exception, as they will never really enjoy the fruits where prices for the best machines will head. We will write another article about what makes an investment grade classic motorcycle, as I get emails asking me how much an investment grade green frame is regularly and when I ask them to call me to discuss this, they go silent. This is not a cut and dry matter, as it depends how far the buyer wants to go, unless they just want the correct engine and frame numbers, but it’s much more subtle than that. There is a clear classic motorcycle market division and it is becoming more pronounced every year, which also gives a clue as to where prices are heading. 

Unrestored 1974 Ducati 750SS green frame
There are no bargains when it comes to investment grade classic motorcycles, poor examples can be snapped up on the cheap, but they will never be investment grade like this green frame.

Two stroke market

The 2 stroke market is becoming quite lively, in spite of the issues modern fuel can have on these machines. Although regular use can resolve the problems caused by modern fuel.  Suzuki RG500s are now well over £20,000 along with Yamaha RD500s, Honda NSR400s are around £17,000 and Yamaha RD350s are over £15,000. Bear in mind that these are auction house prices for machines which are sold on site as seen and not running. These prices have really come a long way in the last two years especially. This makes the racing 2 stroke market very good value for all of the racing 2 stroke motorcycles. The racing machines are extremely rare and really do have a long way to move up in price, especially when compared to what modern racing machinery is achieving, especially when these older machines are much harder to acquire. Many of the works machines of the 1970s, 80s and 90s are much rarer than those much more recent works machines. The manufacturers used to reclaim as many of them as possible, at the end of the season, and crush them to prevent the competition getting hold of them. The 2 stroke market looks like it will march on fuelled by the exhaust sniffers who grew up with them. 

1980 Yamaha RD350LC 4L0 LHS

Classic motorcycle market

The classic motorcycle market over the last fifteen years has developed in leaps and bounds. The machines we predicted to become highly valued classics back in 2014, we were derided for at the time, have surpassed all expectations. The development and sophistication of the classic car market is bleeding through into the bike market and there’s a long way to go yet, which means there are vast profits to be made. No one can predict exactly when prices will hit a certain point, but it doesn’t take too much to elicit significant price rises. Since the Mecum auction of January 2024, just try buying a Kawasaki Z2, investment grade Z1 or H2 and you’ll be left perplexed. The classic motorcycle market is growing and there are more buyers than ever. There will be many more very well heeled individuals who will come into the market after some exciting press coverage in June 2024. The bikes are still only at around 1-4% of the equivalent classic car, but that can’t continue. There are plenty of strong signals that the pressure building underneath classic motorcycle values is going to really take off sometime soon., especially for Japanese classics. The big hitters, such as the MV Agusta 750 Sport and Ducati green frame are becoming almost impossible to find in investment grade condition, because they have all been bought up. They do come up, but they sell for more than the one that was sold previously.  

MV Agusta 750 Sport Ducati green frames
Finding investment grade Ducati green frames and MV Agusta 750 Sports is becoming really challenging. Buyers are often having to wait a long time to find one and during that time, prices often increase.

Classic motorcycle market round up for 2023

The classic motorcycle market round up for 2023 is that as long as the machines are investment grade, either in essence or have had all the work done to them, and are in those three blogs from the beginning of last year your collection is in great health. I had to add a fourth article, which we didn’t get time for, so I will sum it up now. To add to those machines the Honda NR750, Honda Sandcast, Suzuki GS1000S, The Suzuki RE5 rotary engined bike, Kawasaki 1100 Eddie Lawson Replica, 1970s, 1980s and 90s grand prix racing motorcycles, especially those with great history will all deliver immense long term profits. I suspect the Honda RC213V will continue to rise in value, but they are extremely expensive. In addition the rotary engine Nortons and I think the Crighton will start to come into their own as well. The Crightons are expected to do well in racing and the price has already increased by nearly 50% as the last handful go on sale. Some `Harleys are really kicking on now as well, this is because old Knuckle Heads, Pan Heads and Shovel Heads are becoming extremely expensive with some Evos starting to become expensive. In short, our guides for what to buy in 2023 have lived up to expectations and anything that doesn’t sell is going out for export, depleting the UK stock and availability. With the market as it is, quibbling over cost is not going to serve in the long run, you’re beet off just paying what collectors want for investment grade examples of their machine. If you want to invest safely in classic motorcycles, contact The Motorcycle Broker.  

Crichton CR700W front RHs
The last remaining five Crichton’s are already nearly 40% more than the first twenty. These are destined to increase in value.

    Paul Jayson

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Featured in

    The Motorcycle Broker
    The Motorcycle Broker
    The Motorcycle Broker
    The Motorcycle Broker
    The Motorcycle Broker
    The Motorcycle Broker

    Download your FREE Top 10 Classic Motorcycles Investments guide

    Simply join the Inside-line Members club, it's FREE!

    Vintage Motorcycle Investment PDF

    Don't miss a post