Classic motorcycles prices rising due to export demands

Classic motorcycles prices rising due to export demands and now is the time to buy before prices really start moving upwards. I recently acquired an investment grade motorcycle to work our magic on from a trustworthy supplier who imports by the container load. He always gives me the choice of many examples, I take my pick and try to find something that will require the least possible resources to supply in the standard my customers demand. I was shocked to look around his exhaustive stock to see how few examples there were for me to choose from. Indeed, I was there to buy four different bikes and struggled to find one, as I also needed a bike between 1990 and 2005 as a tidy, fun summer ride for a customer but couldn’t find anything. I asked him why his stock was so low and he explained how the prices in the US are too high and it’s pretty much time to send machines back there from the UK as there’s just no stock and prices are stronger there. He told me how it’s the same story in Japan, prices at the auctions are now higher than retail in the UK right now. Finding investment grade examples of anything is becoming harder and harder through out the world and now having more export markets just compounds the problem, forcing prices ever higher.

Honda CB1100RB RHS power out of corner
My museum quality Honda CB1100RB went to an very shrewd overseas buyer.

Japanese and Italian classics

Japanese and Italian classic motorcycles of the highest quality are now returning to Japan and the USA because the prices are rising so fiercely there. Since the 1980s these two countries have been supplying Europe, the Arab nations and Australia, but now there is a world shortage of investment grade classic motorcycles. My own Honda CB1100RB was sold outside of the UK to a shrewd collector, as they understand that this was the only example in the world outside of a museum, as this article I wrote about it demonstrates. Classic motorcycle investment is a global phenomena and is becoming more popular with car investors, as this article and this article I wrote in 2019 demonstrate. This id due to the enormous number of motorcyclists worldwide from 1970 to 1983 (see this article I wrote back in 2015 about this), when motorcycling became more difficult to access. It seems that the UK and Europe have been ahead of the curve and many investors who have bought investment grade examples of the correct motorcycles will be delighted with how prices have increased. It seems that the people who wanted these Japanese and Italian super bikes of that era are of an age where their children have left home and they can afford the dream bike of their youth. The Japanese and US markets are much bigger than the UK markets and the demand will clearly create a lot more demand and severe price increases.

1976 Ducati 900SS
1976 Ducati 900SS an iconic Italian classic motorcycle.

China enters the classic motorcycle market

China enters the classic motorcycle market now and is the largest motorcycle market on the planet with sales of new machines at 20,000,000 a year! Importing any motorcycle was banned in about 1997 overnight, to stimulate home grown manufacturers and to attract more hard currency into the country from Chinese motorcycle exports. This has been incredibly successful when you look at how many Chinese made motorcycles are on our roads and the increase in quality of their 300cc machines. African markets are vast for small capacity motorcycles and the only machines in those giant markets are now made in China. In about 2018 the restriction on foreign made motorcycles was lifted in China and there is now a global shortage of new motorcycles due to Covid and demand in China. Until 1997, only small capacity motorcycles were available, but they were all Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki, so they understand the Japanese brands. China is also well aware of the collectibles markets, creating unimaginable demand for wrist watches, fine wine, whiskey, art and antiques, to name but a few. They will also revolutionise the classic car market with demand which is already there, but a lacking knowledge base. In January 2019 there were some buyers from China at Mecums auction paying US$30,000 for some pretty ropey Honda NSR400s. Watch classic car and classic motorcycle prices increase beyond the wildest dreams over the coming fifteen years as China buys up the very best examples on the planet. People do not understand how rare investment grade classic motorcycles are and the appetite for them is growing globally. The shortage of new motorcycles is nothing compared to the shortage of investment grade classic motorcycles.

Wayne Rainey championship winning YZR500. Racing motorcycles have great headroom as people understand what they are.

Classic motorcycles most in demand

The classic motorcycles most in demand are the Honda Sandcasts, CBX1000s, Kawasaki Z900s, classic racing motorcycles, MV Agusta 750S and America, Ducati round cases, square cases, Ducati 916/996 SP/S, even Yamaha’s XS650 (try finding a genuine, good example). There are many more, Broughs, Vincents, Munch Mamoths and many, many more to choose from, but those I have named are very safe bets and extremely rare and difficult to find in an investment grade condition. Investors are demanding ever more authenticity and much higher standards, super shiny pretty looking inauthentic classic motorcycles don’t interest them at all. There is no doubt that this increased demand from export markets that used to supply our own classic motorcycle market will certainly force price for investment grade examples much higher.

The first 200 Ducati 900SS Mike Hailwood Replicas are considered to be the next green frame.

Classic motorcycle profits

Classic motorcycle profits come from wise investment in desirable motorcycles that are investment grade. I get a lot of calls from people asking me what will be the next green frame and expecting me to say first year of production Fireblades, or Superleggeras. Neither. We are classic motorcycle investment brokers and not classic motorcycle speculation brokers, we work with motorcycles that will definitely increase heavily in value and they must be investment grade. We don’t gamble with our clients’ money, that’s what casinos are for. We work with machines that we know will deliver the best possible profits, we do not try to second guess the market. We use data and our decades of experience to understand how the classic motorcycle market works. The classic car market also offers plenty of clues to the future of classic motorcycle values, at present, many are just 3%-10% of the equivalent classic car.

2000 Ducati 996 SPS Factory Replica series one
2000 Ducati 996 SPS Factory Replica series one

Investment grade classic motorcycles

Investment grade classic motorcycles are becoming harder and harder to find throughout the world and this trend is going to become more and more prevalent as time passes. This will force prices higher and higher, as demand increases. At The Motorcycle Broker, we only work with investment grade classic motorcycles, we deliver them with due diligence reports and put them through our rigorous workshop and paint shop processes to ensure they’re correct. If you want to invest in classic motorcycles feel free to book a no obligation free Zoom, or visit us to see our work in Devon. Call The Motorcycle Broker on 01803 865166, 07971 497615 or Email [email protected]

Paul Jayson
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2 Responses to “Classic motorcycles prices rising due to export demands”

  1. How do you see demand going for classic BMW’s ?
    Is it only certain models ?
    They seem very under priced in comparison to the Italian classics ?
    I have a 1986 R80G/S Paris Dakar a 1975 R90S and a 1961 60/2 . They are all in pretty good condition.


    • Paul Jayson

      Hi Steve, I agree with you that most of the collectible BMWs are really undervalued and will inevitably increase as awareness is raised about these incredible machines. I think that early Dakars, R90s and some of the even earlier machines will increase in value over time.

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