Building Your Classic Motorcycle Contacts List

Date 01.7.2016

Presented by
  • Motorcycle Trader

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It’s one of life little ironies that, in a surprising number of cases, it’s easier to buy replacement and performance parts for a classic motorcycle built in 1947 than for one built in 2007.

I can say this with some authority as my two oldest machines both date from ’47: an Indian Chief and a Sunbeam S7 (aka ‘the sodding Sunbeam’). I can buy all consumables and at least 80 per cent of the other bits for each off the virtual shelf via the internet, while performance parts for the Indian can be bought locally or overseas, with no trouble.

Move on up to something a little more modern, such as my recently acquired 1975 Triumph Trident, and there’s a source for most parts – industry stalwart, Union Jack Motorcycles – literally five minutes’ ride from my house. That’s not to say everything old is easy – far from it.

There are times when the thrill of working twice as hard to ride half as fast, without being sure whether you’ll actually be rewarded with the bike making it there under its own power, wears thin. Some days a nice current motorcycle, with the reliability and ease of use that implies, is a damned fine thing.

Know your poison

Though notorious at times for having the self-discipline of a rat on speed, I do try to apply one rule before buying a motorcycle – which is to actually research it first. That is in part to ensure I’m briefed well enough to know what models to avoid and what dramas to look out for, but also to see if there are any decent support networks out there, such as clubs, dealers and specialist workshops.

For some brands and machines, the back-up is truly spectacular and often as good if not better than the factory was able to offer. For example, though Vincent lasted as a fully functioning brand for less than two decades, the Vincent Owners Club in the UK can sell you the spares to build a complete twin. Plus, there is a scary number of people out there able to sell you upgraded, redesigned and performance parts.

tips for buying classic motorcycles

Legendary status like Vincent is not always the sole indicator of whether there’s a support network, as popularity can help, too. For example, a Meriden Triumph Bonneville twin (built up to the mid-’70s) is ridiculously easy to buy bits for. Much of it is available off the shelf in this country (along with a healthy dose of expert advice) and the prices tend to be, for someone used to buying current motorcycle spares, surprisingly low. Several states have prominent and long-term suppliers.

Similarly, supplies for 1970s air-cooled Z-series Kawasaki fours are plentiful because of their enduring popularity and considerable value.

Remember, if a motorcycle is worth something as a collectable, people are more inclined to restore it, which in turn means an industry will build up around that demand.

When it comes to the might of Harley-Davidson, you can buy a phenomenal range of parts going back many decades. The product knowledge can be spectacular, too. For example, just a few years ago, I walked into Melbourne Harley dealership to order a set of tyres and tubes for a WLA (late 1940s version). ‘Sir’ was asked whether he required centred or offset valves on the tubes and was asked to wait a moment. Five minutes later I was stumbling out of the store with the complete set.

Local knowledge

Sometimes when you hit a curly problem, it pays to simply ask for what you want, no matter how silly the question. Whether it’s replacing a 60-year-old crankcase, repairing an irreplaceable alloy casting, or getting a single-plate dry clutch relined with more modern and tolerant materials, there always seems to be an answer. I had all three problems recently and all were solved by asking around.

tips for buying classic motorcycles

An example of how this comes together in one project is Brian Browne of TT Motorcycles south of Melbourne, who built Motorcycle Trader’s café racer give-away bike, the mighty Honda CB750 Four.

He struck numerous hurdles during the sometimes-quirky build and, more often than not, found himself relying on a local network to sort the dramas – even though international content for this model is rich and plentiful.

Brian delved into a lot of sources to get what he needed, including Honda dealers and networks to track down ultra-rare bits, like the inlet manifold rubbers. “Luckily, with my networking skills, which involve begging, I managed to find them as dead stock in dealers around Australia,” Brian said.

Throughout the project, he was a big believer in buying all the bits and pieces locally, even when they were foreign brands. “At least, if I have a problem I can ring the guy up straight away.”

The engine itself was largely the work of Pud’s Four Parts, which specialises in single-cam Honda fours. Pud’s is a local business, though in this case the powerplant scored Wiseco pistons and Yoshimura cams.

Along the way, Brian added Raask (Swedish) rearsets, Ikon (Australian) rear suspension, an exhaust by Tranzac in Brisbane, plus one-off, hand-beaten bodywork by local craftsman Bernie Willet. 

Patience

I recently had a 66-year-old clutch plate restored in 48 hours and know I can get 40-year-old consumables off the shelf. However, working on older machinery really does require some patience.

tips for buying classic motorcycles

Sometimes it takes a while to gather up all the information you need, and even to get your head around it. Ultra-rare components can take months to uncover.

The key is to build up your network of friends, shed-dwellers with similar interests and workshops/suppliers. Each will have their own network, which in turn might just come up with what you’re looking for.

Just to help you along the way, we’ve started up our very own Classics Contacts list!

If you provide goods and/or services for classic bikes, we’d like to hear from you. If you use companies that have helped with work on your classic bike, we’d like to hear of them as well.

Classic Contact | Clubland

Australia has around 2000 motorcycle clubs, some big but many small, which cater for the needs of members who own particular makes and models. Many of the names speak for themselves: BMW Motorcycle Club; AJS and Matchless Owners Club; Australian GoldWing Association; Norton Owners Club; Kawasaki Z Owners Club; the Oz V-Max Club; SR500 Club; the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club and the Hunter Ducati Owners Group to name but a few.

Then there are the enthusiast clubs such as Australian Café Racers, which is divided into the respective cities (Melbourne/Sydney Café Racers, etc).

tips for buying classic motorcycles

Many clubs are a great starting point if you’re interested in a particular brand or model. Most clubs don’t require you to own a bike when you join – it might just be part of your planning for the future.

Club wisdom comes from many members contributing what they know from personal experience and this wisdom can provide valuable short-cuts and contacts when you finally end up with the bike of your dreams. Some clubs sell parts at a discount but most will know the best way to acquire hard-to-get parts when they’re required.

Check out the “Coming Events” section in the last couple of pages of MT to get an idea of which clubs are the most active. Joining a club of like-minded owners is a great way of becoming involved in the classic scene.

Classic Contacts | Parts Retailers and Services

Victoria

Classic Road and Race Motorcycles Norton parts and accessories, engine rebuilding (03) 5444 2886

www.RoadnRace.com.au

EuroBrit Motorbikes  Spare parts specialists, all-makes workshop  www.EuroBrit.com.au  (03) 9432 6886

HPC Australia  Exhaust and engine coatings
www.HPCoatings.com.au (03) 5662 4719

Midlife Cycles Bike builds, service/repairs, parts
www.MidLifeCycles.com.au  (03) 9421 3765

Modak Motorcycles Classic motorcycle parts

(03) 9602 1229 www.ModakMotorcycles.com.au

Moose Racing products  Wheel building, distributor of Hagon Shocks  www.HagonOz.com.au  (03) 5795 1828

Parker Indian  Service, parts and sales of pre-1953 Indians
www.ParkerIndian.com.au  (03) 9809 5599

Puds Four Parts  New and used parts for Honda SOHC models  www.PudsFourParts.com  (03) 5182 5704

Rideaway Motorcycles  Engine rebuilds and restorations of classic Triumphs (03) 9570 2605

TT Motorcycles Early Japanese motorcycle restoration

www.TTMotorcycles.com.au (03) 5976 2453

T-Rex Racing Developments Historic racing preparation

(03) 9457 5411

Union Jack Motorcycles Classic Triumph & Indian parts, services  www.UnionJack.com.au  (03) 9499 6428

tips for buying classic motorcycles 

NSW/ACT

Classic Allparts British Bike Spare Parts Specialist  www.ClassicAllParts.com.au (02) 9798 7822

Ducati Gowanloch Ducati Parts for Vintage Ducati, Café Racers and Performance Street Bikes. (02) 9750 4346

www.Ducati-Gowanloch.com

Road & Race Ducati New and used parts for classic Ducati and other Italian motorcycles. (02) 4388 4211

www.RoadAndRace.com.au

Trojan Classic Motorcycles  British bike spares
www.TrojanClassics.com  (02) 9759 6990

MotoGraphix  Motorcycle decal reproduction service  (02) 9748 3164

Pacific H-D  H-D restorations, custom bike building  www.PacificHD.com.au  (02) 4322 1666

tips for buying classic motorcycles 

QLD

BJ’s Bikes & Bits  British bike specialists
www.BritishMotorcycle.com.au  (07) 3391 7322

Don Newell Motorcycles Sales and service of Moto Guzzi
www.NewellMotorcycles.com.au (07) 3891 9565

Specialised Blasting Services  Alloy engine specialists
www.WetBlasting.net  0411 332 834

The BM Shop  Sales, service and parts
www.BMShop.com.au  (07) 3356 6128

PopBang Classics  Custom classics and speed shop
www.PopBangClassics.com.au  0412 372 268

Tiaro Motorcycle Wreckers  New and used parts for pre-1985 Japanese bikes  (07) 4129 2771
www.TiaroMotorcycleWreckers.com.au

Otto Instruments  Bike instrument repairs, restorations
www.OttoInstruments.com.au  (07) 3277 3888

Mikuni  Carbs, jets and spare parts  (07) 4771 2677
www.MikuniOz.com

 tips for buying classic motorcycles

SA

K & M Motorcycles  Classic British bike spares and race prep  www.KMMotorcycles.com

WA

Iron Indian Riders Association
www.IronIndian.com.au (08) 9332 8826

Munich Motorcycles  BMW parts and service
www.MunichMotorcycles.com.au  (08) 9317 3317

tips for buying classic motorcycles

Classic Contact |Motorcycle Retailers

VIC

Classic Style Australia  Classic bike importer  (03) 9773 5500  www.ClassicStyle.com.au

Classic Bikes Direct  Classic bike importer 1300 734 826  www.ClassicBikesDirect.com.au

Antique Motorcycles  Classic bike importer (03) 9583 9922  www.AntiqueMotorcycle.com.au

Central Motorcycles  Classic bike importer (03) 9540 0866  www.CentralMotorcycles.com.au

Modak Motorcycles  British bike parts specialist  (03) 9602 1229  www.ModakMotorcycles.com.au

International Motorcycle Importers  Importers of classic and modern bikes  (03) 9753 3855
www.InternationalMotorcycleImporters.com.au

Sumoto  Importers of Learner bikes  (03) 9329 6066  www.Sumoto.com.au

Post Modern Motorcycles Custom builder of Honda CT110 www.pmmc.com.au

 

NSW/ACT

Deus ex Machina  Custom bike builder  (02) 8594 2800  www.au.DeusCustoms.com

Campbell Classic Motorcycles  Sales, service and parts of old Hondas www.CampbellClassicMotorcycles.com.au

 

QLD

Dead Dog Racing Motorcycles  Importers of vintage MX  0429 653 869  www.ddr.net.au

Peter Gardiner Enterprises  Importers of various bikes
0417 646 838

Vintage Xtreme Motorcycles  Vintage and retro bikes
(07) 5502 0855  www.VintagExtremeMotorcycles.com.au

Ellaspede  Custom bike builder, parts retailer  (07) 3844 6676  www.Ellaspede.com

Express Motorcycles  Sales and service  (07) 3202 2144  www.ExpressMotorcycles.com.au

 

SA

Classic and American Imports  (08) 7225 1106
www.ClassicAndAmericanImports.com.au

Yamaha Retro Spares  (08) 8340 1970
www.YamahaRetroSpares.com

 

WA

Old Gold Motorcycles  Pre-1990 classic motorcycles
(02) 4574 2885  www.OldGoldMotorcycles.com.au

tips for buying classic motorcycles

Retro Bike Range

 

Harley-Davidson

Forty-Eight

1202cc four-stroke V-twin

$18,250 *

Seventy-Two

1202cc four-stroke V-twin

$17.995 *

Kawasaki

W800

773cc four-stroke vertical twin

$11,999

W800 SE

773cc four-stroke vertical twin

$12,499

Laro

V-Retro

223cc four-stroke single cylinder

$2,990

Moto Guzzi

V7 Stone

744cc four-stroke V-twin

$13,490

V7 Special

744cc four-stroke V-twin

$13,990

V7 Racer SE

744cc four-stroke V-twin

$15,990

Royal Enfield

Bullet B5

499cc four-stroke single cylinder

$6995

Bullet C5

499cc four-stroke single cylinder

$7995

Bullet C5 Chrome

499cc four-stroke single cylinder

$8495

Bullet G5

499cc four-stroke single cylinder

$7445

Continental GT

535cc four-stroke single cylinder

$8695

Suzuki

TU250X

249cc four-stroke single cylinder

$5990

Triumph

Bonneville

865cc four-stroke vertical twin

$11,490***

Bonneville T100

865cc four-stroke vertical twin

$13,990

Scrambler

865cc four-stroke vertical twin

$12,690

Thruxton

865cc four-stroke vertical twin

$13,990

Yamaha

SR400

399cc four-stroke single cylinder

$8999

* Rideaway price,  ** Rideaway, limited stock, *** Two-tone paint option $11,990

Guy Allen

Story by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen & Chris Harris aka CHarris