Classic Bike Guide

I’ve nothing to prove! small bikes rule

LUSTING AFTER CLASSY BRITISH TWINS, lithe Italian stallions or big Japanese fours is part and parcel of classic biking. Most of us want one, many of us have got one, and some more than one.

But sometimes a big beast isn’t what is needed. Perhaps something cheaper to own, run and ride might appeal. Something that will slice through 21st century traffic like a Stanley knife, but still has that classic feel. Something smaller, such as an easy-to-live-with 1960s or 70s 125 could be what’s called for, something you can just jump on every day and just ride when the idea of mounting a great chunk of iron and alloy is too much to handle.

The engineering might be less complex to look after. They’re easy to start, and easy to ride to their full potential. Maybe you’re returning to motorcycling years, or even decades, after last taking to the road. There are classic fans who never passed their tests back in the day, exchanging their 250 Yamaha for a Mk.II Ford Escort as the realities of day to day life caught up with them.

There are youngsters interested in classics they can ride on L-plates and benefit from cheaper insurance, and there are parents and grandparents who would like their offspring to get the classic bug from day one.

Compared to modern machines, there are no ECUs, no fuel injection or ABS to worry about. In most cases they were built with points and coils instead of electronic ignition and faults are easy to diagnose. There are engines that are as basic as they come, easy to start and to keep running.

If you are still on L-plates, a pre-1983 125 doesn’t need to be restricted. And unlike a modern 125, which will plummet in value the moment you wheel a new one from the showroom, an old one can sell for pretty much what you paid for it. And they are cheap to run. Get a 40-year-old 125, and you’ll pay no road tax, won’t need an MoT, the insurance will be buttons, especially if you add it to an existing policy, and some will sip petrol like a reluctant participant in dry January.

Here then, is a guide to the classic Jap

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