Restoring and hot-rodding old bikes has been a trend ever since the first bikes rolled out of the factory. As much as riders love their bikes, they always reckon they could have done better than the factory.
Customising hit a peak in the post-war years when cashed-up Americans churned fast bucks into ever-faster cars and bikes. The height of the trend was the iconic Captain America Harley chopper from Easy Rider. Since then, customising has changed and in recent years the changing trends have accelerated.
Back in the 1980s when Yuppies had a fair bit of expendable cash, they bought the bikes they and their fathers lusted after in their youth – the British brigade of BSA, Triumph, AJS, Norton, etc. That is a constant in the world of collecting, customising, restoring and hot-rodding; it’s the bikes or cars that we lusted after as teenagers that are the most prized. Therefore, they are the most expensive. The British trend caused Triumph to bring back the Bonneville in 2000.
Then the trend switched to 1970s Japanese bikes and crazy prices have been paid for CBs, water bottles and early Z bikes. On the strength of the trend, Honda developed the CB1100, but it hasn’t sold well in Australia and has been dropped from the line-up. It’s still available overseas, though.
In the past couple of years the trend has swung to late 1970s and early 1980s R series BMWs with their hideously bulbous boxer engines featuring prominently. BMW has also latched on to the trend and this year launches the R nineT which is nice, but doesn’t quite hit the mark.
I’ve been hooked with some of the custom work performed on these boxers and have lusted after several R series bikes on the various classified websites. However, owners want too much for them. That’s going to happen when an item is hot. It’s the theory of supply and demand or good-old capitalism at work.
So, rather than following the trend, we newbies of the custom, restoring and hot-rodding world need to find the next big thing. Easier said than done, eh?
One modern model I love is the Ducati Sportclassic line. Beautifully executed, but unloved, so the Italian manufacturer dropped them a couple of years ago. I think Ducati blinked too soon. Maybe the Ducati Monster which last year celebrated its 20th anniversary is the next donor bike for customisers, restorers and hot-rodders. The prices for early 1990s Ducatis are still low, too. You can pick up an early 600 or 750 for around $3000.
However, Ducatis are sports bikes and previous owners will have given them a fairly hard time. Also finding one in original condition will be difficult as they are prone to being blinged-up. If you Google “Ducati Monster customs” you will be bowled over by the volume of images. In fact, maybe that boat has already sailed and I need to think again.
What do you think will be the next big thing in custom bikes?