Motorcycle Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
What vintage bikes would you consider best for short-distance commuting?

Anyone out there have a vintage bike as a daily driver?

I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts. I am looking to buy a daily driver that I can rely on to get me to work (only 10 miles away). I love the old British bikes from the 60s and 70s, particularly the medium cc air-cooled twins. I've completed several restoration jobs that I sold before my last move and like working on and maintaining bikes, but I just don't have the time to be constantly fixing my main form of transportation.

I have found a couple of early 1970's BSA motercycles (a Gold Star and a Lightning) for sale near me, but am a bit worried about their reliability to get me in to work every day, and so am considering a BMW R65 airhead I found for about the same price.

Any suggestions of manufactured, makes or models to look for, or to avoid?

James H.
 

·
Commute Racer
Joined
·
2,225 Posts
If I only had to go 10 miles, I would probably pick something that matched my tastes more so than my current needs (nimble, gas mileage, comfort, faired, powerful enough).
 
O

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
I'm no expert, but...I would stay away from vintage brit bikes if you're concerned about
reliability. I owned a couple back in the day, spent a bunch of money having them fixed.
However they are still my favorites.
I would think parts for an old BMW would also be expensive. You can't go wrong with
an older Japanese bike, say a Honda Nighthawk. They're reliable, reasonably easy to fix,
and parts are available for decent money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,342 Posts
What distance are you commuting? Are you going to ride in rain or just decent weather? How long have you been riding, and what are the traffic conditions ?

I ride a Goldwing, but it isn't a bike for an inexperienced rider. The older Goldwings give great protection from weather.
 

·
All I remember is Dirt Sky Dirt Ambulance....
Joined
·
640 Posts
If you want to keep your job, don't think for a second that depending on a 30 year old bike (or car) every day is going to help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,668 Posts
What vintage bikes would you consider best for short-distance commuting?

Anyone out there have a vintage bike as a daily driver?

I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts. I am looking to buy a daily driver that I can rely on to get me to work (only 10 miles away). I love the old British bikes from the 60s and 70s, particularly the medium cc air-cooled twins. I've completed several restoration jobs that I sold before my last move and like working on and maintaining bikes, but I just don't have the time to be constantly fixing my main form of transportation.

I have found a couple of early 1970's BSA motercycles (a Gold Star and a Lightning) for sale near me, but am a bit worried about their reliability to get me in to work every day, and so am considering a BMW R65 airhead I found for about the same price.

Any suggestions of manufactured, makes or models to look for, or to avoid?

James H.

I own and ride a Vintage Jap Bike, 1975 Kawasaki Z1-B 900 ( KZ) ;) so, am partial to them, mine has 59K miles on it and I take off and ride as far as 100 miles each way ,no worries. Parts are readily available,m maintenence is easy. Good Bikes. But everyone of course has an opinion.
JMHO
TennesseeZ Ed:thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,168 Posts
I used a BMW R-60, 1965, as my daily ride for several years. With its low compression / low octane requirements it could run on almost any fuel and it was very reliable. With mostly freeway miles I averaged about 50 MPG on that bike. I still own it but have not ridden it for years now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
Like the twins why not do a Yamaha XS650 twin for commuting? The BSAs and old Triumphs can be a bit temperamental.

Another that isn't vintage, but looks it and is quite cool is the Kawasaki W650, but they're pretty rare to find.

10 miles is nothing when it comes to a commute.
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
10,757 Posts
I do not know what you count as vintage. If 25 years or more qualifies, then my vote would be for a 1977 Harley Davidson XLCR. The Café Racer Sportster. For no other reason than it is a light quick bike that could get you through traffic easy, and look nice doing it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
Do you have a clue what a decent XLCR sells for these days? $10,000 or so!

It would be less expensive to buy a new 883 and ride it!

It falls into the line with the BSA and Triumph to a fair extent, just not the kind of bike to make a daily rider to run 10 miles one way. It's like driving a 63 Stingray as a work car year around... Go buy a less expensive more common vehicle for this kind of commute that is similar in feel and look, but no where near as valuable should something happen to it or in general wear and tear.

I'd buy the BSA, Triumph, Harley for the occasional and weekend ride, keeping it clean and nice. I'd buy an XS650 or an SR500 Yamaha, both are Japanese classics with heavy British influence, but durable as a rock and far less costly:

The SR is bare bones, kick start only, no balancers, just a raw 500 single... but really fun to ride. Like a BSA Victor or Gold Star, but about 1/5 the cost of a Victor, 1/10 the cost of the Gold Star, but far more dependable than either ever were.



An early XS650 and a later Special, again 1/5-1/10 the cost of a good BSA or old Triumph, but more reliable with a few fixes in the ignition and carbs as needed if needed:

1975 or so:



The specials - a bazillion were made and people have done some incredible things from flat trackers to choppers with them. I picked this one because with a change of handlebars and fenders it takes on a great look:



Google search Yamaha SR500 and Yamaha XS650 special then click on images to see what people have done with them... Some really cool stuff and both bikes are essentially vintage at this point in time in the U.S. models and at least in image and feel.

I have had 2 SR500s, still owning the second one and having it in a looooong term street tracker project. Maybe this spring...



Oh, by the way I used to ride that bike back and forth to a job I had, running about 20 miles one way, when it was pretty much stock. I put a windshield on it when the weather got cooler.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
916 Posts
OK, I'm going to toss out the Honda CX/GL series of motorcycles.

Water cooled, shaft drive, easy to work on for the most part. Valve adjustments do not come any easier.

I've owned several of them, and they were all bulletproof, you could literally ride them across country and back without any concerns - or, make the short hop across town - comfortable, reliable, durable any way you want to ride it.

I had one exactly like this -



and here is the last one I owned -



Weak points - some people had troubles with the stators, I never did. The water pump seal is something to check - look inbetween the carbs and down - any leakage, you have to drop the motor to properly change that seal.

And you know what, after you do it a time or two, that is not that big of a deal.

On my GL500, the rear tire change was possibly the best of any motorcycle.

Put the bike on the centerstand, remove seat. Remove two 10mm bolts, rear fender tilts up - remove axle and wheel.

There are also the turbo versions, both exceptional machines and while not the all out fastest, debatable the best of the turbo bikes of the era.

You can find a good old CX or GL series motorcycle for a grand, many times less, sometimes more. Plenty of web support, not difficult to maintain (spin on filter would ice the cake), that is my suggestion for the day.

Plus - they make for some cool customs, google is our friend:



http://cx500forum.com/forum/cx-customization-modifications/30-salt-flats-silver-wing.html
 

·
American Legion Rider
Joined
·
22,174 Posts
Actually what you need to define is short commute. If 5 miles or less then a Honda Twinstar would be just fine. If 25 or less then a Honda Hawk. Then over 25 isn't short.



 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
10,757 Posts
Do you have a clue what a decent XLCR sells for these days? $10,000 or so!

It would be less expensive to buy a new 883 and ride it!
.............
I agree, but the question was what would be the best vintage bike for commuting . Not the most cost effective.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
I agree, but the question was what would be the best vintage bike for commuting . Not the most cost effective.
Considering the fact that around the 70s was when AMF Harley earned their reputation for lack of reliability and for oil leakage I'm thinking it wouldn't be the best for commuting. Late 60s to 70s didn't treat the Brit bikes too well either in the reliability zone. Thus the suggestion to consider the classic Japanese bikes - along with cost.

The vintage classics aren't just European and American anymore. Antiques maybe, but that won't be totally true in a few more years. It turned out the Japanese bikes weren't throw away bikes. The biggest problem we saw with them at the dealership from the 80s to date was neglect. Nothing holds up well when they're left to sit and rot, become homes for rodents, in cold damp places.

My newest current ride is a 95, another a 90 and the project is a 78. I ride the two regularly while the third is a project, but started and ran fine until disassembled. Thus my comments about the reasonable priced Japanese vintage classics.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
42 Posts
I know this is an old thread, but I have something extra to add.

For a daily commuter bike you want a bike that starts right up easy and won't randomly hold you up for no reason.

My 74' CB360 starts right up, every single time, no choke needed unless it's cold. It doesn't need to be warmed up, it's still small enough to park on sidewalks, fast enough to handle short distances on highways, and cheap enough to not worry about too much. I treat my CB360 like crap, minimal TLC, and it is always ready to go.

My 77' CB750 prefers to be started with the choke on and would like a minute to warm up in the morning. It's a new bike to me, and I'm expecting it to be very reliable, I don't choose this bike for a quick easy trip to the market.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
916 Posts
Toss some slightly larger slow (pilot) jets in the CB750 and you'll be happy.

Quicker warm-up, usually removed any and all hesitation when giving throttle, win win for everyone -

But the sniveling tree huggers.....
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
916 Posts
Considering the fact that around the 70s was when AMF Harley earned their reputation for lack of reliability and for oil leakage........
I've gotten into more than a few "discussions" on a variety of web forums when the Harley "experts" go on and on about how good those AMF machines really were.

Actually ended up banned from a few forums, for speaking what I knew/thought was the truth - something people these days don't like to hear.....
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top