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Vintage Motorcycles

Retrospective: Suzuki GS1000SZ Katana: 1982


In the 1950s and ’60s motorcycle styling was of little concern to either the OEMs or consumers. Two wheels with an engine in between was the standard of the day, with minor differences in the shape of the gas tank. Then in 1973, Triumph USA and designer Craig Vetter came up with the Hurricane, and people began to take styling ...

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Iron Ponies


Some things are just meant to be. I really believe that. I’m not saying people don’t have some say in how they act or what they do, but some things present themselves in such a way that you just have to surrender to the moment and say “OK, I’ll play along.” It had been several months since I had visited ...

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Kaizen: Where were you in ’72?


Where were you in ’72? Or how about 1965, when those little Honda step-throughs were everywhere? Now you could get a motorcycle, because your mother was not afraid of it. Heck, your mother even wanted one herself. Cool thing about those little Japanese bikes is that they grew up, right along with you. They got bigger and faster, and a ...

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Retrospective: Norton 850 Commando Mark III: 1975 – 1977


This Mark III was the last of the genuine Nortons. In October of 1977 the final Norton rolled off the line, with the side panels reading “850 Commando Electric Start.” The engine was an air-cooled parallel twin, inclined forward a few degrees, with two overhead valves per cylinder. A pair of Amal Concentric carbs fed fuel into the cylinders, with ...

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Pat Owens Remembered

Pat Owens

Motorcycling’s trailblazers are mourning the passing of Triumph aficionado extraordinaire, Pat Owens, whose exploits accumulating 500,000 miles on a 1970 Triumph T120 RT have been chronicled in Rider magazine and elsewhere. Pat, former Western Service Manager for Triumph, acquired the bike while tuning for AMA racing champion Gene Romero. Pat later became the advanced semester instructor of motorcycle mechanics at ...

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Winter Musings

As old man winter sweeps through the south the weather changes aren’t nearly as drastic as those in the northern parts of our country. No snow banks line the roads down here below the Mason-Dixon Line; no bitter winds rattle the windows or cause those out on the streets to bundle up like artic explorers. The changes are subtle. The ...

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Retrospective: Honda CL72 Scrambler 250: 1962 – 1965

Honda CL72 Scrambler 250

photography by Steve Ready [This Retrospective: Honda CL72 Scrambler 250: 1962 – 1965 was originally published in the December 2011 issue of Rider magazine] In the early ’60s big changes were coming to the motorcycle world. The British industry did not understand that it was on death row, Harley was grudgingly modernizing its bread-and-butter big twin, and the European manufacturers ...

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Retrospective: Matchless G15/45 750cc (AMC): 1962-1963

1963 Matchless G15/45

[This Retrospective: Matchless G15/45 750cc (AMC): 1962-1963 was originally published in the November 2011 issue of Rider magazine] The old American adage goes, “There is no substitute for cubic inches.” And in the early ’60s there was definitely a battle for the biggest among the British exporters to the USA. Edward Turner, the man who created the successful vertical twin ...

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Retrospective: Yamaha YM2C Big Bear 305 Scrambler: 1967

Year/model: 1967 Yamaha YM2C Big Bear 305. Owner: Jeff Williams, Los Osos, California.

In the early ’60s the Big Bear race was a pretty serious event, running across California’s Mojave Desert and up to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. The idea that this beautiful, highly chromed street-scrambler had any possibility of winning against high-strung Euro-bikes like Maico, DKW, Jawa, etc., was a pipe dream. However, Yamaha decided to appropriate the ...

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