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Retro + Vintage Motorcycle Reviews

Retrospective: Ducati Monza Junior 160: 1964-1970

Year/Model: 1964 Ducati Monza Junior 160; Owner: Fritz Buehner, Lubec, Maine.

You can credit the Berliner brothers with this one. Joe and Mike had decided to make their fortunes by importing European (including British) motorcycles, beginning with Zundapp back in 1951. They picked up the Ducati distributorship in 1958, which had several nice lightweight machines at lightweight prices. Beautiful little 98cc and 125cc overhead-camshaft singles, creations of a brilliant engineer called ...

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Ariel 4G Square Four 1,000cc: 1937-1959

Year/Model: 1951 4G Square Four Mark I; Owner: Mike Barber, Shell Beach, California.

The magnificent Squariel! This one-liter engine was, in effect, two overhead-valve parallel twins standing vertically, with the two crankshafts geared together and all four cylinders fed by a single carburetor. This layout meant lots of low-end power and lots of torque, an excellent choice for pulling a large sidecar. A well-sprung solo saddle kept the rider happy, and the ride ...

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Retrospective: Honda CL360 Scrambler: 1974 – 1975

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Back in 1972, Honda determined that its immensely successful CB/CL350 OHC twin should continue to move forward…albeit slowly. But just how much change can be made by increasing the number on the side covers by 10, from 350 to 360? Quite a lot, as it turned out. The 360 was no minor upgrade from the 350. It had a new ...

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The Quail Motorcycle Gathering 2015

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In its seven years, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering has never really called itself a Concours d’Elegance, not like many shows where spit and polish is of the essence. The Quail has been much less formal, with the occasional barn-find, straw still in the wheels, sitting next to a $90,000 Vincent. The organizing expert, Gordon McCall, has developed a very successful ...

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Retrospective—Bobber: 1945 to Present (1947 Indian Chief)

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Look up “bobber” in a conventional dictionary, and the definition talks about a float on a fishing line. Try Wikipedia: “A bobber is a custom motorcycle that usually has the front fender removed, the rear fender ‘bobbed’ (made smaller), and all superfluous parts removed to reduce weight.” Conventional wisdom states that motorcycle bobbers originated after World War II, when returning ...

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Retrospective: Suzuki RG500 Gamma: 1985-1986

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Sportbikes are one thing, street-legal repli-racers patterned on GP bikes are quite another. Both are intended for public roads, and while both are extremely fast, the repli-racer will have handling better suited to a racetrack than a mountain road. This RG500 was a repli-racer mildly popular in Europe and Canada, although never officially imported to the United States. That is ...

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Retrospective: Lambretta 150 Li Series I, II, III: 1958-1967

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The Italian scooter wars were in full ruckus in the late ’50s, as Lambretta and Vespa fought ferociously for market share. A number of other companies were building scooters, but those two were very much the leading contenders. “New” being the keyword to success, the Lambretta Company, with founder Ferdinando Innocenti very much at the handlebars, came out with the ...

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Retrospective: Honda CL175 Scrambler: 1968-1973

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There certainly were lots of variations of Honda’s 175 twin over its six years on the market, from Super Sport to Motosport, with the Scrambler sitting right in the middle. All part of Honda’s marketing wisdom—offering roughly the same bike in a variety of styles, appealing to any number of potential buyers. In the mid-1960s Americans were falling in lust ...

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Retrospective: Amazonas 1600: 1977-1989

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This motorcycle was a result of economic solutions rather than engineering designs, which may explain its questionable status as one of the worst motorcycles ever built. In the early 1970s, Brazil was getting its economic act together after 25 years of mismanagement and heavy borrowing to keep the country afloat. Industry was now beginning to compete with agriculture as the ...

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Retrospective: Rumi Turismo 125: 1950-1956

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After World War II ended, dozens of Italian companies began producing small motorcycles and motor scooters to provide the local folk with some sort of personal transportation. A few of the names live on, like Vespa, Moto Guzzi and Ducati, but most have been relegated to dusty files on the back shelves of those interested in motorcycle history, names like ...

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