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Thread: Where to begin?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Nashville, TN
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    Default Where to begin?

    Hello everyone, I am 26 and recently became very interested in the antique motorcycle world. I have been into old cars for a while, and love using them out in the world. I drove my 1930 Model A from California to Texas last year (was on my way moving to Tennessee but got in a bad accident in Austin.) Anyway, I am about to jump into the market and try to build up a bike, and even though I've looked at a million pictures of bikes I love, I'm not sure what type of power plant I should start with. I'd like something relatively cheap, with a good amount of available old/new parts, and I don't mind the idea of starting with just an engine. In fact, I'd prefer to build the frame and tank, as it would be a fun project for me. Any ideas of which direction I should go for finding a good power plant to start with? I would prefer something chain drive, and even though I think the twins look amazing, I'm sure a single would be the more economical way to go. Thanks in advance, I look forward to any input!

    -Sean in Tennessee

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lamoille County, Vermont
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    Default

    Great 'first' antique bike is a Harley W-model 45. Flathead parts are plentiful, inexpensive, simple to work on... and the bikes are really pretty gorgeous when all done!

    But long ago, a friend of mine gave me good advice when buying old cars or bikes... or starting on restorations: Buy something that appeals to you... buy something that is beautiful to you. Because you can fix anything but ugly...

    Cheers and best of luck. You will find a lot of great help and advice here. And a lot of enablers ;-)

    Sirhr

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    123

    Default

    I would suggest you take a trip down to Barber Vintage Days next month. You can see the museum and vintage days and get a idea of what is out there and it is only a few hours south of you. There staff is on hand and the people who do restorations there to also answer questions. You can also go into the shop areas.
    Jim D

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    St. Paul Minnesota
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Are you thinking you'll try to replicate the frame/tank from whatever engine you find? Or just going to create your own style? I'm new to the Antique motorcycles other than the 70's and 80's Japanese bikes (if you can call them "Antiques" that is). I look forward to seeing your project.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    England
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    Default

    Don't knock those Japanese bikes. There are a lot of them out there and they are an inexpensive way to get into the old bike hobby. Having said that, the Harley 45 is a common starting point for antiques and many members' first old bike. There are G motors out there from Servicars which would probably be the lowest cost entry point. There are a couple of long 'build' threads on this forum showing what you might be getting into in terms of practicality. And don't forget Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley NC if you really need to be inspired!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    S.E.N.Y. State American side of Hudson River
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    422

    Default

    We have an event here in Northwest N.J. that is called "Strange Days". Most of the attendees are in their 20s and early 30s. What they accomplish with minimal investment is amazing. They use anything they can get their hands on. Yamaha 650 twins seem to be a very sought after powerplant. Triumphs, Nortons, BSAs, Hondas, really anything that is economical and they can get their hands on to start with. You can look up them online and see what they do. It shows you there is a lot of talent out there that is untapped or unknown to us. It reminds me of when Panheads were a couple hundred bucks.
    D. A. Bagin #3166 AKA Panheadzz 440 48chief W/sidecar 57fl 57flh 58fl 66m-50 68flh 70xlh

  7. #7
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    Aug 2015
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    St. Paul Minnesota
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Motorbikebruno View Post
    Are you thinking you'll try to replicate the frame/tank from whatever engine you find? Or just going to create your own style? I'm new to the Antique motorcycles other than the 70's and 80's Japanese bikes (if you can call them "Antiques" that is). I look forward to seeing your project.
    Whoa gents, settle down. I ONLY own Japanese bikes due to the fact that I can afford them and customize them or bring them back to original without breaking the bank. I think you are taking my comment negatively. I was simply implying that I don't consider them Antiques, since I fix them every day for people. You can see some on my facebook page if you'd like (just had a nice CB750 with original orange come in, and then a 74' CB750 chop from back in the day!) www.facebook.com/motorbikebrunos I really didn't mean to ruffle any feathers with the comment.

    With all of that said, I too have been lusting for something I consider Antique and pre 1960, so I'm very interested in the original poster's request and project. I can't wait to see what you find OnlyBackRoads!

  8. #8
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    Apr 2015
    Location
    Nashville, TN
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    Default

    Thanks for the replies guys! I started looking into the Harley 45's and they look like they'd be really fun bikes.

    I definitely plan to go down to the Barber Vintage event, I don't if I will be able to keep from drooling in public though...

    This post was specifically for information on a good antique engine to use in terms of parts availability, although I am severely attracted to bikes from the late teens and early twenties (particularly the Indian PowerPlus.) I figured I'd buy an engine/transmission, and build my own frame and tank around it. I'd like something all original but it seemed like getting just the power plant would be best to start with money-wise. Plus I really like making frames and tanks.

    One thing I plan to do is take a Honda 125 engine and build a teens/twenties loop style frame around it, and ride it across the country. Eventually I'd like to do the Cannonball run, but I need to get a lot more experience and expendable income for the real pre-16 (or 17?) stuff.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Lamoille County, Vermont
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    If you're going to do a 'restomod' type bike (and they can be really cool if properly executed) then consider buying a new-production knucklehead.

    They are readily available... powerful, well made crate motors. Once in a bike... for a huge part of the riding public... it's still a knucklehead. A 45 is nice looking, but will be underpowered for a modern large frame machine.

    Plus, if you can do your own frames... consider some interesting car engines! I've been wanting to do a bike around a 6-cylinder 1930 Rolls-Royce straight-six motor that I have 'lying around.' Other interesting motors include the BMW 2002 (and 1600) four-cylinder inline's that look great on a stand or in a frame. Lots of aluminum to polish and a nice size. Mate them with a Moto-Guzzi automatic or some kind of direct drive and you could have a really interesting motor.

    One of the bikes I always regret not buying was an Honest Charley's Flathead V8 motorcycle. (they are on Youtube.) Don't let a simple thing like "it came out of a motorcycle" limit your choices. Two wheels and a cool motor... vintage or not... will make you a hero in my book.

    Cheers,

    Sirhr

    PS... if you are really good at frame design... I need someone to design a rigid frame (springer front-end) around that Rolls-Royce engine.... we can talk... PM me...

  10. #10
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    Jan 2003
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    England
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    Yes, those early 60 hp flathead Ford V8s will go in a bike frame, and I remember being thrilled by hearing one of Corky Coker's creations fired up, at Oley I think, some years ago.

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