Show me the money!

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m becoming more and more disillusioned with the classic biking scene, and it’s nothing to do with losing the love for all that marvellous old machinery out there. No, it’s just that everything is so increasingly focused on value now.

I have been riding bikes since the mid-seventies, and started restoring bikes I’d lusted after back then in the early nineties, when it was still a cheap hobby.

I’ve had a crack at Japanese, German, Italian and British projects over the years, all built to be ridden, with no concern about getting something wrong and, say, blowing an engine.

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The thinking being I’d just fix it again as parts were cheap. But that’s not a philosophy I can afford to subscribe to now.

The money thing was further brought into focus when I managed to get out for a ride on my built from bits Honda CB750K1 up to my local bikers’ café in Northumberland, just prior to Boris confining us all to quarters.

Before I’d even got my helmet off the guy next to me climbed down from his modern SUM (Sports Utility Motorcycle) and greeted me with: “ Nice bike, what’s it worth?”

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Now I’m quite used to the bike attracting attention and I’m quite happy to chat about it, even the rivet counters are amusing in their own way, but that approach just got my back up.

Anyhow, after politely ignoring biker number 1, and getting my helmet off, biker number 2 comes over, with exactly the same opening gambit…

It’s very apparent that the ‘proper bikers’ involved in the classic bike scene are being rapidly replaced by people only looking at investment opportunities, with little interest in the machinery itself, and I for one find it very depressing.

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It’s getting to the point where I’m considering looking for something else to tinker with in the garage, something that won’t lead to a bill running into the thousands if I do get it wrong. I’d be very interested to hear you and your readership’s views on this topic.

Alan Davison

Thanks for your letter Alan, and in many respects we agree with you – but don’t be disheartened!

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That’s why Classic Bike Guide rarely shows auction results, and also tries to give the smaller, cheaper bikes just as much space, like the 125s we’ve had over the last few months. For us, like you, it’s about building, fixing and riding.

But it’s not biking’s fault, it’s society in general. Envy has turned to jealousy, and money is, and has always been a way that many, wrongly, position people.

How many people actually need a £100,000 Range Rover? Is it just to show others how successful they are?

My nanny used to say: “A flash car or large house does not a gentleman make. A Spiv is still a Spiv, no matter what they wear”…

The classic car world has, in my opinion, been ruined by this infatuation with what something is worth.

The truth is, we don’t do bikes, or cars up for others, but for ourselves. So spend that time on a CZ125 (as I am), or that Morris Minor if you’ll enjoy it once it’s done.

And if it’s what you want, who the hell cares what anyone else says or thinks? And I think we’d all love to see your CB750!


Read more Letters, Opinion, News and Features online at and in the May 2020 issue of Classic Bike Guide – on sale now!

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