Speed and handling—combined with sleek design—have been the dream of avid motorcyclists since the first bike took to the road some 125 years ago. Photographer Steve Cote takes enthusiasts on a road trip through a year of classic bikes. Classic and Vintage Motorcycles 2020 brings you the groundbreaking models that would be the highlights of any collection.
| Large blocks for notes | Reproduced on quality, 100-pound paper | Calendar measures 13 ¾ by 10 ½ inches closed and 13 ¾ by 21 inches open
Motorcycles pictured in this edition include:
When you think of Laverda, the Jota is the bike you imagine. Heavy at 515 pounds, fast and loud, it made a sound like no other bike. With a 1000cc triple, it was the first production bike to exceed 140 mph. Production began in 1973; in 1978 the engine was upgraded to 1200cc, along with many other improvements. The last of the Jotas with the 350-degree crankshaft where built in 1981.
Japanese bikes in the 60s and early 70s where known for their reliability, but not for their handling. Then along came Yamaha’s little two-strokes. In race trim, coming in under 300 pounds, and delivering up to 50hp, they really shook up the status quo for British and Italian race bikes of the day. Yamaha saw many wins on the track, including the Daytona 200 in 1968.
Most riders enjoyed the Commando’s road-handling, the more twisty the better. For Fred Marsh, owner of Marsh Motorcycle in East Windsor, CT, the Commando was a hill climber. An AMA Hall of Famer, Freddie raced hill climbs from the 1920s to 1988. This Norton’s only modification seems to be the large rear-sprocket. With the torque of the Commando’s engine, this bike probably makes a great hill climber.
The Triumph Bonneville was the iconic sport bike of the 1960s. The first engines where 650cc, but in 1970 displacement was increased to 750cc. The Bonneville was light, delivered good, usable power, was fast, and handled great for its time. Production began in 1959 and hung on until the closure of the Meriden, England factory in 1983. The Triumph brand was revived in 2001 as part of the English company Bloor Holdings.
Honda 750 Hondamatic
When Honda introduced the 750 Hondamatic they must have believed that a two-speed automatic would attract new riders, people who wanted the ride, but not the hand-cultch and foot-shifting of typical motorcycles. The new transmission also meant a reëngineered torque converter, a detuned engine with less power, and a gain in weight. The Hondamatic only remained in production from 1976 to 1978. It never caught on with riders, new or veteran.
Triumph Trophy TR5T Trail 500
Sold in between 1973 and 1975, the Trophy was kind of a parts-bin bike that used the Triumph 500cc engine mated to a BSA scrambler frame. It was intended to compete with the lower-cost Honda SL’s and other Japanese scrambler-style bikes. More useful on-road then off, the Trophy was fine for exploring dirt country roads, though some hearty folks did run them off-road, too.
In 1978 and 79 Suzuki sold a version of their GS1000 styled after Wes Cooly’s winning Yoshimura Suzuki race bike. Adding more than just nice paint and a new faring, Suzuki gave the “S” a second brake disc up front and quality suspension components that together made an already capable bike even better. Fewer than 2000 of these bikes where sold, however; the market preferred the “L” cruiser version of the bike, rather than the sportier “S.”
Today Ducati is known for their range of “L” twin-cylinder motorcycles. Between 1950 and 1974, though, they were noted for their popular single-cylinder bikes, ranging from 98cc to 450cc. These bikes where made in versions for road, scrambler and off-road riding. In 1967 Ducati developed the Desmodronic engine, the design the company still uses today.
Ducati 750 Super Sport
If there is an iconic sport bike of the 1970s it would probably be the Ducati 750 Super Sport built to commemorate Ducati’s win at the Imola 200 in 1972. The Super Sport was Ducati’s first twin design to use the Desmodromic valve train. The 750 was a street-legal race bike that could reach 140 mph. Unfortunately, only 88 out of the 401 built came to the United States.
Ducati Paso 750
After CAGIVA acquired Ducati in1986, the company’s first new product was the Paso 750 in 1988.Designed by Massimo Tamburini, who went on to design the Ducati 916 and the MV Agusta F4, the Paso was one of the first modern bikes with an engine fully enclosed by bodywork. Though not as fast as some contemporaries, it delivered excellent handling with low-profile 16-inch wheels and Olin rear suspension.
Yamaha R1 350
The Yamaha R1 was came to market in 1967 and was the first 350cc built by Yamaha. The engine was a two-stroke, twin-cylinder, piston-port design that made 36hp, so the R1 was actually faster than many 650s of the day. It was also the granddad of the legendary RD350.
The NSU Max was built in Germany between 1956 and 1963. With engineering ahead of its time, the Max engine was an OHC, air-cooled single that pumped out 18hp. The Max reached a top speed of 78mph, while delivering reliable performance, and that combination made it a great weekend runabout.
© Tide-mark Press 2019