Investment motorcycles and their values

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If you’ve seen the inaugural 44 Teeth ‘Retro Rides’ video, featuring a Honda SP-2 and an Aprilia RSV Mille R, you might remember Jase and Sue discussing investment motorcycles and disagreeing over whether or not certain bikes reach a point in their life, from which time their value only ever goes up. Whilst Perkins believed this to be the case, Statham wasn’t so sure. This is what I think…

The discussion began when Sue made reference to the fact that the SP-2 he was riding would ‘only ever go up in value. I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say words to that effect before. And whilst to the two didn’t agree, I think both made valid points.  

It’s an interesting discussion and I don’t know if I’m right… maybe I’m completely wrong. But I think once a bike’s value hits rock bottom, and then it starts going back up again, that’s the key. And once it’s gone up, it’ll usually never go back down again, because it’s proved to be a desirable machine. A bike that everybody wants to own.

The appreciation of some bikes might be faster than others, and it might stall, but if you’ve chosen well, like limited edition bikes or iconic machines, I can’t see them going down in value.

This was Sue’s argument

But Jason didn’t agree, he said

I don’t necessarily agree with that. I don’t think you can ever know when a bike is at its minimum price, and that it’ll never go lower. Look at the Super Evo class in MX; that crashed because you couldn’t get any bits. And those are only 20 – 30 year old bikes. I just don’t know how you can say that the value of certain bikes will never go down.

If you haven’t seen the video, then here it is.

But what do I think? Well I’ve got my own theory about the value of classic and investment bikes. Obviously there are a lot of bikes that increase in value as they get older. Some so much so that eventually, they’re worth more than they were new. And whilst I agree that there are some bikes that’ll only ever continue to go up in value, I genuinely think they’re few and far between. I think they’ve got to be really, really special for that. I’m talking about a Barry Sheene or a Valentino Rossi World Championship winning bike, that kind of thing. And I’ll tell you why.

One of the reasons classic bikes are so sought after, is because of the nostalgia associated with them. I’m mad about R1s, because I loved them as a kid, so I’m desperate to own one. Some people that are a bit older than me might get hard over bikes from the 80s or 70s. That’s why bikes from those eras still command strong money.

But for bikes from, say, the 50s and before, it’s a different story. I’m not saying they are worthless, but there aren’t many people buying them for nostalgic reasons. That’s because most of the people that were around back then are either dead or dying; both conditions which tend not to put you in a motorcycle buying mood, especially not for investment motorcycles. When the demand for any product dwindles, so does its value. Bikes as old as that have a historical value, but not really much of a nostalgic one; not for most people anyway.

So what I’m saying is this. Eventually all of us that are old enough now to remember the 80s and 90s, will soon be too old (or too dead) to be interested in buying bikes. Our kids won’t be interested in them (or not to the same degree as us) because they can’t remember them the first time round. You might think you’re doing them a favour by leaving them a ‘priceless’ mint-condition GSX-R750 Slabby in your will, but they probably wouldn’t thank you for it in 50 years from now, when nobody has even heard of a ‘Slabby’. Especially if by then, the term ‘Slabby’ means something else; because it’s probably not going to be something good.

So in summation, what I’m trying to say is that when you’re dealing in investment motorcycles, you’ve got to be shrewd about it. To maximise your returns, selling at the right time is just as important as buying at the right time. Sell whilst it’s still appreciating, and you’ll lose profit. Leave it too late and your ‘priceless classic’ bike might turn into a ‘worthless old’ one. Good luck.


4 Responses

  1. Im into bikes , markets and economics, this is my big picture take on Boothys well written piece .

    The valuation of ALL assets has been distorted over the last 30 years or so ( the illusory wealth period).

    In simple terms GDP has been rising at around 3% a year whilst money supply has raged at say 6%, the result = asset price inflation.

    We must be nearing the point when a cyclical cleansing will take place to address this anomaly and bike collections will not be spared.

    Following the deflation, government and central banks could go into money supply overdrive – in which case the numbers could rise , but the curency will be toast.

    To develop the metaphor, a loaf of bread will be more desirable than an old bike during a period of stagflation/ hyperinflation.

    To close , i ride a 2003 zx9 and I think its the dogs boll—ks.

  2. I tend to disagree on one or two points; Some bikes have proven to have a seemingly generation-free appeal, i.e. they are desired by one and all, their designs and looks crossing the barriers of time. Examples; Vincent 1000’s, Brough’s, some Vellocettes, Goldie’s, Bonneville’s AND many British race bikes from the 50’s and 60’s. Drawing a parallel with classic cars: any Ferrari will ALWAYS be an investment, if carefully purchased, and yes, selected by using your personal taste for a “looker “when buying. Bikes are easier to restore and maintain and keep than Cars, so as long as we still keep producing new motorcycling generations there will always be a certain percentage of motorcyclists wanting to preserve, ride and look after bikes that went before. The key issue here is which bikes end up becoming iconic, which ones continue to look good, and/or sound good even today, like a Spitfire! These bikes will always have more followers than examples on offer, it will be another case of supply and demand. So invest, but try and avoid the “memory lane” nostalgia and go for the one that looked “the dog’s” then, and still does today.

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