The 1972 Ducati 750 Sport 'Z Stripe'
The 1972 Ducati 750 Sport 'Z Stripe'
Image: Bike Exif

A friend recently told me the story of how someone he knows — a collector of Ducati motorcycles — found and bought a classic motorcycle to add to their collection and realised it was worth over double what they had paid for it.

While I don’t have a long history with motorcycles, stories like that fascinate me. The image of owning a warehouse filled with motorcycles of different eras appeals to me. Spending my days lovingly wandering between a collection of motorcycles that all belong to me, learning how each one works, tinkering, and restoring each of them feels worthwhile.

And when not fiddling, it’s about riding them across the country, whether solo, with friends or in experiences like the DJ Rally, which runs over two days from Durban to Johannesburg. The first one took place in 1913 and the last was in mid-March this year. There were a couple of years missed, during World War 1 for instance. To qualify for the “race”, a motorcycle needs to have been made before 1937.

To ride the DJ Rally, I reckon having a 1936 BMW R5 would be the perfect motorcycle or even the 1932 BMW R32. The current R18 has drawn inspiration from the R5, which is said to be the first BMW motorcycle to have a foot shifter, with a hand clutch as opposed to the hand shift that prior motorcycles had had. It was designed by Rudolf Schleicher, had a 494cc engine generating 24 horsepower, four-speed transmission and a telescopic front fork.

Going down the rabbit hole of classic motorcycles, there are many I would love to have in an extended garage/warehouse due to an interest in aesthetics, how each one rides and the engineering evolution. Modern day motorcycles, which have been my entry point into motorcycles can be forgiving and come with all kinds of electronic bells and whistles. While I occasionally scoff at those who feel the purity of motorcycle riding has been tainted, I do like the idea of being comfortable while experiencing said “purity”.

 The 1971 Norton Commando 750 SS (Street Scrambler) is considered, in some quarters, the “rarest of all Norton Commandos”. There were said to be only 1,000 manufactured, primarily for the US market, with an air-cooled 745cc parallel-twin engine, four-speed gearbox and produced up to 58 hp. The yellow fuel tank, exhaust pipes mounted high on each side and the raised chrome front fender give it a beautiful look. Alternatively or additionally, there’s the 500cc single cylinder Norton Manx from the 1950s, which was more a racing motorcycle.

The 1936 BMW R5
The 1936 BMW R5
Image: Motorworld by V.Sheyanov

Having thoroughly enjoyed riding the 2022 Triumph Bonneville T120, I would definitely want the 1959 edition in my garage, with a red and silver fuel tank, 650cc parallel twin engine generating 50 hp and reaching speeds of about 190km/h.

Another motorcycle for my collection is the 1972 Ducati 750 Sport “Z Stripe”. When launched, it was Ducati’s fastest road-legal motorcycle, built on the frame of the 750 GT. I found one selling in the UK for £129,999. Building on this, Ducati would go on to manufacture 401 units of the Ducati 750 Supersport, also known as the Imola Replica, in 1973/74.

So many classic motorcycles, so little time and budget. Many motorcycles have been manufactured since the first internal combustion, petrol-driven motorcycle: the 1885 Daimler Reitwagen, produced by Germans Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. But, as a motorcycle enthusiast, I do reckon it is a rabbit hole worth exploring. One day.

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