How to start a vintage motorcycle collection

Image credit: Bonhams auctioneers

Perhaps you’ve thought about collecting motorcycles, but aren’t sure where to start. Here we explain everything you need to know about starting your own dream collection of bikes.

Consider where you’ll store your bike collection before you start it

Maybe you’ve already been collecting something for years, even decades. Well, collecting motorcycles is a little bit different than collecting books or records. While many would say that a collection is at its best when it’s outgrown the space you initially allotted for it, you can’t store your motorcycles in a Kallax from Ikea, you need space. 

Perhaps you’ve got a garage with room, or maybe you’ve got a spare building like a barn. If you want to keep your collection in decent condition you need somewhere enclosed and dry, so before you get too deep into the acquisition stage, make sure you’ve got somewhere to store your bikes.

And make no mistake, displaying is overwhelmingly the name of the game for collectors. While you might also want them to have at least the theoretical ability to ride, more often than not most parts of a collection will mostly stay immobile. 

For example, the Yamaha FS1E, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is an extremely well loved motorcycle and one in high demand from people wanting to recapture their youth. However, if you see one on the road, then it’s one of 24 at the time of writing that have current MOTs. Most people who own one today keep them off the road.

Where to buy vintage motorcycles

motorcycle collection
Image credit: Yamaha

Actually finding and acquiring your collection is the most significant part of any hobby. Obviously the internet has changed how this happens, making it easier in some ways and more difficult in others. Certainly finding communities online can help to find rare bikes and parts, and shouldn’t be overlooked as a resource. Don’t get too affected by FOMO, particularly on sites like eBay where prices will regularly be inflated to the max by people hoping to hit the jackpot on something they think is rare. 

There are generally going to be cheaper alternatives out there. For a start it’s worth checking if any companies selling on eBay also have their own website because there’s a good chance they’ll be selling it cheaper through their own shop.

The other and probably more important way of finding bikes involves getting out and about. There’s a plethora of motorcycle shows held all over the country throughout the year, which is a great place to both see what’s out there and even snag some bargains. They’re also good places to do a little light networking, talk to people there and you might start building useful connections and friendships that could help you find the right bikes to complete your collection.

Consider which bikes you want to start with

The other thing about a collection is that it is an ever changing hobby. You may start out wanting to own the most popular bikes on the market, but over time your idea of the greatest bikes may well change. 

Selling bikes on, as well as bartering and trading, can also be a big part of shaping your collection. That said, there’s no harm in having an initial mission that sets you off on your journey. Perhaps it’s re-buying every bike you’ve previously had, or the bikes you wish you had. 

Perhaps you want to focus on a particular manufacturer, or time period. Some people even collect vehicles that have appeared in TV and film, or which have connections to figures from history. For example, there’s a significant number of people who own Brough Superiors based on their connection to Lawrence of Arabia, which could be down to the guy himself or the film. 

Whatever your focus of interest, you’re now fully prepared to get out there and start gathering your collection of dream motorcycles!

How to look after vintage motorcycles

If you’re collecting something, you’ll usually want to keep it in the best possible condition. Even if they’re just sat there, motorcycles will need to be checked every once in a while to make sure they’re not deteriorating. 

The main things you need to look out for include ensuring tyres are maintained at the right pressure, as well as looking for cracks or stresses. If you’re keeping the battery installed in it you might need to give it a trickle charge occasionally to keep it in good shape. Finally, cleaning and waxing your collection will help to stop the spread of rust. 

Find out more about how to store and protect your motorcycle collection by reading our blog.

Vintage motorcycle insurance 

No matter which motorcycle you choose to start your bike collection with, you will need to get them insured should you choose to ride them. That’s where Bikesure can help. As a specialist classic motorcycle insurance broker, we compare quotes to find you the right policy for your personal needs. 

Give us a call on 0800 369 8580 or book a callback at a time that suits you.

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