Admittedly, the bargains of 2009 are mostly gone… I stole a new BMW F800S for about 20% off. Had I not already bought that, I’d have scored a new Buell in the fall when HOG(NYSE) was dumping them for $3000 to $5000 off. But used bike prices are going up- even a garden variety three decade old airhead with over 50,000 miles is going for around $3000. Figure on a transmission rebuild and a valve job and rings before 100k miles, and some upgrades like a high output alternator would be nice too. Just the bearings, seals, and gaskets on an airhead tranny will set you back nearly $500, and add a couple hundred more if the tranny came from the ’84-’95 Airheads with the missing circlip. If your Airheads birthday was between ’81 and ’84, figure on new unleaded compatable seats to too, adding up to a near thousand dollar valve job and ring replacement. And those high output alternators go for around $500, and the original Airhead alternator will probably fail sooner or later anyway.  Yup, we’ve got $5000 in that Airhead and not even looked at the exhaust or splines or whatever else wears out on an airhead yet.

So just where are these new Airheads… Well, you won’t find them at your new BMW boutique, where a plain black R1200R will probably cost $15,000 to get out the door. Ever heard of Moto Guzzi, the other Airhead? Way back in the 60s they introduced a bike with similar technology to the BMW Airhead- all the good stuff like twin jugs right out there in the airstream and automotive styled dry clutch, tranny, and shaft drive for long life. Guzzi disagreed with BMW on the proper angle to V the cylinders, but otherwise the designs are so similar that many parts interchange. In fact, I’ve heard that Guzzi even made a lot of the drivetrain castings for BMW, which may explain why the final drives look so similar. And while BMW dumped the airhead and substituted the overweight and trouble prone “Oilhead” in the ’90s, Guzzi just kept on refining their classic Airhead V-Twins. They even developed “small block” and “big block” variants, the small blocks being as light as the airheads and the big blocks a bit heavier but with a 20% bigger motor and a beefier tranny that doesn’t frag under a thousand cubic centimeters of torque.

So for the last few years Guzzi has been building several nice variations of these designs, and a lot of them are still lingering at dealerships. The biggest bargains are the small blocks, and I found a new 750 Breva in Minnesota, asking price $6000 plus $350 “set up” and the usual state sales taxes. The Breva, a standard, was a slow seller, though it;s cruiser sister the 750 Nevada sold a bit better. So Guzzi redid the Breva and Nevada as the V7, a standard that’s the spittin’ image of the classic V7 of the 70s. Then they added a “V7 Racer”, with clip ons and racy paint. The Racer lists at ’round $10k and has been selling like hot cakes, while garden variety V7s are being discounted from their $9k list price and I noted several new Brevas for around $7500 as well as the one for $6000. For the price of a fixed up Airhead you get the equivilent of a brand new R80- 50 horses or so at the flywheel, Nikasil type cylinders,  high output alternator, shaft drive, and a two year warranty. Not a bad deal, and I’m rather tempted myself. If big block power’s your preference, there’s new 1100 and 1200 cc. Guzzis going for less than $10k… For that money, I doubt you could find a late model BMW boxer with any warranty left.

But say your looking for a dual sport bike… Airhead R100GSs are going for $5k and you still have to expensively fix the tranny circlip and the paralever driveshaft problems. A bit of searching found several new KLR650s and DR650s within a days round trip of my remote home for around $5000. Want something a bit lighter? Couple weeks ago I turned up a new left over Yamaha XT250 for $3600, but looks like somebody else already caught that one. But close to home I noted a Suzuki DR400S for around the same price, looks like a new left over or a demo. I’ll have to take a look at it next time I’m by the dealer, I’d love a DR400 but they’re too tall for me.

And new Buells? Even though production ended in 2009, HOG(NYSE) just reported that a couple hundred new Buells finally sold last year. That leads me to suspect that a few dealers are still sitting on them and might finally drop their prices to something reasonable. And don’t forget low mile used Buells- Some are still within the manufacturer’s two year new vehicle warranty, which means HOG(NYSE) will sell you another five years extended warranty… A low mile 2009 or 2010 Buell for $5000 plus another $500 to $1000 for the extended warranty might not be a bad deal…

Enough of the shiny new bike distractions… I need to get back to working on the Airheads!

 

 

 

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