Graham Foster’s beautiful AJS …… just sold on ebay for ……..???

Didn’t even make reserve last time………. SOLD for $12500 !

3 Times on ebay and not even CLOSE !

Maybe next time ?

Of course everyone wants a bargain but it would seem that some people’s understanding of what it
costs to obtain, rebuild and compete on a Vintage machine are way off. Let me put it this way, many of
the machines I saw at this year’s Pre 65 Scottish would not see a lot of change from $20,000 if you were
to try and build one to a similar specification. However, if we are not talking, rare or exotic machines but
more along a 70’s twinshock that is going to be partially restored to riding condition, rather than
museum quality then I’ll list some of the essential costs to put the “barn find” in a ridable state.

You may have already decided which machine is “right for you” either because you rode them way
back when, or perhaps its a desire to have a go on something different, or there just happens to be one
available “at the right price”. So for whatever the reason I’ll list the most popular and give my opinions on,
what it will cost to restore, and what updates or modifications will be required to keep it in good “trials”

The most popular bikes on the Ahrma circuit in Modern Classic are the Yamaha, followed by the
Bultaco Sherpa, and then in about equal numbers Ossa, the Honda TL125, the RL Suzuki and the
Kawasaki. For whatever reason the Montesa doesn’t seem to feature very much although there are a
few around.

Realistically any of these machines can be bought for as little as $500 or as much as $1500 in various
states of repair. Things to look for in the photos, if you are buying on ebay, are, is it all there? what is the
general condition? what tires does it currently have on? The list goes on and on, and in most cases, not
wishing to be rude, the spelling and grammar of the ad may also give some clues as to what to expect.
……..”strong runner”, “starts first kick”, “I have the seals/bearings/gasket etc etc” “A few minor dents”
“selling on behalf of a friend”

A Rotten Cotton, ripe for restoration at $900

Having rebuilt over 30 Yamahas here is a list of what I usually look for in the photos after the general

Any tell tale darkness around the fork wipers?
Is the front wheel in the correct way round?
More often than not the front fender is on backwards if its an OEM one!
If aftermarket SM stays are fitted these are usually on backwards!
Bashplate ?
Chain guard?
Exhaust system?
Oil pump still fitted?
Was it ever washed?

Now I’m usually buying to restore and ride, and I DO have a fair amount of experience in rebuilding
machines so I’m well aware of what is going to be involved and what its going to take to get it back to a
competitive state. All the chrome and polishing on my bikes is purely cosmetic and doesn’t have any
difference on the performance other than to look pretty and give that “pride of ownership”, although
turning up with a shiny bike does piss off the opposition and can be valued at about 5 marks per event.
The other factor is that mud and goo usually slides off polished alloy and chrome while others are
collecting more and more mud on all that doesn’t glitter!

On arrival your new toy may or not be better than the pictures and a few checks of some standard items
will most likely reveal the machines history and maintenance or lack of.  If it came with MX knobblies on
then most likely its been used by kids or a trail rider. A quick look at the connecting link on the chain can
reveal the worst nightmares if it has been fitted backwards then heaven help us as to what else has
been fitted incorrectly and bodged!! The rear sprocket can also be hooked to death and up front the
engine sprocket has most likely moved up to either 14 or 15 teeth. A quick check of wheel bearings,
assuming the swinging arm bolt is tight and same up the front. Now a hard press on the brakes and
here if they lock on then maybe the wheels have never been out and therefore the brake cams are
covered in mud and rust. A quick look at the shifter and kicker to see if the bolts are tight and whether
“Shade Tree” has welded them on the shafts!!!

Shocks ? usually Yamaha rear shocks go on working without much problem unless they have been
abused, up front a quick compression of the forks will show if the seals are shot. What state are the
levers in? and the throttle. Most likely they, like the cables, grips, and handlebars are all toast. Time to
look at the exhaust system and because of the Yamaha shape it may well have been dropped in the
rocks and have some serious dents in the lower front pipe. At the rear the support bracket is usually
parting company between the bonded rubber, and if it hasn’t failed it will! However you can drill through
the assembly and fit a bolt to save literally $100.

Tank and seat? If it is a 74 model then the tank is steel, and most likely doesn’t look pretty externally as
they dent easily. Inside? may well be full of rust and unusable. Seat no doubt has rips and gouges but
can be recovered if need be.

Finally does it spark? maybe not but an easy fix. Surprisingly a lot of Yam ignition systems are very
reliable and don’t cause the grief that other manufacturers have but check the lower wiring harness on
top of the engine and see if it is hard and brittle. What state is the carb in ? and is it still running
autolube? How about the carb to cleaner boot? more often as hard as a rock.

Hows this for a goodie! Off ebay today another classic “barn find” with all the NO,NO’s I had previously
mentioned, the frame has been repainted but “Shade Tree” didn’t notice how the front end went
together and then fitted the fork legs in the wrong side so the front wheel and fender are now all arse
backwards!! Looks like Shade tree couldn’t get a spark and couldn’t get the flywheel off either? The
bashplate is missing along with the rear exhaust pipe and the seat is NOT connected to anything. The
“spare” engine has the flywheel nut off but I guess he doesn’t have the puller and its got the boy racer
15 tooth sprocket!!!

Front end “Arse Backwards” !!!

Nut off, I guess no puller, and the 15 T sprocket

So now with our ever growing list of parts required lets put it all on the calculator and see what it adds
up to ? and at this stage we haven’t even had the motor out to see what, if anything, is needed there.


Tires                                          Best choice IRC tubed type or Michelin                                     230-265
Tubes                                                                                                                                                    26
Rim Locks                                                                                                                                            39

Sprockets                                 Rear 53T front change to 12T                                                        94
Chain                                                                                                                                                     38

Flywheel Puller                        Different for every bike                                                                     21

Handlebars                              Renthal 5 to 6 inch lift                                                                      90

Cables                                      Either OEM or aftermarket                                                             100

Throttle                                      Domino fast or slow                                                                         28

Levers                                        If buying new                                                                                     50-100
Blades only                                                                                        20

Chain Tensioner block                                                                                                                        10

Air Filter                                                                                                                                                   15

Plug points and condenser                                                                                                                48

Kill switch                                                                                                                                               18

Fork oil seals                                                                                                                                         15

Grips                                                                                                                                                        15

TOTAL                                                                                                         $807.00

Now this total is just to get her up and running with “Essential” parts that you MUST have! .
…. now we need to add on the desirable parts to smarten the old girl up and maybe throw in
some restoration in the engine department.


New fenders                     Plastic                                                                          60.00
Alloy                                                                           250.00

Fender Stay                                                                                                         73.00

Bash Plate                       Alloy (BJ)                                                                    120.00

Carb                                Mikuni VM26                                                                160.00

TOTAL                                                                                                          $413.00


Tank and seat unit                                                                                               500.00

WES Exhaust system                                                                                         465.00

Rear set pegs                                                                                                     170.00

Rear shocks                    Betor                                                                           255.00
Falcon                                                                         340.00

Front Number Plate                                                                                              20.00

Folding shifter                                                                                                      35.00

Rebore, piston, etc                                                                                             250.00

Mains bearings and seals                                                                                   100.00

Chroming/polishing                                                                                             800.00

TOTAL                                                                                                      $1770.00

GRAND TOTAL     807 + 413 + 1770           =   $2990 + Cost of bike!

Of course I have not included the cost of your labor, maybe a little welding on the frame for the
common lugs, namely rear engine support, rear exhaust bracket and rear fender mount, and what
we can call shop supplies with oils, nuts and bolts, petrol piping etc.

So there we have it…….. or you could buy ONE OF MINE!

Its for SALE

TONY  DOWN                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

What did you think of this article?

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  • 10/26/2009 11:12 AM Dave Rhodes wrote:
    Great article Tony – And you are so right about the perceived value of vintage bikes by Joe Average.
    Reply to this
  • 10/26/2009 9:50 PM Steveo wrote:
    It’s obviously nothing to put a few thousand into a vintage machine,though a good thing we don’t charge for our skills and love for our machines!It’s always a good challenge to enter modern competitions on a vintage machine,if there’s one thing better than a win,it’s doing it on an vintage machine,really gets the lads attention!
    Reply to this
  • 11/23/2009 11:15 AM Dan wrote:
    Hi Tony,
    I’m 55 y.o and just decided to get into trials riding. I have riden dirt bikes in the past as a young man but have not had a bike in years. I am looking for a vintage trials bike and am drooling after looking at yours.
    I’m sure it is out of my price range and I dont think I deserve something that nice just yet anyway, but am curious.
    Just found your webpage and am enjoying it greatly. I have subscribed myself and my two boys in hopes of getting them interested in trials.
    Dan Sutherland
    Reply to this
  • 8/13/2012 3:56 PM Nathan wrote:
    G`day Tony, I love what you`re doing with these bikes. We have recantly aquired both `74 & `77 TY250`s and have given them a work over to get them up and running. They have a few things missing or in bad condition that we would like to replace ie, bash plate, seat, rear mudguard, muffler, etc. However, here in Australia parts are pretty thin on the ground and aftermarket suppliers don`t list most parts for TY`s. Could you offer a contact / contacts for suppliers in USA, as you seem to be able to access a large variety of parts. We are trying to get a Classic Trials club up & running in our area which we are hoping will bring a lot of these old bikes out of sheds and saved from becoming landfill. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Nathan
    Reply to this
  • 9/2/2013 11:45 AM james langford wrote:
    I have a 1974 ty250, and I’m interested in restoration. Mostly what I need is cosmetic. This list is new on bike. tires, electronic ignition, carb, petcock, throttle, cables, grips. I can send pictures to get an idea of cost. Thank you for great pictures and stories. I’ve read most all, and some several times. Thanks again, jim
    Reply to this
  • 12/10/2013 11:15 PM Roy Rice wrote:
    Could you please give details on your method of polishing the engine cases, triple trees, etc. Your bikea are truly beautiful and I would like to try polishing the cases on my sad new TY250A.

    Reply to this

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