Hot or rot?

Can barn-find bikes be bril­liant bar­gains?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week In Mcn -

When win­ter blows, and Jack Frost nips at one’s toes, the sen­si­ble mo­tor­cy­clist’s thoughts turn to the Win­ter Project. In our mind’s eye we see our­selves un­earthing some un­known trea­sure, in­vari­ably called a ‘barn find’ by the seller, even if it’s in the city cen­tre and the near­est so-called barn is a shed at the lo­cal kids’ pet­ting zoo. You’d think Lon­don was the Amer­i­can Prairie, there seem to be so many barns in it.

And we dream of what our project will look like when it’s fin­ished, in the spring. The cyno­sure of all eyes; the envy of our friends. Of course, it rarely works out like that. I have a brace of Suzuki TS250ERS (one com­plete and run­ning, the other nei­ther of these things), and the project’s been stalled for five years.

So I thought it would be in­struc­tive to see what so-called projects are out there. Al­most all projects are old clas­sics. Even they raised my eye­brows. Would you pay £5700 for a seized and slightly foxed 1967 Lam­bretta? Some­body did. Some­one else spanked only £500 less on an old T120R Bon­neville in bits. That was de­scribed as a ‘barn find’, as it hap­pens.

Mod­ern(ish) bikes are ex­ceed­ingly rare, apart from dam­aged re­pairables. Four grand for a Gold Wing 1800, 176,000 miles up, im­ported from the US? No thanks. A 2004 FJR1300 that was over­heat­ing as the fan didn’t kick in, plus a few scabs and scars, was some­body’s for £1600 – not bad if you have the tools, time and ex­pe­ri­ence to fix it. A Tri­umph Sprint ST 1050 looked good for £1200, but the oil leak “round the fil­ter and sump plug” sounded omi­nous.

Re­mem­ber this: the real rea­son why a bike is be­ing sold as a project is be­cause some­one else has worked out that it’s too hard and/or ex­pen­sive to fix. Avoid.


‘Barn find,’ you say? Where’s the near­est cash­point?

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