"Men who wish to know about the world must learn
about it in its particular details"
Heraclitus (535-475 B.C.)
Motorcycle restoration, the reconstruction to original manufacture's specifications, is a balance between archival research and experience. The former usually overwhelms the latter in that the documentation has mostly outlived the product. There are precious few one or two owner, unmolested motorcycles. Experience with these machines show changes within a model year that have never been recorded. Or conversely, changes that only stayed on paper. My point, is that restoration is a dynamic, flexible process best not approached with a " snapshot" mentality. By comparison rebuilding a motorcycle is relatively easy. Deliberate period modifications, performance enhancements, and stylistic mixes to suit personal asthetics are permissible. Many bikes presented as restorations are in fact, rebuilds. Rebuilds usually have the advantage of increased ridability and less expense; the down side is the bike is devalued to a collector of original equipment.
An unmolested, running-original motorcycle has the grace of genuine history. If you are the current caretaker of one or more of these increasingly rare machines, just maintain and ride them. You'll be rewarded many times over by what it can do. What it can't do was a solution for the future, a what-if lost to production costs. For these reasons I find preservation work the most rewarding.
Some older motorcycles are capable of surprising acceleration, speed and handling. Most are sturdy and quite industrial. Therefore a respectful, accurate restoration has, at the very least, that same responsibility - making the exactness with which the engine must be reassembled central to the project. Painting, frame straightening and some wheel work are sent out to trusted specialists. Photographs and progress reports are sent on a regular basis and work-in-progress visits are welcome. Click on the link "Motorcycles"
at the top of the page to obtain example photographs & explanations that expand on the differences between Preserved, Restored, & Rebuilt motorcycles.
Post-War Vincent; Magento Ignition CH Sportster; Ducati 750 Sport & GT; '55-'69 BMW are motorcycles that have consistently piqued my interest and generous study.
Richard Barsotti, Restorer