Friday, May 7, 2021

Who will inherit your vintage motorcycle?

Well worn little red motorcycle.
Its owner loved it and left it as her legacy to a nephew. Now it's for sale.

I have one possession someone might like to inherit someday, although it's hard to imagine them being able to sell it for big money: my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet.

I love my motorcycle and probably will never part with it, except in the sense that where I am bound it can not go. What kind of inheritance would it make?

What brought this to mind was a recent CraigsList ad out of New Jersey for a 1956 Triumph T20 Tiger Cub motorcycle.

"The bike has always been in the same family," the ad claimed.

"It was owned for many years by a women in New Jersey. The bike was last started (prior to sitting for many years) in the early 1990s at the woman's funeral; apparently she really loved this bike. The bike was left to her nephew and sat in his barn ever since."

The ad went on to admit that "the bike was repainted some time ago. Not running nor have we attempted to get it running. Has good compression. The shifter isn't working nor is the kick start."

The photos show an appealing but well-worn little motorcycle wearing a 1964 license plate. The odometer reads 9,358 miles.

What caught my eye was the asking price of $6,995. Not an immense sum, and the seller may not even get that much. But it's food for thought.

There are a number of issues. The current seller probably bought it from the nephew, so the woman's "legacy" probably didn't pay off richly for the nephew.

Perhaps, when his aunt left it to him, she visualized him someday riding it. Sounds as though that never happened, but at least he kept it all these years in restorable condition.

But now what? One look at that skinny one-sided front brake made me wonder how safe this might ever be, even fully restored. Only 200cc. It might be hard to safely keep up with traffic. Who would buy and restore it if they were hesitant to risk riding it?

These issues, and more, already apply to my old Royal Enfield.

My Bullet will never be as rare as this Triumph is now. Too many thousands of Bullets were made in India for mine to be an expensive gem. Its only appeal, in my mind, is that it is amazingly obsolete and old-fashioned for its age. It's an antique design, but isn't real rusty.

Heck, my Bullet is even more obsolete already than the 1956 Tiger Cub in the ad. The Tiger Cub has a unit drive train and a neat little dashboard gear indicator (I wonder if that ever worked?).

Ah, but who among my descendants would want my Royal Enfield?

I do have one grand-nephew (and I have a granddaughter and grand-nieces but I suspect the girls have too much sense to want a high-mileage 500-pound mechanical paper weight).

I could leave my Bullet to my grand-nephew, with the illusion that he'll get its moneys worth out of it, either in fun or in cash.

But would I want him to have it? The Bullet's drum brakes are unimpressive and it's challenging to keep up with traffic even on its 500cc.

Would his mother ever forgive me?


  1. I am learning the hard way that I have to make decisions now to sell off things I have held dear while I am still able to do so. It is unpleasant but at least I have some control over who gets what and for how much.That goes for the motorcycle, musical instruments, etc. The alternative is having someone else do it after I'm gone or worse which is called "litigating from the grave." No, the people you sell your things to won't have your level of expectations. However, you can at least impart to them why you bought and maintain those things you are now passing along. Everything else is out of your hands.

  2. I'm currently selling stuff and donating proceeds to charity. I can get more for my junk on CL than my surviving family could. have a garage packed with tools no one wants. I'm shopping for a Vespa so someone will have to deal with that.


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