Gareth Howes, DTRA racer and importer of tasty bikes for Double Six, casts a critical eye over Mecum's forthcoming Las Vegas auction, and chooses his pick of the lots.
Las Vegas, home of exuberance, excess and the gambler. Next week sees the city that never sleeps host the world's biggest auction of motorbikes. Mecum are hosting their annual auction at the South Point Hotel & Casino, and the January auction is considered the best indicator for bike prices for the coming year.
After many hours scrolling through the 1750 lots, here, in no particular order, are my choices of the most fun and interesting bikes to watch and perhaps take a gamble on.
YAMAHA BANSHEE FLAT TRACKER - Lot F202
Take one Cheney flat track frame and stuff a two-stroke motor from a Yamaha Banshee quad into it, then sprinkle performance parts on top. This is what you end up with. Not sure if I would fancy riding it on a short track, but can some one buy this in Europe so I can see it. This looks ready to race and scare.
1956 HARLEY-DAVIDSON KRTT - Lot W246
Super clean Harley flat track racer. I don’t normally do shiny paint bikes but this one really has a good look to it. Allegedly there were fewer than 20 made in 1956. Not an expert on these by any stretch but big power and low production numbers what’s not to like?
1971 HUSQVARNA 400 CROSS - Lot T244
Possibly the best looking dirt bike ever made? I have a mega soft spot for these so its no surprise I had to include it. The 400 cross was made famous by Mr McQueen in that infamous photo of him riding topless with the front wheel up! This example looks to be as good as the day it left the showroom with a restoration from AMS racing restorations.
1995 HARLEY-DAVIDSON XR750 - Lot F149
How can you not love a bike where word “winningest” has been used to describe it. Chris Carr owned and ridden XR750 with paperwork to prove. With a Kenny Tolbert-designed frame and race provenance will this XR beat the other four XR750s being offered at the auction?
1993 HONDA EZ90 - Lot T241
From one end of the scale to the other. The EZ90 is a not so guilty pleasure of mine. When did the bike industry stop making bikes so fun? The very original (even original tears in the seat) example is the red colour way, not my personal favourite but increasingly hard to find complete examples of them mean you should buy anything complete. I will be paying very close attention to this EZ90 and perhaps a little bid.
1974 BULTACO ASTRO - Lot F34
I could buy any of the five Astros up for sale and be a happy man. This example is a 146 model with quick-change rear hub, engine build by Lynn Mobley and beautiful Bultaco paint. This bike really does look great and I'd hope would ride just as good. Since the introduction of the Astro Cup these bike have really gained another wave of appreciation and the desirability has out-stripped supply. Will it trade for five figures?
1994 HARLEY-DAVIDSON VR-1000 - Lot F222
It's very rare to see a VR-1000 up for sale, but combine that with it being an ex-works bike (ridden by Pascal Picotte), means this auction is one to follow on the Friday for sure. Production figures were limited to the 50 required to be built for homologation rules. Some examples have traded for around US $80,000, so will we see this surpass the six figures thanks to its race history?
1975 YAMAHA TRACKMASTER TZ750 - Lot S163
Save the best till last? We have all heard the story of Kenny Roberts riding his TZ750 or seen the video. Well now is your chance to own one of these formidable two-stroke weapons. The bike in question is the only Trackmaster framed TZ750 (they tend to be Champions) as it was built by and for Gary Davis (current Trackmaster owner). Recently ridden and ready to go. These do not come up for sale often (can anyone tell me when the last one did?), so it will be interesting to see what it achieves. If there was one bike on the list I'd like to own (money no object) this is it. Hopefully the new lucky owner will decide to get the bike on track just so we can hear it going full chat.
All photos via Mecum
I highly recommend watching the auction as it has all the glamour and drama you could hope for.
If you have never watched or followed the auction before, you can view their livestream and Youtube channel. If you are going to bid make sure you check all fees, as online fees are different to in person. If I was to watch only one day it would have to be the Friday closely followed by the Saturday.
With last week's Mecum car auction breaking records could we see this repeated with the motorbikes? Gareth Howes
UK-based Double Six was grew into a business after Gareth began importing parts for his vintage framer project, then started getting bikes and parts for friends. Follow him at @therealdoublesix