I really wish they would have left old bikes alone!

Jul 31, 2009
Brace yourself, the roller coaster ride is coming, prices are going to go sky-high for a while and then the bubble will burst and the real-old-bike folks will clean up all the vintage bikes that folks only bought as "investments".
I've gone through this before with British bikes, in 1988 (I think it was '88) Money magazine had a cover story telling folks to "invest" in an old bike (you see the barn-find muscle cars were all gone), I had buddies that went to the auction at Daytona that year and they were still laughing when they got home!
In the end this should prove to be a good thing as folks will be digging up old bikes from everywhere, if nothing else some neat stuff should appear.


What it is:
Classic Motorcycle Roadshow is a new television series which leads viewers on a hunt for the elusive ‘barn find’, that rare motorcycle which, while possibly well past its prime, dusty, rusty, and battered, is in fact a treasure trove of history. We’ll explore the stories of the individuals who owned or created the motorcycle, that particular machine’s place in the greater world of Motorcycling, and the chain of hands which preserved the machine and made it possible for us to appreciate it today.

The show’s purpose:
Classic Motorcycle Roadshow has lofty goals; we seek no less than to claim motorcycling as a fascinating lens to view history, by exploring the stories of particular machines. We’re also stimulating interest in the hobby of motorcycling by sharing the excitement of a ‘barn find’ (or a ‘garage find’!), and the rich narrative hidden within these seemingly obsolete machines.

How it works:
Our merry band of world-class motorcycle experts travel to county fairs and celebrations in small towns, across the country. Locals are encouraged to look through their barns, attics, garages and sheds, and bring anything motorcycle to be evaluated by our Team. As we examine the offerings, we will explore some of the technical features which make different bikes interesting and unique, and which brought success, notoriety, or disaster to their manufacturers.

Our ears are tuned for people with interesting motorcycle stories. On the other hand, if someone presents an intriguing motorcycle with little personal history, we will use our extensive resources to uncover any interesting biography of the machine.

Once we’ve chosen a machine to feature, the owner of the bike has the opportunity to present, using the motorcycle as our touch point, the tale of their family or community, to a national audience. Thus, by linking their motorcycle with family and local lore, they pass on and preserve their story, and place it within the greater arc of History. Which is exactly what happened in our first story, told below…

Finally, if the owner is interested, we will arrange to bring the motorcycle to auction, and our Experts will put their skills to the test by giving a value, and predicting what the machine might fetch under the hammer. We’ll follow the owner’s (and motorcycle’s) journey from Main Street USA to the limelights of Las Vegas for the largest motorcycle auction in the world.

Heart of the show:
The owners and their stories are the heart of this show. We expand on what we hear and find, technically and historically, but our goal is to bring their history to life.

Our first story:
The 1909 Curtiss, a teenager in North Dakota bought himself a brand new Curtiss motorcycle, as he was tired of walking to visit his sweetheart several miles away. The Curtiss was just about the most reliable and innovative motorcycle available in the day. He rode the bike until 1917, when a flat tire threw him and the bike into a ditch and left him with a severely broken leg. Now sworn off the motorcycle (and his sweetheart), he stowed the machine in the attic of the family farmhouse. Nearly 40 years later he gave his young nephew the bike, and they began to tinker with the 50 year old project. As luck would have it, the uncle’s health deteriorated shortly afterwards, so the Curtiss remained in the attic.

As decades passed, the nephew was aware of the bike in the attic, but believing it worthless, it remained mothballed in the old farmhouse. In April 2009, the nephew heard of the Glenn Curtiss museum in New York. The Curtiss name rang a bell, and he became curious; could it be the same Curtiss? A phone call to the museum proved the bike in the attic was far from worthless. So the nephew headed to the abandoned North Dakota farmhouse to see if the bike was still there. Luckily for him, it was as his uncle left it back in 1917. After 92 years he removed the bike from the attic.

In May 2009, the 1909 Curtiss sold for $200,000 at MidAmerica’s Minneapolis Classic Motorcycle auction.

The Classic Motorcycle Roadshow was fortunate to capture this amazing tale from start to finish. All the important aspects of our show came into play: the “barn find,” the family story, the expert evaluations, the history of Glenn Curtiss, the bike going across the auction block, and the owner’s emotional reaction to his sale. The historic value of the Curtiss motorcycle is hard to underestimate – Glenn Curtiss’ success in building motorcycles led him into aircraft manufacture, where he became a true pioneer and the founding father of American aviation. Truly it can be said that the Curtiss motorcycle is a stepping stone to a total transformation of modern society.



Jan 15, 2008
Country flag
I can only hope I'll be in the "trickle down" stream. i could sure use the business...
Jun 14, 2007
Country flag
It actually sounds like a show I'd watch, at least if my daughter will Tivo it for me. Failing that, I'm sticking with my Twilight Zone DVDs. TV sucks big time these days.
Jul 24, 2009
Country flag
Thanks for your post Vinny, I agree CMR may generate some more interest, but in what? a $200,000, 100 year old Curtis? Great stuff indeed, love every minute of it, but I don't think its going to affect the garden variety, post-modern, classic bikes much. If it does, I'll sell mine, get a Ducati monster, and a mexican vacation.

Commandos, unless you have an original condition bike, with not many miles on it, are for nutty old guys like... us. we put a lot of time and money into 'em.... TO RIDE. The museum bikes are cool, but that's what they are, museum bikes. I love the history, but for investment? No, I work for a living. My bike is my yacht!

Cheers, Don