Is there a difference between a “collectible motorcycle” and an “affordable classic?” Well, if there wasn’t one before, I’ll make a distinction right now. Let’s see if you agree.
A collectible motorcycle is one where the buyer is looking at the bike and seeing dollar signs (or euros or whatever your currency) and deciding to buy or not based on whether he sees a huge profit. Whether it’s rideable or even running makes no difference, whether he likes the bike personally isn’t a factor, he checks his sheet and sees how many there are and what the trend for this bike is and that’s it. Upward trend, it’s a buy. Downward trend, he’ll pass.
An affordable classic, on the other hand, is a bike the buyer likes. He likes the look, he likes the sound, he remembers the era, perhaps his own childhood or first motorcycle, and based on the condition of the bike and the dollars he has to work with, purchase plus any repairs necessary, he decides to buy or not. It’s like buying a piece of art but one that actually runs and moves and transports the rider in time. Over the years the bike may appreciate in price, it may not, but it doesn’t matter because his investment dividend is the pleasure of being able to see it in his garage, hear it start and ride it on the weekends. If you like machinery, strolling down to the garage on a winter evening, adult beverage in hand, rolling off the cover and just looking at the bike brings a smile. In the warmer months, on a nice evening or an early Sunday morning, the classic is fired up and the world becomes a nicer place as you and the machine become one as the designer intended.
A collector needs to know the market, what’s hot, what’s undiscovered and who bought what last month. The classic buyer just needs to know himself. A collector moves in a more frenzied world trying to get there before anyone else and throwing money at auction bikes to be sure he locks up that prize winner. The classic buyer takes a longer view, he’s not chasing anything, … he’s seeking.
A collectible is a motorcycle the smart people agree on, like the latest Hollywood celebrity, it’s hot. An affordable classic may not be on anyone’s “A list” but the buyer knows what he wants and why he wants it which means he may be one of few to admire it.
A collectible tends to show up, … well, in collections or museums. An affordable classic tends to show up on bike night or in the burger joint parking lot or on some back country roads.
Park the collectible next to the classic and hide in the crowd listening to comments. Many will remark about the collectible’s value and how rare it is and the one that sold last month for some ridiculous price. The smaller crowd around the classic will more often be smiling, the comments will be about when they saw one for the first time, reliving an earlier period when they owned one. Someone will comment about the way it looks and compare it to today’s bikes. They might recall the old dealer across town who sold them new. No one will mention money.
Then one day, the classic shows up on some collector’s hot sheet. The crowds move in, the buzz gets louder and the opportunity to sell at a huge profit presents itself to the classic owner. What to do? The ebb and flow of collector tastes may make this a short lived phenomenon and if missed may not come again for years, if ever. You could count the dollars and admire that empty space in the garage or maybe those dollars will buy you something else. Hmm … decisions, decisions.
The difference between a collectible and an affordable classic is really in the buyer’s mind. Your classic may at times be on the collector hot sheets but what’s important is whether it’s on your mind because of the hot sheets and you might want to know that before you go looking for your classic.
The Kneeslider: Collectible Motorcycles