Classic Motorcycle Build

Motorcycle Projects

(Article by Mark Trotta)

It's a good feeling to take an old motorcycle left for dead and bring it back to life. The feeling you get is like no other.

best motorcycle projects

Read: 1976 Sportster Project

There's plenty of choices for a classic motorcycle build, including stock original, cafe racer, old-school bobber, scrambler, or custom build from mild to wild.

Best Project Motorcycles

Is there really a best choice for a motorcycle project? I don't think so, it all depends on what you're after. Do you want to ride it, race it, or show it?

Read: Best Motorcycle Lift Stand

Some years and models will be less collectable, but that also makes them more affordable. 1970s and 1980s bikes are good choices. Using price and parts availability as perimeters, the following is a selection of best project motorcycles.

Honda CB series

One of the most popular project bikes is the Honda CB series. These include the CB500, CB550, CB750, and others.

Honda cb750 project motorcycle

A ton of Honda CBs were built and sold, so they are always on the market. The bigger models (CB550 and CB750) are the most sought after, making them more expensive than others, but the parts are still cheap and the engines are easy to work on. Because of their huge sales, there's a large selection of aftermarket products.

Yamaha XS-series

The most popular of the Yamaha XS series is the XS650. A lot of them were made, and like the Hondas, plenty of aftermarket parts are available.

Kawasaki Z-series

Not as popular as Honda or Yamaha, the Kawasaki Z-series can be found in many versions, and usually sell for a bit cheaper. The Kawasaki Z-650 is still a fast bike, even by today's standards.

Vintage British Bikes

If you want to build a Vintage British motorcycle, it'll be more time-consuming and more costly than other classic bikes.

Triumph Cafe Racer Motorcycle Project

Good, original parts for British bikes are harder to come by, and many specialty tools are needed.

Triumph Trident Build

Of the many popular classic British bikes, there is the Triumph Trident. In their day, these three-cylinder machines dominated the 750cc races in Europe and in the U.S. Many consider the Trident to be the first modern super-bike.

Read: 1974 Triumph Trident Restoration

BMW Airhead Flat-Twin (1923-1995)

The BMW boxer-twin is popular with motorcycle builders for several reasons, including simple design, reliability, and ease of maintenance. The Airhead boxer is an amazingly simple engine, they're tourqey and have a low center of gravity. Plus, opposed cylinder motorcycles are nostalgic looking.

best motorcycle projects

BMW Oilhead Flat-Twin (1994-present)

The R-series BMW's (Oilheads) are an updated version of the early boxer twins. Like all Airheads, they are shaft-drive, which require less maintenance than most other types of motorcycles.

Read: BMW R1100R Review

Ironhead Sportster

Produced by Harley-Davidson from 1957 to 1985, Ironhead Sportsters have been the basis for choppers, bobbers, cafe racers, drag bikes, flat trackers, scramblers, hill-climbers, fully-faired track bikes, and even trikes! They're still the cheapest Harley V-twin, and parts are easy to find. But beware - engine/transmission work will not be cheap or easy !!

Read: Sportster Buyers Guide

Hardtail Sportster Project

Read: Hardtail Sportster Build