Ian Falloon is one of the world’s leading experts on classic and collectable motorcycles. If Ian says it, you can take it to the bank. In Part two of this super feature, he sets his substantial instincts into motion to give us the buys that we should all be thinking about…
2004-06 MV Agusta F4 1000 Tamburini/CC
Massimo Tamburini was responsible for two of the most influential motorcycles of the recent era, the Ducati 916 and MV Agusta F4, and is regarded as one of the most significant modern motorcycle designers.
While the Ducati 916 could rightly be considered a future collectable, some features detract from this significance. It was built in large numbers over a long period and as there are so many variations on the theme it is difficult to single out a specific model for favoured collector status.
The MV Agusta F4 may not have been as groundbreaking as the 916, but it was based on a similar blueprint and produced in far fewer numbers. But like the 916 the F4 also suffered from a multitude of model variations, with a large number of limited editions, so I’m concentrating on two high-end models, the Tamburini and CC (Claudio Castiglioni).
Claudio Castiglioni owned MV Agusta and was responsible for their resurrection.
After dedicating previous limited editions to sporting heroes (Agostini and Senna), for 2004 Claudio Castiglioni commissioned the highest specification F4 yet to celebrate the greatness of the F4’s designer, Massimo Tamburini.
The engine was basically that of the F4 1000 S, but the F4 Tamburini had hand-finished and polished intakes and a patented Torque Shift System (TSS) variable length induction. The maximum power was an impressive 172.8 horsepower at 11,750rpm.
The chassis included a magnesium swingarm and support plates, while the Sachs Racing rear shock absorber was Formula One-inspired.
The wheels were forged aluminium 10-spoke Marchesini and most of the bodywork was carbon fibre. The dry weight was 183kg.
The F4 Tamburini was the most exotic motorcycle available in 2004.
The list price was more than double that of a comparable F4 1000 S, and each of the 300 examples came with an embossed leather box containing a Tamburini-signed carbon-fibre certificate.
MV’s boss Claudio Castiglioni initially dreamed of creating an ultra-high specification F4 for himself, but in 2006 he decided to put his name to it and offer it as an exclusive limited edition.
90 per cent of the components were bespoke items created by CRC (Cagiva Research Centre).
The engine was significantly updated; a 79mm bore increasing the displacement to 1078cc and the power was increased to 200 horsepower at 12,200rpm.
The chassis featured a special Sachs steering damper, Sachs F1-derived shock absorber and Brembo racing Monobloc front brake calipers. Each of the 100 examples of the €100,000 F4 CC was delivered with the expectation that it wouldn’t matter if the ignition key never turned in its lock or the bike was displayed inside on a stand.
MV is a more specialised brand than others but still has a dedicated following.
There is never any shortage of buyers for its high-end limited edition models and these two limited edition F4s are approaching the lower point of their value cycle.
Offering unparalleled quality with exclusivity they should not only retain their value but also provide a modest increase.
2001-02 Ducati MH900e
When I first saw Pierre Terblanche’s prototype MH900 evoluzione at his studio at the Ducati factory in Bologna in 1998 I was unimpressed.
Essentially a dressed up two-valve 900 SS, the engine and chassis specification was unremarkable and cosmetic additions even included plastic sump covers. At the time I considered this stylist addition a travesty.
But as only one series was built, and this included many unique components, the MH900e has now usurped many higher performing limited race replica Ducatis as a desirable collectable.
Terblanche told me, “Ever since Mike Hailwood won at the Isle of Man in 1978 I wanted to build my own interpretation of those magnificent NCR racers.”
The prototype was unveiled at the Milan Show at the end of 1999 and it caused such a sensation the production version was announced soon afterwards. Released on January 1, 2000, purchase was only possible via the Internet at a worldwide price of €15,000 Euros.
Powering the Evoluzione was the fuel-injected 904cc engine of the 900 Supersport, this producing 79 horsepower at 8250rpm.
The tubular steel frame was a special construction, with the engine placed as far forward in the frame as possible while retaining the same offset as the normal 900 Supersport.
Although a twin shock swingarm, in the style of the original Hailwood NCR was initially considered, this was discarded in favour of a tubular single-sided swingarm.
In many other respects the Evoluzione was a parts-bin special.
The five-spoke Marchesini wheels were from the 996, the twin 320mm semi-floating front discs from the 900 Supersport and the non-adjustable 43mm Showa front fork was from the 750 SS. A Paioli rear shock absorber controlled the rear wheel.
But the most significant feature was the unique bodywork that replicated the NCR racers, this emboldened with the classic 1970s Giugiaro graphics.
The Mike Hailwood Evoluzione represented a new path for Ducati. As Terblanche said to me, “This is really an extension of the Harley factory custom idea. Here we take basically a standard bike and alter it in such a way as to create a completely new expression. My idea was to get away from complexity and carbon-fibre. I also wanted to capture the feel of the racing bike that is why it is elemental, with very clean lines. Thus it becomes a custom,” he says, “and every component looks good.”
Total MH900e production was 2010, with most produced after September 2001 as 2002 models. Although it was not the rare, limited-edition model that was originally envisaged, the MH900e hit the spot with a type of collector more interested in style than performance. As this isn’t my personal preference I didn’t predict it, but the MH900e continues to perform well in the collector market.
2000-06 Honda VTR1000 SP-1/SP-2
Honda’s race replica V-fours, the RC30 and RC45, are now premium collectables but for some reason the comparable race replica twins have lagged behind.
Pensioning off its beloved V-four in favour of a twin was not something Honda did lightly but Ducati’s success in the World Superbike Championship forced it into it.
Honda only won one World Superbike Championship with its RC45 (John Kocinski in 1997) and as twins could displace 1000cc to the fours 750cc it created the SP-1 (RC51) for the 2000 season.
The SP-1 was a pure homologation special, sharing nothing with the production VTR1000F. A bore and stroke of 100×68.3mm provided 999cc and as with other production racers (the RC30 and RC45), gears drove the double overhead camshafts.
The cylinders were integrated with the upper half of the horizontally split crankcases for additional strength. A unique ram-air system sucked air through the vent between the headlamps, the fuel injection system was PGM-F1, and cooling was by side-mounted radiators. The power was 126 horsepower at 9000rpm.
The frame was also unique, with an extruded aluminium twin spar incorporating the swingarm pivot in the crankcase and frame.
The front fork was an upside down 43mm Showa and the 320mm front disc brakes included four-piston calipers.
The bodywork was also claimed to be slipperier than Mick Doohan’s NSR500.
Superbike regulations required a minimum weight of 162kg so the SP-1 was built with this in mind and weighed a solid 196kg. Honda couldn’t have asked for a better script in the SP-1’s inaugural racing season.
The SP-1 won the Suzuka 8-hour race, Joey Dunlop the TT F1 race and Colin Edwards the World Superbike Championship.
After only two years the SP-2 replaced the SP-1. Updates were aimed at curing some of the fuel injection stumbles, and the harsh and uncompromising ride.
The power was increased to 133 horsepower at 10,000rpm while chassis updates included a lighter, longer swingarm, lighter wheels, and slightly revised Showa suspension.
Revised bodywork included a taller screen, but the SP-2 was still no featherweight at 194kg. Edwards won the 2002 World Superbike Championship on the SP-2 and teamed with Daijiro Kato to win the Suzuka 8-Hour.
While supreme on the track, unfortunately the SP-1 and SP-2 were overshadowed in the market by the newer generation of four-cylinder Superbikes, notably Honda’s own CBR929RR FireBlade and the Yamaha YZF-R1. It took a connoisseur to appreciate the technical and engineering qualities the SP-1 and SP-2 offered.
The SP-1 and SP-2 were seen as dinosaurs from an earlier generation, but this is selling them short. Just like the RC30 and RC45, the SP-1 and SP-2 were high specification factory homologation models with an enviable racing pedigree. Eventually collectors will realise this.
1999 Suzuki Hayabusa (GSX1300R-X)
It may seem strange to include a model that is still currently available, but in a world of increasing technology and constant evolution the Hayabusa remains an anomaly and a dinosaur that is still available; for now.
In production for 20 years, the Hayabusa is currently only available in Australia, USA, Canada, South Africa, Thailand, Chile and Saudi Arabia. Thanks to ever tightening emissions laws, its days are certainly numbered and as it’s no longer available in the UK and Europe prices there are on the rise.
Honda initiated the top-speed war in 1996 with the 162 horsepower 1137cc CBR1100XX Super Blackbird. Designed to challenge the 1,052cc Kawasaki ZZ-R1100’s 283kmh, the Blackbird just managed to edge it with a timed 287kmh.
Also wanting a piece of the action Suzuki then released the Hayabusa in 1999.
It was not lost on the Suzuki marketing department that “Hayabusa” is the name of the world’s fastest bird, the Japanese peregrine falcon, capable of speeds up to 325km/h. It also hunts the Japanese Blackbird for food.
The first Hayabusa was powered a 1299cc (81x63mm) double overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine, at the time the largest displacement ever for a sporting motorcycle.
A ram air induction system assisted in providing a record 173 horsepower and this, combined with sophisticated aerodynamics, allowed the Hayabusa to leapfrog the Blackbird. With a top speed of 312km/h the Hayabusa was unquestionably the fastest production motorcycle available in 1999.
But the speed wars were over before they really began. Fearing a European regulatory backlash, a year later later the Japanese manufacturers got together for a handshake deal which stipulated that none of their production motorcycles would be allowed to exceed 300km/h. After Kawasaki’s 2000 model ZX-12R fell short by 6 km/h the Suzuki Hayabusa’s status as the fastest standard production bike of the 20th century was sealed.
While mostly known for its top speed performance, the Hayabusa was also an extremely competent all round sporting motorcycle. The handling, comfort, noise, fuel efficiency, and reliability were outstanding. The dry weight was a modest 215kg and the high specification chassis included an upside down front fork, rising rate rear suspension and six-piston Tokico front brake calipers.
As with most collectable motorcycles the first model Hayabusa is the most desirable.
For 2000 a speed limiting system was introduced and in 2001 a steel rear subframe added 4.5kg to the weight.
The engine capacity was increased to 1340cc in 2008, and the new slippery bodywork introduced. ABS brakes appeared in 2013.
As the last motorcycle offered providing the highest possible top speed, the Hayabusa has earned its place in motorcycling folklore. And the unrestricted 1999 GSX1300RX model will always have the most cachet with collectors.
For what they offer the early Hayabusa is still relatively cheap and when the current version is finally discontinued they will take off.
Too new, but probably sure bets…
If you’re looking at a new bike with potential collector status any of this bunch is worth considering.
BMW R nineT: When BMW released the retro R nineT in 2014 it was an instant hit. The R nineT sold out immediately and was BMW’s fourth most popular model that year. And as the R nineT is based on the earlier air/oil-cooled engine and transmission layout it is probably due for imminent replacement. Another good sign for future collectability.
Kawasaki Ninja H2R: Ultimate performance is always popular and the Kawasaki Ninja H2R offers more than any other production motorcycle. We’re talking here about the limited edition 2015 non-street legal supercharged Ninja H2R that pumped out an astonishing 326 horsepower. But if you can’t find one of the few H2Rs the 210 horsepower H2 is a decent substitute.
Triumph Rocket 3 TFC: Triumph released the Rocket III in 2004, and the 2294cc triple has been the largest displacement motorcycle available since then. However, it has had difficulty finding a niche. This changed for 2019 with the introduction of the limited edition Rocket 3 TFC
Australia’s go-to-guy for classic motorcycle wisdom. Ian has written nearly 45 books on motorcycles that each offer unparalleled insight on the historical and technical development of particular makes and models.