Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Buying Guide

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Written by  silodrome
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History

Off-road motorcycle races have been held since the earliest days of the motorcycle, in fact it's likely that almost all of the earliest motorcycle races took place off-road as there was almost no such thing as a sealed road until cars became more commonplace. As with all forms of motorised transportation, it was the racing that really pushed the technology forward - early bikes had no rear suspension, limited front suspension, primitive braking systems and engines that blew smoke even when brand new. 

As the years went by rear suspension was added and perfected, front suspension was hugely improved, braking technology surged forward and engines became reliable, exceedingly powerful and sometimes even almost smokeless. 

If you've decided you want to get into the world of vintage off-road riding you'll need a few things: a hearty love of working on engines, a good set of motorcycle body armour, a solid MX helmet and an astonishing level of patience. There are fantastic clubs for people with similar passions who meet on weekends to ride, race, swap parts and swap stories.
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Choose Your Genre

EnduroMotocrossScrambler,  Hill ClimberFlat Tracker or something a little more exotic? The choices are expansive and it might take you a while to decide, the best way to make a decision is to think about what you want to use the bike for. Do you want to go on adventures down fire trails? Do you want to race at flat track circuits at weekends? Do you want to take part in vintage MX racing? Or do you like the idea of competing in classic hill climbing events? Have a think about it and when you've decided, you'll know what genre you should be shopping in.
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Choose Your Marque

There are more iconic marques than could realistically be named, from Husqvarna to Triumph, from Honda to Penton - there really is a staggering amount of choice. Some people know well ahead of time what marque they want, and some know exactly which model - sometimes this makes things easier but in the case of rarer bikes, it can make it a lot harder.
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Choose Your Era

Some off-road motorcycle genres have only been around for a short while, so you don't have that many decades to choose from, but some have been around for over 100 years and will require significantly more thought. Personally, I love the motorcycles produced throughout the '60s and '70s - many of these can keep pace with modern bikes if ridden by people who know what they're doing. Once you've chosen your era and genre you'll need to move onto the next question - which marque?
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2-Stroke or 4-Stroke?

If you're reading a guide like this, I'm going to assume that you already know the differences between 2 and 4 stroke engines, as well as the plusses and minuses of each. Obviously if you're looking for a 1970s-era enduro bike, you might be hard-pressed to find a 4-stroke, and if you're looking for a 1920s-era hill climber, you won't find a 2 stroke - so depending on your preferences to the above 3 questions, you may find that the answer to this question is answered for you.
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The Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Collection

In order to help you get started with your new pastime of collecting vintage off-road motorcycles I've put together a Collection of over 20 motorcycles that are currently listed for sale on eBay, there's a huge amount of variety and I'm sure there'll be something to suit every taste, so click here to take a look and see what appeals to you. 

Click here to view the full Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Collection
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