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Our Thoughts On Collecting

Just in case you are starting your own collection we will give you our thoughts.

We started the process of building the collection in 1995 and although we always hope to upgrade, this proper collection was completed in 2013.  Most of the motorcycles were acquired through eBay or craigslist and we have driven as far as 3600 miles round trip to pick-up a couple of Trail 70s.  That particular round trip excursion was from Phoenix to the Milwaukee/Chicago area.

Be patient, the bikes are out there.

Try not to buy a CT70 from the Gulf Coast area, since it is likely to be damaged by salt air and is not worth the money.
Most repaints simply do not work unless you are willing to ‘break the bank’ on the restoration.   Except in the case of a custom or rest-o-mod we don’t buy repaints.

As of this date (2014) originals in good condition from the 1970s usually go for  $1,600-2,500.  You could easily spend 50% more than that to restore a rough CT70 to ‘very good’ condition.  So buy a fairly priced original.

1980s bikes are fairly uncommon in good condition, so the price of a 1980’s bike is only about $ 400 less than the older ones.  However, the motorcycle does not have the sizzle of the 70’s.

1990s CT70s are also fairly rare, but are usually a bargain at $1,200-1,800.  Price a new Honda dual-purpose bike today and you will know even a good quality vintage Trail 70 is very well priced in most cases.

There always seems to be a bike or two on eBay for $6,000 or more.  On occasion, if you run into a ‘mint’ KO, HKO,  or HK1 that could be worth nearly that price.  But generally these are restorations and I do not know who buys these.  Maybe it’s legit, maybe not, buyer beware.
In fairness, I can see how a seller could have that kind of money into a restoration, but for us we go ‘original.’

A ‘silver tab’ is a very early KO model.  A mint unrestored original silver tab is a very valuable bike; a fair price would exceed $ 2,500.  A ‘mint’ or near mint silver tab can push $ 5000, maybe more!  But, a silver tab restoration, or one that has been beat-up having replacement parts is just another KO, so don’t overpay because it’s not worth any more.

Miles are the LEAST important part of the bike.  How well it runs is also not that important since you can rebuild the motor and not hurt the value one bit; just don’t change the carb out.  A well-kept, GARAGED higher mileage bike is worth much more than a low mileage beater bike.  The speedo cables brake easily so mileage is always suspect anyway.  Remember these bikes were usually driven by kids who beat the Hell out of them, so if you find a nice one you’re lucky.

Motors seem to noticeably weaken after about 500 hours of use.  But, weak doesn’t mean “won’t run.”  They tend to smoke and foul the plug more often but you can probably get it running.

The motor is fairly easy to put rings into, but beyond that, you may need a mechanic.  That gets expensive at $85 to $100 per hour.  So a motor rebuilt could cost $300-500.

If you buy junk even at $300 you won’t make any money when you resell it.  The parts on these junk bikes are a mess, and no one wants them.  You cannot ‘part them out’ and make money, we’ve tried.

If you want a ‘runner’ for the kids, fine, you can find a runner for $600-800 if you are patient.

The easiest CT70s to sell are the 4-speed HKO and HK1.  Old guys seem to what a clutch.  Frankly the automatic is easier to deal with all around.

Everyone has an opinion on their favorite color or model, but from what we see the HKO in Candy Emerald Green, and the HK1 in Candy Ruby Red are the most popular.

The 1980s bikes are tough to get good money for unless the bike is near mint.

“H” model 4-speed mini-bikes are not common, but I would not say they are rare either.  They are not faster, they are not more powerful, maybe it’s easier to lay rubber, or do a wheelie but otherwise there is not much difference.

A Trail 70 that will not start almost always has a carburetor problem.  Particularly with the fuel blends today the carb gums-up easily.  The good news is in most cases you can get the bike to run; maybe not great but it will run.

A vehicle title is nice and may protect you from buying stolen property which is very common with these portable motorcycles.  If you really want a title there are ways to get one, but last time we did we spent about $200-300 in the process.   A replacement title in most cases takes several weeks.

For shipping to Phoenix from various parts of the country our cost ranged between $ 85 (shipped in multiple boxes, that was a pain, and very stressful), to $ 339.  Because the bike is about 5 feet long, by 2 feet, by 3 feet high it is best to take the wheels off, have it bike mounted to a skid, build a box around it with 1/8 plywood, and have it drop-shipped with a major carrier.  If you tell the shipping company it is a ‘vehicle’ you will pay twice the rate.  Tell them it is “parts,” drain the fuel, drain the oil, pack the battery separate, and let it go.

The tough parts to replace are the one of a kind model year parts, for example, the yellow painted fenders of the 1979 model, everything else is fairly easy to find.  We have linked to several vendors on this site; see “Links.”  The 72cc motor was used by Honda for various cycles over the years.