Ever since I read over the weekend that a pair of smash-and-grab idiots stole a couple of motorcycles worth $1.5 million from a home in tony Bel Air Estates out in California, I’ve been running it over in my mind attempting to figure out one critical thing – what the hell do they plan to do with them?
It’s not like you can head down to the local Honda dealer and trade one in. You sure as hell can’t put them on Ebay, and trying to get either of them, particularly the rare-as-hen’s-teeth Cyclone, out of the country would be an act of madness, so I’m still left with the same burning question?
One of the bikes, the 1914 Cyclone, was worth the vast majority of that loss figure. The other, a vintage 1952 Honda racing bike, was certainly valuable beyond imagining as well, but I’m still left wondering, what do you do once you find yourself, through your filthy, thieving efforts, in possession of the Mona Lisa of motorcycles?
Why? Why would anyone steal an item so valuable as to be instantaneously recognizable, stamped with identifying numbers which have been loving documented for nearly one hundred years, photographed as often as Scarlett Johansson and which is arguably the most high-profile collector motorcycle in the world?
I can only come up with one motivation (and that’s if I throw out the obvious explanation that the thieves are a pair of moronic tools who have completely completely stripped the gears inside their tiny brain pans) – they just wanted to take world’s most awesome and dangerous joyride.
Maybe I’m not giving the perpetrators them enough credit for their nefarious abilities. Perhaps the thieves have already crated and shipped the machines to an insanely wealthy collector in the Far East bent on owning such rare and beautiful artifacts.
But what I’m really hoping is, that later this month, one of them will be pulled over on the PCH riding full-bore with a snootful of cheap vino in his guts and an ounce of weed hanging out of the back pocket of his Ed Hardy jeans.
Officials said the thieves kicked in the front door of the home, tied up the husband and threatened his wife, loaded up two extremely rare motorcycles with a combined value of $1.5 million. The owner was clearly targeted as he regularly took the vintage bikes out for public showings. And the bikes take weren’t your average collector machines as you may well imagine from the price attributed to them in the media would indicate. The robbery took place around 4:30 a.m. last Saturday on Linda Flora Drive in Bel-Air Estates.
It’s the rarity, and the pedigree, of the Cyclone in question, coming as it did from a time when motorcycle racing was as popular and shocking as an alien landing in the New Jersey hinterlands, that makes the Cyclone a hot commodity on the track – and now – at auction.
The bike in question also happens to be an astonishingly beautiful piece of engineering.
The racers of the time were young men during the early 20th century who rode their motorcycles around banked wooden tracks at speeds exceeding 100 miles an hour, and that was some serious business when most of the roads were still being clotted with horses and four-wheeled ‘cars’ powered by steam. Board-track motorcycle racing was and is pure Americana.The first mass-produced American motorcycle, the Indian, rolled out of a shop in 1901 to be quickly followed by the first Harley-Davidson in 1903, and shortly thereafter, both of those manufacturers were sponsoring teams of riders who competed against each other around large tracks built purpose-built for motorcycle racing.
The most expensive motorcycle ever sold
1915 Cyclone Board Racer
The artfully-executed motor of the Cyclone was a precursor to the ‘litre bikes’ of today and boasted a 996cc, 45 degree V-Twin with a pair of bevel-driven overhead camshafts.
Insuring your collectible or vintage motorcycle
As for insurance? You should be able to get Agreed Value coverage on a 1959 BSA valued at $15,000 for somewhere around $25 a month, and that gives you the whole shooting match of coverage. You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.