After my most recent post a couple of weeks ago regarding a motorcycle accident fatalities, I wanted to lighten the tone a bit and focus on something a little more enjoyable: classic motorcycles.
I have always found the opportunity to own and ride a classic bike to be one of the most exciting aspects of getting into motorcycles. I’ve been a New Jersey motorcycle accident attorney for over 23 years, and a rider for most of my life, and throughout this time, my love of vintage motorcycles has grown exponentially.
A classic bike enables you to preserve our heritage, and enjoy a taste of the same thrill that famous motorcycle enthusiasts of the past, like Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen experienced when they mounted their bikes.
There are a few issues to keep in mind with older bikes of course, some of which are consistent with riding a newer bike, and some of which are unique to classic motorcycles.
What makes it a classic?
Before we get to these issues, we should make sure we are clear on exactly what we mean when we use the terms, “classic,” or “vintage,” when it comes to motorcycles.
This is the subject of nearly endless debate within the motorcycle community. But if I had to boil all these arguments down to what I think qualifies a bike as a classic, here are the rules I go with.
Defining a classic motorcycle
- It must be 25 years old or older. This is a deal breaker. The only way to know if a bike will stand the test of time mechanically and aesthetically is to see how it holds up over the years.
- It should have a fairly traditional design or look that recalls the origins of these vehicles. Air-cooled, two-cylinder engines, single headlights and double supports on the rear wheel are acceptable.
- No frame or structural modifications.
- Quality performance and construction. This would seem to be a no-brainer, but it is possible to nurse an inferior vehicle to the 25 year old mark. These coddled bikes are not what I have in mind.
Rather than further hashing out this age-old debate, it may be easier to just list a few agreed-upon classic models:
- Triumph T120 Bonneville
- Harley-Davidson WL 1950
- Yamaha XT500
- Suzuki SP370
Each of these bikes has stood the test of time and is widely agreed to meet the standards I laid out above.
Insuring a classic motorcycle
When it comes to insurance, I have never been shy about beating the drum for full coverage. This is mostly because as a New Jersey motorcycle injury lawyer who handles medical bills, I have seen bikers get the short end of the stick when they are involved in accidents.
So I’ll say it once again: make sure you have more than adequate UM/UIM coverages. This applies regardless of whether you’re riding a new or classic bike.
When you purchase coverage for the bike, you’ll come to an agreement with the insurance company on the bike’s “Agreed Upon Value.” This is the market value of the motorcycle at the time you apply. This way, if you have an accident, they will settle for the correct amount to restore your bike to its pre-accident condition.
Since a classic bike can appreciate in value, you’ll want to be sure your policy covers the full collector’s value of the motorcycle. And if the unthinkable happens and you have an accident, you’ll want to hire a PA or NJ motorcycle crash attorney with plenty of experience recovering property damage, in addition to bodily injury.
If you have any other questions about owning, insuring or riding your classic motorcycle, call experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer Lee D. Gaber right now at 1-888-292-5352 (1-888-CYCLE-LAW) for your free consultation.