December 12, 2012

The Austro-Hungarian Empire Motorcycle Club


Collecting stuff is a disease for which there is no cure.  Motorcycles are a favorite collectible,  they don't take a lot of room compared to say, military tanks or airplanes, but they do need more space than stamps or buttons.  Whatever, if you have a garage, you have room for a few bikes.

If you are going to be serious about collecting, you need a theme.  You can't just randomly collect stuff you come across, you need to apply discipline lest you be confused for a hoarder.  I have pretty much always had a bike collection.  I used to collect British bikes when they were practically giving them away in the late 1970's.   For quite a while I concentrated on 1985 Yamahas, great bikes that had bottomed out resale-wise when I got them.    My first bike I think I paid 50 bucks for.  It had been stripped of most of its parts, but it still ran, but not for long. See the  theme here - they were all cheap cheap cheap.

That first bike was an early 60's 125 cc CZ made in Czechoslovakia, imported by a Canadian department store.  My next bike was another department store bike, an Austrian built Puch, sold here as an Allstate by Sears, you could even order it from the catalog.   A cheap bike, but it served me well for a summer, until the neighbors complaints about the noise became louder than the actual noise of the bike.  (I rode it to work every morning, at 4 AM.)   That bike could also lay down a 2 stroke smoke screen that would kill every mosquito for miles.

The thing with buying old motorcycles is that market resale value is directly related to how cool  buyers think it is, and little to do with functionality, quality or condition.  When I bought that first bike in 1968,  old Harleys™ weren't cool unless they were chopped, but demand and prices were high, so a very used Harley cost more than a brand new VW beetle.  Brit bikes were cheaper but still cooler than fully dressed Harleys, and Sportsters were cooler than the big twins.  Least cool were two strokes, especially if they weren't Japanese.  There were a few cool Japanese two strokes, such as the Kawasaki Mach III, which probably killed more Americans than the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, but mostly 'strokers' or 'ring dings' were not cool.  Your typical non Japanese two stroke came from somewhere in Europe, designed and built to provide utilitarian transportation for people who would rather have a car but couldn't afford one.  Usually no more than 250 cc, ugly, an exhaust note that no one could love and all that smoke.  Dirt cheap.

If you are familiar with Jay Leno's garage, the Steve McQueen motorcycle collection and the Las Vegas Auctions, you will know that a few collector bikes are hitting the six figure and beyond territory.  You might think that Brough Superiors, Vincents, Cyclones, and Knuckleheads are cool, but you would be wrong.  How can something only affordable by the very rich possibly be cool?   Fortunately there is a way out for the impecunious and tightwads.  A thing can be so uncool that it actually becomes cool.  Hipsters are totally into this, think Value Village clothing, the AMC Pacer, Wayne Newton moustaches and Buddy Holly glasses.  I believe this is what they refer to as ironic.

Of course it would be most uncool to collect bikes because they are cheap, or at least to admit to that.  So as a public service, I am proposing a collecting theme for cheapskate bike collectors. the Austro Hungarian Empire Motorcycle Club.  You can be President.

The Austro Hungarian Empire was rolled up as a result of them losing WW I and all the heirs to the throne being assassinated or senile. This also happened a few years before most of the eligible bikes were made, but Austro-Hungarian Empire sounds way cooler than the Obscure Central European Countries Few Can Find on a Map and Nobody Cares About Motorcycle Club.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire consisted of Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, bits of  Ukraine, some Balkans, parts of Poland, and a small part of Italy.  The better known bikes that made it over the pond, were Jawa, CZ, Puch, and KTM.  Surprisingly, the Italian provinces that were once part of the Austro Hungarian Empire, Lombardy and Veneto, are also the home of many of Italy's best known and best loved motorcycles, such as Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Cagiva (formerly Aermacchi), Parilla,  and Laverda.  These bikes are cool without having to be ironic, so I am not sure what to do about that, anyway they have their own clubs.  Moving on, for the discriminating collector of the cool uncool, there is plenty to choose, well over a hundred obscure brands no one has ever heard of, or good things about, such as the Hungarian Csepel, Pannonia and Danuvia, the Ukrainian Planeta and Dnepr, Polish SFM and Junak, Tomos mopeds from Slovenia, or the truly bizarre Bohmerland stretch limo party bike from those fun loving Czechs.

Happy hunting.

Gallery
Bohmerland














Eaton's Road King aka 125 cc CZ























AHE Survivors

Junak - Gasp! Nice looking Polish rider and the bike is not a two stroke!
A Tomos could be as close as the nearest dumpster.


We will make this guy president....




A good place to start.  Payson Arizona