Hands Off My Bike!

They say collectors buy what they wanted but couldn’t afford in their youth, and it must be true, because hundreds of beautiful, lust-worthy, collectible motorcycles are rolling into town to be auctioned off this weekend. I’ve got my eye on one in particular: a 1984 Yamaha RZ350 two-stroke screamer complete with “King” Kenny Roberts’ signature on the cowl. So, I’m warning you right now: step off, it’s mine.

It’s not like there aren’t other bikes for you to fritter away your savings on. As of Jan. 12, Las Vegas becomes the temporary center of the classic-motorcycle universe when three—count ’em, three—auctions roll into town: the Las Vegas Premier Motorcycle Auction at the Rio (AuctionsAmerica.com), the Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale at the Imperial Palace (Bonhams.com) and the 2012 Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction at the South Point (MidamericaAuctions.com). There are bikes for sale this weekend that you’d be lucky to see in a museum, let alone get a chance to own. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted a 1924 Scott Squirrel sporting that characteristic “biscuit tin” gas tank. There’s one going on the block at the Imperial Palace, and a storied example to boot. Its lineage traces back to the storied Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races. And how cool is that? Any car of similar age and provenance would be astronomically priced, but the Squirrel will likely go for $8,000 to $12,000. Not peanuts, but entirely reasonable for such a historic machine.

For the more well-heeled enthusiast, may I suggest a 1910 Flying Merkel V-Twin? This bright orange, belt-driven beauty has an estimated value of $175,000 to $200,000, which again is not peanuts, but car collectors regularly pay that kind of money for a lot less historical value.

All three auctions are open for tire kickers and dreamers, so don’t let a complete lack of cash stop you from experiencing what amounts to a world-class ephemeral motorcycle museum. Just remember, there’s a certain 1984 Yamaha you are not interested in bidding on, OK?