Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Honda is an old bike that’s emulating an even older motorcycle breed - that being the traditional British single. In movie parlance that makes it a mix of Back to the Future and Inception, but will you find it worth the price of admission?
Oh Saab, what has become of you? Since filing for bankruptcy and shuttering its factories in 2011, the brand that was once born of jets has been passed back and forth between Chinese and Indian suitors like nothing more than a badminton shuttlecock.
The last vehicle to be introduced by the Swedish company wasn’t even built in Sweden. Yesterday’s 2011 9-4x was built in GM’s Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico, and was sister to the Theta platform-sharing Cadillac SRX.
That ignominious heritage was neither a fitting end for so illustrious a brand, nor seemingly worth the nineteen-grand price tag that the seller of yesterday’s one of less than five hundred in the world was asking. That was according to the 65% of you who voted it a Crack Pipe loss.
One of the reasons Saab couldn’t compete was because of other companies like Honda that are able to eke out far greater production efficiencies and have vastly larger pools of resources into which to dip their toes. Saab made cars and Jets, Honda makes damn-near everything.
One of the things Honda once made was this 1989 GB500 Tourist Trophy which was a British-inspired single. The style of this bike harkens back to the café racers of the ‘60s and seeing as it’s now more than a quarter century old itself that makes it a retro-retro bike.
The ‘classic’ elements on the GB include a pinched tank which allows your knees to tuck in tightly, dropped bars, D.I.D. wire spoke alloy wheels, round instruments, gaitered front forks, and an arched cap over the pillion. Does it look like a vintage Isle of Man Tourist Trophy racer? Yeah, it sort of does.
The engine is a SOHC 499-cc single. Based on the XL600 dirt bike engine it does feature a pair of valves on either side of the combustion chamber, and hence the two pipes leading from the head that gives the bike the illusion of being a twin. A standard Honda five-speed shares the cradle with the mill.
What are these like to ride? Well, back when they were new and only retro instead of retro-retro, Peter Egan rode one for Cycle World and came away suitably impressed. Egan said that the bike “feels light, quick and agile, yet dead stable at the indicated 100 mph it achieves quite easily.” Stellar praise if I’ve ever heard it.
This one comes with just under 30,000 miles on the clock and non-original paint. The factory color for the GB500 was “Black Green” while this one apparently eschews the green for your standard black. OEM badges sit atop that non-original paint.
Other non-factory bits include an aftermarket tail light and perspex flyscreen. The turn signals have been removed, as have the Fed-mandated reflectors and the emissions air pump. Apparently all that comes with the bike, but in a box. From the pics - and most in the eBay ad are tiny-tiny - it looks like the bike could use a bit of spit and polish.
On the plus side the seller claims the bike looks and runs great, and that it comes with new rubber, brakes, chain and sprockets, and a lithium battery. One the down side, there’s a dent in the rear fender.
When new this bike listed for $4,200. That was about the going price then for a lot of the classic bikes that it was trying to emulate. Today those bikes have doubled or more in value, while this Honda asks $4,750.
What’s your take on that price for this classically styled Honda? Does that seem a fair deal for a retro-themed old school bike? Or, is that too much to turn back the clock?
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