Three Roads to Vintage Motorcycling

September 28, 2016 by

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By John L. Stein

These are prolific times for classic bikes. The recent Quail Motorcycle Gathering showcased 115 years of motorcycling, from a 1902 California motor bicycle to a 2016 Yamaha FZ07 street tracker, and the record crowd proved that collector bikes of all stripes are growing in popularity – from vintage motocrossers to streetbikes, racers and customs, and from Japanese to European to American – and everything in between. Moreover, entries included dusty survivors, well-preserved originals, letter-perfect restorations, and a slew of custom and modified bikes. Which brings up an actual important question: What’s the best kind of old bike to get, anyway? Here’s one vintage-bike addict’s assessment of whether to go original, restored or modified.

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Ride Original
Barn finds are cool, but you can’t do much with them without disturbing their “rust equity.” A good alternative to the period accuracy of a barn find is a well-preserved and usable original. The pros are that your riding experience will be just like 1955 or 1965 or 1975, but the disadvantage is that after so many years, even highly original bikes can need significant refurbishment. And to preserve the originality here, you’ll need costly NOS (new old stock) parts. Reproduction parts are a viable alternative, but with every re-pop part used, the originality drops. In my opinion the best path is patience until you find a low-mileage (under 10,000 miles) original that’s been cared for responsibly. Two quick picks: The elegant Honda CB500/CB550 Four and the simpler Yamaha R5/RD350 two-stroke twin, both of which are totally useful, plentiful and reasonably priced.

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Go Full Resto
Besides the word “original,” probably no term in the vintage hobby is sketchier than “restored.” The reason is interpretation. Does “restored” mean the tank and side covers were hung from an apricot tree and painted rattle-can red, with new tires and a seat cover finishing the job? Or does it mean a Pebble Beach-quality restoration performed by an acknowledged marque expert? As such, buying a restored bike – or else taking on a restoration yourself – merits great care. I like author Stephen Covey’s phrase, “Begin with the end in mind” here. Define your desired end result, including the quality, how much you want to spend, and what you’ll do with the finished machine. These factors should then guide your project. One bit of advice: Apply your standard evenly throughout the project. Perfect paint and tired aluminum or plating don’t mix well.

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Creatively Customize
Accelerating in popularity among Millennials, building a café racer, bobber, chopper or some other creation from a donor vintage bike is parallel, I suppose, to getting inked. (Said the guy with no ink.) Dismissed by some of the old guard, customs are nevertheless a viable alternative portal into the classic-bike space, and they offer unparalleled freedom of expression. First, you can start with an incomplete rescue bike or even a pile of parts at low cost. Second, you don’t need to locate and pay for the Exact Correct Parts. So that Ducati 350 Scrambler donor bike lacks a front end? One from a Suzuki GT380 will work great! And third, you get to build your bike your way, to your standards. The only downsides to customizing are sacrificing an original bike (that’s between you and your conscience), encountering build challenges beyond your scope (actually great learning moments!), and that sometime down the road, a buyer won’t see the same value in it that you do.

At the end of the day, vintage bikes are just like art. Some folks worship the French masters, some dig Etch-a-Sketch drawings and some like flinging tomato juice onto canvas with a side-valve Harley snorting nitro and wearing a paddle tire wrapped in chains. There’s no right, and no wrong here, so do what you love. Just do it with clarity of purpose. Amen.

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Sponsored by:

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Annual Ferrari Feature at Coffee & Classics

September 20, 2016 by

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Our fifth annual Ferrari feature at Coffee & Classics Winnetka is this coming Sunday, September 25th.  With over 60 Ferraris on display, it is one of biggest displays of four-wheeled Italian artistry anywhere. Continental Autosports will be bringing some of their exclusive favorites as well.

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With over 160 classic European cars in addition to the Ferraris on display, our September Coffee & Classics is one of most popular car events of the season. As such, there will be no Day Passes or Modern Member cars (Ferrari excluded) allowed in the display areas…sorry.

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Fuelfed Wood, Water & Wheels Vintage Day Tour

September 10, 2016 by

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Our traditional W3 is a one day vintage tour of well chosen routes through southeastern WI. The tour culminates in Lake Geneva for lunch in Williams Bay, followed by our little private C&C at the Geneva Lakes Antique & Classics Boat Show. Reserved parking over looking the water is provided.  Saturday, September 24.

This is a private event for Fuelfed members & their vintage vehicles only.

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Annual Fuelfed Fall Classic 2016 (FFC16)

September 7, 2016 by

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The Fuelfed Fall Classic tour has earned a long and loyal following for its well chosen routes and uniquely cool under-the-radar dining experiences. Always fresh and always fun. No boring 30mph conga lines and banquet halls here.

For 2016 Fuelfed is running its popular Autumnal event over the weekend of October 15-16 for members and their classic European cars (pre-1990).

This year, we want to celebrate our home state of Illinois with a scenic vintage tour to Galena. If you’ve been looking for an event that your spouse/partner might also enjoy, this is the event.

Yes, we’ll be driving some beautiful well-chosen roads drenched in Fall colors, but this weekend isn’t all about the drive. This weekend is about experiencing the classic motoring lifestyle. Driving picturesque roads in soulful vehicles. Experiencing new places and people. Cocktailing and conversations. And, relaxing away from the city. If this sounds like your kind of weekend, bring a guest or drive solo. Space is limited.

Private Fuelfed member event.

Learn more. 

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We’ll tour the scenic country roads of northwestern Illinois where you’ll see its deep farming history and watch the land transition into rolling coulees down to the old Mississippi with picturesque backroads, villages & vineyards.

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A small town, southern style lunch in a former grist mill in Iowa caps off a morning of  scenic farmland routes as we transition the drive into up & down twisties shadowing the Mississippi river and its vibrant fall colors. Afterward, we’ll make our way north to Galena.

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You’ll have some time to yourself to explore historic Galena and its 160 year old main street of fabulous shops & boutiques before our short drive to the resort to check in.

The evening will start with a fun drive down to Old Man River and dinner at the famous vintage Supper Club. No dinner coat required, but you will quickly feel as if Sinatra himself will make an appearance as you sip their signature martinis high in the bluff above the river.

After our classic American 1950s style dinner, we’ll head back to the resort & spa where its bar closes at 1am for those of us who want a night cap, or two.

No doubt many of us will be up til the wee hours, but save some steam for breakfast and the scenic tour the next morning. If you’d rather sleep in, catch a later breakfast and mosey home on your own, go right ahead.

There is, however, one rule for the weekend: Rain or shine, you must drive a vintage European car on the trip (manufactured before 1990).

Join us for this popular private member Fuelfed event.

Space is limited to 25 cars. Private Fuelfed member event.

Learn more.

August Coffee & Classics This Sunday 8.28.16

August 26, 2016 by

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Fuelfed Coffee & Classics® has evolved immensely since its inception back in 2010. We want to take this opportunity to reiterate a few important guidelines about attending C&C to those newer to the Fuelfed scene.

1. Coffee & Classics is a private Fuelfed club event for our members, not an open cruise in.

2. Like the name states: “Classics.” In our case, classic European cars 1990 and older.

3. As has been in our bylaws since 2011, no soliciting. That means:
• No For Sale signs, business cards
• Flyers of any kind
• Pitching services or events to attendees
• This also includes no coming in on a Day Pass and having For Sale on the car’s display sheet
If you are interested in proper marketing opportunities with Fuelfed, please inquire.

4. All bicycles must be walked and kept at a 5-foot distance from the cars. Strollers must also be keep at a 5-foot distance.

We are working to always keep our events pure to the spirit our members have come to expect.

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Coffee & Classics® Winnetka parking will be for current Fuelfed members displaying their blue 2016 C&C parking pass. A limited number of paid Fuelfed Modern European members will be admitted as space allows by showing your 2016 membership card. New Fuelfed members who have not yet received their packets in the mail, will have their names on the list at the entry gate.

Numbered Guest Day Passes may be purchased for $5 at the entry point on Lincoln by non-members driving European Classics ONLY. The $5 will be credited to membership dues if you join the club within 7 days of attending the event.
SORRY ALL OTHER NON-MEMBER CARS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO SHOW.

Parking starts at 9:00am.

We ask that participants use our official display cards to allow the rest of us to appreciate the classic even if the driver isn’t near by to chat. Click on image below to enlarge and fill in your data, then print it out.

C&C Display Card

2016 C&C Display Card

2016 C&C Parking Map. Click it to enlarge.

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Zen and the Art of Fuelfed

August 24, 2016 by

14-singer-911-targa-1This recent article from Autoblog entitled “Don’t Give Into the Conveniences of Life”  is certainly sympathetic to one of the main Fuelfed tenets: Quit worrying about the car so much and DRIVE it.

More from Pebble Beach

August 20, 2016 by

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Couple quick shots of Fridays’ field of dreams. Above we have our own Fuelfed member Cam A. who has brought his Miura out west for the party and auction. Not sure what Jay’s thinking with the green & red sea of Miuras splayed before for him.

The below shots are provided by our own Steve Pala.

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Go-Go Joe Hinsdale This Sunday Morning 8.21.16

August 19, 2016 by

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Coming off a great Garage Night at Northshore Sportscars, we carry the Pebble Beach engery into the busy weekend with GoGo-Joe Hinsdale early this Sunday morning.

If you needed any extra incentive for an early-morning drive, this simple edition of Go-Go Joe will take us to beautiful downtown Hinsdale with a few special vintage treats from our friends and Fuelfed members at Continental Autosports.

We also want to thank Andy Blankenburg for his location & marketing assist.

Sunday, August 21, 2016
8:00-9:30am
First St. & Washington, Hinsdale.
Park on First St. towards Garfield St.

There are plenty of coffee/breakfast options within a block’s walk.

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Fuelfed Garage Night Tonight

August 18, 2016 by

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The weather looks perfect for a little in shop chit-chat at Northshore Sportscars tonight starting at 7:00pm.

 

Live from Pebble Beach

August 18, 2016 by

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This mornings line-up of classics for the road tour. Lucky member Steve Pala is feeding us a couple shots as they happen.

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