I've always said that one of my favorite things about buying and selling motorcycles, is the people you meet. Recently i saw a ad for a vintage motorcycle auction in Omaha. I was tied up that weekend, so I planned to attend virtually to bid on a few 2 stroke street bikes. I ended up winning a pair of 1972 Suzuki GT550's and a 1971 Kawasaki H1. I had two weeks for pickup and setup a time with what I thought was the auction house.
So rewind back about 2 years. I'm at work and come across an article on a guy that makes a living buying & selling motorcycles. I things that blew my mind was the size of his network, and the shear volume of very collectible motorcycles he had. http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/2015/10/article/backmarker-finishing-mikes-collection/ The pictures made my jaw drop and it did something for me. It validated that there is a strong market for these motorcycles here in the states. I forwarded this to my wife and a few friends. I used it as motivation to keep building and dealing with 70's Japanese motorcycles.
So back to the auction. I made the drive to Omaha and planned to be in and out quick. I pull up and it's large building. Rich opens the door and backs me in. We shake hands and he shows me the 3 bikes I bought. We begin talking and I mention how hard these 2 strokes are getting to find. He begins telling me that he finds them all the time. So naturally, I have to ask what all he has for bikes. He starts rattling them off and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He just named quite a few Grey Market bikes that you don't see hardly anyway. He mentioned NSR's, Gamma's, RD/RZ500's, and a slew of other bikes. At the time, I was hunting for an RZ350 and asked if he had one. He said he was down to about 7, but that he typically has about 15-16. So my next question was, "Wow, how many bikes do you have?" He replies that has about 1000 at his place. Now I can't help but start to think, this has to be the guy I read about. Unfortunately I couldn't remember the name from the article.
Rich was beyond helpful and we talked about the three bikes as I wheeled them onto my trailer. He also talked about making a place for Vintage Once I was all loaded up, I stopped into his office to let him know I was all wrapped up. Rich asks if he could take me to dinner and then show me his collection. Thankfully my wife is amazing and was fine with me taking alittle longer to get back. I couldn't want to see his bikes.
Rich and I went to eat at Catfish Lake in Bellevue. The food was amazing and we sat and talked all things bikes. Favorite ones to right, importing and exporting them, and trends we hate. After dinner, I followed up a few miles to what I will call his Motorcycle Compound. It had multiple buildings full of eye candy. The first building he showed me was jaw dropping.
As you walk in, he has shelves with perfect condition Kawi Z1R, h1, and h2 bodywork. Once you're past the office, it's just rows of bikes. And these aren't piles of scrap, they are runners and in great condition. There is a slew of early sport bikes, Katana's (the good ones) Gamma's, Rd's, Rz's, GSXR, NSR's, Z1's, Z1r's, Ducati, Mini Bikes, Some Enduro's, GPZ's, and about anything else you could think of. Words can not describe it. It was amazing!
Then we walked over to another building. Before we even got in there, I spotted a two seater sidecar with a removable canopy! One of these days I'll have a sidecar on something. So we go into the building and it's decorated so well. There is a setup that looks like a car dealship show room in part of the building. This is just jam packed with early sportbikes. I know know where 80's sportbikes go. Then I noticed he has a crazy Snap On Tools Clock Collection. Once I stopped drooling over these bikes and the old drag bikes he had, we went to another shop where he kept his parts stash. These looked at is they hadn't been used at all. h1/h2 parts, z1, gt750 motor sitting there, it was beyond impressive.
We talked some more about what's coming up for Rich and his business. He's getting ready for another auction in the coming months and always on the prowl for more bikes. It was amazing seeing his bikes and talking with him.
So keep an eye out for bikes and enjoy the people you meet. The stories and experiences are priceless. And Rich, thanks again for everything!