4 Vintage Motorcycles to Restore

Choosing your first vintage motorcycle restoration project can be a daunting assignment. It takes passion and patience to tackle such a big project.

Vintage motorcycle restoration

With so many blast-from-the-past bikes, the 70’s and early 80’s are a great era to start with for a budget-minded bike restoration project. Here are 4 classic motorcycles to consider for restoration projects.

Honda CB750

The Honda CB750 is a big deal to motorcycle enthusiasts. Shortly after leaving the Grand Prix circuit, Honda focused its efforts on high-performance machines designed and built for the everyday consumer. 

Honda CB750 vintage motorcycle

This four-cylinder beast served as a statement to better known European competitors that Honda had arrived. The iconic set of 4 mufflers helped the CB 750 establish its presence on the restoration scene. With electric start and a solid reputation for durability and quality, this bike was well regarded as a sport commuter that could take on any adventure. 

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Parts for a Honda CB750 restoration are common and easily accessible. Aside from its popularity as a fun vintage bike, the CB750 has also staked its claim within the café racer scene. If you enjoy customization but don’t have big pockets, this bike is right up your alley. 

Yamaha XS 650

Classic lines, reliability and customizability all explain the popularity of the Yamaha XS 650. When looking for this bike, you can expect to see models that were originally released from 1970 to 1983.

Yamaha XS 650 vintage motorcycle

Although classified as a Japanese touring bike, it shares many aesthetics with British counterparts from the time period, but at a much lower cost. While it may not be as powerful as the Honda CB 750, it offers the classic lines that many restoration enthusiasts seek out. This vintage Yamaha required very little maintenance and was easy to ride. 

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It’s said that the four-stroke vertical twin engine offers a distinctive tune that vibrates nicely on the road. It’s hard to deny the vintage feel this Yamaha motorcycle offers. The XS 650 didn’t roll off the showroom floor with electric start and disc brakes until 1972. Either way, this classic Yamaha bike has a strong following, which means lots of OEM and aftermarket parts are still available for it.

Kawasaki KZ 650 

The Kawasaki KZ650 is a popular choice for restoration due to its balance in size, weight and performance. With the heart of a sports bike and the comfort of a touring machine, you can really get lost in a build like this.

Kawasaki KZ 60 vintage motorcycle

The KZ 650 is fast enough for even today’s speed requirements, yet small enough to throw around corners and supple enough for weekend cruises.  At only 465 lbs., the KZ 650 has weight on its side compared to its 652cc engine output. Finally, riders of all types had access to a lightweight bike that could reach freeway speeds with ease.

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The design of this Kawasaki motorcycle still plays into the hands of those riders who want to add a classic touch to their lives. A 4-in-2 exhaust layout and large cylinder head make this bike a prime candidate for a café racer. Kawasaki KZ 650 OEM parts are abundant, so the only piece missing is your creative vision and classic memories. 

Suzuki GT750

With a strong lifespan from 1971-1977, the Suzuki GT 750 is yet another vintage motorcycle that deserves attention from the restoration community, given that it received no accolades in its day. 

Suzuki GT 750 vintage motorcycle

Being the first liquid-cooled engine of its time, this three cylinder, 550 lb. machine had a much larger stance on the road than its competitors. A healthy 739cc’s were paired with a five-speed gearbox, and three into four exhausts, but the bike was just too heavy to enjoy. Throughout its 7-year span, Suzuki didn’t change the GT 750 much, making it a fairly boring bike. So why even mention it? Because when you add the term “vintage” or “classic” to certain models from back in the day, the demand for it grows. New interest has been shown in these once clunky bikes. And where there’s interest, there’s a market. 

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The Suzuki GT750 is a bit more technically challenged than the other bikes on this list. Before purchasing Suzuki GT 750 OEM parts, join a current forum or enthusiast community centered on this unique motorcycle. The GT750 is a cool project bike that doesn’t have to clean you of your life savings, even if it needs a bit of work. While not a heavy hitter in the custom café racer scene, the GT 750 is truly a project bike for dedicated motorheads.

Thinking about buying a used vintage motorcycle to restore? Watch the video above to learn more about what to look for in a used motorcycle or ATV.



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