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What Is Classic Motorcycle Racing?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

Classic motorcycle racing has become a popular spectator sport and occurs across a wide array of racing classes. From vintage road racing and motocross events to flat track and hill climbing contests, classic motorcycle racing is appealing to a wide number of participants and on-lookers. Many participants obtain dilapidated vintage motorcycles for a fraction of the cost of a new machine and restore the motorcycle to resemble one of their childhood hero's paint schemes. Paying homage to stars from the past, the classic motorcycle racing events relive the early days of motorcycle racing for fans and competitors alike. Most competitors race at reduced speeds and effort so as to avoid damaging the vintage motorcycles; however, in events such as hill climbing, it remains an all out extreme sport.

Many of the earliest motorcycle racing teams were funded by the owners of the machines with factory support limited in most cases to discounts on spare parts. This grassroots approach to competition resonates in the hearts of many classic motorcycle racing fans who appreciate this sporting approach to racing. Purchasing old, retired racing motorcycles and customizing street-ridden veterans to resemble the bikes from the past, classic motorcycle racing clubs have become popular and occasionally host races at some of the actual venues and tracks made famous by the pioneers of two-wheeled excitement.

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One area of difficulty when it comes to racing the classic motorcycles is in the shortage of high-performance parts. Aftermarket manufacturers rarely stock new performance parts for classic motorcycles and many have long ago discarded the dies and machinery required to produce new parts. Some of the extreme lovers of the classic motorcycle racing have began reproducing some of the competition pieces and parts of the more frequent motorcycles to allow racers to buy replacements for broken parts. This shortage of replacement parts is the main reason behind the reduced level of competition between many of the racers.

In the same manner as the original racers of these modified classics, the riders and owners of the machines are making their own race parts in their home shops. Ingenuity and the love for classic motorcycle racing is driving some of the vintage race teams to become involved in the manufacture of hard-to-find parts to avoid having to discard their broken vintage racers. Spectators of the classic motorcycle racing events enjoy touring the pits and seeing the bikes from their past up close and personal at many of the events.

Discussion Comments


The article mentions that some high performance parts are still available for vintage bikes. Where can I find them? I have a few very old bikes that I have been trying to get into good running order for years but finding the right parts is always a problem. I have been able to find a few used motorcycles that I could salvage parts off of but these are few and far between and you end up with a lot of junk bike that you don't need.


I am involved with a vintage motorcycle club and we organize a race at least once a year. It is a lot of fun because for most of the year we ride our bikes a little but mostly just show them off. They exist more as art objects than actual motorcycles.

But a bike is a bike and deep down they all want to be ridden as fast as they can go. It is important for keeping them running and in good shape that you go and really open them up once in a while. So a classic motorcycle race is a great way to show your bike some love and go head to head with other guys who have cool old bikes. It makes for some interesting match ups.

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