BOOK REVIEW: Old Bikes by Paul Zuniga

Publish Date: 
Feb 2, 2011
By Mike Vaughan

Paul Zuniga’s Old Bikes is one of those books you wish you had before you bought your first motorcycle as an adult. Zuniga is a restorer, racer, mechanic, fabricator and an excellent writer with years of mechanical and electrical experience behind him. He’s owned more than 120 motorcycles since starting his riding career in 1970, currently has 50 in his collection and campaigns a scratch-built Triumph 650 Bonneville in AHRMA racing. He knows motorcycles.

This book starts with the very basics by asking and answering the question: What is old? Through the course of its 162 pages the book answers this and virtually every other question that a person considering vintage bike buy should ask, but probably doesn’t, before buying.

The book covers buying, where to look, how to transport, and a fairly detailed rundown on how to assess your purchase. Zuniga systematically goes through each of the various essential motorcycle components pointing out what to check for and how to make a determination whether it’s OK, or probably needs work.

Of the 15 chapters, I particularly enjoyed one called, “Types of Old Bikes,” followed by the sub-chapter headings of, “Fixer Upper,” “Basket case,” “Like New and Better Than New,” “Restored Bikes,” “Never Ridden and Still in the Crate,” and finally “Regular Old Bikes.” Anyone who’s ever considered buying a “collectible” has wrestled with these terms as they perused the ads and website of people hawking their older motorcycles. Finally, someone calls ‘em what they are and gives you some hints as to what to look for in each case.

One chapter is devoted to the repair and maintenance of various sub-assemblies of a motorcycle and assigned a degree of difficulty number; 1 — you can probably do it, 2- if you’ve got some mechanical talent you can probably do it, and 3 — take to a professional. Knowing this ahead of time can save some significant grief and money down the road — I speak from experience.