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Rapide B Pre-Purchase Advice Please

Buzz Kanter

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
I believe I have finally found a nice Rapide B to buy in my price range and not too far from where I live in the US.

I have been riding and wrenching on classic motorcycles (mostly American) for more than 30 years but never a Vincent. So I am looking for any and all advice on what to expect, what to look for and avoid, and how to check it over mechanically and functionally before buying it.

I know the seller and he assures me the Rapide has just had the top end freshened up by a Vincent mechanic - new pistons, rings, valves and guide.

All suggestions appreciated.
 

roy the mechanic

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
how to advise on buying a 60 some odd year old vehichle- 1, go see a shrink,2, talk to other owners better yet take a current owner(preferably with some smarts) to veiw it 3-most important be lucky! look at the history, be suspicious if there is none. vins are not like anything else out there, after 14 h-d's the vin is for me a winner. if it's cheap enough you can always mend it
 

BigEd

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Website Moderator
I believe I have finally found a nice Rapide B to buy in my price range and not too far from where I live in the US.

I have been riding and wrenching on classic motorcycles (mostly American) for more than 30 years but never a Vincent. So I am looking for any and all advice on what to expect, what to look for and avoid, and how to check it over mechanically and functionally before buying it.

I know the seller and he assures me the Rapide has just had the top end freshened up by a Vincent mechanic - new pistons, rings, valves and guide.

All suggestions appreciated.

Dear Buzz,
I don't know how old you are but if, as you say, you have been working on classic motor cycles for more than thirty years I guess that you will have a pretty good idea what to look for whether it is a Classic Vincent, Triumph, Harley or whatever. Do your usual checks for compression and listen for bad noises if you can hear it running. (My Rapide has always sounded like a bag of spanners but today happily cruised for 70 miles at 70 mph so maybe noises are subjective.:)) If you can get four gears and a neutral static that is as much as you can do without a test ride. Big smoke that doesn't clear once the sump is cleared suggests a problem if it truly has had a top-end rebuild.
Sometimes you may have to take a gamble and "jump in" hoping that there is nothing nasty hidden away. If there is something unexpected it sounds as if you will have the skill to fix it.
Ask yourself how long you have wanted a Vincent and how long are you prepared to wait? I don't notice the prices going down. If you don't "jump in" sometime soon you might never have a Vincent.
 

Buzz Kanter

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
Dear Buzz,
I don't know how old you are but if, as you say, you have been working on classic motor cycles for more than thirty years I guess that you will have a pretty good idea what to look for whether it is a Classic Vincent, Triumph, Harley or whatever. Do your usual checks for compression and listen for bad noises if you can hear it running. (My Rapide has always sounded like a bag of spanners but today happily cruised for 70 miles at 70 mph so maybe noises are subjective.:)) If you can get four gears and a neutral static that is as much as you can do without a test ride. Big smoke that doesn't clear once the sump is cleared suggests a problem if it truly has had a top-end rebuild.
Sometimes you may have to take a gamble and "jump in" hoping that there is nothing nasty hidden away. If there is something unexpected it sounds as if you will have the skill to fix it.
Ask yourself how long you have wanted a Vincent and how long are you prepared to wait? I don't notice the prices going down. If you don't "jump in" sometime soon you might never have a Vincent.

Eddy, thanks for the reply. I am 55 years old and have wrenched on machines as early as a 1915 Harley, 1930s Indians, 1950 Moto Guzzis, 1960 Ducati singles, 1960s and '70s Japanese machines and more, but not a Vincent. I have learned that there are many shared mechanical issues and ways to identify them but I also know each machine has its own special areas of concern.
I can visually inspect the machine looking for signs of damage or misalignment. And I can start and run a bike through it's gears listening for issues. I also know how to lug the engine in high gear to listen to the condition of the lower end.
Anything specific I need to be aware of in engine, transmission, clutch, charging areas on a Rapide B?
Thanks to all for helping me in my hunt for a Rapide.
 

passenger0_0

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Buzz - As long as the Rapide has got Brampton girder forks then the rest really doesn't matter (I'm not biased). Remember 'B' is for Beautiful and accept that any old bike will have issues. The Vincent has good spares availability and advice is never far away so whatever problem lurkes within you will be able to deal with it. My Series B is very old, having done over 100,000 miles since it's last rebuild (not by me as I've only done slightly over 6,000 miles). I was told I paid too much, she burns oil and could be considered tatty by some but she still goes fine and will do all that I want - who could ask for more? Sometimes things get over-analysed. Cheers David
 

Buzz Kanter

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
Wonderful words of advice. I am amazed how often I hear someone paid too much for an old motorcycle. Then a few years later it seems like a bargain. One friend of mine likes to say he doesn't pay to much for old motorcycles, he simply pays too soon :)

So how about a photo of your B please?
 

clevtrev

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
What you see, is what you get.
What you don`t see, is what costs money.
What you hear, is either a nice sound or a bag of nails, or both.
So bite the bullet.
Might only happen once in a lifetime.
Remember some you win, most you lose. :))
 

Bracker1

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Buzz, Pull the trigger and get the B. Check the oil feeds to rocker arm. Mine had the meter wire so big no oil got to the bearing. Never burned any oil at start because there wasn't any. Also check the oil jet in the timing chest. The fella that got the sister Shadow to mine,which had just been rebuilt by a "vincent" expert, had too small a jet and the engine lasted about 50 miles. There are plenty of good Vincent people about. In the States, Sam M at the Vincent Works does absolutely beautiful work, and of course Steve Hamel repairs the hopeless. I was fortunate to have Steve rebuild my destroyed heads. If I can put a Vincent Engine back together anyone can. It was my 2nd rebuild ever, the first being my old Rapide. I've got about 6000miles on the rebuild and it runs like a champ. Ouch, I hurt my arm patting myself on the back, Congrats, Dan
 

passenger0_0

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Sorry Buzz but I'm having difficulty figuring out how to upload photos - I'm suffering brain fade as I've done it before!
Ayway, they all look the same, black with gold, alloy guards etc..... I note others are giving you some good advice so have you done the deed yet and 'pulled the trigger' (to quote Dan)?
 
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