You can find treasure in the most surprising places.

If you ride around long enough, you’ll probably see a lot of bikes for sale on the roadside, stumble across auctions going on out in the country or talk to enough people along the way to discover a barn find or two. Of course, you might also see an interesting bike in the classifieds, in a shopper newspaper, or online.

Of all these methods for finding used motorcycles, I prefer the roadside, barn find, and auction types. There’s just that element of discovery that makes it more fun. When I ride I always take a camera along because you just never know when you might have a chance to get a shot of something unique or exciting—like an old bike in pristine condition.

Over the years, I have stopped to take a look at a lot of bikes by the side of the road, in barns, sheds, garages and at farm auctions.  So, naturally, I take some pics of them—well, many of them, anyway.  Looking through my image archive, I am surprised to see just how many of these bikes I have pictures of—dozens, actually.  Ok, 45 I could find, to be more precise.

Some I ended up owning—most not. Some are truly great finds—classics even—others, not so much. Most of the ones I’ve actually bought are in the latter category. My preference tends to lean toward what I call “three digit wonder bikes.” These are motorcycles that can be had for under $1,000 and you wonder if they are worth owning in the first place. That’s also part of the magic of buying something off the roadside—the mystery.

As I pondered the many images of bikes, I thought I’d share the top ten best with you. Of course, my ranking has virtually nothing to do with the actual value, but rather is a reflection of my biases and relatively uninformed opinions and gut reactions. Asking price is not a factor in this ranking, nor is average auction value, book value or any other data-driven or logical value. Quite honestly, sentimental value trumps book value every time, so things that have transpired with some of these bikes for me will elevate some in my ranking to inexplicably lofty positions you may find odd. So be it.

Photo by: Gary Ilminen