The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
I was reading the November/December issue of Motorcycle Classics when the Kawasaki B8 story caught my eye. When I was a kid in 1967, I had a paper route in Ballston Lake, N.Y. On my route, I noticed one of my customers had a motorcycle leaning against his house. I finally got the nerve to ask him if he would sell it. He said it didn’t run, but I could have it for $35. After charging the battery and giving it a tune up it started, but it wouldn’t shift. Now I was getting in over my head.
Fortunately, a new Kawasaki shop had opened a couple of miles away. I didn’t have a license, but I took a chance and rode to the shop in first gear. The shop said it would cost about $120 to fix the transmission. That would have been about a year’s worth of pedaling newspapers. Undaunted, I decided to try to repair it myself. I carefully took it apart and found a sheared key on the transmission shaft. Fifteen cents at the hardware store and I was in business.
I rode this bike as a trail bike because I wasn’t old enough to have a license. As you can see in the photo, the bike had been turned into a bobber before I got it. Notice the silver metal flake seat, high bars and nice aluminum bobbed fender. It also had a side-mounted bobcat tail light that didn’t make it through the first ride. I got a flat front tire, and having no money I patched it myself. I got to patch it about 10 more times until I found a thorn in the tire.
I have been involved with antique motorcycles since 1980, and I haven’t seen another one since, so thanks for stirring up some good memories. — Mark Supley/via email
Photo courtesy Mark Supley: Mark Supley's Kawasaki B8