The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
Simon’s story: “I’m the third owner of this Seca. My friend Matt bought it in 1994, and he had it when he met and dated his wife before marrying her. It went into his basement in 2001 and stayed there. I found out about it four years ago and basically have been nagging him to sell it ever since. He didn’t want me to hack it about or ‘café racer’ ruin it, so I promised just to get it running and ride it as it was. My plan was to get my U.S. motorcycle license on it and update it as I needed to keep it running. I have a deal with my wife where I promised it wouldn’t cost a lot of money or take up a lot of my time, but neither have been true. I paid $500 for the non-running bike and have doubled that in parts and doubled it again in jacket, gloves and helmet.
“The Seca is now all tuned up, running well, inspected and ready for rider training. I have opted to go to one of the local rider training schools to get a refresher so I can be more aware of the dangers. The last time I rode a motorcycle for real was in the U.K., so my instincts are good, I just tend to look over my right shoulder more than I should! You’ll notice my bike is in ‘as found’ condition. I’m a big fan of keeping the patina and feel of a bike that’s true to its age.
“Years ago I was given a Honda Nighthawk 250, or a Superdream as we knew them in the U.K. I then went on a mission to see just how little I could spend in getting that bike on the road. After five weeks work and foraging, I managed to have it road-legal and rideable for less than $50. I then went about giving it subtle mods, kind of ‘resto-mod’ work, which included rebuilt suspension, upgraded brakes, a 400cc Hawk engine and numerous other little tweaks, to make it handle. It looked like a standard 250 unless you knew what to look for.
“I’m tackling the Seca in the same manner, keep it looking stock and fairly standard, but adding those little upgrades to handing and braking that make the thing easy to go ‘round corners and change direction. I’ll resist the 4-into-1 pipe for now, as I’m not sure I can get one that I’ll like and there’s so much other stuff that can be done to improve it from a rider’s point of view without making it obnoxiously loud or some hideous paint job.”