From the Owner
The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle

Randy Trom’s Yamaha Twin Jet 100 and Trailmaster 100

Randy Trom's Yamaha bikes

Randy Trom's lovely 1967 Yamaha Trailmaster 100 YL2C (left) and 1967 Yamaha Twin Jet 100 YL1E (right). Too cool. Photo courtesy Randy Trom

Great tiddlers

One of the columns I always look forward to is Under the Radar. I found the September/October 2017 feature on the 1964-1969 Honda S90 of particular interest. The motorcycles of that era were a big part of my youth. However, I’d like to offer alternatives to the “Contenders” to the Honda S90. Although the Suzuki Sport 80 and Kawasaki 80 are worthy contenders, I believe a few other bikes of that time may have proven equal to, or even more memorable, popular and competitive to the Honda S90. Worthy of note is the Yamaha Twin Jet 100, Bridgestone 90 Sport, and the Yamaha Trailmaster 100 and 80. Keep up the good work and enjoy a couple of gems from my "tiddler" collection, a blue-and-silver 1967 Yamaha Twin Jet 100 YL1E, and a 1967 (registered in 1968) Yamaha Trailmaster 100 YL2C. They’ve been restored to near-concours condition.

Randy Trom

Darrel Ricketts’ 1973 Norton 750 Commando

1973 750 Commando

Darrel Ricketts’ 1973 Norton 750 Commando. Photo courtesy Darrel Ricketts

I finished this 1973 Norton 750 Commando last fall. It is my second Norton build. The next one will be a 1968 Atlas featuring many Commando upgrades. I sold this bike to a good friend, Brian. Ironically, my first exposure to a Norton was a 1971 Commando my brother bought from Brian nearly 20 years ago (he still has it). Now I am building Nortons and selling them back to Brian.

-Darrel Ricketts

Jerry L. Hall’s 1971 BMW R75/5

The BMW back out on the road. Photo courtesy Jerry L. Hall

Back in the Seventies and Eighties an older gentleman named Loren often rode with me and my brothers and our father. We all rode BMWs. Loren rode FAST in the curves, but what I remember best is his unique riding style. He sat straight upright as if he had a steel rod for a spine. Curves to the left. Curves to the right. Flat out down the straights. Nothing mattered. He was always sitting bolt upright. And always FAST.

About two years ago Loren’s trusty polaris silver with blue pin stripes 1971 BMW R75/5 serendipitously crossed my path. It was offered to me, and thankfully I was in a position to say, “Yes, please.” I had been wanting a /5 again and I had a personal connection with this bike. It had passed through one or two owners since Loren, and wore a Wixom frame-mounted fairing and safety bars. It was missing the headlamp innards and front turn signals, and it had aftermarket silencers, but everything else was still showroom stock and in amazing condition! I smile every time I cast my eyes on that beautiful saddle with the two chrome hand holds.

New Mikunis on an old /5. Photo courtesy Jerry L. Hall

The fairing and safety bars were shelved. Then I went treasure hunting and located all the missing headlamp parts and the polished aluminum signals with the amber side reflectors. I bought new replica cigar-shaped silencers. I wanted it to look just as it did out of the crate. I tried to rediscover my factory-trained BMW mechanic skills from decades ago. What was foggy to my mind was somehow remembered by the muscle memory in my hands. My hands knew which size wrench to use and how to remove the front cover and how to torque the heads and how to adjust the valve clearance. But no matter how many times I balanced the carburetors for idle and smooth acceleration the adjustments wouldn’t hold. I overhauled the carbs to no avail. A little research and some memory jogging made it clear that these Bings were from a batch of bad carbs that found their way into production. There could be no “fixin’ ’em.” Then I remembered putting Mikuni carbs on a number of bikes in those years. Some Internet research led me to a shop in Massachusetts with everything I needed.

Today I put the new Japanese carbs on the old German bike. I hung the auxiliary fuel tank from the handlebars. I slipped the fuel lines onto the carbs and turned on the petcock. I pushed down the old plunger key on top of the headlamp, took a deep breath and thumbed the starter button. Without any hesitation the engine came to life, complete with that old /5 rocker noise and valve clatter. Oh, sweet music to my ears!

Sometimes an old motorcycle will let you know it’s happy just like a good dog does when it looks up at you and “smiles.” Ya know what I mean? — Jerry L. Hall

Clark Stewart’s Classic Bikes

Reader Clark Stewart with his lovely collection of vintage motorcycles. Photo courtesy Clark Stewart

More trouble

I enjoyed your editorial (Black Side Down, July/August 2017) in which you note a relationship between mechanical skills and artistic endeavor. This is pretty germane to my own experience. I am a retired art professor from the University of Tennessee living in Knoxville, Tennessee. For the past 40 or so years I have been into old bikes, managing over that time to keep 15 or so on the road. These have included Bultaco Metrallas, Norton Commandos, a Norton Atlas, a BSA, a Benelli, a Yamaha RD350, an Enfield and a BMW R65LS.

Most of the maintenance and repairs I’ve been able to manage myself, only a few times needing professional services. I’ve found that an eye and feel for sequential and visual relationships have been key to both my art and wrenching. For the most part “what looks good is good” and vice versa holds pretty true. Conceiving a process of orderly steps is key to both endeavors. I’m fortunate to live in motorcycle paradise adjacent to the Smoky Mountains and beautiful and lightly traveled country roads, and am a member of a great group, the Time Warp Vintage Motorcycle Club. I’ve enjoyed your magazine since issue one and look forward to forthcoming ones. Attached is a shot of the current bikes. — Clark Stewart/via email

Clark,

We admire your fine row of classic rides (especially that Fastback!) along with your thoughtful approach of orderly steps. Ride, and wrench, well. — Ed.

John Rose’s 1967 Suzuki T200 X5 Invader

Suzuki

Reader John Rose's 1967 Suzuki T200 X5 Invader. Photo by John Rose.

I’m 62 and have been getting bike mags since 1970. Your mag is the best. Because of my age it has all the stuff I like to read about. Because of your last mag write-up of the Suzuki GT185 I just had to write. Many people do not remember the Suzuki T200 X5 Invader. Mine is a 1967. I’m writing because of the great motor and handling it has. The motor pulls so strongly with its low-down rpm. It is amazing for a 200. The motor does not have to rev like the Suzuki GT185 or the Yamaha RD200 or other bikes in its class. It pulls like my T350 Suzuki down low. Any gear, any rpm, any time. Top speed at 88mph also makes it the fastest stock 200 in the world. As you can see, I love my little Suzuki. It was my dream bike when I was a kid. I had only seen one other one when I was 15 and promised myself someday I would have one. I finally found one in 1982 and still ride it. The best thing is it was free. It was leaning on the wall of a house outside in San Diego, California, and the old guy said I could have it. Now I’m the old guy. Keep up the great work. — John Rose/Pennsylvania

Luis Etchenique's BMW R75/6 Café Racer

Reader Luis Etchenique's super-nice BMW R75/6 café project. Photo by Luis Etchenique

Luis Etchenique with his BMW R75/6 project bike. Photo courtesy Luis Etchenique

Classic Café

Greetings, fellow classic bikers. I follow your Facebook page closely, for it immortalizes timeless design and engineering. I recently completed a BMW café racer project, and wanted to share it with you. I consider it a “Classic Café” because it preserves fundamentally classic design elements. This build pays tribute to both the iconic BMW racing/sport tradition and to the ever young and fresh Café Racer culture. I attempted blending the classic and elegant lines of this boxer with straightforward café touches. I hope you like it. – Luis Etchenique/South Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Luis,

Like it? We love it! Thanks for sharing your BMW with us, and we encourage all our readers to share their rides by sending us high-resolution images and the story of their bike to lhall@motorcycleclassics.com.

Barber Ride Aboard a 1973 Yamaha TX750

Barber

The lovely 1973 Yamaha TX750, owned by Al Baljeu, was just one of the many vintage bikes on our Sunday Morning Ride at the Barber Vintage Festival in 2016. Photo courtesy Jerry Baljeu.

I just finished reading the March/April 2017 issue from cover to cover and your advertisers will be happy to note that this also includes all their ads. I take everything pretty well as Gospel in this issue except for one line on Page 10, and I’ll quote: “ ... and join us for our Sunday Morning Ride, a leisurely run through the beautiful Alabama countryside.” Leisurely? Bah humbug.

I was on the 2016 ride. While I was trying to keep up, I was also concentrating really hard on not dropping my brother’s restored 1973 Yamaha TX750 while he was thoroughly enjoying the tour on his 1979 Yamaha XS750 café racer.  The ride was anything but “leisurely” and more like “exhilarating” for a 78-year-old whose usual daily ride in Canada is a 1980 Gold Wing! I do not remember that “beautiful Alabama countryside” but will always remember the Motorcycle Classics 2016 Sunday Morning Ride. Thanks for the Ride. — Jerry Baljeu/Organizer of the Sept. 24, 2017, Sarnia, Ontario, Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

Jerry,

Thanks for joining us on the 2016 Barber Sunday Morning Ride. We look forward to hosting the ride again on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. — Ed.