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


Long-Term Ownership

Len-Borbridge
Photo by Len Borbridge

I wanted to weigh in on your query about faithful rides (Shiny Side Up, March/April 2021). In late 1979, I was looking for something bigger and faster than my 1976 Yamaha XS750D. While durable and dependable for the highway, having taken me on the Pacific Coast run (Vancouver Island to Tijuana), I still needed a little more. I couldn’t resist the shiny new 1980 XS1100G smiling at me from the showroom floor and the long-term relationship was sealed. I dressed her up with a Vetter fairing, Cyclesound and Krauser bags and I was mobile. The wide powerband makes highway riding a breeze no need to whack ‘er down a couple of cogs to pass that semi, just roll on the power and that 18-wheeler is looking at my taillight disappearing over the horizon. So then, just when I was having fun, that thing called life caught up with me. Priorities changed to marriage, buying a house and raising a family (none of which I regret for an instant). High insurance costs and a company vehicle rendered keeping the bike on the road an unaffordable luxury. Under a tarp it sat, biding its time with rubber rotting and rust flecks blossoming for 19 years.

Once life provided me the latitude to lift the tarp to see what was left, I was posed with a significant restoration project. As I hadn’t stored it properly, I was happy to find that it hadn’t seized and turned over easily. All rubber components needed replacement, from the tires to CV carb diaphragms. I also found a DIY-install seat cover that looks great. Known second gear issues have been dealt with. I found a complete transmission from a 1981 model in Alberta. As we’re both getting along in age, there probably won’t be any more highway marathons, but I’m more than happy to be upright, wind in my face and feeling the exhilaration of acceleration. 90,000km and going strong!

Len Borbridge/Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada  


Remembering On Any Sunday

When I read the On Any Sunday article, I felt so fortunate to have grown up in those times. I remember the motorcycle that set the path for me and thousands of others, the Yamaha DT-1. Motorcycles were freedom and I will ride until my body says no more. That movie truly captures the motorcycling fraternity and I’m so proud to have been a part of it and for so long. I always look forward to your latest issue. Thanks.

Jeffry Carruthers/Calgary, Alberta

 

Hi Jeffry,

Thank you for the note. We’re all lucky to have motorcycling as a part of our lives, and OAS was the beginning of that for many of us. — Ed.


All white CB160?

I just received my first issue of Motorcycle Classics (March/April 2021). Very impressed. The issue featured an article on a restored Honda CB160, a motorcycle I much admire. In the article was a statement about available colors — red, black, white, and blue as were various other Honda models of the time. However, there was a curious statement that white CB160s were all white including the fenders and side covers. Is that true? Is there a way to verify this? It conflicts with the Honda identifier book that lists all 4 colors as having silver fenders and side covers.

Ralph/Poulsbo, Washington

 

Hi Ralph,

While we found several secondary references to all-white CB160s and CB77s, we’ll open this one up to our readers. Does anyone have firsthand knowledge of or materials that mention or show all-white CB160s coming from the factory? If so, please email me at lhall@motorcycleclassics.com — Ed.


Remembering an XS2  

The All In The Family article in the March/April 2021 issue conjured up lots of great memories for me. This 72 year-old bought his shiny new 1972 XS2 in July 1972, from a small dealership in Gwinn, Michigan. Their slogan was “It’s got to be from Artibees.” I was finishing up my stint in grad school when something happened to the tranny in my ‘71 Yammie RT1. Stranded without a ride home to the suburbs of NYC, I traded the 360 in on the 650. I had to finish my course work and clock a thousand miles on the odometer to get it checked for the warranty.

August found me riding solo from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to New York's Westchester County. I logged 700-plus miles the first day, stopping in a flea bag off I-80 near Youngstown, Ohio. I wheeled the bike into the room for the night when no one was looking. The next day I crossed the GWB, traversed the Cross Bronx Expressway, and made it home. I kept the bike 20 years, and logged 90k miles. The only times it stranded me were due to flat tires. (The most harrowing was on the Cross Island Parkway in Queens, at 6:30 a.m. during rush hour. It had picked up a 3-inch sheet metal screw in the rear. Bike tracked straight though!). I would have bought another when that one tired out, but, alas, they were no more, so a new 1992 HD Sporty 1200 took it’s place. I would have loved to hang onto it, but three kids under 10, a mortgage, and a teacher’s salary … A familiar tale.

Thanks for the great article and pics.

Campbell Whitford/Stormville, New York

Peter Tremulis' 1975 Yamaha DT250

1975-yamaha-DT250 

EBay find

I saw this bike (a 1975 Yamaha DT250) on Barn Finds and then won the bid on eBay. I have been having fun replacing worn parts while keeping the original paint and low miles intact. YouTube, eBay and others have been a great source of parts. I rebuilt the carb, put in new lights, even in the speedo and tach, fixed some small shorts in various old wires and had a Yamalube oil pump rebuilt by the best in the business. I also picked up an original shop manual and owners' manual to add to my knowledge about this amazing machine. I also picked up a Nexx helmet to add to the riding pleasure. This bike was confined to an RV park by its original owner for most of its life. I purchased it from a dealer in Arizona through eBay that handled the sale for the RV park owner who was ready to sell it. It's a time capsule with patina from its life putting around the RV park. Please share it with your readers. I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can stretch it out once again.

Peter Tremulis/Deerfield, Illinois

Steve Sullivan's 1975 Triumph Trident

 1975-triumph-trident-before

Before and after

I thoroughly enjoy your magazine and thought I would show you my winter project. I purchased this 1975 Triumph Trident as a basket case a few years ago and finally put the finishing touches on it. This was the unobtainable Superbike to me in high school. I could have built two motorcycles from all the parts it came with. After hours of cleaning, sorting, replacing rotten rubber parts and polishing aluminum, I got the bike running this summer. I de-chromed several parts and had them painted in their original color and had the tank properly done with period-correct paint found by a vendor in your magazine.

1975-triumph-trident-finished-build

It is a pleasure to ride around, and I’m amazed at all the comments and thumbs-up I receive. Enclosed are two pictures. I’m pretty sure you can tell which one is the before and which one is the after.

Steve Sullivan/Weldon Spring, Missouri

Pat Halstead’s 1983 Yamaha XJ900 Seca

 yamaha-1983-xj900-seca-motorcycle

Gone, but not lost

Of the more than 40 bikes I’ve owned there were several you could not give me today, even for display. But, yeah, one fondly remembers certain past bikes and would welcome them back if the reality weren’t that those have now most probably been recycled into patio furniture or Keurigs. My first Honda, a 1961 CA95 Benly, purchased in 1961, is such a nostalgia magnet. I’d had two bigger bikes (250 BSA, 500 AJS) but the Benly was as red as a valentine and just as welcome, making work trips of 50 miles each way twice every week that summer to and from the Olympic Peninsula. Much later, another fire engine red bike — this a 1978 Yamaha XS750E — proved pride-worthy in every way. I hesitate to mention two 1978 Kawasaki Z1-Rs owned in later years because they were resold reflecting their rather UJM ordinariness, except for styling that has caused the price to soar in recent years. OK, the bike I’d welcome back but don’t regret not having is another red roadster, Yamaha’s 1983 XJ900 Seca. I say “no regrets” because I donated it to the Barber Motorsports Museum one year ago. Not many were sold here (maybe a thousand?) and the machine was both well equipped for its year and still light and comfortable. With luck, Barber will choose to find a spot to display it and I will return there to see it yet again. 

Pat Halstead/via email

Dave Kaufman's Norton Commando Fastback Memories

framed-melted-norton-carb 

Too hot to handle

I am responding to the short article on Page 6 of the January/February 2020 issue of Motorcycle Classics about the Norton Fastback: “Another Fastback.” I had my own “flame-on” experience with my Fastback, similar to the author of the article. As a 17-year-old in 1975 I had built a Fastback from a basket case. I had ridden it to a spray-and-wash to clean it. After soaking it down, I popped off the points cover (mounted under the carbs) to dry out the points. I left the cover loose and took off. Sometime later a float bowl screw vibrated loose resulting in gas dripping onto the points. A buddy and I were on the bike when flames shot up from below. He jumped off and I ditched the bike only to watch it go up in total flames.

After the fire department put it out, I found that the fire had melted the carbs into a puddle on the asphalt. I scraped them up and kept them for several years. I finally put them in a shadow box (see photo) as a memento. You can see the slide springs, mounting studs and main jets in the picture.

I thought I was the only one, but after reading your article, I feel a bit of vindication …

Dave Kaufman, aka AJS Dave/Georgia

Mark Johnson's Honda CL90 and Yamaha TW200

yamaha-tw200 

Wow, your September/October issue featuring the 1966 650 Triumph and the Honda CL90 sure brought back so many good memories for me. When I was 12 years old I owned a little CL90. My family would go camping in the national forest in Washington, Idaho and Montana. We geared down the CL90 with a big sprocket on the rear wheel, which gave the bike more torque at lower speeds. Top speed was about 30 miles per hour, but the bike could climb steeper hills. When I was 18 years old I bought a used 1966 650 Triumph and used it as a street bike for about 20 years. Today I ride a Yamaha TW200 trail bike (see photo). Keep up the good work in bringing back so many good memories for your readers.

Mark Johnson/via email

1979 Harley-Davidson FEXF Shovelhead

 1979-Harley-Davidson-FEXF

Speaking bikes

I read the column about bikes that speak to you and I do have one of those bikes: My buddy’s 1984 Harley-Davidson FLH Shovelhead did this to me. I’ve watched him rebuild it starting in about 2000, and go through several iterations, and had many chances to ride it. It made me absolutely want a Shovelhead, mainly, for how they sound. As far as I’m concerned, these were the pinnacle of Harley-Davidson engines, and motorcycles. Fast forward to 2018, I finally have my own Shovelhead, a 1979 FEXF. I also have a 1974 Triumph Trident and a 1969 Triumph Trophy TR25W. Thanks for the magazine. I enjoy it.

Will/via email







The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

Save Even More Money with our RALLY-RATE plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our RALLY-RATE automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5.00 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $29.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $34.95 for a one year subscription!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter