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


A Suzuki X6 Hustler from the Past

x6-hustler 
Cam’s finished Suzuki X6 hustler.

Reading the latest Motorcycle Classics you asked about significant bikes from our past. Here’s a story about my X6 Hustler. 

I was 17 and my mother remarried. My stepfather was a lead hand with Air Canada and we moved to Montreal. I went from a hick in the sticks to Expo ’67 and a whole new world. I bought a 1968 X6 Hustler new for $800. I rode the wheels off of that machine all over the West Island of Montreal. I got a part-time job at a Suzuki dealer and stupidly bought a new T250. It was not a patch on the X6 but a hard lesson learned. 

Fifty-plus years later, I bought two carcasses that were destined for the landfill and poured my heart and soul into the project. This was to be the bike to recreate my wild youth. The frame was media blasted and powder coated along with all of the other black parts. The top end was re-bored with new pistons and rings. Not one single detail was overlooked. When I got the main carcass, the guy had paid for an extremely crappy red paint job. My ’68 was blue and that is what this one was going to be. My paint guy looked at the article on the X6 in Motorcycle Classics and said “IROC blue and my wife’s Lexus’ silver.” Fine by me.

x6-carcasses
The two X6 carcasses packed into a trailer.

When all was ready I switched on the ignition, seeing that familiar green neutral light and kicked it over. I put the choke on and it fired right up. I was 18 again on the lakeshore in Montreal.

I retired shortly after. I looked at the X6 and thought, “I already license and insure two bikes,” (a ’69 Norton, and an ’01 Ducati) and so I sold it. I wish I hadn’t. I contacted the buyer to see if he would sell it back to me, expecting the answer to be “no.” After thinking it over, he decided to let me buy it back. I’m so pleased.

Cam Norris/Battersea, Ontario

Cam,

What a story! To have loved and to have lost two X6’s — good grief. Congrats on the Suzuki’s humble return, and may you ride the wheels off of this one also. — Ed.

Remembering a 1973 Kawasaki Z-1

kawasaki-z1 

The bike I wish I’d never sold? My 1973 Kawasaki Z-1. I bought it used in July 1978 while on leave from the Army. I rode it for those 30 days, then parked it and went back to Germany for 15 months. I retrieved it in September 1979 and rode the heck out of it for a few years, then sold it off and bought a Z-1R. Here’s a photo with my 1975 Yamaha RD350 in the background. I bought it new in June 1976, shortly after high school graduation. I wish I still had it, too.

Ray Womack/St. Louis, Missouri

Fred Hawley’s Honda CL77s

305-scrambler
Fred and his 305 Scrambler today.

Rider: Fred Hawley, Middletown, New Jersey
Age: 69
Occupation: Electrical engineer
Rides: 1966 Honda CL77, 1978 Honda CB550, 1975 Honda CB750, 1975 Yamaha XS650, 1981 Yamaha 750 Virago and 2006 Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster

I have always had a passion for motorcycles ever since I was a young boy growing up in the Sixties in Stratford, Connecticut. That’s not surprising considering my dad owned several Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I still remember my dad picking me up from grammar school on his Harley — very cool for an 8-year-old boy. On my 16th birthday I was ready for my first motorcycle. Seeing Honda’s ad campaign “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda,” I set my goal on a Honda CL77 Scrambler. My dad insisted I first learn to ride his 1,200cc Harley — not an easy task for a skinny 130-pound boy.

After learning to ride Dad’s Harley, I headed over to my local Honda dealer with $700 cash, earned from my paper route, to buy a new 1966 Honda CL77 Scrambler. At this moment, I knew my life was about to change. Riding my 305cc Scrambler to high school every day, I instantly transformed from a nerdy kid to a cool dude on a 305 Honda. The following year my brother Ray turned 16 years old and purchased a new 1967 Scrambler. This photo shows me and Ray in 1967 on our Scramblers. Ray’s bike is totally stock while mine has new paint, a custom seat and, of course, straight pipes.

Fast forward 50 years, I wondered if any 305 Scramblers existed in running condition. I was surprised to see many for sale, but very few in the Northeast. I did find one in California on eBay advertised as original and in good running condition. I purchased the bike sight unseen for $3,200 plus $600 to ship it from California to my home in New Jersey. After a new set of spark plugs and some fresh gas, she fired up with only a few kicks.

1967-Scramblers
Ray (right) and Fred and their Scramblers in 1967.

Today I ride my Scrambler to local car and motorcycle shows and enjoy guys telling me how much fun they had on their 305 Scramblers. I tell them I rode to high school, college, and basically all over the state of Connecticut. I even met my wife on my Scrambler when she came up to me and asked for a ride, and the rest is history. Today after 50 years of marriage she refuses to get on the back stating she wants to be around for our five grandkids.

I enjoy all my vintage motorcycles, especially my Honda fours. However, I have the fondest memories of my teenage years every time I hop on my little 305 Scrambler to go for a ride around town. I tell my wife I’m taking my “little sweetie” for a ride and she affectionately smiles and says, “Be safe and enjoy.” MC

Summer Road Trip on a Yamaha

Chuck-Proulx 
Bob Kass and Chuck Proulx ready for adventure in May 1971.

Here is a picture of me (on the Yammy) and my good buddy Bob Kass (Captain America) taken in May 1971. In a few weeks we took off on a summer adventure of a lifetime. Leaving our homes in Michigan, we traveled west across Canada, south on the Pacific Coast Highway and finally east on Route 66 towards home, nearly 8,000 miles and more than eight weeks in the saddle. I still ride and enjoy your magazine. I currently have a 1972 Yamaha XS650 and a Ducati Scrambler. Thanks for a great magazine.

Chuck Proulx/via email

Chuck,
What a road trip that must have been. Thanks for sharing the memories! — Ed.

Triumph Gone, But Not Forgotten

1978-T140 
Randy Lambert’s 1978 T140.

I am a longtime subscriber to Motorcycle Classics. I currently ride a 2017 Triumph Bobber and I really dig the torque of that engine! I have had many bikes over the last 43 years, including a Yamaha Radian which I really liked a lot. It was a good looking machine. I also had a 1989 Sporty which fit my 5-foot-7-inch frame just right. Somewhere along the way though, I really got into Brit bikes. I’ve had four Bonnevilles including my Bobber. The one I wish I’d never sold was my 1978 T140V. I kept it stock after buying it from the original owner who had only put 2,000 miles on it from new until I bought it in 1993! It was always a one- or two-kick starter and never once gave me any mechanical or electrical problems in the seven years I owned it, and I put a lot of miles on it riding with my club!

1963-Bonneville
1963 Bonneville chopper.

If you can believe it, I swapped it straight up for a 1963 Bonneville chopper. It was the most uncomfortable and vibratory torture machine I ever straddled! After I came to my senses, I got a 2003 Bonneville and eventually my current Bobber. I sure miss that ’78. It was a smart looking, hairy-chested machine! I enjoy the magazine immensely so keep up the great work!

Randy Lambert/Fort Worth, Texas

Randy,

That photo is a time capsule indeed. While you may never find your T140, there are still plenty of good ones around. We hope you find one! — Ed.

 

Mike Koontz's 1968 Police Honda CB350

1968-honda-cb350 

I’m a longtime reader and subscriber of your magazine, and I am excited to write to you regarding an old motorcycle I recently fixed up.

My son and I like recently bought a 1968 Honda CB350 from a local estate sale. However, it’s not a normal CB350, and we were told from the previous owner’s brother that it’s a police model that he had imported from the U.K. Unfortunately, being that we bought it from an estate sale, we didn’t get any documentation with the bike

1968-honda-cb350-reverse.

The bike had been sitting for years, but was complete and in decent shape.  We cleaned it up and performed all of the maintenance the bike needed. We want to keep the bike as original as possible, even if that means leaving some patina. The bike has the CB77 style gas tank with chrome panels, long front and rear fenders, a headlight bucket with an integrated speedometer and switch for the lights, front crash bar with red and blue lights, and a rear luggage rack with a ticket box and blue light. It’s a pretty cool looking bike, and I’ve never seen anything exactly like it. From the research I’ve done, Honda made both a “K0 domestic model” CB350 that looked like this, but without the police parts, and a "P0 police model." The CB450 and CB750 police bikes have a “P” in the VIN, but my research suggests that the CB350s never got the “P” VIN. Neither the domestic model nor P0 were originally sold in the U.S., so I’m having trouble finding out much about the bike, and would greatly appreciate any insight from readers.

Mike Koontz/via email


Readers,

Please email Mike with any information you may have regarding his bike. — Ed.

Richard Snyder’s Kawasaki Mailbox

z1-mailbox 

You will likely receive dozens of responses from former, and current, owners regarding the 1973 Kawasaki Z-1 article by Dain Gingerelli. The bike is gorgeous and the stories triggered a flood of memories for me. It was 1974 (19 years old), and I was in the U.S. Army in Colorado when I got my brand-new Z-1. I loved that bike! Now I am retired with lots of time to pursue new challenges and the timing of Dain’s article couldn’t be better. I have enclosed pics of my latest project for your amusement: a 1973 Z-1 mailbox.

fuel-tank

Richard Snyder/via email

Richard,

That is something special. Readers, before you cry heresy, the tank was unusable before this process was begun. “It is actually a 1980 KZ1000 tank that was dented, scraped and rusted,” Richard says. “Milkstone cleaned it up. The front was widened and raised slightly, then Bondo’d. I didn’t really commit until I worked out a functioning door that wouldn’t slice open the mailman. The petcock is a vintage Suzuki part that I had laying around, adapted of course.” Too cool, Richard! — Ed.


fuel-tank-upsidedown







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