Motorcycle Therapy with a Yamaha Santa Barbara

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Yamaha Santa Barbara
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Yamaha Santa Barbara
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The inside of the Yamaha YA6’s carburetor before cleaning. It’s a wonder it would even idle.
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More wall than trail, the climb to the top of Divide Peak.
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Amazingly, the little Yamaha came through, albeit with a little help.
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John L. Stein enjoys some easy gravel on the YA6 after conquering Divide Peak trail.
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The rear tire, held together — just barely — with zip ties.
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Stein at the top, feeling victorious.
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The $50 bet that paid off, proof positive that you don’t need a $20,000 adventure bike to have a great motorcycle adventure.

It’s possible that I may need a therapist, and I am hoping someone can recommend one.

You see, I am prone to acting on impulse, most recently squandering a perfectly good $50 bill to rescue the 1964 Yamaha 125 Santa Barbara YA6 seen here, spending untold hours working on it with little guarantee of any return, and then taking it on a nearly impossible ride.

The embarrassing thing is, I had the money for a better motorcycle. I knew this castoff would be needier than a snubbed Yorkie. And I assumed the ride would be long and painful. And yet, knowing all this in advance, I did it anyway. To frame my admission, it seems fitting to quote a line from a catchy Dierks Bentley tune: “I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking?” That about sums up this one-year saga. So please, let me get it off my chest.

Once upon a sweet ride

What I was feeling one innocent afternoon last year was that I just needed a new spark plug or fuel line or something as I wandered through the back door of Sport Cycle Pacific, my local Californian mom-and-pop motorcycle shop. But what I saw shoved up against a workbench was something else entirely — the forlorn, rusty, dingy Yamaha YA6 Santa Barbara a patron had dropped off. Or more like, abandoned. “Huh,” I thought. “A Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, California.”

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