Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Motorcycle Journal: A Personal History about Life on Two Wheels

I remember learning how to ride a little Honda 50 Minitrail minibike before really learning how to ride a regular bike. It's exactly like the bike from the picture above, color and all. I have fond memories of puttering around the neighborhood on that little three speed.

I then moved up to a Honda XR80 dirt bike. I rode that thing all over the farm. I think I spent whole summers with more time on the bike then off. It was the perfect bike for running around the farm and having fun on.

Other then the 80 I messed around on friends and a cousins 125s and doing a little motocross stuff. But I never owned a bike during this time myself. To be honest I guess my Dad owned the 50 and the 80.

My step Dad had bought a Yamaha Maxim 650, he planed on buying a Harley but hadn't ever ridden so bought this bike as a learner bike. It was pretty sweet, and he would let me ride it some. He even let me take my motorcycle license test on it.

The first bike I ever owned all on my own was a Yamaha SR250, "thumper". They called them thumpers because of the sound they made, they were a rather large singe cylinder bike. There was a kid in the neighborhood who had it, he was quite the wheeler dealer, and I don't remember exactly how it all turned out but I know over a year we traded a bunch of stuff back an forth for this bike. I think I bought a laptop from him for like $80, then he wanted it back and I traded the laptop to him for the bike. I fixed it up got some problem parts replaced and the next year had problems with it and traded it back for a Playstation 2 and 30 games plus some cash. Or maybe more stuff, he liked to trade stuff. In fact I think he ended up trading this and some more stuff for a Porsche 928 when he turned 16. It was a beater, but he was the only kid with a Porsche! LOL

My next bike was a 1979 Honda 10th Anniversary Limited Edition CB750L. What that meant was every dealership was only allowed 2, that was the Limited Edition part. At the time the CB750K was one of the most popular bikes going, and they had come out in 1969. So in 79 they made the CB750L version for the 10th Anniversary. Pretty much it was a K with custom 10th Anniversary badging and two tone coloring. It also had all chrome bolts and hardware as apposed to the other models. It later became the CB750C "Custom" in later models, mainly that meant all chrome goodies.

I bought that bike in parts for like $200, and put about $1200 into it (tires, chain, brakes, seat, random salvage parts, stator, cables, carb rebuild, etc.), it didn't even have a seat when I bought it. I ran great for awhile but I started having issues with the carbs again and since it was a 4 cylinder it had four very complicated carbs. Only one guy in my area would even touch them, and he retired after the first rebuild. I could mess around with them and get them working for a few months at a time, but they needed all new parts throughout and there was no manual or instructions for doing this on these bikes. So I let it sit...for years. One day I noticed it was gone, I figure the apartments I was living at had it towed, but I didn't bother even looking for it. Those carbs had defeated me. I figured it was a good project for someone with a garage and spare time. I didn't have a place in the apartment to work on it so maybe it went to a better home.

Flash forward about 8 years. I'm sitting at work one day and start thinking "I wonder how much I could save on gas just going to work if I bought another motorcycle?" Turns out if I rode it 8 months of the year (and not including the Saturdays I work sometimes) it came out to about 600-700 dollars a year. So I decided to see if I could find a bike again, one that I could make back the money within one year, or two at the most. So I jumped on Craig's List and.....

this is what I got. This is my actual current bike, a 1985 Yamaha Virago XV700N. 50 MPG and a v-twin. Love it. This is the best bike I've ever owned, and it's a joy to drive and ride. I've already done a lot of work on it, but there is still more to go. I've repainted the tank and the left side cover. The right side cover is missing as shown in the pic, I'll find one sometime. I need to repaint the fenders to match. I went with a more glossy finish, this one did strange things when it got gas on it, and it was somewhat chipped already. I also fixed a bad turn signal and starter relay. Otherwise I've done general tune up type stuff. Some day I'll go through and really restore it and fix it up, when funds allow.

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