Motorcycle chronicles

Discussion in 'Blogs' started by ghrit, Dec 13, 2008.


  1. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    No riding stories here, just a chronology with minor comments.

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    So after a whole lot of years off two wheels, three kids, an imminent divorce and a mid life itch, the opportunity came along to acquire a road bike for the “right price.” One six pack of Budweiser and quite a few hours working it over (including a backyard valve job) the Honda 500T was running and really cleaned up and painted. With an actual measured 7 miles up and down the 100 yard long driveway at the rooming house re-coordinating brakes and shifting, and I was ready for testing and licensing. With the brand spanking new permit in hand, off I went for some real on road practice.

    Road riding is WAY different than dirt riding, which is where all the earlier experience was, and very limited at that. I did a lot of riding the local area, gathering the tricks to staying out of the way of cagers. Perhaps as many as 200 or 300 miles solo until I was comfortable enough to ride with a group. At any rate, the first foray was with a fellow denizen of the rooming house. He volunteered to follow and tell me where I needed some pointers. It isn’t as though I was outrunning him, not by any means, but I looked in the mirror and he wasn’t there. So I found a driveway to turn around in, and lo, there was some sand. No problem, I know how to handle that from the dirt days. Ah, yeah, but after picking things up, I remembered those were street, not dirt, tires. Minor paint scratch, easily fixed.

    The T lasted me a bit over a year. The second summer, a bunch of us headed north into <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Maine</st1:place></st1:state> for what was then a regular Sunday ride, usually about 5 of us. Really hot day in July. About 20 miles north of the Maine New Hampshire border, ol T started running poorly and finally I had to pull over and do a bit of diagnosis. Burned valve seemed accurate. I did not relish the idea of pushing it 40 odd miles, so kicked her over and headed south on one cylinder, with almost no hope of making it all the way. One of the others rode along as wingman in case ol T gave up the ghost and we had to ride double to get a truck and pick her up. She made it all the way back, and gave a final gasp in Frank’s driveway. Tore her down and found the burnt valve. Subsequently fixed that, and sold her off.

    By this time, I was thinking a bit more snort would be nice, I felt that ol T had taught me enough to venture into a bigger machine. Being really short of money, I spent some time looking for a deal and found several, of which a Honda CB750 for $100 caught my attention. The fact that it wouldn’t go in gear didn’t dissuade me at all, so I bought it and trucked it to Frank’s place and started taking it apart and cleaning it up. The tranny was all busted up, someone missed a shift and wrecked the countershaft and a couple gears. New parts were $118. Many hours of cleaning and painting later, she was fully restored and on the road.

    The following summer, I was headed to work on a Sunday for a bit of O/T at the office in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Cambridge</st1:place></st1:city>. As usual, I got off the interstate and headed down the service road. The light turned red and a handful of brakes on the very slippery hot asphalt put me down at about 30 mph. The bike was bent and I was scraped up with a few holes in the dungarees and rubbed leathers. After getting my wits back together, I went on to the office (only a mile or so more) and started cleaning up in the men’s room. The boss came in, he was also doing some homework, and I guess I looked like a meat grinder had crawled me. He allowed as how I should go home. After cleaning and inspecting me, I headed home, bent bars and parts notwithstanding.

    Found a wrecked bike, essentially identical as the 750 and bought it for spare parts on a salvage title, which then got used to make the nice one (the older) back to as near new as it was before I wrecked. A week off the road in evenings and spare time got it fixed up.

    The Bone lasted me 2 years, and would have been a lot longer, but I was transferred to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Singapore</st1:place></st1:country-region> during the second year. I left her with Frank with a signed title, and he managed to sell it not long after I left. The salvage bike was actually given away to a guy that likes bones. He got it running for 50 dollars and many hours. I saw it when I got back from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Singapore</st1:place></st1:country-region>, looking like hell, but running like a champ.

    Public transport is easy and inexpensive in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Singapore</st1:place></st1:country-region>, but there are some limitations on scheduling, not to mention there are a (very) few areas that busses don’t go. I bought a Honda Hurricane 750 not long after I got there, and used it for commuting and everything else that I could, including grocery shopping. That bike was not available in the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">US</st1:place></st1:country-region>, but its bigger brother (1000 cc) was. It was an 87 model that had been rehabbed in the factory and sold new in 91 to the previous owner. We think it was a race bike, there was ample evidence that its performance was a deal higher than the standard 750. Factory rebuilds are legally sold as new outside the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">US</st1:place></st1:country-region>. Sold it back to the dealer when I left <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Singapore</st1:country-region></st1:place> in July 97. Very fast scooter, Rockets was, and very uncomfortable for very long in the saddle. Too much bike for the island, but who knew?

    Upon return from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Singapore</st1:place></st1:country-region> in 97, I got my mitts on an 87 BMW K100 in pristine condition. Frank bought it as a project and did a nice job. Rode Ms. Bland until fall of 04 when I crashed out one evening when a kid jumped out from behind a car and I got a bit too much squeeze on the front brake. Over that winter, I reworked her, but she never did run right after that. I donated her to a charity the following spring (05) and bought the 03 leftover Triumph ST that I’m still riding. Sure is nice at speed, will go all day and goes like stink all the time. I can exceed any speed limit on the planet in 2nd gear, and I have 6 to play with.

    Another scooter in the future? Who knows, but there is a pretty good case to be made for a dual sport around here, lots of dirt roads that The Ghost’s tires are not too fond of.
     
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