When I first started doing serious traveling on a motorcycle it was with my friend Bud Bay. We worked together at a Ski Shop here in Southern California. Yes , it really does snow in Southern California. He worked part time because he was actually a tool designer by trade but also an avid skier and he liked getting the discounts on ski stuff and free lift passes to local resorts. If his wife would have let him he would have been a full time ‘Ski Bum’. Besides sharing the love of skiing we also shared motorcycling.
At the time I was riding a Kawasaki H2 750 and he a 1977 Honda CB750F. Bud helped me modify my H2 to get it to handle (?) and I helped him…well I don’t know how I helped him..oh yeah I got AAA maps.
Our first long trip was up to Seattle Washington to visit a dirt bike riding friend of ours who had just opened up a Husqvarna dealership. We rode pretty much all back roads, camped in places that weren’t campgrounds and found great out of the way restaurants, Betty’s Breakfast Nook in Quincy California!. We got rained on, we froze our asses off and had an interesting (?) run in with a couple of guys in a bar in Oregon…they didn’t like people from California. We also traded bikes a couple times and that was my first experience on a Honda 750 Super Sport.
First impression…what a boat! I was used to motorcycles that handled at a thought (my Brit Bike life…well remember this was a long time ago) and responded to the throttle faster than you could (my H2). But the second time we changed bikes was for a full day and I got to be friends with the 750F. Bud had upgraded the suspension, did some carb work and it was actually a pretty fun bike to ride. Coming off a peaky high-strung two stroke to a gentleman’s Sport Tourer was like going from dating Lady Gaga to dating Barbara Streisand. But, a couple of years later I found myself on a Honda 750.
This was the era of the ‘UJM’, Universal Japanese Motorcycle. If it wasn’t for the logo on the gas tank you couldn’t tell the difference between the Suzuki GS, the Kawasaki KZ or the Honda CB. Only Yamaha was fighting the trend with their Triples (but even they finally succumbed).
The CB750F in SOHC form was built from 75-78. From ’75 to ’77 it was was pretty much just a tarted up good old CB750, but in 1978 came the changes. Chassis and suspension changes, horsepower went from 49 to 58, everything got better. My feeling is that Honda was prepping the bike for the new motor coming in 1979.
I found a really nice ’78 model on ebay that is pretty simple to get it completely road ready. New tires and a full going through. But, with only a little over 17K miles this should be easy stuff…you hope. The CB750F is a great motorcycle and will take you miles and miles. Tweak the suspension and it becomes even more fun.Throw your saddlebags on and around the country you go with no worries.
Click on the link below for more info and pictures
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1978 Honda CB750F</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1978+Honda+CB750F&item=222123558735&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
The little bike that could.When the original Suzuki X6 Hustler came out (aka the T20) it humbled bikes twice it’s size. Light (for it’s time) quick and affordable. What more could you ask for? Well, not much other than handling. The original X6 was typically Japanesse…it tended to wander around corners, get wiggly going over road bumpiness and the brakes were…adequate. Styling wise, a basic ’60’s bike. Chrome sided tank and all.
Then came the T250 Hustler. Was it better? Yes. Was it more fun? Yes. Did it still need work? What bike of that era didn’t? 32 HP out of a little 250…super fun. A top speed of 90+ mph it easily outran a Honda 350!
A friend had bought an X6 (I thought he was drunk at the time…our college years) and challenged me to a race. I Currently had an RD250 in the garage so I accepted. Over beers we decided that we would have two races (when sober). One a Drag race (no, I didn’t wear a dress) and one a Canyon road. In the drag race, the Yamaha was no match for the Suzuki, I think I was coughing up blue smoke for days! Then came the Canyon ride.Now it was his turn to smell nothing but Castrol two stroke oil.
Small bore two strokes require involvement. You don’t just sit on them and ride around you have to work at it. The T250 Hustler was really fun to ride as long you knew what you were doing. Pay attention to what gear you’re in…your left foot gets a real work out on the Hustler. This a very peaky motor with great rewards when you work with it. What are the downsides to this motorcycle…handling. But, it doesn’t take much to really get this little bike to handle. New fork springs, better shocks and better swing arm bushings…then, you will leave that Yamaha in a blue smoke cloud on any road.
I found a really nice T250 on ebay this morning that anybody that likes small fast bikes would love. Rebuilt through out , this little bike is ready for some serious fun. If you live in area like I do with a lot of tight canyons this is truly a “High Giggle Factor” ride.
Click on the link below for more pictures and info. Have fun!!
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1969 Suzuki T250</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1969+Suzuki+T250&item=182133177647&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
I spent a lot of miles on a CB750F…a lot. Quite a bit north of 100K. From Mexico to Canada and all around the Western US. It never failed me. I failed it a couple of times but it was a good soldier. When I bought mine (my daughter was just 3 weeks or was it 3 days old?) I also ordered the ‘European Sport Kit’ Lower handlebars,reset pegs and I think something else?. I loved the bike. Over time I upgraded the suspension, put a Kerker exhaust on (the standard of the time) but honestly, it didn’t need anything else. Honda did a great job with the CB-F series, 750,900,1100. It didn’t do anything great, it just did everything very,very well. The series was a bike that you could think about your riding and not the bike. Tank bag, saddlebags and around the world you go. Well, maybe.
I found a very interesting CB750F model on ebay today. The seller has done some very interesting changes to the bike. Kawasaki suspension. A bit more modern and probably adds a lot to the stability/handling. This bike does need a little love but not enough to make it undesirable. Price seems fair…so far. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
My experience with this series of Honda’s was absolutely wonderful. It really is one of the bikes I regret not having today.
More ‘Juevos’ than Brains…that described most of us in the late 60’s and through the 70’s.Give me horsepower, give me “jerk the handlebars right out of my hand” kind of power, “I don’t care about anything else”.
Lets go back a little ways. Kawasaki, aka ‘Kawasaki Heavy Industrties’ was in the business of building big steamships to ship Japanese goods all over the world. Kawasaki also built locomotives to transport people and goods all over Japan and Asia. Kawasaki also built the first Bullet Train. Kawasaki is also in partnership with Boeing for the 777,787 and more airliners. This is a company that is into machines that GO!!! It is a very interesting history.
Over the years there have been motorcycles that have defined a generation, for me it was 1969. Honda brought the CB750. Sophisticated, powerful, disc brakes… a gentleman’s motorcycle. Kawasaki took another approach, brute power. “Lets build something that will blow everything else into the weeds, scare the crap out of the rider but put a huge grin on his face”! Here comes the H1.
Kawasaki was the first to develop the 3 cylinder 2 stroke motorcycle (Suzuki came in right behind). It was all about power in your right hand. These motorcycles were built for one thing and one thing only…straight line speed. Sixty horsepower out of just 500cc in a motorcycle that weighed less than 400 pounds…big fun. However…going around a corner was another thing.
The H1 was designed for the rider with good ‘straight line’ skills. Terms like ‘wobbly, vague, scary and “OH Shit!!” perfectly described the Mach 3 when riding a twisty road. A chassis that was more flexible than a rubber band, brakes that wouldn’t stop a mule cart, and a suspension that…well, didn’t. And there you have the Kawasaki Mach 3. But still it is a very fun motorcycle, within it’s limits.
I found a beauty on ebay this morning. Whats cool about this one is that is not a restored version. There have been a couple of fixes, just cosmetic but it’s basically a very original 1969 Kawasaki H1. The down side is the same thing I find all the time, it’s over priced. This is a motorcycle that sold for less than $1000 new, now the seller is saying that others have sold for over $20,000. It is an iconic motorcycle no doubt, but…the bidding is already at nearly $10K. You can buy it, put it in your collection, look at it once and a while or you can find one that has risen hard and put away wet, do the upgrades and go have a lot of fun for a lot less $$$
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info. Yes, I think it’s overpriced but it is a really cool motorcycle from one of the best era’s in motorcycling.
There are motorcycles that have a “High Giggle Factor”, the Yamaha RD 350 comes to mind, and then there are Vintage motorcycles that have a very high “Cool factor”, 1969 Sand Cast engine Honda CB750, the Harley Davidson XLCR (Ok, that is my own cool, wish I had one ‘cool factor’ bike) and then there are those that combine both and the Bultaco Metralla is just that.
The Metralla is the motorbike that knows what you want to do before you do.It’s like the headlight is your own eyes that can see farther than you. This is a bike that the lightest pressure on the bars sets the bike on the path you want to go…perfectly. The Metralla does have a bit of a peaky powerband but nothing like the Pursang motocrosser. It does take a bit of time to get used to how quick handling it is, if you’re used to hustling modern 1000cc super bikes through the canyons, this little bike will blow your mind. Carrying speed through the corner versus point and shoot…BIG FUN!!
The Metralla was very successful as a racing machine as well having won the 1967 Isle of Man TT 250 Production class. The little 250 put out around 27HP, not bad for a 250 (considering a Honda 350 only put out 22), the Japanese two strokes of the time were more powerful but didn’t have the handling of the little Spainiard.
I found a beautiful Metralla on ebay this morning. This is not one of the “Fly, Buy and Ride Home” bikes, well it could be if you’re of the very adventurous type, but really ship it home and have a blast riding it on your local canyon roads and embarrass all your friends on modern super bikes. This is a really nice bike and a load of fun. Double check the brakes and the clutch then go out and have the time of your life…on 250cc.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info.
Ok, this is the bike that will make you buy a bigger helmet…because the grin inside is going to be too big for whatever you’re wearing now.
There are motorcycles that do everything good but nothing great. And there are motorcycles that do a few things great and fail everywhere else. We have all had one of each. The motorcycle I found on ebay this morning is a bike that does everything great all the time. The Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special.
In the early 1970’s my stepdad bought a Yamaha RD250 ostensibly for my mom to learn how to ride. Never happened. However, I had a blast on it for a year or so. Next on the RD list was helping my then Father in Law build his RD350. I think it was a ’74 it was beautiful. My daily rider was a Kawasaki H2 750, but…I honestly had more fun on the RD.
Over the next few years I had the opportunity to spend a good number of miles on the RD350. I have never been on a motorcycle that has given me the ‘High Giggle Factor’ more than that the RD did. It’s not all that fast, but fast enough, handling, by the standards of the day, was outstanding. It was a motorcycle that won races all over the world, it was the little motorcycle that personified David and Goliath.
The Daytona Special. The last Hurrah of the street going two strokes here in the US. The RD350 was great, what Yamaha did with the RD400 was make it more rider friendly. We’ll start with rubber mounting the engine (a bit less vibration…wasn’t that bad to start with really), move the engine just a bit to make it a bit less wheelie prone (Hey Yamaha, you’re taking part of the fun out of the bike!), and the tuned the motor for a wider power band, that was a good thing, added 1″ to the forks to stabilize the front end. The deal here is that Yamaha simply made a really terrific motorcycle more easy for everybody to ride. And have a lot of fun. It was only made for one year. The EPA killed two strokes.
The one I found on ebay is as good an example you could possibly find.Low mileage, great condition and although a little pricey, good fun ain’t cheap. This is a sweet little bike… definitely a giant killer in the canyons
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. Most importantly, if you buy the bike…ride it everyday.
I found a very interesting collection of bikes on ebay this morning…Ok, it’s just a guy clearing out his garage. We’ve all had to do that over the years either because we ran out of room for the new motorcycles we wanted or more than likely because our wives were tired of having to look at what she considered junk and couldn’t get to what she was trying to get to.
So, this guy has two interesting motorcycles and one that goes on the front bumper of a motorhome bound for Florida. First is a 1969 Triumph Tiger Cub, a simple little 250cc motorcycle. The Cub was unreliable, period. It had lubrication issues, bearing problems, a weak triple tree and of course Lucas electrics. But still an interesting little motorcycle.
Next up, a Honda VT500 Ascot. In my view this is the gem of the bunch. Truthfuly the VT500 wasn’t the most powerful bike of it’s era or genre, yet…it worked. Now I have to say, it has one of the most ugly headlight setups I have ever seen. I would instantly change it! Except the wiring harness would probably be an absolute nightmare…a good Saturday project.
The VT500 didn’t have all that much horsepower (54…That seems plenty for having a lot of fun?!) but what it did have was a nice tight chassis that gave the bike really fun handling. It was styled after the FT500 Ascot single (which I raced for years) but came with a 6 speed tranny, shaft drive and a little more comfortable ergo’s. My old friend Mike Eaton (one of the greatest surfboard builders ever!!!) had one. I got a chance to ride it on the twisty roads of Point Loma in San Diego and had way too much fun. This is a great bike.
Next is a 1972 Suzuki Rover. Put it on the front of your motorhome and hang out at the KOA’s across the country on your way to visit the Grandkids in Florida. Actually, this could be a really fun little trail bike, however, it went over like a fart in church. Didn’t sell. But hey, everybody can use something to take up space in their garage. You could probably hide this little bike behind all the other junk your wife doesn’t know about (yeah right).
It’s a pretty interesting package deal. Click on the pics for more info and pictures. And by the way, this seller is by far the worst picture taker I have ever seen! Do not let him or her come to your wedding!!!
Have the Dog Days of Summer gotten to you? Are you bored out of your mind? Do you need a Fall/Winter project that is probably not too hard? Does your wife want to banish you to the garage? I found the perfect bike for you on ebay this morning. A Honda CB350 Four. This is true jewel of a motorcycle.
I have a small fleet of Honda 350’s CB,CL,SL but I have never had a CB350/4…damn.I have ridden them, modified them for friends…yes, I did turn it into a Cafe Racer, what did you expect?! And I honestly believe that this is one of Honda’s best motorcycles ever.
The CB350f should be named “Honda CBHF”…CB Have Fun!! This motorcycle will do everything including outlast us and our children…just change the oil and the fork oil. This is a bike that you can travel cross country on, really, use it as a daily commuter, a Sunday canyon carver (needs a bit of suspension work for that), or make a really cool Cafe Racer. I don’t care, it’s a great bike.
Earlier on I called the CB350F a jewel of a motorcycle and when you ride one you know exactly what I mean. Honda built a motorcycle that some would call soulless, and they would be wrong. Yes, the CB350/4 was smoother than a Singer sewing machine, if it wasn’t for the fact that you were moving you wouldn’t really feel anything…as Ed McMahon would say “Wrong Moose Breath!” (look up Johnny Carson trivia if you didn’t get it). The CB350/4 was such a refined motorcycle you could get it to do whatever you wanted on a whim. A lively responsive motor, capable handling (ok, I’m being a bit generous there) but if you tuned into the motorcycle it was a dream to ride. It is not a ‘point and shoot’ type handling motorcycle nor was it faster than a Yamaha RD350 but, it did everything you wanted it to do with no muss and no fuss.
It did have a soul, granted a gentle one but…wind that little 350 up and big fun came along with it. Once you came up into the powerband which was quite broad compared to it’s two stroke competitors, the 350/4 was a high giggle factor motorcycle. To make it even more fun, add a Kerker exhaust, change out the rear shocks for something not quite so squishy, upgrade the forks, put on a set of European touring handlebars and you now have a motorbike that will be sooooo much fun to ride.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info
Years back a couple of friends and I seemed to be having an ego competition that centered around motorcycles. It started with my friend Eddie, I had my Bultaco Matador, he bought a Yamaha DT1 250 because it was faster. The Gaunlet had been thrown.
After a few months of looking at his taillight I relegated the Bultaco to racing only and bought a Honda SL350. Hah! now who’s laughing? Yes, I still had my BSA650 but that wouldn’t have been a fair fight. Fast forward a bit and Eddie shows up in my driveway on a new Honda CB500/4. OK, the gloves come off. Bring out the BSA Lightning. I really got tired of looking at that Honda tail light.
Lurking in the shadows was my friend Mike K. He bought a used Yamaha XS650 from a relative (word to the wise, never do that) and now he was the king.
One day while buying parts for my BSA at the local dealer I set my eyes on a beautiful Kawasaki H2 750 triple. The fastest bike in the world! The next day I traded my BSA 650 in on the Kawasaki. Now, I was definitely the king among my riding friends. Until, the Z1.
Mike was always the kind of guy that had to be one up. He had the best car, the prettiest girlfriend and made really good money despite barely graduating from high school. As Eddie, Beny, and myself were getting ready for our regular Sunday morning ride and waiting for Mike (as usual), he shows up on a brand spanking new Kawasaki Z1. God, what a beautiful motorcycle. Those have to be the best looking exhaust pipes of that era. The metallic RootBeer and Orange paint…truly stunning. At that moment I realized Mike was yet again King.
Mike was really good about letting me ride his Z1 anytime I wanted and I gotta say I took advantage of that offer pretty often. What a motorcycle. He, Beny and myself took a week long road trip and I had the opportunity to spend hours on the Mighty Z…an incredible motorcycle.
The Z1 was originally designed to be an inline 4 cylinder 750cc machine. However, Honda beat them to the punch with the CB750 in 1969. Back to the drawing boards. “Lets make it bigger better and faster” Kawasaki upped it to 903cc, made the chassis better (not all that much though). It was pumped up to 82 HP, had a top speed a bit north of 130mph. Now, it was a bit on the porky side a bit over 500 lbs dry but you know what, it was lighter handling than CB750.
The Z1 truly found it’s home in drag racing. I thought my H2 was fast, the Z1 had no problem having me eating it’s dust. I found a project Z1 bike on ebay this morning that you have to have had some sort of football head injury to want. A vintage Kawasaki Z1 Drag Bike…in pieces.
This conglomeration of parts includes everything you would need to get down the 1/4 mile before you could even take a breath…wheelie bars and all. The motor is fully built, the bike just needs some detail work and your own personal touches. Oh yeah, and you have to put it together.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. If you want to drag race older motorcycles, this is the bike for you.
When I first got into motorcycling I was lucky. My step-dad was a good racer, a great mechanic and above all else an incredible teacher. I didn’t really understand that last part until a few years later.
I started desert racing on a 250, went to a 360 and even tried my hand on a Triumph 500…all I could say at the end of that race was “Give me my 250 back”.
Michael and I decided we wanted to try Enduro’s. My Matador was perfect his Greeves was…kind of OK, but he made it work. One of the things we noticed was that fast bikes seemed to work in desert quite well, but, in the woods (yes, Southern California does have forests), smaller lighter bikes did better. Enduro’s are not about speed persay but a precise handling, light agile bike gives you just what you need and want.
The first time I rode a smaller Enduro bike was a Yamaha IT 175, It was great. It did everything my Bultaco did but easier and better…and it was smaller! Sad part, I couldn’t afford one and I had switched to road racing…talk about not being able to afford something!!??
In the early ’80’s I was working for a Kawasaki dealership and the Big K came out with the KDX. I got a chance to spend a weekend with a KDX200. I truly believe that this was the bike that instilled in me my love for small motorcycles. Street legal, super fun and if you saw a dirt road you wanted to explore, just go. That bike would do it.
Kawasaki is well known for building incredibly reliable motors and the KDX did not let that reputation down. The other nice thing was the KDX model was built on the KX moto-crosser chassis but Kawasaki gave it a real world motor in a tight chassis. Sweet. Kawasaki did bump it up to 250cc but it just wasn’t the same, the 200 had a personality that the 250 and later the 300 just didn’t have (the 300 was really good though!).
I found a really nice one on ebay today. Check this out, it has less than 100 miles on the odo…no way. How in the world can you buy a bike and put less than 100 miles on it? Anyway, if you want a really good “Vinduro” bike (Vintage Enduro) or just a really fun trail bile to attach to the front bumper of your motorhome, you can’t do better than this.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info.