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Let's talk about our vintage bikes

ONOBob

Member
Member
Hello fellow COGers,
The Concourier Writers Group was brain storming new content.
All agreed an interesting article could be one on COG members vintage bikes.

If you would like to participate, please tell us little bit about what you have, or just send pictures.

If you want, please include the back story, I.E how long have you had it, how did you acquire it?
What do you love / dislike about your vintage bike(s), or vintage bikes in general
What do you have for sale or swap? Running or parts bike or parts bikes etc
Do you do your own wrenching, where do you find parts - service
What bikes have you had in the past, have a knowledge base or expertise with?
Are there any forums you would recommend?

Thanks in advance.
Bob Sizemore / The Conourier Writers Group
 
What I love about vintage bikes are 2 things: Their looks, and their air cooled exposed engine simplicity.

I am not a collector nor restorer. I can do a little bit of mechanicing. Valves, carbs, electrical. But have never split the cases

I currently have a couple of 1978 Kawasaki KZ650s. One is a rider, the other is waiting for restoration. I found my rider on Craigslist back in 2014. From an old farmer out in the middle of nowhere in northern Ohio. I had expanded my CL search because I passed through the area going back and forth to Cleveland Clinic. It came from the factory with Vetter Faring. I got it for $1100. But I wanted convert it back to the base model sans faring. I have acquired pits a pieces to get it looking like my first street bike.


I fell in love with KZs when they came out in the mid 70s. Those Z1 900s were just off the hook with their power and looks. But outta my reach.
In 1978, A friend made me deal on a blown up 1977 kz 650, and another friend made me a deal on motor from a wrecked 1978z 650. I now owned my first street bike. I loved that thing. But sold it after one year when my wife became pregnant with our first child. 4 years later I bought CSR 650. My little daughter would ride around the farm we lived on at the time in front of me with her hands on the tank.

My best source for parts so far has been Z1 Enterprises, and of course eBay and CL

I have yet to find a good forum for parts or tech advice. Simply because, I haven’t needed one…. Yet.
Now about that basket case that’s calling my name…
 

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Growing up, my dad had several Harley’s and friends with bikes. He and his buddies would gather on weekends to wrench on their bikes and just hang out. That’s when I fell in love with motorcycles. Behind our house was a salvage yard. A couple of their barns were filled with on 30s and 40s bikes. Me and my friends I would go sit on em / pretend we were riding. Until the old owner would sober up and run us off. To this day I think these are some of the best looking bikes ever made. Call it nostalgia
 

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Ok, I’ll throw it out there. What age (and back) qualifies as Vintage?
 
Ok, I’ll throw it out there. What age (and back) qualifies as Vintage?

Good question.
1985 sounds like a good cutoff date. ( No C10s)
Unless it's something really rare or has a unique back story, then we might make an exception up 1995. ;)
 
where do you want these responses sent to?

Paul and Dave,
For text, I'll give you your choice.
You can post your text here, and I'll cut and paste into a word document.
Or you can send me an email directly. Whatever is easiest for you.
I will collect all submissions and forward to the Concourier Editor, Ashley Odonnell.

For pictures, you can post here for continuity / reference, but you will also need to email them to me
one or two at a time to ensure they have enough resolution for inclusion in the magazine.
When attaching pictures to email use the "large" file option, somewhere around 1mb per picture.
Anything below 500 Kb gets too grainy for the magazine.
Please include a description / caption or explanation for each.

Please note: The Editor has the final say on what texts / pictures are used.
He may or may not use everything you send.
Please be understanding.

Thanks guys. This will be interesting. I'm really looking forward to it.

Cheers
Bob
 
I have 1 vintage I recently owned that has to take advantage of the 'up to 1995' exception. I believe it qualifies as its a fairly rare bike in the US with cult followings in other parts of the globe.

1995 Kawasaki ZG1100E GPZ1100 - I swapped titles with a 95 C10 I put back together after some bodywork damage due to a low speed fall by the PO.

I traded this: (Departure Photo to Iron Mountain, MI)
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For this: (On the way back just north of Mackinac Bridge)
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I rode it from Michigan to the COG National in VT Green Mountains and back. A couple years later I had it reduced to this to get things cleaned up the I wanted them to be. That started with an oil pan gasket leak, the header needed to be painted and I wanted to clean the carbs . . . . . . .

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1979 Triumph T140-D Bonneville Special, what's so special about this model?
-Black paint with hand applied gold stripes
-Lester wheels
-2 into 1 exhaust
-Kick start only
-Electronic ignition
This bike was an attempt to increase sales, it didn't really, everyone yanked the pipe and threw it away, therefore, to find one would be like finding gold, it actually robbed power from the motor and it looked silly. With the engines lineage dating to the 30's, it's not hard to see why Triumph went out of business. I got the bike in 1986, and not a lot was functioning on the bike, bear in mind it was only 7 years old at the time with about 7000 miles on it. I replaced the chain and sprockets, tires, tach drive, speedometer drive, pipes, as it had shorty straight pipes on it, I put on the proper 2 into 2 pipes and mufflers correct for a '79 Bonneville. The chromed front disc was warped from moisture from the pads sitting for 3 or 4 years. I don't ride it much as it's really an experience and takes planning, even with dual disc brakes. It's very solidly planted in corners, turn, and just leave it, no corrections needed. I have vintage looking tires on it and the previous owner took the turn signals off, they were butt ugly anyhow, so, hand signals are the order of the day when riding. The good thing? It starts second kick each and every time so that electronic ignition which is NOT a Lucas unit BTW. It burns a bit of oil which is from the cases being split before I got it so I have to run hotter spark plugs. Hard to believe this bike is only 3 years older than my KZ-550A, but refer to the comment about the motor being from the 30's, which, for Harley, was not so bad but when you are trying to compete with the Japanese in the 70's and 80's, a vertical twin with pistons that rise and fall together just doesn't do.


I bought my 1982 KZ550A new as a leftover in 1983. $800. For me it was a step up from my original bike a 1981 CSR305 that I learned how to ride on. This bike was to become my priority bike for over 20 years until I got my 2001 C-10 as a left over in 2002. See a pattern? I put close to 45,000 miles on this bike riding all over OH, PA, MI, NY, IN, even rode up to Quebec. At 47 claimed HP it was all I needed at the time, and, at 425lbs, it was really nice to ride this bike on the local curves. It originally came in black with white and grayish stripes, the other color for that year was Persimmon Red. In 2008 as I was furloughed, I decided to reinvent this bike and when I saw a stripe kit for a Canada spec 550, I knew what I wanted to do. Through the 80's I followed Eddie Lawson and his exploits on the tracks. I lusted for the KZ1000ELR when they came out but it was beyond my means and I had nowhere to put one. So, I thought, lets make a "half-size" ELR with my 550. This was for me before the internet and all that was available, so, I searched and found all the parts needed to make this bike what it is. I still have all the original factory items packed away if I ever want to make it original. I had the metal powder coated and the plastic painted to match. I also found out there is like 50 shades of "Kawasaki Green" when doing this. This bike rides nice, its very light compared to my C-10, it's the last of the quintessential UJM's, with flat seat, upright sitting, 4cyl inline 4, sensible bars, 550cc's, it's just a great bike to ride on a sunny day.KZ550#1.jpg
Bonneville#2.jpg
 
Oh man. What a great thread.

When I got to my first duty station (Santa Barbara, CA) in the USCG, I had no transportation. I saved up my first couple paychecks and purchased a 1983 KZ 550 and “learned how to ride”. I outgrew the bike and before I left SB, I had traded it in for a still new 1983 KZ750. That bike was so beautiful and with a couple mods, had decent performance. I put over 80K on that bike over a span of 3 years. I don’t have it any more, and I kick myself for selling it.

If anyone has one for sale, or knows someone who does, there is a buyer with a forum handle of Runnnerboy who will certainly entertain a negotiation for that machine.
 

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Jeff,

Awesome looking bike with a great back story. I will PM you my email address to send me your bike Photo.
Thanks for sharing

I am on a couple Facebook KZ forums, I don’t recall seeing one like yours 👍
I’ll keep my eyes open
Best regards
Bob
 
1984 Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts Special. Original wheelie machine.
Purchased brand new and barely rode it, original right down to the unique and extremely rare two stroke catalyst built into the mufflers. Most removed the exhaust at that time to install expansion chambers, those and carb work woke this bike up and turned it into a giant killer!
IMG_0486.jpegIMG_0487.jpeg
 
1984 Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts Special. Original wheelie machine.
Purchased brand new and barely rode it, original right down to the unique and extremely rare two stroke catalyst built into the mufflers. Most removed the exhaust at that time to install expansion chambers, those and carb work woke this bike up and turned it into a giant killer!
View attachment 38854View attachment 38855

I’ve always wanted one of those. 👍
 
My 1st street bike . 72 - 550 four . Many days riding the Ortega Highway in CA. In the 80's . I paid 300 bucks for it . Wrecked it once and traded it to a friend for a beat up 69 Firebird . He rebuilt it and traded me back a year later .
 

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Ah. Vintage bikes… The funny thing is that my C10 is the newest bike that I’ve owned! I started off on a 1980 Suzuki GS1000G (shaft drive), and have had a number of bikes, all Japanese, all pre 1990. The one I want to talk about today is actually one that I didn’t have for very long, but has a special place in my heart.

I present to you Athena, my 1978 Honda Goldwing GL1000:
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She wasn’t the fastest bike on the planet, but what she was was dependable, durable, and gave me back my sense of freedom. You see, due to being young, dumb, and inattentive, my license had been suspended for failure to pay a ticket (a fix it ticket nonetheless). I forgot about it, never got the notice, then when I went to renew my registration, DMV told me I had close to $2k in fines and whatnot to get my license back….

So I sat on my 4th point of contact for a year before I could scrounge up the money to pay it all back. And the bike I got was this Goldwing. And let me tell you; after a year of watching everyone ride and drive past, being stuck in Santa Barbara (trust me, its pretty there, but gets claustrophobic in a jiffy), I was about ready to lose my damned mind. But, I pulled it together, and started hitting the road again:


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And when I say hit the road, I truly do mean hit the road. Not only was it a relief to get back out on the open road, but it also gave me back the ability to ride out into the middle of nowhere, take my brain out, analyze it, evaluate myself, my morals, my values, my position, and purpose in life…. If it weren’t for the specific time and circumstances that I got Athena, I’m not sure I would be the person I am today, and I’m forever grateful for the experience. And when I say I really rode out to the middle of nowhere, I mean it:

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In addition to riding all up and down California, riding during inclement weather, even getting RIGHT up to the fire line during wildfires:

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But alas, it was not meant to last… I had just got her back from the mechanic, and was tuning my carbs. I-stupidly- went out for a ride in the mountains around dusk. And we all just LOVE our 4 legged, crepuscular friends…. 3 deer crossed the road. I didn’t miss the 3rd…

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And that was the end of Athena. I ended up getting Off Kilter (my GS1100E) shortly after that. But even though our time together was short, Athena served a very important purpose for me, and that was pulling me out of a multiple year funk. She helped breathe life back into me. Got me to get out and enjoy the little things in life. A sunset here, a rocket launch at Vandenburg there. But most importantly, she got me to realize that no matter what, my behind belongs in the saddle and on the road. And she gave me back the one thing that’s more precious than anything else in life: freedom.

So I'll share a saying I used to mention, in another life, in another time:

The best motorcycle is the one well ridden.

SL Trip 2.jpg


SL Trip.jpg

I miss you, Athena. You’re gone, but not forgotten. 😎

Edit: fun story about these last 2 pictures; I was riding north to San Francisco, and there was a couple in the car that took these pictures. See the bag I have in front of me (with the hand sanitizer)? Well, I had business cards for the museum I used to work at right in that pouch. I managed to hand off a card to them at speed (80mph). They emailed me these pics from France when they got back. Fun times. :)
 
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Hello fellow COGers,
The Concourier Writers Group was brain storming new content.
All agreed an interesting article could be one on COG members vintage bikes.

If you would like to participate, please tell us little bit about what you have, or just send pictures.

If you want, please include the back story, I.E how long have you had it, how did you acquire it?
What do you love / dislike about your vintage bike(s), or vintage bikes in general
What do you have for sale or swap? Running or parts bike or parts bikes etc
Do you do your own wrenching, where do you find parts - service
What bikes have you had in the past, have a knowledge base or expertise with?
Are there any forums you would recommend?

Thanks in advance.
Bob Sizemore / The Conourier Writers Group

Hello fellow COGers,
The Concourier Writers Group was brain storming new content.
All agreed an interesting article could be one on COG members vintage bikes.

If you would like to participate, please tell us little bit about what you have, or just send pictures.

If you want, please include the back story, I.E how long have you had it, how did you acquire it?
What do you love / dislike about your vintage bike(s), or vintage bikes in general
What do you have for sale or swap? Running or parts bike or parts bikes etc
Do you do your own wrenching, where do you find parts - service
What bikes have you had in the past, have a knowledge base or expertise with?
Are there any forums you would recommend?

Thanks in advance.
Bob Sizemore / The Conourier Writers Group
Moto collection picture 2022.JPG
To: Bob Sizemore (onobob)
From: Jeff Tillman (jefftilljeff8843)
Date: 6/5/24
Ref: Response to Bob's posting on COGs member vintage bike interest

Picture of some of my vintage bikes attached. Bike on extreme left (1978 Suzuki GS750) bought brand new shortly after graduating high school. The other bikes I acquired in the last decade or so. LEFT TO RIGHT: Suzuki GS750 / Suzuki GT250 Hustler / Yamaha DT3 (DT250) / Suzuki PE175 Enduro / Yamaha YZ250 MX racer)/ Yamaha DT400. Also Have another Suzuki GS750 parts bike, Yamaha DT360 parts bike, Yamaha RD400 motor, and spare Yamaha DT400 motor. Have had great fun searching out these old bikes and talking with the folks that owned them.

Love the sound/smell of two stokes and the looks of air-cooled motors....and relative simplicity of them all. Really enjoy working on anything mechanical and have some amount of expertise along these lines that I developed working in motorcycle & bicycle shops helping to put myself thru Collage back-in-the-day.

Currently not interested in selling any of collection...but that could change. Not really looking to add to collection right now. But if I was, it would probably be along the lines of a 1970-1980 Yamaha 2-stoke twin or Kawasaki 2-stroke triple or 1971-1985 Kawasaki 100 2-stroke. Current focus right now is buying a new (or like new) Yamaha MT-07 or Yamaha MT-09 (or similar) and racking up some serious back-road riding time, now that I am recently retired.

Have owned dozens of bikes over my 56 years of riding started at age 10 on a Bridgestone 90 minibike (with expansion chamber no less). She was a loud wicked little beast! Raced Motocross back in the day on a Hodaka Combat Wombat (look that up in you Funk-and-Wagnalls). Two bikes I wish I never sold are my Kawasaki Vulcan 88 (1400cc 4 speed) and beloved Honda Blackbird 1100XX.

Now that I am recently retired, looking forward to connecting with like-minded COGs members across the county and enjoying motorcycling (in all its many forms & functions) like I've always wanted to. Take Care and Ride-On, Jeff (jefftilljeff8843).
 
I had always been interested in 2 wheels as a kid, there were a number of guys in the neighborhood that rode bikes in the 60's and I guess they influenced us all but the person who really got me interested in motorcycles the most was my older brother. Around 1972 he got himself a mid-60's Suzuki and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, I never rode it though. To my amazement, he bought something that was even more cool than any Japanese bike, a 1978 Triumph Bonneville 750 Silver Jubilee. Then, in 1980, he got the subject of this story, a 1980 BMW R-65. A year later, still living with my parents, whose rule was, no motorcycles while living at this house, unable to control my youthful impulses, I bought a 1981 Kawasaki 305CSR, easier to ask for forgiveness than permission huh?

At first I thought, what an old mans bike that thing is. But I remembered the neighborhood ultra cool guy, Bobby Wondrak, who had a Harley chopper in the 60's and got himself one of the first BMW R90S's that amazed us all as it was so QUIET and smooth and cool in it's own way at the time around 1975. That had to be what my brother was thinking, that, and German design, engineering and that paint was really something.

In 1980, my brother was an old hippie and had very little money, so buying the R-65 was momentous, as, like now, they were not cheap, but, he recognized quality and always said to pay till it hurt to get good stuff as you won't regret it later.. I used to joke with him about that "Nazi" bike of his and offered to paint some German Army symbols on it like a Panzer tank cause I said it was about as fast as one anyhow. We could do that then as we all knew what humor was cause we all watched "Hogan's Heroes".

We would often go many places when I got my '82 KZ550A, which, by the way, had the same amount of horsepower as the R-65, 47HP. I would be screaming around on that 550 and he would putt past me with a smile on his face and a wave. Dang those Germans!

He would go on to ride the wheels off that thing all over the U.S and Canada while maintaining it to the highest standards with outstanding and scrupulous record keeping, putting over 80,000 miles on it, which, to us may seem low but he ran his own business and was raising a family. It served him well over 36 years of faultless motoring.

He died suddenly in 2016 and left no will. His house and belongings along with the bike sat for over 2 years as the courts decided their fate.

One day in 2018, my dad called and said there was a dumpster at my brothers house. I went over and found them literally throwing my brothers life away into a huge dumpster as they had bought the house. I told the guy who I was and he asked if I knew anybody that would want that motorcycle in the garage.............

I called around, his ex-wife did not want it, his son did not want it. The guy at the house had the keys, the maintainance book and......the title.

Making a long story short, with his ex-wife's help, I was able to eventually secure the ownership of the bike, it took a few weeks and I had to go before a court Magistrate. I wanted it to stay in the family as I told everyone that until his son was able, I was to be the caretaker of the bike, when his son wanted it, it was his.

The bike was stored in an unheated detached garage with the windows open on a dirt floor, the tag plates were last registered a year before he died, so we were looking at almost 3 years of sitting with no activity. After checking the oil level and making sure the crank moved with the bike in gear, I put the key in, turned on the ignition, hit the starter button and after a few turned coughed to life and settled into a nice idle. I shut it off. The battery at the time was almost 6 years old according to his records. It must be some sort of Lithion-ion as it's not glass mat or lead acid and it doesn't weigh much.

They say these machines are simple. I joined a national club dedicated to air cooled BMW's called "Airheads". They have a forum and are set up similar to COG with rallys and local rides, but mostly East and west coasts. It's quirky to ride after having Japanese bikes for over 40 years. It may be simple but to work on it requires taking whole systems off the bike to get to the simple stuff, which is also simple but time consuming to do. I looked up "oil change" and was guided to a 147 page treatise on proper oil change procedure, that, if not done EXACTLY correct, will blow your motor up depending on a rubber o-ring placement. Yikes.

I take it out every few weeks and have had good intentions of meeting the local BMW owners club but life has gotten in my way these last few years. I told my nephew the bike is his when he wants it but I'm not sure that will ever happen as being 30 and not really driving and not really working much less having a bike endorsement means I'll have the bike for the foreseeable future.

It has a Corbin seat, lower bars and bar end mirrors I don't like at all as I have to move my head to use them. It starts every time with that battery that I'm keeping. The Krauser bags have the requisite straps to keep them closed that I'm sure the Japanese makers looked at to make sure they design something better, which they did. It's fun to ride around town and take it out every now and then to a twisty road to remember those heady days of the 80's Oh, BTW, the pegs do not fold up, but no matter, it's not like I'm gonna be Reg Pridmore out there, berserko lean angles are not in this bikes future.beemer1.jpg
 
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There is an Ohio Scottish Games and Celtic Festival this weekend near me. It's a big deal, games, dancing, contests, food, music, everything Great Britain. It's held at the Cuyahoga Cty. fairgrounds.

Years ago, a guy named Bert that raced BSA's got together with another guy who had a British car and they called some others who had bikes and cars and they formed a group called Scottish Games Motorcycle Group. Usually about 25 or so of us would meet off site, then, as a group we would rumble in the front gate and cause a real ruckus with some of the high falootin lads and the "Mods", as we were "Rockers", or row-kahs properly pronounced. One guy rides in a kilt. It's a hoot. We find a spot to park, they usually try to put us far away from innocent eyes and ears of the young lassies, but, we will have none of that rot. Oh and BTW, theres always a few female rockers too.

We hang out, talk, catch up with others and answer all the inevitable questions from kids, and guys who had bikes in the 60's and 70's and sometimes a brave reporter will venture over to look and take pics. One time, they let the guys who brought their dirt trackers to race around the groomed horse track, they didn't let us do it again.

Anything Brit is allowed, new and old, Meriden and Hinckley Triumphs, new Royal Enfields, they get special dispensation as they are an old British design now made in India, Ariels, Nortons, a real cross section.

I'll try to get some pics but it's shaping up to be the hottest day in 30 years Saturday here and I'm not sure all of our tough guys will make it.
 
Here's a couple of pics from the Scottish Games, not a big turn out, we had the hottest day of the hottest week in over 30 years of record heat that most likely kept quite a few away, one year we had 75 Brit bikes.24 Scottish games 1.jpg24 Scottish games 2.jpg
 

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So, in the garage, in order of vintage.

1972 Yamaha LT2. It's ignition has been flaky, so it's down till I get my NZ sourced CDI installed.
1980 GS550E, with GS650E forks, and top end. Alphabet Headers 4-1. ZRX1200 shocks. CX500 r/r, and various other "nerobro specials"
1982 GS650E, My usual ride.
1983 GS550ES. Stock, but with a wild history. The reciept said "misc parts"

... No.. I don't like suzukis at all.
 
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