- Apr 10, 2016
- Campbellsville, KY
Myself and my two best friends (age 25-27 now) have, over the past 3 years, begun owning and riding a number of older motorcycles. Best friend #1 has always messed around with 4-wheelers and dirt bikes, getting into a 125 Enduro, then up to a 250, then 3 different XS650's ('81, '75, and a mish-mash "chopper" of sorts he took from somebody else's barely-running project to a decent rider that, for the most part, just needed the cosmetic loose ends tied up) which he maintained, rebuilt, and built until last year when a health condition forced him to stop riding. Friend #2 (brother-in-law, didn't have much previous history with powersports) bought a '72 CL175 as several boxes of parts and single-handedly reassembled it into a decent rider that didn't look like a million bucks but proved pretty dependable - early last summer he rode it 200 miles to the destination of a camping trip the four of us (sister and my wife) went on. (Had to haul it back due to rain.) Later that year he bought an '81 CM400 (pretty good shape - aging with 17K on the clock, but well maintained) and I bought the 175 from him and continued to tweak and improve. After blowing the head gasket (4,000 miles over 45 years, guess it was bound to happen) it got new pistons, rings, and valves this winter, everything except the cylinder honing done by yours truly, and is running and driving even better now - rode it 140 miles on Saturday, which puts me somewhere around 400 total on the rebuild so far. Me and BIL are hoping the weather allows us to ride both the Hondas on another joint-family trip to the Pigeon Forge area next month. Anyway, on to the point: aside from the three of us, there are at least half a dozen guys in our church that do a riding group. I've only ridden with them twice thus far, but BIL and friend #1 have gone more often and are constantly ragged on for how their bikes are too little, how they had to have a tweak along the way, how they need to move up to a newer, bigger bike, etc. It isn't just one or two comments - it seems nearly constant. The rest of the group is comprised of two Shadows, two new Triumph Bonnevilles, a V Star, a Yamaha? 1800, and one or two other post-2000, non-Harley, big V-twins - that with few exceptions go to the shop for everything. We go out and putz around the backroads 30 or 40 miles at a time on a Sunday afternoon, and the rest of the bikes go back to their spot in the garage until the next time the sun comes out and the owner has the time to go on a little excursion. Some of the guys go on multi-hundred-mile weekend trips once or twice a year, and they're all good guys that I otherwise like and, in some cases, whose work schedule dictates they can't ride a motorcycle all that often. But when they do ride, and I tag along, they can't respect that I (rather, we) have actually fixed our bikes, from end to end, and half the reason we're even out on them is because we can make the tweaks they require to stay in one dependable piece, on the fly? Or that we took a machine that has been in pieces longer than theirs has even been around and got it to go down the road with relative consistency and safety? In one instance friend #1 was meeting up with the group on their way into town and just as they were all leaving out realized something had gone wrong and he had to re-time his XS - so the rest of them went on and he caught them. I know some of the other bikes go to the shop for a drop of oil on the garage floor - yet my 175 is leak-free by my own skill. I'm completely understanding of some people that can't or don't want to keep up with their own bikes - as a mechanic, I'd be out of work if they did the same with their cars. But part of the reason I do all the work on my little Honda is because I want to be the one most familiar with it, most able to repair it if something goes wrong ten or a thousand miles from home, because I intend to ride it in situations where I depend on it and I don't have the money to get it hauled to a shop and spend the night somewhere when it breaks down on a long trip. (Okay, maybe not 1,000 miles on a 175 but you have to start somewhere! ) And, although I'm a novice, it's part of the spirit of riding I feel most strongly about - being self-sufficient and self-contained. And, by their habits, obviously my friends feel much the same and consider the service and repair part of owning a motorcycle. Anyone else out there that finds themselves in this same place? Or anybody that can offer insight into the "status quo" of my case? I don't look down on someone that doesn't work on their own bike... until they look down on me for doing different.