Did you read what that guy in Cycle World called you? A yuppie? Something about your address and a boat. Anyway, my first bike was a 160 Scrambler. Had a ball. Loaned it to a friend's kid brother for a spin around the block, summer of 69, the kid dropped it off the curb and broke open the tranny case. End of story.
HEY Johnny!! How's it hangin'? I really find this stuff interesting, since all of these bikes are much older than I am. As to an above posters complaint about the content, I think this is relevant material. It's not often that I/we get to read about vintage cycles that rock.
It's not just you. If it has two wheels and anything less than a V-8, it's a bicycle with a power assist. Let's get some more stories about the Boss Hoss with the powerful V-8. That's the only true motorcycle. How can you have fun and impress the ladies on anything less?
I had a Honda s90 as my first bike back in the 60s that my dad help me buy for $140. I was 14 and I didn't understand the concept of different gears at first. That gas tank was a terrible nut buster if a tree or something stopped you dead. While I was in the Marine Corps my folks gave that bike away to someone. I wish I still had it. It was a true classic. I got a CL350 at 16. A CB750 at 17 or 18. A CB750F in the Marines at Camp Lejeune (I still have it). A CB900 in 1981 while in college. An 89' Yamaha Venture Royale in 89. A 97 Electraglide in 97.
I am sure a large percentage of todays cruiser riders of all makes got struck by the 2 wheel disease first on old Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki bikes. Old street and remember those enduros. Back then nobody really cared what brand or particular looks a bike had. It was the way you felt with that motor pushing that 2 wheel thing down the road and then you would turn and power through the turn and man that disease had you. Got me and I still got it.
Ah to reminisce. My first "real" motorcycle was a used '71 CB100 my Dad picked up cheap for me. At 14 yo it got me off the school bus and grinnin' ear-to-ear every single day. I still get chills from a memory of riding that bike to school one morning (about 15 mi) at 20 degrees, with my Bell full face 'mut and ski mask and down coat with the throttle pinned hitting all of 50 mph on one of only two straight stretches.
God I loved that bike. Rode it for two years until at 16 yo I could get a big bike and with my Mom went to the local Honda dealer with dreams of getting the, new for 79, CBX!
Mom took one look at that inline six and said no. I still dream of the CBX I saw on the floor that day but I doubt Id be here if shes said yes to it. Instead I picked a brand new 1975 CL360. It had been on the floor for four years and they just about gave it to me just to get it out of the shop.
Coming from the CB100 the CL was incredible. Power everywhere and a great sound to boot. Two years on the CL then it was stolen. Grrr.
Out of riding then until lust struck again with the 97 Honda Spirit 1100. Man how bikes had changed since 75. Next came the 98 ST1100 (my Lexus) and a 99 Valkyrie Tourer which I sold for the 00 Road King (my Caddie). My Wifes 98 VFR800fi is one of the bikes I wish was still in the garage.
Life is Good.
***This was a great article, MO! Thanks! It would be great to see more stories about the great UJMs of the 70s and the folks who still enjoy them.***
Yup. My first bike was a CB100 (1972). The next year I bought a brand new CB350! Two years after that I got my first big bike, a Triumph Tiger 650 and I still have it. A month ago I was at our local Triumph shop and watched a young, new rider wobble off on his brand new TT600. After 30 years of riding motorcycles I bought the most powerful bike I've ever owned - a Triumph Speed 4. And it's plenty enough bike for me. I guess I'm just slow getting into this sport. By the time I reach 75 I should be ready for that 1000, if I can still swing a leg over.
Good article, but next when you caption a picture with "Craig's multi-awarding winning 1965 Honda 305cc Scramblers make special music. " make sure that it's actually a picture of a Scrambler engine instead of a Superhawk.
I hadone of them R5 Yammerhammers, a '71. Same engine as RD350, but still had a doubleleadingshoe front brake. (Actually that brake was more than adequate.)
It certainly ran like the proverbial bat-out-of-hell. Only problem was that you needed to carry lots of spare sparkplugs 'cause it would eat them every few hundred miles. And setting the timing points meant putting a dial gauge in the cylinder head ecery couple of weeks and setting and resetting the points until they finally lined up. Oh yeah, the other problem was the 5-speed tranny ate 5th gear. (The tranny problems were even worse on the later 6-speed RDs and punching the bike to 400 only worsened the tranny failure rate.)
But, the darn thing was so easy to work on (you could pull the engine and split the cases in about 1/2 hour) that those problems hardly seemed much of a barrier. It certainly was a ball riding around LA from 77-80 when I had the bike. Nothing like leaving virtually every other motorcycle you came up against in your wake. And, even though the Ksaki 500 and 750 triples were faser, the Yammerhammer could handle darned well, thus leaving the Ksaki's for dead along the Angeles Crest.
Darn, I still wish I had that bike. It would hold its own pretty well against much of the more modern iron I suspect.
Articles like this always pose a question: What happened to the mid-sized universal Japanese motorcycle?
I can remember when a 350 was thought to be 'open class', and anything 650 or over was really big.
Now people are starting off on 900's and such.
Back in 1978, a buddy (who never rode a motorcycle before) went out and bought a new KZ650 Kowasaki.
After dropping it a few times, and centerpunching a parked car, I let him 'learn' on my '71 CL175.
Of course, I got to ride his bike for a few months, but that's not the point...after driving that 175 around for a while, he was able to get back on his 650, and with some basic riding skills under his belt, enjoy riding.
I think the manufacturers are missing a big market here in the ol' US of A. Mid-sized bikes are really popular in Europe, why not here?
BTW I make the daily commute from Burbank to LAX on a nice '71 CB350 (complete with a giant chrome luggage rack).
And when I'm not on the CB, I'm on my '72 DT2 Yamaha 250 Enduro (which placed 9th overall in the '03 Adelanto Grand Prix, pre-74 class).
"What happened to the mid-sized universal Japanese motorcycle?" Closest thing left I can think of is the current Nighthawk 750. It's actually a great no nonsense UJM. Today most people don't want to be seen on such a bike, it's not in fashion today. That's one reason you can still by them pretty cheap. Compared to a cheap bike back in the 60's and 70's that bike is awesome! Still it's less than 1200cc and does not look that certain cruiser way a "real bike" is supposed to look. You can still buy a sllightly used one around 3K and ride it for the next 10/20 years. Another neat bike (small) is the Virago 535.
Back when I could only dream of owning a bike I remember Yamaha's slogan "one day you'll own a Yamaha" Now I have had 2!!! & a Honda, & a Kawasaki, and it's been a lot of fun!
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