Category Archives: Motorcycles

Small Winter Project: 1977 Triumph Bonneville T140V Side Covers

So my Triumph broke down in the middle of summer. I was riding to work on Lake Shore Drive, trying to hit the ton as soon as I got on. Next thing I know my bike dies. I coast to the few feet of “shoulder” that exists on a bridge on Lake Shore Drive. I have no electronics at all and I come to notice my left spark plug loose. If it wasn’t so hot I could have taken it out by hand. This was bad. I eventually pushed by bike across four lanes and down the hill to get it on the street. I got a tow and made it to work only a few hours late. When trying to fix my bike I find the battery appears “shot”, it will not take a charge. It is pretty new and a sealed battery. I get a new battery and as soon as I connect it it pops the fuse. I find out the Zener Diode is shot and causing this. Luckily I had a spare and eventually had a running bike again.

So moving on this winter I will finally correct something about her. The side covers/air box that are currently on the bike are from an earlier Triumph. I think 70-71. Not positive but I have also been told they “seal better”. After buying random covers and parts from ebay and Swap Meets over the years I finally will get the correct 1977 Side Covers on my bike. Acquiring all these stupid little pieces actually is expensive and costly at times. but I finally have most of it, just need some more hardware. I think I will get the pieces sand blasted and painted nicely before I put them on. Here’s how the covers look now:

And Here is a mock up of the parts I have thus far. I also have badges, just waiting on some hardware. I also found some NOS of those air tubes. I have never seen a bike with those still on them, they must break easily and do absolutely nothing, but nonetheless I will install them all on my correct and redone side covers this winter.

1982 Yamaha XT 250

So a guy I knew was selling a 1982 Yamaha XT 250 in a sorry state. He got in because it came with another bike, an RM minibike or something. Being such a fan of the film First Blood(as you can see from my other post), I bought it despite the sorry state it came in. The problems he noted were broken clutch perch and incorrect rear wheel. I gave him $150. Well several years later and I FINALLY got the damn thing running. Over this time I slowly and slowly fixed and ordered the parts I could. I even picked up a spare parts bike for about 120$ a few years ago.

I bought a new rear wheel, which made me sorry for my mailman because the shipper literally saran wrapped the hell outta the damn thing and slapped a sticker on it. I bought a new sprocket, chain, clutch perch,clutch lever, countless bolts, and more over time. The carburetor was a nightmare I will condense here.

The bike had compression but with a new battery and plug I had spark but not gas. I pulled the carb off and noticed a piece near the bottom accelerator pump was broken. This carb is overly complex. The 1980 First Generation XT 250 used a simpler carb. The carb I have has this “accelerator pump” type device add on. It was a feature from 1981-1983 on the XT 250. The 1984 250 Carb and bike were very different. So make note of this unique carb it is tricky to find at all, let alone a working one will still bring a few hundred dollars.

Luckily I first found a junk carb for parts on ebay for 40$. I was able to replace the broken part and try it again. No luck the bike never fired and I got tired of kicking the bike over dozens of times to no avail. In the meantime I fixed other stuff, repainted the exhaust, and little things like made sure the brakes work and fixing the clutch cable. A few years later I finally bite the bullet and spent 80$ for a complete carb rehaul kit, this included almost all the gaskets and jets needed to rebuild the carb. So I took apart both carbs and cleaned the shit out of them. I used the best parts and the kid to make one good carb. After all this work still fucking nothing, no “pop” it didn’t even want to start. After spraying some carb cleaner in the cylinder the bike ran for a few seconds, so the problem was still the carb.

I’m no expert mechanic but through trial and error and my old man’s wisdom I have a basic understanding of how a bike works. After this I just kept watching ebay for a spare carb. They would sometimes pop up for about 200$ and sell. Eventually one was up for 250$, they included a video of the bike running before they took it apart, so this should be “plug and play”. I bit the bullet and paid more than the price of the bike for it. Upon further inspection of it, it was missing a choke lever and had an extra hole in one side which puzzled me.

I finally put it on my bike with some fresh gas. I gave it some more kicks and I felt maybe a little more kickback but no signs of life whatsoever. So after a deep sigh I was about to give up and maybe try again a few days later. With some carb cleaner in the cylinder we tried again. Nothing at first at all, which was weird. Then somewhere around the sixth kick it was brought to life, I assumed it would die in a few seconds but this “priming” actually worked and it kept going! Big relief this was, since if this didn’t work I was ready to pay someone to take this shit from me on Craigslist. Now my only hope is the clutch works and it goes through all the gears. Once this bike is settled, I’ll finally have a dirt bike, or rather THE bike from First Blood. Did I mention how much I like that film?

 

Gary

First Blood Pilgrimage

Every year I enjoy taking a vacation to see somewhere new and get out of Chicago for at least a few days. Last year I went to New Orleans and rented a motorcycle for a day. It was great. This year I chose Seattle for a mere four days, which was the most time I could get off work. I have never been anywhere near that part of the country and being a Nirvana nerd I figured it was finally time.

I’ve also always been a huge fan of First Blood after catching it on televeision when I was probably 9 years old. I’ve loved it ever since, nevermind the sequels First Blood is amazing. I have always wanted to go to the town whewre it was filmed as well. I randomly googled it after I decided I was going to Seattle and it was only 3.5 hours. Therefore I HAD to go when I was in Seattle.

My current job could offer a few days off but money was very tight. In planning the trip I had to book a very expensive last minute hotel near the UW Campus. Air fare was the cheapest part of the trip. So I arrived on something like a Monday morning I believe as my flight out of O’Hare was at like 6:00am. I landed in Seattle and first went the EMP to see the Nirvana exhibit. It was cool, next I killed some time at a record store and found the Liquid Sky Soundtrack which I’ll write about later.

The next day I didn’t do to much I walked around and noticed how things there looked the same everywhere, maybe it’s cause I stayed in a college area. I did get a nice dinner and sat next to a rich SQL programmer. I should really pickup on that because it seems spillover from San Francisco is happening in Seattle. Making the young and smart very rich in a great spot.

 

I wasn’t feeling all the greatest when I got to my hotel and lied down a while. When I sorta awoke I flipped through the channels and on fucking BBC America of all channels, First Blood was on! I was second guessing getting the bike the next day and riding to Hope,BC but I figured this was a sign of sorts telling me I had to go. In the morning I venture to the rental space and get the bike. Of course it’s not the one I ordered and of course a GPS is out of the question. I booked a regular Triump Bonneville but all they had for me was a goddamn Thruxton. The bike was great but not for riding on 8 hours in a day.

So with just my phone GPS I make it to the USA-Canada border. I brought my passport and they ask me to go inside,as I had an Illinois License, a motorcycle with a Florida plate, and a pretty dark face. I tell the guy I’m going to Hope cause I like the movie First Blood and he’s baffled but they let me in. Third time I’ve ever been to Canada and the other times were just the Montreal airport. The ride is great and it feels weird when I make it to Canada, So what is probably 5 hours after picking up the bike I make it to Hope,BC where First Blood was filmed. I couldn’t believe it when I pulled it around 5pm to the same spot where Rambo just firsts confronted by the Sheriff. The gas station is still there. I ride around the small town a little and grab some food. It’s quite a small, broke, little town, surrounded by amazing Mountains. It has the usual things: run-down motel, shitty diner, VFW bar, hobby store some how and not to much else.

I eat some awful food there and then realize “shit” I don’t have much money and I have another 5 hour ride back to Seattle. So I immediately head back, which sucks but I had to. I didn’t want to get lost in Canada in the night. I make it through the border again and just when I’m about an hour away I get incredibly cold and tired. The weather dropped like a rock and when going 80 on an unlit deserted two lane blacktop, a lot of worries hit my mind. One rock and I’d be on the pavement and no one would see me. I find a Casino on an Indian Reservation and get a room for the night. It was real nice, bigger than my old apartment and had a jacuzzi in the bedroom. I rest for a few hours then hightail it back to Seattle. Oh btw I DID NOT have the money for this hotel but put it on a credit card.

So a couple hours later I drop the bike off and make it to my original hotel and relax for a few hours. Next thing I know I’m at the airport, I hear All Apologies and board my plane. Back in Chicago nothing has changed but I blew far more money that I had on the trip. Don’t regret it though I fucking made it to Seattle and Hope. Maybe one day I can go back and really enjoy it.

The Story of my Triumph

The story of my Bonneville begins with having some spare money in my checking account. I had been browsing bikes on ebay for years, Triumph’s especially. I came across a 1977 Bonneville in a “basket case” state. The owner was taking it apart and had spent $1100 in parts. I knew nothing of Triumphs or British Bikes but I knew I wanted one and this seemed affordable to at least get the parts home. It was located in East Troy,WI a lake town I have been to because a friend’s lake house. If it was anywhere else, or further I probably would have passed. I knew less than nothing about Triumph’s but gathered the later ones were probably the only I would ever be able to afford. So one night I see it on eBay and before I can bid it ends for $1700.

I know on ebay most big money auctions fall apart. So I e-mailed the seller and told him to call me if the high bidder didn’t pay. Needless to say the idiot that bid spoke to him once and never paid or made arrangements to get the bike. He called me and I told him I would be there the next day. I called my friend Kyle and we were able to head to his Lake House the very next day. I literally cashed out everything I had and only had 1600$ which I offered him. He said he was firm on 1700, luckily Kyle spotted me the extra hundred, as he wasn’t gonna not let me get the bike for a lousy 100. Side note after fees on ebay he would have made $1500 only. We loaded the frame and parts into the van and headed back to Chicago. After unloading the bike me and Kyle had to pick up tickets to See Iggy and the Stooges, which was coming up soon. That show was fucking awesome, but that was much later.

It took a long time to get my Triumph up and running due to certain lack of knowledge, funds, and time. But after a year or so of learning, falling and getting back up I had a running Triumph. And not a stupid new one. Immortal thanks to my Dad as well, he had a bunch of bikes long ago I didn’t realize. It was even featured in a commercial, they paid me to bring my bike to McCormick place and used it in one small shot where some guy is sitting on it. I had to pull the Triumph badges off the tank but that’s her alright. I actually did catch the commercial on TV ONCE! It was pretty cool to see MY BIKE on TV. I’ll put the video below. Bike can also been seen on the header of this website.

Anamosa Motorcycle Museum or How I Saw One Man’s Collection

No motorcycle museum is truly complete without a Captain America replica. There’s thousands by now…..

So one day I ended up at this Motorcycle Museum. It was about 4.5 hours from Chicago so on one of my days off we went. It was a pretty nice collection of over 400 bikes of all sorts. It soon became apparent most of the bike’s were on loan from 1 or 2 people mostly. It’s like this one guy built a museum for all his bikes and charges admission and takes donations. Some great bikes I’m sure I will never see again in the flesh, includingĀ  a Brough Superior, and a Rudge Ulster.

The trip re-invigorated my lust for taking a long solo motorcycle trip around the country and maybe the world. It was a temptation having to visit in Winter and not being able to ride my bikes when we got back home. Some of the artwork for sale was really great to, unfortunately I did not spot the artist name on the first painting but contact the museum if you’re interested.

Here’s some of the highlights at least for me. Supposedly a Then Came Bronson replica was there but I couldn’t find it.

Brough Superiorimag0276 imag0278 imag0279 imag0280 imag0281 imag0282 imag0283 imag0284 imag0285 imag0286 imag0287 imag0288 imag0289 imag0290 imag0291 imag0292 imag0293 imag0294 imag0295 imag0297 imag0299 imag0302 imag0306 imag0307 imag0308 imag0309

 

Some of the artwork I enjoyed, sorry I don’t have the artists name or prices, contact the museum directly if interested. I think they were all very expensive.

http://www.nationalmcmuseum.org

102 Chamber Drive Anamosa, IA 52205

Death Behind Her

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I’d say it’s one thing to do in Iowa, supposedly there’s a good pizza place in Davenport but I forgot what its’ called.

 

The Story of my Honda

The story begins in 2008. I was 18, the summer where I literally did nothing but drink and play video games and minigolf was about to end. I began my first year of college which was at a school near my home and soon found I had too much damn empty time on my hands. I applied for a few jobs(never having a “real” one before). And got a callback from a grocery store. They put me in produce which was actually really lucky. I’ll spare you the details but at this point I was going to school full-time, and working a part-time job. I managed to save about 50$ a month towards a bike. I’m not sure why I began to want a bike, I never rode one before, I know my dad had some before I was born but that’s about it. Maybe Easy Rider really did leave it’s mark on me early on. Who knows. But along this savings journey I took a class to learn how to actually ride, I’m glad I did. Months down the line I had about 800$ saved. I then saw this ad on Craigslist. While browsing daily of course.

It was in the dead of winter but found it was being sold by a bike mechanic at a vintage shop on the near west side of Chicago. I saw it, it looked tiny a midst the row of bikes there. Something told me this one should be mine. I quickly got a hold of a friend with a truck and within a week the bike was mine for 850$ USD, the world’s de facto currency. Seller had posted 1200 in the ad. I had months to wait for winter to end and did a bit to much tinkering with it. Eventually it got back to being fully sorted. A well respected Honda will last a lifetime. To this day my Triumph starts every other day when she wants and my Honda almost never has a problem. I love this bike it gave me everything, tons of a attention, the power to zip around the city and finally see it like never before. I love this silly little bike. I still love it, it’s my first and I could never part with her. 6 Years, a few thousand miles and she’s still going strong.

The story of my Triumph will be forthcoming but my 200cc Honda green motorcycle zips around Chicago and has never let me down. I’d never “chop” her or make her one of those sorry ass “cafe’s” kids are doing these days. She’s fine as is and has plenty of character. She has her flaws, the tank and side covers have a few chips, rear tire isn’t balanced and the rim has a small dent. Some of the controls don’t work right. The cable front break is often rubbish, and the welds on my aftermarket mufflers were down by a clown. Still she’s might and she runs like fucking a junkie who found a free stamp.

Over the years I’ve simply have to replace screws, batteries, tires, the throttle cable, fender stay, and that’s about it. Regular oil changes and new plugs and she runs great, haven’t even had to clean the carbs yet. Perhaps it’s time for a new chain,resealing the airboxes, and a new rear rim. One day I’d love to find another to strip down to nothing and try and get near to the ton, supposedly this bike can do over 80 stock but I think the mid 60s is the highest I’ve gotten. Ideas include throwing a larger set of carbs from a CB160 with pod filters and bigger jets and a larger gutted exhaust system.

Full Specs

1975 Honda CB200T

10,800Miles

Buy a well cared for 70s Honda now before they are all chopped into garbage our people believe they are worth their weight in gold.