November 12, 2011

Been a while


I see it has been a year since my last post.  No big bike trips.  Putting the KTM back together took the rest of the summer of 2010, and finally got it finished in the fall.  I had the engine completely apart and checked everything.  It was surprisingly clean inside considering that it had ground away most of the intake cam follower.  It has two oil filters, which must have cleaned up most of the filings.  However after putting it together and doing some local rides this past summer (2011) it started to make some really nasty noises that sound like the crankshaft-connecting rod.  So I parked it and will be taking the motor apart again this winter.  I did a big road trip in my car instead, going through the US to Ontario to see family and friends and taking in the big Antique Motorcycle Club of America rally in Davenport Iowa on the way back.  More on that in another post.

One of the things I resolved to do was to clear out my garage of surplus motorcycles.  Having a big garage is like having a big closet.  They tend to fill themselves with all this stuff, turn your back for a decade or so, and next thing you know you can't close the door anymore.  I  don't have any ambition to be on that Hoarders reality show, but you would not think so if you saw my garage.  I did manage to shift a couple of bikes onto some people who apparently still have room in their garages, but all came to naught when I was walking through a nearby alley.  Leaning up against the fence in a backyard was a derelict sport bike.  A double take revealed it to be a Yamaha RZ500.   For those who aren't familiar with the RZ series, they are two stroke sport bikes incorporating much of what Yamaha learned by building world championship Grand Prix racing bikes, the moto equivalent of Formula One car racing, which was totally dominated by two stroke engines until they changed the rules and switched to larger displacement four stroke engines.   Most RZs were two cylinders but for a few years Yamaha made a four cylinder two stroke that was inspired by their Moto GP world champion bike.  They did not make many, as two stroke motorcycles are an acquired taste, most people prefer four stroke engines.   I am not most people I always loved two strokes.

Back to the backyard bike.  I needed another bike like I needed a second head, but that did not stop me from knocking on the front door.  The bike's owner answered the door, he knew what he had, but wasn't much interested in keeping it, and needed money.  He said he would a take a thousand bucks.   The bike did not look like much, and given it had sat unprotected outside for 2 years, it was a fair price.  I thought I might be able to clean it up and flip it for 2K, or if that was not an option, part it out on ebay and still make money.  The guy said it ran when he parked it out back.  I got him the money, took it home and hosed off two years of grime,  put some gas in the tank, it started and ran, but only on two of its four cylinders.  Any bike that has sat outside for two years will benefit from having the carburetors removed and thoroughly cleaned.  That did the trick and now the bike ran on all four cylinders.

A few turns around the block reveal this bike to be the craziest bike I have ever been on, what a hoot!  Like its racing cousin not much happens until you hit the right RPM, and then all hell breaks loose.  But it breaks loose in a totally competent way, just as one would expect from a highly strung but highly capable purely racing bike.    In this case ugly was skin deep.  The plastic body work had seen much abuse, including a home rattle can repaint without benefit of proper decals or graphics.  Underneath was a pretty good bike that had obviously been either well looked after or at worst suffered only benign neglect (minimal hamfisted butchery) with good tires, chain, sprockets, cables etc..  This puppy will clean up nicely.   I will need to do a lot of evaluation on this bike before it goes up for sale again (if it ever does).  Sigh, this does not bode well for my non-appearance on a future Hoarders episode.

Update, cleaned up nicely and entered it in the Edmonton bike show.  As the non original paint job on it is the Marlboro pattern used by the GP500 bikes, I got a decal kit and turned it into the Marlboro bike.  Hopefully the anti smoking nazis won't turn me in.  My kid, proof that great minds think alike, bought me the same decals for Xmas, not knowing that I had done the same, so now I have a spare set to get me through my first crash.


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