Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Sunday Re-Run

I've been thinkin' about mo'sickles a LOT of late.  I dunno exactly why that is and it seems middling strange to me, mainly coz it's usually in the Spring when a young man's old geezer's thoughts turn to love of the two-wheeled sort.  But lately it's been bikes, bikes, and more bikes.  This lil exchange over at our favorite (former) Nasal Radiator's place is of a piece:
Most other bikes are better than Harley. On this side of the pond, back in teh 70s, we used to have a saying, If you like to ride buy a ___(insert your favorite 70s era rice burner). If you like to push, buy a Harley.”
Harley-Davidson has improved a lot since AMF days, but it’s still the same basic bike.
  • As a longtime sportbike rider (Yamaha RDs… i.e., RD-350, RD-400, RD-350LC… in the past and then a Suzuki Duck clone of late) I like to twist the tails of Harley riders from time to time. Especially since my SN1 is a Hardley-Ableson kinda guy.
OK, that comment was self-serving but it DID fit, no?  And I went looking for a particular EIP piece apropos of that comment, just so I could post it again.  Herewith a couple o' my all-time favorite rides:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fast Times At Ridgemont When I Was High

High on LIFE, Gentle Reader... high on life.  And mo'sickles.  There were a few previously unpublished pics of mo'sickles-past lurking in the pages of those photo albums I brought home from SN2's place.  You know I'm gonna post those, so we might as well get started.  First up: my old RD350LC.  Here she is up against the wall, a position we rarely found ourselves in, metaphorically speaking.

If that pic looks somewhat familiar it's only because it is.  We previously posted this pic of the happy couple:

And then there's this, taken on the same day as the above but in a different place.  The day would be the day I sold her in June of 1983 (she wasn't street-legal in the USA and I was going home) and the place is High Wycombe Air Station where I lived during my three-year all expenses paid (courtesy of the USAF) vacation in London.

I kinda like that shot because you can read the tee shirt I'm wearing in the full-size version of the pic, to wit:

That 350-cc number prolly sounds laughable to Americans who routinely think "Harley" and big-ass 96 cu. in. (1600 cc) motors when they think of bikes, which is rarely (unless you're a biker).  But lemmee tell ya, those 350cc's made mince-meat out of many a cruiser back in the day and sport bikes twice its size, too.  That was one hella quick and fast mo'sickle and it could carve a corner like few others.  Fast times, indeed.

Here's the best bike I ever owned... it edges out the 350LC by only the tiniest of margins... my RD400D.  The first pic is the bike in box-stock configuration, the second is in its current mildly-modified condition:



I spent the winter of 1978 in my garage working on that bike.  Most of the mods were bolt-ons, which is to say after-market shocks, new handle bars, rear-set foot pegs, a brake/shifter kit, electronic ignition, and better tires.  The cognoscenti will note the expansion chambers on the bike and those were part of the minor engine mods I did.  I didn't want to build a hand-grenade motor so I just added expansion chambers, larger carbs, and K&N air filters to improve the bike's breathing.  I also polished all the cylinder ports to improve air flow.  And that was it... but the finished product really wailed.  I should also mention coastal Oregon was a danged fine place to own a back road burner like the RD, too.  Even more fast times.

Here's a previously posted and MUCH prettier pic of the stock RD:

 TSMP and Stock RD

I tried to get her to pose in her bikini but she wasn't having any of that.  (sigh)

Lastly... the RD400 is still in the family, sitting in the back of SN2's garage.  It still runs but is suffering from a leaky rear master cylinder.  Sam keeps telling me "one of these days..."  Heh.
And now a moment that's said to be good for the soul.  Here's part of an exchange I had with Occasional Reader Laurie a couple o' days ago:
Don't tell anyone, but I've been lookin' at Sportys for about a month or so.  I'm only six months removed from getting rid o' Miss Zukiko and find I'm missing her.  Terribly.  I'm too old and decrepit to go back to sport bikes, but I'm thinkin' I could deal with a Sporty, even with my infirmities.  So, we shall see....
The Apocalypse truly must be near.  Me?  On a HARLEY?  Aiiieee.


  1. OH boy, back on the murdersickles, huh? Somehow I had a feeling this was in the offing once you got the housing thing to settle down a little. Good on ya, viejo.

    As far as 2-wheeled whoopee goes, I never had much yen for the big guys, and no kidding about mid-size being fast enough (and a whole hella lot faster than most guys realize.) The deal is not about brute fast in a straight line anyway, but slick quick where you gotta maintain pace by consistent balance. wanna talk about being the scorn of the Mine's Bigger Than Yours brigade? When I was in SF in the '70s, I made my living delivering singing telegrams on a Vespa Rally 180. I knew a few other Vespa guys, both old and young, and happily discovered the skinny main/mixer combination that made synthetic 2-stroke oil necessary - and that sumbitch would burn, kemo sabe. Plus the right kind of girls thought it was so suave that they'd start up conversations at stoplights. Really. Wanna go for a ride?

    The deal about quick was that you couldn't lean 'em over too much on accounta the floorboards, which necessitated hangin your ass out to port or starboard and keeping the scooter goin through the line at the end of your arms. Try that at 60 coming down a steep hill with a girl on the back.

    And no, none of us wore helmets. As a matter of fact, the wind-in-the-face routine was a significant part of my Big Hair Grooming System.

    I useta find myself in need of a fix late at night when the foghorns were a-moanin, and go up to the top of Market Street (remember that? That long stretch of downhill slalom between concrete walls?) and bring it down with all possible dispatch. And then go back up and do it again.

    Damn. I may need another one.

  2. wanna talk about being the scorn of the Mine's Bigger Than Yours brigade?

    Heh. Mods and Rockers! I know you detest rock 'n' roll so I won't point ya at Pete Townshend's magnum opus on the subject; I'll just tell ya Ol' Pete was one of your kind. But the album art from Quadrophenia (image-google it) has some classic Brit scooter pics.

    Full disclosure: I always looked at scooters with... uh... disdain. And that's bein' quite kind. I never really "got" 'em, but your description above enlightened me to an extent I didn't think was possible, Rob. Great good stuff!

  3. i never had a motorcycle, though there had been times when I though of it.

    Mostly my concern was because I lived in NYC areas, and that is no place for one. Sorry, but I've seem close up and personal what can happen to a friend riding. He lost an arm, a leg and a foot due to accidents with the two wheeled variety, and I thought that was just a bit too much cost for my tastes.

    Not for his though! He probably still rides, despite the loss of limbs. That is if he is still alive.

    I can see myself on a nice little cycle that has enough umph for the thrill, but not too much to get into too much trouble. Maybe...

  4. Anon: I gave up mo'sickles for nearly ten years after a bad accident... two vertebrae compression fractures while my friend on the back suffered a broken femur... but I went back. I was lucky I wasn't killed in that accident, and luckier still not to suffer serious road rash, as I slid about 70 feet after sailing over the car that turned left in front of me. I was wearing full leather so the slide was the least of my problems. Still and even, that hurt enough for me to take a long hiatus.

    I've seen bad other accidents, too, and lost at least two friends who died due to stupid car drivers. It's a dangerous past time.

  5. You know my fear of motorcycles, but those old pics sure are nice.

  6. Slick pics are about all I enjoy about motorcycles. I only rode a motorcycle once, and then only because I was 17 and my parents had forbidden me to ever get on a then boyfriend's motorcycle.

    No helmets, so I was terrified the whole time of getting a bug in my mouth. And my hair got all snarled up. I'm just not motorcycle material.

  7. Too terrified to ever get on one. Though I do like being around them; they are very cool.

    Our priest rides a Harley Fat-Boy; no helmet either which freaks out the entire parish. He's a bit of a bad-ass in truth and it's part of his larger appeal as a priest. He's very - relate-able. And he looks mighty fine on that Harley.

    I want to be the kind of person who could ride one - and I know deep down that I'm just not.

  8. Lou: I like those pics a lot, too. Nostalgia is strong...

    Red: One of the many benefits of helmets is they keep long hair snarl-free. And your brains in your skull if push comes to shove.

    Kris: I sorta understand the "riding without a helmet" thang, but not REALLY. I've done it once or twice just to say I've done it and was SERIOUSLY uncomfortable for the whole duration of those rides.

  9. I vote for a Vespa. Then you can join the Rolling Elvi in the Muses Mardi GRAS parade! ;)

  10. There's a lot o' weird and strange thangs in this life I might could do, but owning a Vespa AIN'T one of 'em.


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