I was twelve and helping an old neighbor clean out the dairy barn connected to his house. Replacing the cows which used to fill each stall was a lifetime of accumulated stuff; the flotsam and jetsam, the detritus which accumulates in the wake of an eighty year life.
While moving some boxes and burlap sacks, I uncovered what would become my first of many motorcycles: a 1973 honda cl125s, single cylinder four stroke. I was instantly enamored with the little bikes orange gas tank, flat seat, and cycloptic headlight, wide open and ready to go.
‘Hey, does this run’ ?
‘I dont think so. Its been sitting there for 20 years or so. Why?’ he asked with a knowing grin. My intentions were evidently clear. He proceed to tell me that if I was able to push it up the hill to my house and figure out how to get it running, he would sell it to me for my labor. A fine deal as far as I was concerned.
After a late night and early morning of tinkering with the fuel system and taking apart to clean the carburetor, I was able to wake the long slumbering cycle with some fresh gas and a few jumps on the kick starter. When that tiny piston began explosively revolving in the cylinder head, a fire was started in my that has burned my whole life since: fixing and riding motorcycles will always make me happy.
Forward a decade to my first fast bike which, it so happens is the first fast cheap bike, a 1971 honda cb750, Soichiro Honda’s answer to the raucous twins out of England and America's agricultural Harleys. From a performance and design standpoint, all competitors were immediately chasing this elegant machine. With a inline four cylinder/four carburetor engine producing 68 horsepower, a front disc brake and a single overhead camshaft to keep the valves dancing in perfect synchronicity with all four pistons, this 500 pound bike, introduced in 1969 was a decade ahead of all other manufacturers.
As my primary form of transportation for a number of years, my CB almost always ran like a Swiss watch. But a forty year old bike with 30,000 miles will develop a hiccup from time to time. Never a problem to complex for my amatuer handsto sort out though. To this day, it will still wake right up from a mid winter hibernation with very little encouragement.
Forward another decade to the shop of Wasted Spark Motorcycles, where I currently apprentice with one of the finest and most precise restorers of priceless BMW, Norton, Harley and Vincent motorcycles, Richard Barsotti.
While working together a bright January morning massing out every individual part of the bulky, classic V Twin belonging in an ultra rare 1958 xlch Harley Sportster, Richard mentioned to me that he was going to be, in a couple weeks, taking on a complete stripdown and restoration of the motor and transmission of a 1972 Honda cb750. Hot damn! I will be exploring thus personally uncharted territory of the exact same motor I’ve come to adore over the previous decade. I feel as Cousteau must have before a journey into the deep wilds of the ocean, brimming with excitement.
shot entirely with an iPhone 5s
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