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The way I wuz

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' at netrider.net.au started by hornet, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. Please don't think this is just about me; feel free to post your own stories, but these are some pictures and a bit of commentary about my first bikes (in fact, bar one, ALL my bikes) going back to 1974.

    1974, Yamaha RD-250, bronze

    Just peeping into the edge of the picture, which mainly features my much-loved Peugeot 404 and equally loved dog, is the brand new Yamaha RD-250 which I bought in August 1974, with a helmet and wet-weather gear, AND registration, for the lordly sum of $749.00


    It didn't take long to start fiddling, and in REVS (remember REVS??) I spotted an advertisment by a bloke called Lew Robson, who lived in Taren Point, for a cafe-racer kit for the RD. It comprised of a shell over the tank and a replacement seat, a bikini fairing and a glass front guard. We went down to Sydney to check the stuff out. He was a boat builder by trade, but the workmanship of the stuff was incredible, so I shelled out $180 and bought the kit, in orange......



    So I ditched the heavy steel front guard for a tiny sliver of fibreglass, the heavy dual seat for a pathetic patch of foam just for me (I quickly changed it to high density foam, mmm comfort), and the heavy footpeg bar and pegs for the delights of the passenger pegs and a set of rear-sets attached.


  2. I don't remember who I bought the rear-sets from, or how much I paid, but I DO remember that the gear-shift side was OK, but the brake side was useless.

    The 'pedal' section, in lovely chrome, ran over the top of the footpeg, and long before the brake was working, the pedal was hard against the peg. So, being a bit of a fiddler, and living in a country town where farmers and such can make anything out of anything, I sawed it off and made my own pedal, pivoting in the same place, but travelling UNDER the footpeg, not above it. I also made the 'pad' adjustable in a vertical plane, so it was sitting at the right angle with my ankle. (see above for closer detail)


    But, of course, a 250 doesn't have to STAY a 250, and in a performace tweak that only two-strokers can carry off, I also eventually replaced the 250 pistons, barrels and heads, with 350 pistons, barrels and heads! My lighter, but still rather tame 250, went up almost half its capacity again. And the first time I rode it, I scared myself silly; the acceleration was fabulous, but virtually uncontrolable. So I changed the gearing, going from 15/40 to 16/36!!! So when I added the expansion chambers as well(!!) I had gearing to ensure no ground-loops occurred, and a silky carpet of torque in the middle range; (and a fabulous howl at 8,500 revs!!)

    A young friend of mine from Sydney lusted terribly after this bike, and despite the fact that older, wiser part of my brain said that he would probably kill himself on it (which, sadly, he did), I was hankering for something new, and sold it after more than three happy years of terrorising all and sundry in the Ten Mile on the Putty Road, and over 60,000kms, during which time it broke down only once. Four Stroke motorcycling beckoned, but it had to be of the Three Tuning Forks variety. Enter the 1978 Yamaha XS-650D, of all the bikes I've had, the one I miss the most, and loved the most.


    30 years ago, a young, hairy Hornet, and a caftan-clad Mrs Hornet, pore over the new addition :LOL:

    I made very few changes to this bike in the couple of years I owned it. The rack and top-box were necessary as my side-line business of racing photography necessitated a safe and lockable means of transporting cameras and such (although in retrospect, it's a miracle they survived the vertical-twin's fierce high-frequency vibrations). I did, however, thanks to information from the USA Yamaha 650 Owner's Association (they still exist today, and I STILL have the T-shirt, yellow, of course) fit a quarter-inch thick fork brace under the front mudguard, and had arguably the best-handling stock XS-650 in the country by that simple means.


    Bike by Yamaha
    Leathers by Stagg
    Helmet by Shoei
    Scarf by Mrs Hornet
    Cheezy, gormless grin by your's truly.

    By the time I sold this machine, after a crash on the way to work, (bent front forks, no injury to me; they made bikes tough in those days) the rack comprised more weld than the original metal, and I'd done around 40,000kms on it. I'd ridden from Denman to Albury and back a couple of times, to Amaroo and Oran Park more times than I could number, and all around the Hunter Valley. It never broke down once, handled fearsome summer heat and over 400 miles of torrential rain on one trip, and never once failed to deliver me to my destination. I should have fixed it and kept it :(.

    Four cylinders were all the rage in the late seventies, and who was I to resist the inevitable. After several years of tingling vibration, the urge to have a smooth four, and a more sporty bike turned my attention away from the Yamaha to Kawasaki.

    I rhapodised about my new Z-500, IN RED, in Two Wheels Magazine. This article was eventually published AFTER I had crashed the evil beast and put myself in hospital for observation of possible broken ribs!!


    It seems that it didn't like the new, you-beaut Pirelli Phantom tyres I had fitted. My confidence in it was destroyed. I sold it back to the dealer, who promptly re-fitted the original Jap rubber and sold it on to a famer in Singelton, who rode it for years with nary a sign of the massive tank-slapper that had brought me down :evil: If only I had known. Still it was the opportunity to get another bike.

    By now Mrs Hornet's a new mum, and Hornet's Army pay is all we are getting in; new is out of the question. But a four is still the goal. Why not go Honda, since twin brother has had a succession of them already??

    I honestly don't even know WHERE I bought this bike :shock:, or what I paid for it, but a Honda 750F1 ended up in my garage.


    I couldn't quite put my finger on what was unusual about this bike, until one day someone pointed out to me that the previous owner had grafted a Gold-Wing front end onto it, complete with a Boranni alloy rim, 38mm forks and double front discs. And did it handle!!! The extra lights I added.

    Alas, the engine was a bit past its best, and with the declining financial fortunes of the Hornet household, due to one thing and another, I ended up selling the bike, in 1980, to a guy in Canberra (where I was then living). He no doubt did the engine up and sold it on for a huge profit, and I always wondered if the new owner noticed the different forks either :).

    For a brief period whil I was pastoring the little church in Wesburn in the Yarra valley, I amused my parishioners by racing round on a Kawasaki KH-250 triple two-stroke (and twice rode it to Canberra and back) but I never took any pictures of it, and soon sold it and went into a 20 year motorcycling retirement, until brother nagged me into buying the Hornet in March 2005. Most of the rest from there, you know.

    So, let's see some pictures of your FIRST bikes, and tell us all about them, OK???
  3. :LOL: @ Peugeot 404 ... they were a good reliable car back then ( prob still are )
    Great read Paul .. must be nice to go back like that.
    Unfortunately, my motorcycle history does not go back very far.
    My first road registered bike was my SL230 last year :LOL:
    I'm sure I have some pics of the YZ80B I had back in 1976 :p
  4. Good stuff Paul, and for all of the younguns out there- thats how tacky our front numberplates looked. :mad: I still have my first full set of Stagg leathers put away somewhere . Nasty. :shock:
  5. I have a great Stag jacket my cool Aunty gave me - why the shudder re Stag?
  6. I still have those leathers

    I don't fit them any more :( :LOL:.
  7. I shudder cause my suit is electric blue with red and white stripes all down the side. eeekkk. :LOL:
  8. So why where you a wealthy bugger back then, with 2 European cars?