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From the Owner
The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle


Peter Tremulis' 1975 Yamaha DT250

1975-yamaha-DT250 

EBay find

I saw this bike (a 1975 Yamaha DT250) on Barn Finds and then won the bid on eBay. I have been having fun replacing worn parts while keeping the original paint and low miles intact. YouTube, eBay and others have been a great source of parts. I rebuilt the carb, put in new lights, even in the speedo and tach, fixed some small shorts in various old wires and had a Yamalube oil pump rebuilt by the best in the business. I also picked up an original shop manual and owners' manual to add to my knowledge about this amazing machine. I also picked up a Nexx helmet to add to the riding pleasure. This bike was confined to an RV park by its original owner for most of its life. I purchased it from a dealer in Arizona through eBay that handled the sale for the RV park owner who was ready to sell it. It's a time capsule with patina from its life putting around the RV park. Please share it with your readers. I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can stretch it out once again.

Peter Tremulis/Deerfield, Illinois

Steve Sullivan's 1975 Triumph Trident

 1975-triumph-trident-before

Before and after

I thoroughly enjoy your magazine and thought I would show you my winter project. I purchased this 1975 Triumph Trident as a basket case a few years ago and finally put the finishing touches on it. This was the unobtainable Superbike to me in high school. I could have built two motorcycles from all the parts it came with. After hours of cleaning, sorting, replacing rotten rubber parts and polishing aluminum, I got the bike running this summer. I de-chromed several parts and had them painted in their original color and had the tank properly done with period-correct paint found by a vendor in your magazine.

1975-triumph-trident-finished-build

It is a pleasure to ride around, and I’m amazed at all the comments and thumbs-up I receive. Enclosed are two pictures. I’m pretty sure you can tell which one is the before and which one is the after.

Steve Sullivan/Weldon Spring, Missouri

Pat Halstead’s 1983 Yamaha XJ900 Seca

 yamaha-1983-xj900-seca-motorcycle

Gone, but not lost

Of the more than 40 bikes I’ve owned there were several you could not give me today, even for display. But, yeah, one fondly remembers certain past bikes and would welcome them back if the reality weren’t that those have now most probably been recycled into patio furniture or Keurigs. My first Honda, a 1961 CA95 Benly, purchased in 1961, is such a nostalgia magnet. I’d had two bigger bikes (250 BSA, 500 AJS) but the Benly was as red as a valentine and just as welcome, making work trips of 50 miles each way twice every week that summer to and from the Olympic Peninsula. Much later, another fire engine red bike — this a 1978 Yamaha XS750E — proved pride-worthy in every way. I hesitate to mention two 1978 Kawasaki Z1-Rs owned in later years because they were resold reflecting their rather UJM ordinariness, except for styling that has caused the price to soar in recent years. OK, the bike I’d welcome back but don’t regret not having is another red roadster, Yamaha’s 1983 XJ900 Seca. I say “no regrets” because I donated it to the Barber Motorsports Museum one year ago. Not many were sold here (maybe a thousand?) and the machine was both well equipped for its year and still light and comfortable. With luck, Barber will choose to find a spot to display it and I will return there to see it yet again. 

Pat Halstead/via email

Dave Kaufman's Norton Commando Fastback Memories

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Too hot to handle

I am responding to the short article on Page 6 of the January/February 2020 issue of Motorcycle Classics about the Norton Fastback: “Another Fastback.” I had my own “flame-on” experience with my Fastback, similar to the author of the article. As a 17-year-old in 1975 I had built a Fastback from a basket case. I had ridden it to a spray-and-wash to clean it. After soaking it down, I popped off the points cover (mounted under the carbs) to dry out the points. I left the cover loose and took off. Sometime later a float bowl screw vibrated loose resulting in gas dripping onto the points. A buddy and I were on the bike when flames shot up from below. He jumped off and I ditched the bike only to watch it go up in total flames.

After the fire department put it out, I found that the fire had melted the carbs into a puddle on the asphalt. I scraped them up and kept them for several years. I finally put them in a shadow box (see photo) as a memento. You can see the slide springs, mounting studs and main jets in the picture.

I thought I was the only one, but after reading your article, I feel a bit of vindication …

Dave Kaufman, aka AJS Dave/Georgia

Mark Johnson's Honda CL90 and Yamaha TW200

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Wow, your September/October issue featuring the 1966 650 Triumph and the Honda CL90 sure brought back so many good memories for me. When I was 12 years old I owned a little CL90. My family would go camping in the national forest in Washington, Idaho and Montana. We geared down the CL90 with a big sprocket on the rear wheel, which gave the bike more torque at lower speeds. Top speed was about 30 miles per hour, but the bike could climb steeper hills. When I was 18 years old I bought a used 1966 650 Triumph and used it as a street bike for about 20 years. Today I ride a Yamaha TW200 trail bike (see photo). Keep up the good work in bringing back so many good memories for your readers.

Mark Johnson/via email

1979 Harley-Davidson FEXF Shovelhead

 1979-Harley-Davidson-FEXF

Speaking bikes

I read the column about bikes that speak to you and I do have one of those bikes: My buddy’s 1984 Harley-Davidson FLH Shovelhead did this to me. I’ve watched him rebuild it starting in about 2000, and go through several iterations, and had many chances to ride it. It made me absolutely want a Shovelhead, mainly, for how they sound. As far as I’m concerned, these were the pinnacle of Harley-Davidson engines, and motorcycles. Fast forward to 2018, I finally have my own Shovelhead, a 1979 FEXF. I also have a 1974 Triumph Trident and a 1969 Triumph Trophy TR25W. Thanks for the magazine. I enjoy it.

Will/via email

Steven Herberg's Norton Commando Fastback

Norton-commando-fastback-on-trailer 
Steven Herberg's recent acquisition, a Norton Commando Fastback.

Another Fastback

When I graduated from high school in 1971, I got a summer job at a furniture factory in neighboring Winooski, Vermont. Just down the road lived a British racing green 1968 Norton Commando Fastback. With the factory windows always open, I could hear whenever that glorious machine was approaching, and I would drop what I was doing to watch it pass by. When I noted a "For Sale" sign on the bike while headed home one day, I had worked long enough to stash the necessary cash — so I bought it that day.

I got a couple of months of riding in before turning the bike over to a mechanic for a tuneup. A mutual acquaintance attempted to steal the bike from the mechanic’s shop, and exposed wires around the ignition remained when I got the bike back. To celebrate its return, I took a wonderful ride from Burlington to Stowe, through Smugglers’ Notch and returned the back way on Route 15. I parked the bike wearing a huge satisfied smile — as an errant drop of gas dripped from the air filter-less carburetors onto the bared ignition wires and POOF — we are now dealing with an 8-foot fireball threatening to ignite the house! In my panic I quickly learned that a cereal bowl full of water was no match for the inferno, and in a few moments absolutely nothing salvageable remained.

Marriage and too many (20+) bikeless years followed before Harley turned 100 and I turned 50, demanding the purchase of my first new H-D. More recently I’ve teamed up with a group of guys doing a weekly wrench night on vintage (primarily British) bikes. After selling the 1976 Trident that we had revived, it was time for a new project.

Last year one of the members showed up with pictures of a Fastback exactly like the one I had lost, for sale a few miles down Route 7. My fate was sealed — I had to have it, and I bought it within a few days. Everything needed adjustment and all of the fluids were changed. I have about 100 wonderful miles on it so far, and it feels like I’m 18 again. Tonight the new front brakes get their final adjustment as we watch the fall weather moving in.

Steven Herberg/Richmond, Vermont

Steven,

First, congrats on your new ride. Having had a Fastback all those years ago, you knew exactly what you were in for this time, but we are glad to hear it’s just a good as you remembered. Enjoy it, and thanks for reading Motorcycle Classics! — Ed.







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