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


Randall Wagner’s Indian Warrior and Royal Enfield INT650

wagner-indian 
Reader Randall Wagner aboard his new Indian Warrior some 70 years ago.

The first photo is me, a 15-year-old kid on a shining new Indian Warrior, my first real motorcycle.

wagner-enfield 
Now on a New Royal Enfield.

The second is me, an 85-year-old geezer on a shining new Royal Enfield INT650. During the intervening 70 years I have owned or ridden just about everything from a Hodaka Ace 90 to a Kawasaki Concours 14 across countries and continents for a million or so miles. The Royal Enfield brings me back to where I started, back to what first got me hooked on motorcycling.  A lot has changed during seven decades, but, thankfully, a lot hasn’t.

- Randall A. Wagner/Cheyenne, Wyoming

Randall,

Thank you for sharing your photos with our readers. That picture of you on your old Warrior is a treat. I’m glad to hear you are still riding, and that you’ve found yourself a nice bike in your new Royal Enfield. — Ed.MC

Vince Wesley’s 1973 Honda CB175

 

vince-cb175 
Vince and his CB175 way back in 1976.

 

When my friends were aging out of riding bicycles and into driving their father’s cars, I just had to have a motorcycle. Puberty had set in, and I knew that a rumbling, vibrating bike was the way to impress a girl. Plus to go for a ride, they had to hug you; a surefire way to break the ice!

I’d been hankering for a motorcycle well before I was legally able to ride. That point was driven home when a friend loaned me his NSU Quickly scooter. I thought that I could cajole my dad into letting me buy it, and keep it until I turned 16. Instead, he caught me riding it around our block, and was I surprised when the police arrived to get me off of it. I never found out what happened with my then ex-friend. Sorry, Murray! I had to wait until I was on my own in 1976 when I bought my dream bike: a 1973 red Honda CB175. I had to park it outside my apartment in the rain and the snow. At least when I drove to work at a camera/stereo store, I could park it inside the back storeroom. The owner dropped by one day, and he thought that a tank full of gasoline and cardboard boxes full of  Sony Trinitron TVs didn’t mix. So he told me I had to park it outside. That’s me in the stockroom, looking incredibly cool.

When I moved 1,400 miles to be near my dad, who was by then ill, I brought along my new wife (thanks to those hugs while riding on the Honda!). But alas, I sold my bike. Every subsequent spring, I got the fever for a motorcycle, but family and other obligations always intervened. A few years ago, I gave in to temptation, and now have two bikes, both red. But neither has the chrome fenders and the kickstart that I love so much. One day I  hope to find that bike, and travel in its time machine back to when I was 30 pounds lighter, 43 years younger, and feeling as cool as I thought I looked back then.

Vince Wesley/Vancouver, Canada

Vince,

Thanks for writing. Keep looking for that CB175! — Ed. MC

Paul Dorton’s 1975 Yamaha XS500s

yamaha-xs500
Reader Paul Dorton's new Yamaha XS500 back in 1975.

I enjoyed the column on the bike you wish you never sold. I had one of those too. In 1975 I bought a new Yamaha XS500. It was my first brand-new bike. I rode the bike everywhere for about 5 years before I sold it, and regretted it almost immediately. As with many of us, life happened and family and home took priority. A few years ago I started checking online to see if I could find another one. I knew the bike had never been that popular, so I wasn’t that optimistic about finding one, but it didn’t cost anything to look. Then last December I found two of them, one in Oregon and one in Pennsylvania. I wound up buying the Pennsylvania bike and had it shipped to me in Arizona. I’ve included pictures of both my bikes. The first photo is the bike I bought in 1975.

xs500-now
His recent find, another 1975 XS500, bought in Pennsylvania.

The other is the one I have now. I was even able to find the official Yamaha accessory luggage rack and backrest like I had on my original bike and add it to the “new” one. I’ve gone through my new bike and it runs and rides just like my old one. Not only do I enjoy riding it, I’ve had a blast working on it. Thank you for a great magazine and keep up the great work.

Paul Dorton/Mesa, Arizona

Paul,

What a find, luggage rack and all. Congrats, and thanks for sharing your story! — Ed.MC

Scott Somers John Player Norton and 850 Roadster

super-original 

I bought my first bike, a Honda CL160, at age 15 and a half. This was 49 years ago. I have owned many bikes including two Ducati 750 Sports, a Laverda 750 SF, a Moto Morini 350 and many Japanese bikes, but never a British twin. I had mentioned to my friend Scott Dunlavey that maybe I was looking for one. Scott and I go back 48 years. He is a racing champion (Baja, Pikes Peak and AMA Dirt Track) and an amazingly talented mechanic. Soon after, he calls. “You need to come look at this Norton!” OK when and where? A short test ride and I am an owner of a 1974 Yellow 850 Roadster which has been converted to an S (high pipe) model. I love high pipes.

850-roadster

Fast forward four years. Phone rings, “Hey it is Scott. Check your email, I sent pictures of a bike you need! It’s a two-owner John Player Norton with under 4,900 original miles and every document including the original sales receipt.” How much I ask? ”It doesn’t matter. You can’t buy the miles off of them.” A meeting is arranged. A short 370-mile drive and I am looking at the JPN. When did I know that I had to have it? The minute I looked at the photos and Scott called with the details. So two Nortons now. I am a subscriber and read your magazine cover to cover. Thanks for all of the great info and fine photos. Scott is a Triumph guy so it always amazes me that he keeps finding me Nortons.

Scott Somers/Walnut Creek, California MC

 

A Suzuki X6 Hustler from the Past

x6-hustler 
Cam’s finished Suzuki X6 hustler.

Reading the latest Motorcycle Classics you asked about significant bikes from our past. Here’s a story about my X6 Hustler. 

I was 17 and my mother remarried. My stepfather was a lead hand with Air Canada and we moved to Montreal. I went from a hick in the sticks to Expo ’67 and a whole new world. I bought a 1968 X6 Hustler new for $800. I rode the wheels off of that machine all over the West Island of Montreal. I got a part-time job at a Suzuki dealer and stupidly bought a new T250. It was not a patch on the X6 but a hard lesson learned. 

Fifty-plus years later, I bought two carcasses that were destined for the landfill and poured my heart and soul into the project. This was to be the bike to recreate my wild youth. The frame was media blasted and powder coated along with all of the other black parts. The top end was re-bored with new pistons and rings. Not one single detail was overlooked. When I got the main carcass, the guy had paid for an extremely crappy red paint job. My ’68 was blue and that is what this one was going to be. My paint guy looked at the article on the X6 in Motorcycle Classics and said “IROC blue and my wife’s Lexus’ silver.” Fine by me.

x6-carcasses
The two X6 carcasses packed into a trailer.

When all was ready I switched on the ignition, seeing that familiar green neutral light and kicked it over. I put the choke on and it fired right up. I was 18 again on the lakeshore in Montreal.

I retired shortly after. I looked at the X6 and thought, “I already license and insure two bikes,” (a ’69 Norton, and an ’01 Ducati) and so I sold it. I wish I hadn’t. I contacted the buyer to see if he would sell it back to me, expecting the answer to be “no.” After thinking it over, he decided to let me buy it back. I’m so pleased.

Cam Norris/Battersea, Ontario

Cam,

What a story! To have loved and to have lost two X6’s — good grief. Congrats on the Suzuki’s humble return, and may you ride the wheels off of this one also. — Ed.

Fred Hawley’s Honda CL77s

305-scrambler
Fred and his 305 Scrambler today.

Rider: Fred Hawley, Middletown, New Jersey
Age: 69
Occupation: Electrical engineer
Rides: 1966 Honda CL77, 1978 Honda CB550, 1975 Honda CB750, 1975 Yamaha XS650, 1981 Yamaha 750 Virago and 2006 Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster

I have always had a passion for motorcycles ever since I was a young boy growing up in the Sixties in Stratford, Connecticut. That’s not surprising considering my dad owned several Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I still remember my dad picking me up from grammar school on his Harley — very cool for an 8-year-old boy. On my 16th birthday I was ready for my first motorcycle. Seeing Honda’s ad campaign “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda,” I set my goal on a Honda CL77 Scrambler. My dad insisted I first learn to ride his 1,200cc Harley — not an easy task for a skinny 130-pound boy.

After learning to ride Dad’s Harley, I headed over to my local Honda dealer with $700 cash, earned from my paper route, to buy a new 1966 Honda CL77 Scrambler. At this moment, I knew my life was about to change. Riding my 305cc Scrambler to high school every day, I instantly transformed from a nerdy kid to a cool dude on a 305 Honda. The following year my brother Ray turned 16 years old and purchased a new 1967 Scrambler. This photo shows me and Ray in 1967 on our Scramblers. Ray’s bike is totally stock while mine has new paint, a custom seat and, of course, straight pipes.

Fast forward 50 years, I wondered if any 305 Scramblers existed in running condition. I was surprised to see many for sale, but very few in the Northeast. I did find one in California on eBay advertised as original and in good running condition. I purchased the bike sight unseen for $3,200 plus $600 to ship it from California to my home in New Jersey. After a new set of spark plugs and some fresh gas, she fired up with only a few kicks.

1967-Scramblers
Ray (right) and Fred and their Scramblers in 1967.

Today I ride my Scrambler to local car and motorcycle shows and enjoy guys telling me how much fun they had on their 305 Scramblers. I tell them I rode to high school, college, and basically all over the state of Connecticut. I even met my wife on my Scrambler when she came up to me and asked for a ride, and the rest is history. Today after 50 years of marriage she refuses to get on the back stating she wants to be around for our five grandkids.

I enjoy all my vintage motorcycles, especially my Honda fours. However, I have the fondest memories of my teenage years every time I hop on my little 305 Scrambler to go for a ride around town. I tell my wife I’m taking my “little sweetie” for a ride and she affectionately smiles and says, “Be safe and enjoy.” MC

Summer Road Trip on a Yamaha

Chuck-Proulx 
Bob Kass and Chuck Proulx ready for adventure in May 1971.

Here is a picture of me (on the Yammy) and my good buddy Bob Kass (Captain America) taken in May 1971. In a few weeks we took off on a summer adventure of a lifetime. Leaving our homes in Michigan, we traveled west across Canada, south on the Pacific Coast Highway and finally east on Route 66 towards home, nearly 8,000 miles and more than eight weeks in the saddle. I still ride and enjoy your magazine. I currently have a 1972 Yamaha XS650 and a Ducati Scrambler. Thanks for a great magazine.

Chuck Proulx/via email

Chuck,
What a road trip that must have been. Thanks for sharing the memories! — Ed.







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