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


Teddy Horn’s 1970 Yamaha XS650

1970-Yamaha-XS650-Teddy-Horn 

More speaking bikes

After decades of riding, racing and loving bikes, I rode my friend’s 1975 Yamaha XS650 one day. I pulled out of the driveway, up the hill grabbing gears and twisting the throttle, when it struck me. I’ve got to get one! I looked and looked for an early ’70s model, because the early ’80s XS’s, though plentiful, and even though basically the same with a torquey engine, can be rather boring in style with cast wheels, smaller preset carbs, etc. Then I found a 1970 first-year green XS650 in Wisconsin. It was big money and a long drive, but it has low miles, a clean title, the original tires, manuals and it is just cool as hell. I love it, and it turns heads wherever I go, but mostly it is just a joy to ride.

Teddy Horn/Fort Myers Beach, Florida

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

Randall Wagner’s Indian Warrior and Royal Enfield INT650

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

wagner-enfield 
Now on a New Royal Enfield.

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

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

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

 







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