There are three kinds of men in this world: those, who had a motorcycle, those who have one, and those, who will have one...
My first bike: 125 cc Danuvia, in Budapest
1965 Pannonia 250cc, my second bike
My third bike was the 1998 Kawasaki Vulcan 750,V twin, water cooled, shaft drive, aluminum alloy wheels, classic cruiser. I put 9000 miles on it in one year, by commuting to work on Thursdays and Fridays, when the traffic was heaviest, splitting the lanes.There was only one problem:the back seat was too small, not comfortable for her. So I traded it in for my Big Mean Green Dream Machine, the Kawasaki Voyager XII touring bike ayear later. It's a four cylinder 1200cc water cooled, shaft drive touring bike with mag wheels. Unfortunately they don't make common sense bikes like that anymore. I put 59,000 miles on it so far, and the fun goes on.
We took Route 126 through the Santa Clara Valley. There are orange and lemon groves along the way as well as vegetable gardens and fields that offer their produce for local consumption.
From Ventura we took the 101 freeway north along the ocean shore.The Channel Islands, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa were visible in the haze.Midway between Ventura and Santa Barbara we turned right on route 150 towards Lake Casitas.It was a long winding road and we were ready to stop at the lake to take in the view.
After about seventeen years my Kawasaki Voyager XII developed an idle and open throttle problem so I couldn't ride it. It would start with full choke but stall when the choke is off and with open throttle. I needed a bike until I solved the problem.
I went to Bert's Giant motorcycle store and found the Triumph America LT. It's an almost perfect choice for me; it has the traditional good looks, has an in-line 900 cc twin, fuel injected oil/air cooled engine, mag wheels and chain drive. It also has a windshield and saddle bags and it was on sale for $6400. I fell in love with it and brought it home the next day on June 6th 2017.
Repair of the Voyager
I knew the engine wasn't getting enough fuel, so I needed to look at the fuel pump and filter. I had to remove the rear frame, trunk, saddle bags, shock absorbers to remove the tank to get to the pump and filter. I also removed the air duct to have access to the carburetors. The pump was working fine but the fuel filter was badly discolored so I replaced it per service manual. I got a can of carburetor cleaner and sprayed the whole content into the carburetors while the engine was running first without the ignition on and then with the engine actually running. I was surprised how quickly the engine started and ran smoothly after I adjusted the idle speed adjuster and reacted to the throttle with no problem.
I can't wait for good weather e.i. cool temperatures so I can put the bike together and hop on it.
How often are you wondering about these things? In my youth I often pondered these ideas and had some vague notions. I wasn't happy because I was frustrated by the state I was born into and struggled to improve my situation since I didn't want to be the victim of the circumstances. One thing I cared about was to get a bike so I could avoid the crowds on street cars, buses and to have more freedom of movement. You see, in Hungary motorcycles weren't only just a hobby, it was transportation so you could save time and shrink distance. So my first bike was an old junk I bought second hand, a Hungarian made 125 cc two stroke scooter which broke down usually at night so I stopped under a lamp post and tried to fix it. A friend of mine made fun of me at work and it hurt. He had a brand new Czech made Tatran that never broke down. He could pass me any time. I worked on the bike a lot, it was jumping out of gears but I took it apart, replaced the worn gears and became a reliable transport. Eventually on account of an accident in which my bike was totaled I could replace it with a larger bike, with a 250 cc engine, now I could pass him any time...But when I was looking at an East German bike (MZ) at a motorcycle dealer from a shop window, my heart was bleeding; I could never have a bike like that! It turned out that I had to leave the country, because I had no future there. It wasn't until twenty eight years later when I had a chance to get a bike here in California when the traffic on 405 became so bad that it took me 2-3 hrs to get home from work. I was watching bikers whizzing by splitting lanes when I decided to get a bike.To make a long story short I ended up with my big mean green dream machine, a Kawasaki Voyager XII, a touring bike that I used for work for nine years, splitting lanes on Thursdays and Fridays when the traffic was heaviest. I put 58 K miles on it. After I retired I didn't use the bike that much so the carburetor got sick. I still needed a bike to make short errands to the bank, hardware/electronic stores etc.or just for fun. So I got the last common sense retro bike with modern features for a low price, the Triumph America LT. Even the name was appealing. I feel lucky that I found that bike because the bike makers went berserk and make all kinds of stupid crotch rockets, bikes with giant V twins, ugly as hell. Triumph discontinued making the LT so old timers who like the traditional (sensible) bikes are left out. There are three kinds of men in this world, those who have a bike, those who had a bike and those who will have one.
Many guys go out and buy a bike without really thinking it over or researching and when they find that they don't really like it they buy another one, making the same mistakes. They end up having or sold several or many bikes during their love affairs with bikes in their lifetimes. Now, there is nothing wrong having several motorcycles, just like having several wives, shoes, suits, etc. for a particular occasion. You may want a touring bike, a cruiser or a sports bike. But you don't buy 'em just for the sake of having several bikes. You have to justify them so they give you pleasure for a long time. And this is where happiness comes in. When you have a well made, aesthetically designed machine it pleases you, makes you happy. It's a rare occasion when a manufacturer maker makes a perfect bike, but tastes change and this same bike is not a "success" because of that therefore the maker drops them from production. I wouldn't buy something because it's a fad; BMW makes good bikes but they also tend to follow the (bad) taste of the masses and make motorcycles that look like they came from another world, the worst contraptions that makes no common sense, not to mention the outrageous prices. Motorcycles in this country are a hobby. People pay any price to get what they want, no matter how ridiculous it is.
I am happy with the America LT and the Voyager XII they are keepers. Here is where perfection comes in; when I see something perfect ( I am a perfectionist) at a reasonable price I get into a peculiar frame of mind and try to justify having it. I discovered recently that BMW made such a machine, the R nine T Pure! Not only is it a marvel of engineering, it is offered at a reasonable low price! I found out about it over a month ago watching a YouTube video about the 10 best retro bikes under $10K! This was my chance; I remembered the bitter memories of my youth when I couldn't afford something that would've made me happy. I decided to get it and feverishly contacted the local BMW dealer who advertised one but with the wrong color and equipment. It had an orange/gold tank and wired wheels. The color is absurd, also the spokes which require inner tubes, an obsolescence in itself. I wanted a black/white tank and black aluminum wheels. The salesman told me don't worry one is ordered and should be here within a month and a half and he would call me. Then I watched a video about the BMW factory in Berlin and found out that they make three hundred bikes a day! I became suspicious and called him 3 weeks later and he said that the bike is still in production. He lied; he knew I wasn't going to buy their bike so he pulled my leg. I searched some more and found that a dealer in San Jose in California had the bike I wanted.
And here is where freedom comes into the picture, a freedom of choice. I told the local dealer that he was a liar and to piss up the rope. I contacted the dealer in San Jose, made a deposit to hold it for me until i get there a week later. I had a cold so I had to beat it before I could fly up there. That day was last Friday morning, a one hour fight to San Jose for only $120, a motel room full of cockroaches for one night for $80 and the next day I could ride my new perfect machine home, a mere 375 miles.
The dealership was very nice to me, they picked me up at the airport, previously they installed a windshield for me I requested and completed the paperwork the same day. Yesterday morning I got on the miracle machine and nobody could've stick a pin in my rear. ( A Hungarian saying when somebody is happy) I did 170 miles on the scenic route on 101 Saturday, down to Paso Robles, took a nice room there at Holiday Inn and finished the trip today another 200 miles (Sunday) by 4 pm.
So I joined the club of real men who make things happen and have a BMW motorcycle. Would you join us?
Recently added crash bars to protect my investment. The stainless steel engine guards add a finishing touch to the bike.
Two score and nine years ago I had the pleasure of riding a red 250 Jawa in Budapest by chance, when a friend offered to lend it to me in exchange for my Pannonia. He was a beginner rider and didn't want to ruin his new bike until he completed his training and got his license. Jawa was a Czechoslovakian beauty with one of a kind clutch that allowed shifting without manually using it. The gear shift lever automatically disengaged the engine from the gears when activated. It was an ingenuous engineering design at the time. It made fast shifting possible and I took the advantage of it when I was passing street cars full of people. They looked at me enviously as I whizzed by. Regrettably it lasted for only a month when I had to return the bike.
I never forgot those moments and was nostalgic about standard street bikes of the past. I thought that I would never have such a beautiful naked, "retro" bike. Until now.
I "discovered" the Honda CB 1100 on YouTube a few weeks ago and couldn't believe that it's no longer available in the US. Honda stopped exporting it to the US in 2017 on account of "no interest". Surprising, since this traditional, "retro" bike is one of the most beautiful street motorcycles of all time. Not only that but since about 2013 Honda updated this line of motorcycles with modern features like computerized fuel injection and control, ABS, mag wheels, tubeless tires and other options. I was always on the lookout for such a bike since I am an "old timer" but couldn't find the perfect one until now. I almost gave up on having this beauty when I made a last ditch effort and searched the web. I found it at San Diego Motorcycle Exchange last week. I didn't want to believe my eyes; a 2013 brand new Honda CB 1100! I drove to San Diego on next Monday, Presidents Day (when all motorcycle stores are closed), I looked at it and as a pleasant surprise there was a nice wind shield that came with it. I think I made a good deal that included shipping the bike to my home. On Wednesday afternoon around 1pm the bike arrived on the trailer in front of our house! I leapt on my new miracle machine and it was not disappointing. I have three other bikes, but none of them shift gears so smoothly as the Honda CB1100. It's also very quiet, very responsive and quick. Rides like a butterfly, sounds like a bumble bee!
Thus, what I thought was an impossibility, became a reality; a miracle happened!