Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My New (Old) Bike

After five great years and many miles together, I’ve bid adieu to my dear V-Strom. Although somewhat bittersweet, the big beast had become a little too much to handle given my recent back problems. No worries though, I replaced the technologically advanced, fuel-injected Suzuki with something so much better: a 1982 Yamaha XJ650RJC! Air cooled and carburetted, but at least it’s got TCI (no points – yeah!) and a lovely low-maintenance shaft-drive.

So how does it ride? Pretty darn nice! Feels much more nimble than the V-Strom ever was, but I’m sure that has to do with the lower weight and much lower CG. Quicker turn-in makes this bike way more flickable. Surprisingly, there was very little work to do on it to get it roadworthy. Fresh oil & filter, fresh shaft oil, new air filter & plugs, cleaned and synced the carbs. That’s it! I still can’t believe that a bike that rolled off the assembly line 27 years ago and hasn’t been taken very good care of (previous owner left it outside most of the year) still runs so well. Starts and settles into a steady idle every time without even fiddling with the choke.

There are, however, some issues that I’ll be trying to get sorted out in time. There’s a leak in the exhaust collector (i.e. the 4-into-1-into-2 thingamajig) due to it being quite rusty – but then again it also doubles as a bash plate so this can be expected. I’ve been told it’s easy enough to fabricate a replacement, but for now maybe some strategically placed gobs of JB Weld will do the trick. There are also a few nicks and dings in the mufflers (both left and right). There’s still some NOS OEM replacements floating around eBay, but with the price people are asking you’d think they’re made of gold. I’ve read of a few owners retrofitting HD Sportster mufflers onto their XJ’s with no rejetting required. Since many (most?) Sportster owners seem to go for aftermarket pipes, there’s a whole lot of slightly used OEM ones available for cheap.

I’ll also be looking into getting a fresh paint job, as the original red has faded to the point where the rear fender seems more like a metallic pink. Not my preferred colour. I’m thinking a light beige/cream colour with dark brown pinstripes. Similar to Ducati’s GT1000. Also want to get the seat reupholstered, as the original vinyl is torn in a few spots.

Functionally, it’s good, but I’ll be looking to replace the brake lines with braided stainless-steel ones, and get some better gripping brake pads. As a precaution, I’ll probably change the clutch/throttle cables too, and all the fuel lines.

For now though, I’m just happy to ride!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


I sold the V-Strom. I decided that it was just too darn tall and top heavy for me to comfortably handle given my current health issues, so I listed the bike on Kijiji and a few days later I got a bite. He came to pick it up last night.

Although there was some melancholy when loading the bike onto his trailer, it was all good. Oh, and by the way, I made sure that he paid me first, as I've always sworn that never any bike that I own would see the bed of a trailer or truck as long as it was running... but since he'd already forked over the cash, it was no longer my bike.

So I'm wondering what to buy now? One thing's for sure, I'll be staying away from taller bikes like sport-tourers or dual-sports until I can get these back problems sorted out. I'm thinking of getting something a little more classic, like an early eighties UJM. The seat height would definitely be lower than the 33.5" Corbin on the V-Strom. I've always liked the older CB750's, or maybe a nice KZ1000. Actually, I've seen an ad in the paper for an '82 Yamaha XJ650 Seca with less than 30,000kms. Maybe I'll check that out tonight.