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!


Derek said...

Gotta love those classic bikes. Good luck with all the replacements. I still wish I'd held onto my old Kawi 440LTD. It was simple to maintain and never complained much.

Lucky said...

Agreed. I'm glad to see that more people are finally going back to the UJM - the motorcycling world's equivalent to a Swiss army knife. After two decades of what seemed to be very specific use bikes, we're now starting to see more and more do-it-all bikes on the market. Kawi's got the Versys, there's the Suzuki Gladius and Honda's CBF1000. All have good power, comfortable ergos, and are great for either carving the twisties or long-distance touring.

If they could just bring back the shafties from the early eighties!


Doug K. said...


Congrats on the new bike. Sometimes a step back in motorcycle technology is a good way to go. Having the biggest, best, and newest is great but sometimes not the right answer for best riding pleasure (geeze, that sounds like slogan for a condom ad). I miss my Gold Wing but I've noticed that my left knee and left wrist feel much better for not having to haul 850lbs off of the sidestand all the time.

Clean up the Yammie, get out and ride!



Lucky said...

Thanks Doug. Since the weatherman is predicting rain for the next week, I've started cleanin' and fixin'. Turns out the exhaust collector can easily be fixed with a few pieces of steel plate welded into place. I've also taken off all the painted bits and started prepping them for a new coat.


irondad said...

I read somewhere that if you marry and ugly woman you'll be happy for life. I guess it has something to do with function over form.

I'm contemplating picking up something like that. Today I looked at a Honda CBX. Too wide, though! The proverb says ugly, not fat.

Giest said...

Wow...that's quite a change. I drop out of the blog loop for a bit and everything goes all strange on me! ;)

Unlike Derek, I still have my Kawi 440LTD, but it needs a whole lot of TLC. Congrats on the "new" classic, Lucky. Here's hoping it's a much more comfortable ride.

Anonymous said...

I loved your article. it had great information. I think you and your readers might be interested in another article i found, about motorcycles and dry eyes.


irondad said...

Everything ok with you?

Lucky said...

Yeah, still here. Truth be told, I'm lazy! So many projects and so (very) little time, I haven't been a very good blogger. Freezing temps and snow all around right now, so motorcycling isn't exactly a big priority... but come spring, I hope to get out of hibernation!