Let me just put this out there from the start. You’re probably not going to like it but you need to hear it.
Adding expensive bling isn’t “Working on your Bike” it’s bolting on something worthless….just stop.
I know, I know, what else can we do right now during the pandemic. Let me give you an idea, O.K? Something actually worth doing.
Build a custom or do a restoration. PLEASE! I can’t stand another Facebook post about polishing your brake calipers so they are easier to clean. That doesn’t make you a better rider. You aren’t safer, and certainly not faster.
Build something. You might learn a little bit, it will be productive, and in the end, it will probably cost about the same as adding a dozen anodized bits, or upgrading your already perfectly working slipper clutch, brake reservoir, and coolant hoses.
For around $1000 you can get started with a Japanese bike from the 70s. A thumper or twin, that might even still run. If you look hard, you can get something that is complete but doesn’t run for less, maybe even free depending on it’s state of disrepair. At least here in the U.S.
What you don’t have the tools? Then buy them, there aren’t many special tools needed for 70s and 80s Japanese bikes anyway.
Where can you find the parts? Lots of places, because Japanese manufacturers used the same parts across models, and some have “reborn” those models recently, even finding new parts is easy, and there are 40 years of used parts out there all over the place.
No room? Bullshit. If a guy can do it in his studio apartment you can do it in your shed, or find a corner of the garage or basement.
Don’t have a clue what to do? Good. You’ll learn as you go, the best method for gaining knowledge in the world. There is a forum for everything and specialty shops that are willing to offer free (and good) advice to customers. Not only is this a poor excuse, it’s the reason you should be doing it in the first place!
Imagine how much better you’ll get at actually working on your pride and joy after, with the confidence of a complete restoration under your belt.
I have a little bit of experience actually working on bikes. I club raced a 1992 TZ250 for a few years, and did my own top ends. I tackled actual upgrades to my WR 426 Supermoto, rebuild the forks on my SXV450, and have worked as a bicycle mechanic. I retrofitted newer electronics on my RSV4, added a blipper, and swapped out a few other true performance parts like suspension and wheels.
But a frame up restoration is something different altogether. So, here goes.
I’ve always wanted a TT500 ever since first stepping into Al Russell’s Yamaha in 1978. As I’ve written in this blog my Dad and I walked out with an MX100 and an MX175 and it all started. I still had an affinity for the TT though and last week I found a 1970s TT/XT/SR for sale somewhat locally, so I pulled the trigger.
A week in it looks like this, and I’m struggling to wrap my head around all of the work I have left to do.
I’ve been grinding and filing the frame for days already. Polishing aluminum is tedious as hell. I have parts everywhere and on order from a dozen places. I still have no idea on paint/powdercoating and controls/electrical. But I’ll get there I’m sure. And if I don’t I’ve learned a lot along the way and can always just sell what I have for about what I’ve spent. If I do end up with a nice custom I can keep it, or sell it for a small profit.
So that’s it. Just stop spending your money, and more importantly your time, on shit that anyone can buy and bolt on that offers no real performance or increase in safety.
Just because we are bored, doesn’t mean we have to be stupid. Make something yourself, and think about it as an investment in YOU.
-Go Ride (or build)