Sunday, October 18, 2009

1972 Suzuki TS-250: Last Look

The 250 is almost done, and about to be delivered to its owner.

Metal has been polished, and in some cased, chromed

The hubs never looked that good coming out of the Suzuki factory!

Sand blasting, powder coating, painting, polishing...

If you have a treasured bike, Barry can make yours look better than new, too. Figure on budgeting about $2,000 to bring a bike to this state.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

1972 TS 250 update

The last time we looked in on this bike the restoration was well under way, and it was waiting for some replacement parts and some that had been sent out for polishing, coating, and plating. Take a look at the engine in the photo below- no Suzuki ever came out of the factory looking like that!

Check the closeup on the cylinder head, too:

And the new guard for the headlamp. You can also see the paintjob on the new front fender.

Not an inexpensive project, but well worth the money, I think. A rare bike in better than factory new condition.

Suzuki GT250 Update (3)

The last time we looked in on this project bike, it had been cleaned up and was running, but still had some electrical issues. Since then there's been a change of plans, and Barry and Mark have decided to turn it into a custom cafe racer. Keep watching this blog for details.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

JAWA Moped

This Jawa moped showed up the other day with the request that Barry "get it running." Can do. although it is tempting to do a full restoration on a moped in such overall good condition.

Like many moped of the era, the Jawa uses a dual chain drive system- one for the pedals and one for the engine, making it a true moped, and making it easier to push start as well.

JAWA mopeds were not actually made by JAWA, but by Povazske Strojarne (PS) who sold them as Babettas. Through a marketing arrangement they were sold as JAWAs ouside of Czechoslovakia.

The 1993 division of Czechoslovakia into Slovakia and the Czech Republic put PS, its moped-making division, and Molotov, the distributor, into separate countries, and the complications from this put an end to Babetta (and thus JAWA) moped manufacture.

You can read more about JAWA moped history at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

1975 Suzuki TS-250

It's been two months since our last post here, as Barry's been pretty busy with a new job, but this bike should make the wait worthwhile. It's a 1974 Suzuki TS-250, one of the first really competitive enduro bikes to come out of Japan and challenge the dominance of the Spanish bikes from Bultaco, Montesa and KTM. It may not have the suspension travel and power of the latest bikes, but it's still a great ride, with an advertised 23HP at 6500RPM and a weight of just 245 pounds.

This particular bike has what looks like the original trial-type tires showing very little wear, and just 2320 miles on the clock:

It needs a chain, some rust cleanup, the usual carb cleaning and rebuild, and possibly some electrical work, but it should be a head turner when it's complete.

Here's a brochure from that era with more specifics:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

1974 Kawasaki S1

Kawasaki caused a big stir when they released the three cylinder, 500cc H1 in 1969; they followed this up two years later with the 350cc S2, and today's featured bike, the 250cc S1.

The S1 was the smallest commercial triple ever made. While it gave owners of smaller bikes the opportunity to own a three cylinder motorcycle, there's just not all that much advantage in building a 250cc triple, especially when balanced against the increased width of the motor, the increased weight, and the increased number of parts.

The S1 and S2 were only made for a few years, which makes them a bit more rare than other bikes of that era- and in turn, much more collectible. There are a number of collectors out there who specialize in Kawasaki triples, form the S1 up to the 750cc H2. This particular bike belongs to a friend of Barry's, and is undergoing a complete carb rebuild as well as some cosmetic work.

Monday, June 29, 2009

1977 Kawasake KE100

This bike is from the KE100's second year of production- the KE100 continued in production through 2001, which makes it one of very few motorcycles in continuous production for a quarter century without much change It's a peppy little bike, with a rotary-valve 2 stroke engine that produces a claimed 11HP at 7,500 RPM- not bad for 100cc. With the 5-speed transmission this bike has no trouble getting up to speed quickly. It would be a great first off-road bike for a lighter rider. And did I mention it's really pretty?

This particular bike has only 1700 miles on it. The first owner flipped it, and that scared him off off-road riding, so it's been sitting idle for a while. Barry bought it to fix up and sell, but he's been growing rather attached to it... so it just might stay a while longer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1970 Yamaha R5 350cc

The R5 was a piston-ported, 350cc bike that was the predecessor to the RD350. Even without the RD-series seven port, reed valve engine, the R5 was a fast bike that blew away a lot of surprised riders on bigger bikes. In fact, the R5 engines were so good that Don Vesco used two of them to build a Bonneville streamliner that went over 251mph in 1970. If you're interested in R5s, there's a good site devoted to them here.

This particular bike came in pretty much as you see it- a collection of parts waiting to be assembled. We'll visit it again once it's running.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

GT250 Update (2)

The engine is back together, turning easily, and running... on one cylinder. Looks like an ignition problem that should be easy to fix. And doesn't it look great?


Not all bikes are worth restoration. Some, like the Kawasaki 350 triple that this engine came from, end up getting disassembled to provide a supply of parts for more deserving bikes.

Once the heads and pistons are off comes the business of splitting the case. A large number of nuts are removed with the help of an impact wrench, and then comes the delicate business of whomping at the case with a soft hammer until...

The internals of the transmission are revealed. Even though the bike was pretty beat up the transmission showed almost no wear at all. The gears look like new, and the dogs that allow one gear to engage another have perfect square edges. Now, back to the business of repair and restoration...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

GT250 Update

As you can see, work has begun on the GT250 seen here last week. The first order of business was to get the motor turning again, and that's why the cylinder is not in its usual position. Barry says usually these can be freed up with a little penetrating oil and the application of leverage ot the crankshaft, but this one took a little more persuading.

Seen above are the tools used when for delicately moving seized pistons- a can of PB penetrating oil and what's known in the trade as a BFH, or a large hammer.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Schwinn Whizzer

It's a reproduction, not an original, and was just passing through on its way up North. A few of us gathered to check out some of the curious features of this bike, like the odd 123cc four-stroke engine:

To start the bike, you turn on the gas, pull in the clutch lever with your left hand, and start pedaling. Once you're moving, you engage the decompression lever with your left thumb, and then release the clutch lever to engage the belt drive. If everything works right, the engine should fire and you can release the decompression lever. At that point you're driving a one-speed motorcycle with all the sophistication of a 1912 model, except you don't need to work a manual oiling pump to keep the engine from seizing up.

With its 123cc engine, the Whizzer would be classified as a motorcycle, not a moped, although I suspect very few of these are tooling around with cycle plates on them. I think most aren't sold to ride, but as pure collectibles, perhaps fired up a few times a year for a quick clandestine ride around the neighborhood, and then carefully cleaned and returned to the garage or basement.

1972 Kawasaki 350 S2

Kawasaki came out with their first 2-stroke triple- the 500cc H1- in 1969. The H1 had acceleration described by at least one writer as "truly terrifying" and helped differentiate Kawasaki from other Japanese road bikes of the era. The 350cc S2 was introduced in 1972, and was an immediate hit. With 44HP available at 8,000RPM, Kawasaki advertised a top speed of 112MPH. Not too shabby.

This particular S2 has a few problems- the ignition switch is missing, as are some of the controls and the chain. The original air box has been replaced with three filters of the K&N type, maybe to replace a missing air box, maybe to give it that racer look:

And the shift lever definitely has a non-standard look:

But bigger challenges have passed through Barry's garage. Watch this space.

Ready Reference Manual

This is why Barry seldom has to check the reference manual when working on Honda 4-stroke singles. All he needs is a mirror.

1975 Suzuki GT250

Here's a Suzuki GT250 in a gorgeous magenta color that you don't see very often. These are fast bikes, producing 31 HP at 7,000RPM- enough, according to Suzuki, to propel this bike to 93MPH in stock form. And check out the ram air cooling, seen on GTs from 1972 up until part way through the 1975 model year. I imagine Suzuki finally decided it wasn't really necessary- but it did look cool, and helped make the Suzuki engines look very different from other 2-strokes of the era.

This one came in with some cosmetic issues, and an engine that's locked up solid. It should be running again very soon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

1972 TS250 Update

You may recall the last time we saw this bike it looked very different. Here's a reminder:

As you can see in the first photo, it's being stripped down to the frame, which will be receive a fresh coat of paint. The next time you see it here, it should look like it just rolled off the showroom floor.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Less Than Charming Scooter

There are a lot o very inexpensive scooters being imported from China these days under a variety of brand names, and they all share one thing in common: Low quality- particularly when compared to scooters from makers like Honda, Yamaha, and other major makers. A lot of them have fuel tubing that is reportedly attacked by the ethanol in US gasoline. This results in leaky fuel lines, and gummed up carbs. Some have electric chokes that fail, or any one of a range of problems. This one had 243 miles on it when it showed up at Barry's for diagnosis.

First step was removing the carb- not as easy as it might be. The body panels, which are made of a thin and somewhat brittle material, are held on via a series of interlocking tabs and sheet metal screws. Some of the screws were already stripped. One panel had a tab broken off and refastened with adhesive tape- this on a brand new scooter!

Luckily, it was possible to wriggle the carb out through an access hole in the bottom of the storage compartment. Right now the carb is soaking in solvent. Next step: testing the electric choke. With luck this will be back on the road without too much labor and too many replacement parts- for more than 243 miles, this time. Fingers crossed.

UPDATE: It was indeed a clogged carb, and after some time soaking in solvent the carb was returned to the scooter, and after a fresh battery charge it started right up.

1975 Suzuki T500 R

The Suzuki T500 was the first really successful big-bore two stroke twin on the market. Producing 47HP at 7,000 RPM, and capable of speeds of 110-120MPH, it could reportedly outrun a lot of 500cc and 650cc bikes. It was also noted for how smoothly it ran- especially when compared to 500cc single cylinder thumpers. The T500 was, and is, a tremendously reliable bike, with few reported problems. If you can find one today you can probably get it running without too much difficulty.

This one found its way to Barry's last week, and is about to undergo a complete restoration- the results of which will be documented here, of course!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

2007 Suzuki DR-Z 400 - for sale

The new DR-Z 400s list for $6099. How about a like new, 2007 DR-Z 400 with fewer than 100 miles on it- for $3500? A fantastic Enduro or Super Motard with the right tires. Contact Barry at the email address in the upper right hand section of this page.

UPDATE: It's out the door and heading up North.

Old School Chopper

Young friend Chris is working on restoring this classic... slowly ;-) But with summer almost here he'll have a lot more time to work on it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ural Motorcycle and Sidecar

Back in 1939, of the eve of WWII, the Russians cloned the BMW R71 motorcycles and sidecars. Sixty years later, and they're still building the same bike... though not to the same standard. Until recently, that is. Now you can buy a Ural that's been pretty much rebuilt, with new front disc brakes, better wiring, and other improvements.

This particular Ural was just visiting, and not in for repair.

CB350: Progress Report

The CB350 last seen here a few weeks ago has now been reassembled. Still has some cosmetic details to be attended to, and a bit more engine tuning, but it's almost ready for the road.

As a reminder, here's the bike as we last saw it:

Monday, May 4, 2009

1998 Yamaha Factory YZ250

Motocross fans will recognize this bike that Barry campaigned for several years. It's a 1998 Yamaha YZ250- but not just any YZ250. This is Tim Ferry's Team Noleen factory race bike that he ran
in five rounds of the 1998 250cc Supercross series. It's seen some hard riding since then, including a good many top place finishes. Currently retired and awaiting a complete rebuild, it'll be back on the racing circuit again before too long.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

1969 Honda CL125

The CL125 is the "Scrambler" version bike of the SS125A featured earlier. Before the term "Enduro" became popular for describing on/off road bikes, Honda used the term "Scrambler" to differentiate their motorcycles with upswept exhausts and skid plates. These were not really designed for serious off-road use, but the styling was very popular in the United States, where most of these bikes were sold.

The 1969 CL125 was the first Hondas to come standard with turn signals, and one of the last Scramblers to use the old style pressed steel frame. Most Hondas by then featured the more modern tubular frame, although the pressed steel design hung around for a few more years with the Cub and other 100cc and below motorcycles.

The CL125 was only produced for three years, 1967-1969, so not there are too many examples to be found. This particular bike is in very good shape, and was in the process of getting a good detailing when it was photographed. The exhaust system is a bit dented, and has had some holes repaired, and eventually will be replaced when a good NOS unit pops up. Until then, though, it looks pretty good, and it rides nicely, too.

1981 Suzuki RM125

Now here's a major restoration project- this bike is going to be stripped down to a bare frame, repainted, and completely restored. Metal parts will be blasted, plastic parts replaced, and running gear replaced where necessary. It's going to be a big job, and not a cheap one, but it'll be worth it, because this is an important, historic bike in the annals of Motocross; Dirt Bike magazine features it in their Hall of Fame, and calls it "one of the best MX bikes of the last 25 years."

First off, this was the first of the liquid-cooled RMs- an important advance. Second, it was the first of the monoshock Suzukis, with its unique "full floater" suspension system. With this and other design features, the 1981 RM125 was, in many ways, the prototype of all successful motocross bike that followed for many years.

Friday, April 24, 2009

1972 Suzuki TS250

You won't find too many Enduros more desirable than this example from Suzuki. With fewer than 2500 miles on the odometer, and rubber in surprisingly good condition, this bike looks like it was run briefly and then stored indoors for a few decades.

The TS250 was introduced in 1969 as a slightly detuned version of Suzuki's TM250 motocrosser. Producing 23 HP at 6500 rpm back when 250cc was considered big enough for most uses, it was a great performer both on and off road. And at a 1969 price of $800 ($4477 in 2008 dollars) it was very affordable.

1973 (?) Yamaha DT125

Another fun small bike from the 70s. First made in 1973, back when Yamaha and a few other makers were inventing the small off-road motorcycle. They're reliable, and parts are still reasonably plentiful. This one needs more than just a tuneup, but when it's done it should look and run great.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

1968 Suzuki T500 Cobra

Now here's a rare bike- you won't see many of these on the road. Introduced in 1968, the Cobra was the first successful 500cc two-stroke twin. It ran smoothly- more smoothly than some four stroke bikes. With the ability to produce 47HP at 9500RPM it could outrun a lot of 650cc bikes.

This example might not look like much- yet- but when the restoration job is complete it'll look like it just rolled off the showroom floor. We'll be seeing more photos of this bike- and an identical one that'll be coming to the shop soon- in future posts.