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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

1995 Honda Shadow 600 V-Twin


Honda Shadows have been made continuously since 1988, which means an awful lot of bikes have been sold here in the past 21 years. 583cc and 39 horsepower isn't all that impressive these days, when a 600cc bike is often termed a "beginner's motorcycle" (!) but it's still enough to cruise comfortably at highway speeds. (I've had cars with less power- [mike].)

The Shadow is a good, inexpensive cruiser and like all Hondas, reliable- unless, like this particular bike, you park the bike for a decade with a full tank. It didn't help that a previous owner had dropped the bike on the left side, either. But once the fuel system was cleaned out- no easy task- the bike started up and ran smoothly. Now it's just a matter of cleaning up the damage from being dropped and straghtening out the frame.

1983 Yamaha RX50


This 1983 Yamaha RX50 is one of the smallest bikes that has passed through Barry's garage in the last few years, but it's also one of the most fun. With its 50cc engine and 5-speed gearbox, it's a great teaching machine, and Barry long ago lost count of how many people learned to ride on it. It was sold for a while but found its way back last year.

It's astoundingly reliable. Leave it parked all winter, and it starts with a single kick. Parts are plentiful as it shares the engine with the Yamaha YSR50. It's parked right now, as the gas tank finally rusted through at a seam, but it'll probably be back on the road before the summer is over... possibly in a very different form! Watch this site.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

1971 Suzuki T1 Stinger 125cc


Small 125cc 2-stroke twins aren't supposed to have much low end torque, but this Stinger pulls surprisingly well. The magazine writeups suggested you needed to rev it up to the redline (9000RPM) to get any power, and yet this bike pulls strongly even at 3000. And it makes a great sound, too. At low revs it's a quiet burble; twist the throttle and it roars.


Very few Stingers were sold in the US, making this one a rare find. After some cleanup and painting, cosmetically it's in great shape. It needed only a thorough carb cleaning to run smoothly. The tank was rusty, but phosphoric acid cleaned that up. What makes this one even more special is that it has remarkably low mileage- under 1900 miles. It even has the break-in sticker still on the speedo- see above.

1969 Honda SS125A


The 1950s and 1960s Hondas with pressed steel frames had a beauty that's just not there in the later tubular frame motorcycles. This 1969 Super Sport 125 is a perfect example. It's not particularly fast, but it's about as pretty a bike as Honda ever made. The two cylinders firing in-phase make a distinctive sound and produce more low end torque than engines with 180 degree timing.

This one is in excellent shape over all, but still in need of some restoration. The right-hand muffler was dented from an incorrect kick start lever hitting it; it and the lever need replacing. The fork boots need replacing as well. New old stock (NOS) parts are not as readily available for this bike as they are for 1970s and 80s motorcycles, but there are some good replacement levers coming out of China.


Honda claimed 158mpg for this bike, and I wouldn't doubt it. Light weight, small displacement, and 4-stroke design result in very low fuel consumption.

1974 Honda CB125S


Another bike with very few miles on the odometer that made its way into Barry's garage for some restoration. It was first seen on Craigslist, then on eBay, where it was snagged for slightly less than the seller was asking on Craigslist. New tires (of course), new clutch and throttle cables, and a new ignition switch cable were the first changes. The carb was cleaned and adjusted, the timing chain tension adjusted, and now it starts on the first kick and runs strong. (It's getting a tuneup and detailing now and then owner Mike is putting it up for sale.)

The CB125S is a simple OHC thumper that was imported into the US from 1973 to 1985. It'll cruise at 55, and easily gets 100mpg at slower speeds. These bikes will last for many years so long as you're absolutely religious about changing the oil at least every 1000 miles- preferably every 700. The one weak point of the engine is the cam shaft bearings, which are simple journal bearings machined into the head. Once they wear, you can either have the heads machined to take roller bearings- a project that will cost several hundred dollars- or simply find a new head.

The CB125S was replaced in Asia and Europe with the CG125, and almost identical motorcycle that featured a simpler pushrod OHV engine in place of the CB's OHC engine. This was reportedly done to make the bike more rugged for use in the third world, where oil changes can be an expensive luxury. The CG125 engine develops slightly less power, but top speed and mileage are similar.

1973 Honda XL175


The Honda XL175 was never known as a competitive Enduro bike, but it does a lot of fans, mostly because it's a fun and reliable bike (like just about all Hondas) that has plenty of torque and is easy to ride. The drum brakes work fine, although they're said to have some fade after heavy off-road riding. If it has a flaw, it is that it is reputed to be prone to breaking kick start shafts- although I suspect that may be due to abuse.

Shown here is a 1973 model- the first year the XL175 was made, and along with the 74s and 75s, probably the best of the lot. In 1976 the tachometer was deleted, leaving only a speedometer, and in 1977 and 78, the battery and turn signals were removed, making the bike less desirable for on-road use.


This example was found locally, with low miles but a bit of rust and a hole in the exhaust. Barry brazed the exhaust and painted it, and it looks pretty much like new. There's still a bit of rust on the frame that'll get addressed when the wheels are removed, and a few scratches on the plastic fenders that can be sanded out. The last step is replacing the tires, which look good but show a lot of signs of cracking- not unexpected in 35 year old rubber.

It's easy to start, although it's smart to take up the slack and give the bike one solid downward kick. Carelessness can result in a nasty kickback that will surprise the unwary.