I’m not going to post about my car history because y’all already know I’ve been hoarding smart cars since 2012 and aside from my first car, smarts are the only cars I’ve ever owned. So have my motorcycle reviews repackaged as a timeline!
As 2018 is coming to a close and I currently own more bikes than I should, I think it’s time to review every bike I’ve ever ridden/owned. This isn’t necessarily a review of how they ride (though that’s included where applicable) but how I felt/feel about them. Now, without further delay...
2000 Buell Blast “Neutron” (Early May - Late July)
This is Genesis, this is the first motorcycle I bought and the motorcycle that makes me feel the most conflicted. When I decided to get into motorcycles, I felt I’d be a sportbike nut. I dreamed of one day having a Ninja H2 or something else ridiculously fast with absurd styling. I felt my Blast was a good start to that. That little thing was hilariously tossable, turned every head, and was quirky right down to how it stores engine oil in its frame. Before long, I decided to make it a goal to own every model of Buell...But then after a realization from later on down this writing, I sold the Buell. I don’t regret selling mine. My particular example was someone else’s unfinished project. On one hand, it had neat custom Buell decals, custom bars, the carb boot fixed, a billet fuel cap (that was a PITA), an upgraded HD carb, and other neat fixes. On the other hand, the bloody thing leaked both oil and petrol out of many places, second gear got worse with every ride, and I learned the hard way that these things left the factory with an exhaust that’ll literally tear itself apart at the header flange...Oh, and it would die at every stoplight because it never had the fuel tank recall done.
Despite these issues, this is the only motorcycle I sold that I’ve actually attempted to buy another (better kept) example of. In fact, I still actually want to one day own one of each Buell model. By all means the Blast is seemingly a terrible bike. Nearly every current/former Blast owner I’ve ever talked to has had issues with the exhaust ripping apart, getting stranded on the side of the road with a gearbox that doesn’t work, and leaks out of anything that can leak. Despite that, sign me up for another. In fact, sign me up for a yellow one in factory unmodified condition.
2000 Honda Elite 80 (H/T and photo credit shop-teacher)(Late May)
Oppo’s very own shop-teacher introduced me to the wild world of scooters and in the same stroke gave me my very first motorcycle ride. Yep, I bought my Buell before I’ve even ridden a bike, let alone sat on one.
Scooters - unfairly - get a lot of flak. Sure, they aren’t super fast, most don’t have manual transmissions, and most modern ones look a bit odd...however they have a lot of character. Dare I say it? These things are fun! I think every motorcyclist should have at least one in their stable.
This particular Elite wouldn’t run without a shot of starting fluid and wouldn’t idle without being warm. But boy, once he got it running it was hilariously fun. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bigger smile going so slow in my life. It only topped out at about 45 but that 45 felt like 100. It was cold, it was rainy, it was miserable. I didn’t want to stop. It even handled fairly well for something shaped like it should fall on its side at the first sight of a turn. I can’t speak for new scooters, but riding shop-teacher’s Elite not only cemented my decision to swing a leg over a motorcycle but also made me have a massive appreciation (enthusiasm, even) for scooters.
2008 Bashan MC-16-150T “Imperator Slowiosa” (Late May - Late July)
Believe it or not but this is the first motorcycle to give me regrets. My first regret with this little scoot was tearing it apart and the second was selling off its remains after I tore it apart. It had all of 3 miles on it and the first thing I did was rip it all apart. This was a brand new (never even registered) scooter that sat in someone’s garage for ten years. I know most people here won’t understand why I’m beating myself up over it. After all, it was just a Chinese scooter.
It’s because that’s not me. In my desire to make some Mad Max themed scoot for the Gambler 500 I did something I otherwise would have never done then didn’t even see the project through, making it all in vain... If I had a second chance to do it all over again I’d restore the scoot and cherish it in a way its previous owner didn’t. However, I doubt I’ll ever run into an opportunity like that ever again. In a way I feel my new CF Moto project is partially filling the void left by my destruction of the Bashan.
I guess in my defense, I bought the scoot before I even knew the basics of motorcycle maintenance, let alone repair. It’s a shame too, I was literally just a new petrol tank away from having a brand new 150cc scooter for $100 and simultaneously having my own kinda “Junkyard Digs” revival.
2009 Honda Rebel (MSF Course)
Yes, I purchased two bikes before I even knew how to ride a motorcycle. My steed for the MSF was a slightly dented 2009 Honda Rebel. While I never surpassed 20mph on this thing, I fell head over heels for the little bike. I loved the way it shimmered in the sun, I loved the way it leaned into curves, I loved the way it looked. The little Rebel was the first bike to challenge my belief that I’d be a sportbike girl. In fact, I loved the Rebel so much...
2005 Honda Rebel “Velma” (Early June - Late July)
Yep, that happened. This was the bike that changed everything for me. With the Buell I was content with the idea of buying only one brand of bike for the entirety of my life, however the Rebel changed that. While the Buell was fun to toss into corners and sounded like the evil spawn of a Harley and a dirtbike, the Rebel was more enjoyable to ride and I just liked staring at the thing. But there was a problem, while I loved the Rebel I kept wanting to sell it. It was slow, it was small, and even though I liked staring at it I kept feeling like something was “wrong”. I removed the saddlebags thinking that was it, however I was wrong.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that what I loved so much about the Rebel wasn’t so much the bike itself but the bike’s general looks. All it took was one YouTube video and one Craigslist listing...but more on that in a bit...
2012 Jinlun Ruckus Clone “Gambler Chuckus” (Late July - Current)
Despite owning this thing since July I still don’t know what the actual model name of it is. The title has a random mix of numbers and characters so long it looks like the password of a SysAdmin with OCD. It just barely even fully fits on a title. Surely that can’t be the real model, right?
This scooter was meant to replace the Bashan and learning from my mistakes with the Bashan I got this one running in no time flat. Sadly I never got the “battle scooter” together in time for the Gambler 500 so I never used it on the Gambler. That said, it did take a wild road trip and I dropped a bike for the very first time riding it in wet grass.
I’m currently trying to sell the scooter, at least this time I got it running and riding reliably. Hopefully it gives the next owner many miles of smiles. Sadly it wasn’t as “tight” as shop-teacher’s Elite. I think it could work wonders with wide tyres and upgraded rear suspension, but I guess that won’t be for me to find out. I’ll definitely give the Jinlun credit for being a 50cc sized scooter with a 150cc engine, it felt like a hot rod! I’ve been in some sketchy vehicles before, but this thing felt homicidal at only 20mph.
1982 Suzuki GS850G “Atlantic” (Late July - Current)
This is the motorcycle I bought after selling the Rebel and coming to the realization that Universal Japanese Motorcycles are not only affordable, but make my heart skip a beat. I somehow stumbled upon videos of old UJMs restored to their prime and gushingly beautiful. That above video infected me with a virus that I doubt I’ll ever get rid of. This is what was missing from the Rebel’s style. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I figured it out. I liked the classic style, but not the seat or the tank. No I like squared tanks and straight, almost cafe racer style seating.
These old bikes have a lot of charm. Lots of cylinders, chaotic handling, shaft drives, and top heavy. These beasts can and maybe will punish you for minor mistakes. It’s thus I originally named this bike “Widowmaker” as it’s tried to kill me a few times, but these things are so fun to ride and oh so fast. After a protest from Madame DeLorean, I instead decided to go for ocean/nautical naming themes for all my UJMs.
I also credit this bike for teaching me so much about bike maintenance and repair. When I first got the bike it quickly stopped running. It was then I did hours of research into tanks, carburetors, tuning, even valve adjustments. Thankfully my non-running situation was resolved by letting whatever got into the carbs/engine evaporate. I came to the conclusion that if you have the right tools, can follow directions, and have patience, you can own an old bike. Over the winter I’ll do a true repaint of the tank and panels (another first for me).
1980 Honda Goldwing GL1100 “Poseidon” (Late August - Current)
Oh, oh my gosh this thing is otherworldly. I never knew two wheels could be so comfortable. It runs like a car, hauls like a train, and will sprint well more than fast enough to land you a night in jail with a goofy grin on your face. The GL1100 packs less than 100bhp but it sure isn’t afraid to challenge how brave you are. And despite its porky nearly 600lb weight, Honda engineered this thing so well that the weight doesn’t overpower you like it does on my Suzuki. It’s comfortable around town, on the expressway, and even in the twisties. Just look at it!
1972 Yamaha DT175 “World Discoverer” (Late October - Current)
My first two stroke! This little thing is a whole new world within what’s already a new world for me. This tiny little thing loves to rev high and the power delivery is so much different than the four strokes above. It’s not really that fast of a bike, however it’s small, narrow, and sounds like a thousand angry bees. It feels like you’re “balls to the wall” on just a local commute. My favourite part about these two strokes are their reliability. Give it spark, fuel, and air and the engine is basically guaranteed to go “ring ding ding ding ring ding ding ding” until the world comes to an end. Then you put in more fuel oil mix and keep on riding long after the world has ended. This particular example could use a good cleaning but outside of that it’s nearly museum quality. My plan for it is to dump the knobbies and get road tyres. While I do want to dabble in offroading, I’d rather get a cheap road legal dirtbike (like a KDX200 or something) that I wouldn’t mind getting banged up for that.
2012 CF Moto Fashion 250 “Phoenix” (Early November - Current)
My winter bike was a hard decision. I had been eyeballing a mostly finished cafe racer and a bike that would have made for an easy cafe project. I was also eyeballing another Blast. All of these were bad ideas.
After riding the Suzuki in 20 degree weather I realized that at minimum I want a windscreen and ideally a full fairing. I may pretend to be a badass biker chick, but even I have to tap out because of the weather. I then narrowed my choices to bikes that could be modified to protect me from the weather or already do it out of the box. After pricing out fairings and windscreens I realized my best bet would be to get a maxi scooter.
At the top of the running was shop-teacher’s Honda Helix. It runs and was oh so close from being finished. It also comes in a neat sorta-red colour. Also competing was the CF Moto. It hadn’t run in at least a year or two (maybe more) and prior to that the original owner hadn’t even used it enough to put a dent in the factory tyres. In a lot of ways I felt it to be a second chance to do the right thing to a little neglected scooter. The icing on the cake was the absurdly low price. So...I did it.
Some preliminary work shows no power getting to the scooter. When it warms up a little I’ll check the fuses. There’s one main fuse due north of the battery and I wonder if it’s shot. The goal is to get it back on the road before winter takes over and provided I don’t wreck the thing, I’ll have it fully restored before Spring.
I have the little scooter running and it’s already my daily. I still need to get all the bad fuel out of the tank, but the bloody thing is so good on fuel that I’ve barely put a dent in it. I’m very impressed by this thing. It surely cannot have been built to be a winter warrior but here it is doing just that.
The “point and click” handling is insanely addictive and it can actually lean better than my old Buell Blast did (which would scrape the pegs gently turning in an intersection). Acceleration also isn’t bad. I’m sure it’ll be better (along with top speed) with a truly fresh tank of fuel, but it actually seems to haul pretty well for a 250cc motorcycle, let alone a thumper in a scooter from China. The previous owner mentioned that the owner before him custom built the head, so I wonder if that has anything to do about the speed.
And I’m a sucker for digital dashes, especially vintage bar graph types. :)
Assuming life keeps the upward swing it’s been on since March, I fully expect 2019 to be the year I buy my attainable dream bike:
My “unreasonable unicorn” dream bike:
And maybe a place to store all of them and my smarts!
I think motorcycles may be even more addictive than smarts because they can be had for so cheap and sold for essentially what you paid for them or more.