Yeah, that’s a mostly disassembled motorcycle, in my office. Shockingly, that’s not even the stupid thing I’ve done. Well, it IS stupid, let’s just say that’s not the most stupid decision of the day.
Let’s go back to the beginning. About two years ago, I picked up a poor, neglected, beat to crap moped off the “free” section of Craigslist. Prior to that, I have had zero interaction with anything on two wheels with a motor. I spent several months stripping, cleaning, fixing and reassembling that moped, and in the end, not only did it look not half bad, I discovered I enjoyed riding it. The problem was, once you leave my immediate neighborhood, all the roads are 45MPH. Meaning the top speed of 30MPH the angry, buzzing little 2-stroke, 50cc engine in the moped could muster was completely useless to me. I decided I’d really like something I could use to commute to work. I wasn’t interested in a sport bike, or a big, loud cruiser, I wanted something small, light, compact, and economical, and I wanted a vintage bike. Believe it or not, things like carbs and points make perfect sense to me, and I’m quite comfortable and competent in their care and feeding. Things like CDI and fuel injection are nigh indistinguishable from magic to me.
I originally started looking for a Trail 90. They fit the above criteria, with the added bonus of being not terribly expensive, dead simple to work on, and relatively plentiful, despite not having been produced for the last 30 some-odd years. The problem I quickly ran up against was, even on flat ground (which my commute isn’t), with a light rider (which I am not), the cute little Trail tops out around 45, moving up hills, with an old, fat dude on it, it wasn’t going to get anywhere near that. So, I looked up the model line a little bit.
I decided for simplicity sake, I’d like to sick with a single cylinder bike, which pretty much left me with the bottom end of the small bike segment. I kept my eyes open, and the other day, I happened to see an ad for a 1974 Honda Cb125s. This bike ticked all the boxes with regards to the things I was looking for, and I found I genuinely liked the look too. I suppose having spent a bit of time on and around mopeds, the aesthetic kind of stuck. Single, understated pipe, upright riding position, spoke wheels, no silly plastic covers, etc. The picture in the ad revealed a bike that looked surprisingly good for being 42 years old, and the price was well beyond reasonable. I figured there had to be a good reason it was so cheap, and after talking with the seller, those reasons became clear to me. The bike, it seems, was in pieces. He had just moved across the country, somewhat unexpectedly. He had partially stripped the bike down in order to replace all the bolts and screws with a nice stainless steel Allen head bolt kit, and decided to do the major gaskets while he had the engine pulled. Then, bam, he had to pack up and move, and now that he’s here, has more pressing projects to tackle. I was assured the bike ran and rode just fine before he started tearing it apart (sure, that’s what EVERY Craigslist seller says). Despite my better judgment, I made arrangements to go take a look at the bike this afternoon. When I arrived, I was greeted by a friendly, totally not sketchy guy, who took me around back to look at the bike. Sure enough, the tank, seat, engine, pipe and rear fender were all stripped off, but had been carefully and lovingly been packed in moving boxes for the trip across the country, and everything was there, sorted and labeled, including everything that had come off the bike, as well as a whole box of new and extra parts. A full bolt set, a full gasket set, new tail light, new turn signals (this bike had provisions for turn signals, but none were installed at the factory until a few years later) a new battery, new chain, new coil, new plug wire and spark plug, and lots of other extras. So, it looks like, around here at least, the low end for a running Cb125 is about $600, and that’s in rough shape. Besides being disassembled, this one was in pretty good shape, and the seller was asking less than half of that. Of course, there is no guarantee it runs, but I was looking at a couple of hundred bucks in spare and new parts, and even if the bike didn’t run, another few hundred could be had parting out the bike. There had to be some catch here, and after chatting a bit with the seller, that catch was revealed. The bike has no title. If the seller is to be believed, he purchased the bike in Portland, OR from some old guy who had the title and gave it to the seller, who never bothered to change the title to his name, lost the title, and has no way of contacting the previous owner. In reality, though they make it more difficult than many other states, you can do a title search through the Oregon DMV. Whatever, the title thing is surprisingly, not what worries me most about this whole situation. Even if the Oregon DMV route doesn’t put me in touch with the previous owner, there are at least two other avenues I can go down to get myself a legit tile. Any of these options are going to take a little time. Thankfully, I’ve got plenty of time, seeing as the bike is in parts. I WAS smart enough to run the VIN beforehand to verify it wasn’t reported as stolen. It wasn’t.
So, now you’re thinking “dumbass”. Yes, probably you’re right, but that has never stopped me before. So, yeah, I paid real American dollars for a bike that may or may not run, is in pieces, has no title, and I’m not licensed to ride. Like I said, monumentally stupid. Oh, and if all that wasn’t bad enough... You may have been wondering why it’s currently in my office. Well, my lovely wife doesn’t currently know I own it. I’m going to have to give that part of my plan some SERIOUS thuoght.
Hopefully, no matter how this works out, I’ll be doing an Oppo series on the bike. Either the trials and tribulations of getting it together, running and legal, or angry rants about bureaucracy and amusing tales of sketchy Craigslist people coming to pick parts. Either way, it should be interesting…