Illustration for article titled The bike timeline (selling all my stuff)

Because I feel like having another avenue to bitch about how much my life sucks here’s the context for my current situation.

Got into bikes 3 or 4 years ago when chronic knee and ankle pain meant I couldn’t push the clutch on my V6 manual fox body daily beater, so I sold it and used the money to buy a nice bike: a 70k mile 1980 Honda CX500 in super great shape. Rode it home, first time on a “real” bike.


CX500 has a stator failure and timing chain tensioner failure. Meet a local CX500 owner that teaches me to swap it all and we knock it out in a weekend. Bike is flawless after this, starts in cold winter weather no problem, pulls like a freight train, sounds amazing, and I make a bunch of friends riding it around town.

CX500 gets stolen from my apartment in downtown Wichita. Didn’t have full coverage insurance.

Trade my Jaguar XJ-S project when the trans goes out and I don’t have a place to swap in a new one for a barn-find 1996 Kawasaki Vulcan 500.

Spend a couple of months fixing the Vulcan, whose carbs are plugged with RTV, spark plugs are broken in the head, engine is full of gas due to leaky carb.


Ride Vulcan for the summer.

Replace engine in Vulcan after I forgot to torque down a tappet jam nut somehow and the tapped rattles loose and beats the crap out of the valve keepers and it drops a valve, destroying the cylinder.


Ride Vulcan for the rest of the summer until I buy the SportCross.

Get call from sheriff in the adjacent county that my 1980 Cx500 has been recovered.


Go pick it up at 1am. Engine blown, tank dented to hell, gauge cluster broken but showing 4000 miles more than when it was stolen, tires trashed.

Buy new engine, put it in, cafe the bike a little. Ride it around on shit tires for a few months then put it away when it starts leaking every fluid known to man.


Eventually buy new tires and put them on, suddenly the bike doesn’t want to idle on the left cylinder.

Clean carbs.

Clean carbs some more.

Fiddle with jets.

Check compression (good), leakdown (good)

Eventually the combination of not idling or running right, leaking enough fluids I arrive places in a cloud of smoke, and the brake pedal getting destroyed when wind knocked it over I decide to take a bonus from work and buy another bike.


Enter the 1981 full-touring CX500c I bought for $550 with 10,000 miles on it. It was in beautiful condition other than sitting for two years in the guys back yard. Tank was totally rust free inside, paint was good, it was perfect.

Put the carbs from my original bike on the new one to ride it around. It runs but sounds like it’s only on one cylinder. Ah, so the problem must have still been I didn’t get the carbs all the way clean. Weird.


Clean the 1981 bike’s carbs and put them on. Runs much better and I ride it around though it still feels a little down on power.

300 miles later the 1981 bike starts knocking. Great. Go to storage unit and pull the good but leaky engine out of my 1980, put it in my kitchen, and take the rear cover off to replace all of the leaky seals, gaskets, and put in a new stator.


Got that engine put in the red bike this weekend. It makes an awful tapping noise and the left cylinder STILL doesn’t run. Check valve clearances. Left side is 3x spec somehow. Must be it! That would explain a dead cylinder and a tapping noise! Adjust the tappets to spec and put it back together, fire it up ready to hear it spring to life and... same shit. Left cylinder is totally dead. Starter fluid won’t make it run, nothing.

So now the bikes are on craigslist and I’m sure I’ll have an incredibly hard time getting my $800 asking price for bikes I have a combined $2500 into with a ton of usable new parts (my tires have less than 500 miles on them). I can’t keep them around at my apartment like this for much longer and my will to work on them is completely gone. Every time I think I’m almost back to where I was 3 years ago with a bike that starts and runs and will happily take me around town on 40 cents worth of gas I get dickslapped in the face by the fucking universe. My wallet and mental health can’t take it any more and I have an IS300 that needs $500 in A/C work (and it’s supposed to be over 100 all week) and my LS400 has a fucked axle I need to take care of.

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