Friday, December 10, 2004

Old Brit Blog

Dr. Laverda writes about the joys and woes of vintage motorcycles... some damn funny writing here. This is a must-read!

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Bike is indoors!

And it's been called "a work of art"... gotta love that!

Took a friend and I, a long 2x4, much grunting, some profanity and a few tense moments, and it was in.

I rather like it inside, it really is a conversation piece. I find myself sitting on it regularly.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Problems... solved?

It came time for the annual DelVal ABATE Toy Run, and after giving the car a much-needed washing, I tried to get the ol' Stinker started. No dice. I changed plugs, nothing. Plenty of gas, oil, petcock open. Nothing. Noticed the idiot lights were pretty dim. That might be it.

Got around to getting a battery tender/charger, plugged it in and clamped it on. In about an hour, voila! The foulest mix of gas, oil and crud came spewing out the pipes all over the pavement. Took a good while to clean. But the bike was once again running strong. So that might be the problem!

Perhaps this winter, once I get the bike inside (weather has been too nice these past few weekends... can't bring myself to do it!), I'll tear everything apart, get a good cleaning done, and see if I can suss out the problem with the electricals.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Getting a few more rides in...

I got a message from a member of a friends' scooter club, Neal Friedant, and thought I'd pass this on:

One of the local scooter people forwarded your website and I found your email and wanted to ask you if anyone you know may be interested in buying my project 1970 R5, purple and white. I have it in my warehouse at Frankford & York. It runs and is complete, but needs crank seals on left hand side of the motor. I have a clear title and the bike has 20 on it, asking $400.00/OBO. By the way I saw your bike on 3rd street yesterday. It is sweet. Thanks if you know anyone that is interested.

If anyone is interested, let me know, and I'll put you in touch. Thanks, Neal, for the kind words.

Got the bike out on Sunday for a trip to the supermarket - a few items needed for a late breakfast. She ran spectacularly. Probably because she's feeling it might be time for hibernation...

Monday, October 4, 2004

End of summer...

I entered the Yammy (alongside Russ') in the Hot Rod Hoedown... first time I've entered anything in any sort of car show! Great stuff there, including a handful of tasty kustom bikes in the show and a whole slew of them parked just outside. A few of 'em are shown below. Good stuff.

After that we rode out to the Lansdale Bike Show... and by gosh I have never seen ANYTHING that enormous EVER. There were easily 60,000-70,000 people there. And just as many bikes! Not too much interesting stuff, mostly cruisers and such, but there were a few gems here and there and some really well-done examples, even for Harleys. Mike from Hiway had a booth set up. Stopped by to say hello.

Since then I've been riding sporadically, as the Yammy has been quite temperamental. She'll go a whole day, 130 miles or so, without a hitch, and the next day she won't make it around the corner. Plug fouling seems to be the culprit, and I haven't been able to figure out what's wrong. Got her going a little yesterday, that was fun. I'll keep her going as long as I can, until it gets too chilly. Then she'll come inside, where I can admire her all winter.

Here are a few snaps from the day:


Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Pictures posted

This past weekend, while putting in a little wrench time, I was able to snag a few photos of the bike. She looks a little different from the images posted in the auction...

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

First real outing!

This past weekend I went to pick up the bike from my boss/friend's house. He had been holding it there since the weekend before when I left it after his party.

Well, rather than just coming and getting the bike, we decided that we would all go for a ride. Me on the 72 Yammy, Michelle (Brian's finacee) on her newly-acquired 72 Honda 350, and Brian and Kendra on the his first bike, a Yamaha cruiser-type. The Triumph is still in the shop over at Hiway.

The plan was simple... Michelle had to drop something off at her parents' house in Plumsteadville. After getting to Brian's house in Abington, we would all ride out first to Russ' house, possibly recruiting him, and then on to the parent's house, and back.

We got to Russ's house, and after a few minutes he arrived and we persuaded him to go for a short ride. He pulled out his caffeinated Yamaha, and we were off... on the way there, Michelle's mirror glass liberated itself from the mirrorpost and went sailing through the air.

We got to Michelle's parent's house, marveled at Norman (a bat who had taken up residence behind a wooden sign on the outside wall), had a Coke and a smile and were off again. This time to Van Sant airport for a little glider-watching. Just as we pulled in a orange glider landed silently on the grass runway... after a few minutes of poking around, looking at the old open-cockpit trainers and such, and watching another glider go up, we were headed out again, this time down to Dilly's for some eats.

Even though it is August, the weekend was surprisingly chilly. I had two shirts on plus the jacket and was slightly shivering. Going in and out of the tree shadows really had a big impact on comfort. The sun was setting when we approached Dilly's.

We pulled in, to a small crowd of children's amazement. Russ departed, heading back to his projects at the house. We ordered a whole trayful of greasy goodness, scarfed it down, remounted and pulled away past a bunch of Victory riders. Cool.

Lots of hand waving, nods and thumbs-up. Very much like the MINI, although there are a lot more bikers that we came across, especially in that neck of the woods. We rode back down the main drag in New Hope, in slow traffic, beaming at all the stares and finger-pointing...

Speaking of hands, boy mine were sore. That clutch is not an easy thing to keep squeezing for six hours. Eventually we got back to Brian's, where Kendra dismounted and got back into her car for the long ride home.

All said and done, the trip was about 7 hours and 140 miles. Not too shabby. The bike was great, except for that constant-speed bucking thing, which I've learned to keep under control with clutch usage. The bike was even smoking a lot less by the end of the day. Felt a lot more confident, especially in slower traffic.

Friday, August 6, 2004

More feedback...

Hadn't checked in a while... got some responses to my introductory posting over at the Old Bike Barn forums. Big Bob writes:

Among the other bikes I've owned, my R5 was one of the favorites.

There were only a couple of things that turned out to be crucial, the first being don't try to make it do something it does not want to do. Mine would shake its head one time and lay right down on my left knee. Happily, they are not heavy beasties, and pick up relatively easily, although I should tell you that it's been more than 30 years since I had to pick it up.

If it smokes too much, odds are the oil mix pump needs adjusting - but don''t adjust it yourself to a no-smoke point - that could be followed shortly by a no-run point, and a large bill. It should smoke just a little at hard throttle.

They are good runners, although you're right in that they seem to hate a stead speed - but after all, it is a small Yamaha, and they're custom made for canyon racing, or for running up into Bucks County on some of the older roads. I'm a Hatboro class of 1960 graduate, so I know Street Road fairly well - you'd've been happier on a two-lane that was interesting - the four-lanes are best run with something larger and less intense.

The R5, when everything is just right, will run like stink, and embarrass many a larger bike, both at a light and back through the boonies. Mine spent a lot of time in the New Hope area, which was loaded with good practice roads.

Enjoy it - it is a fine machine, and should serve you well for years with minimal upkeep - just read the manual and do what it says.

And 79cb750f aptly adds:

Since it is the predecessor to the RD-350, the quintessential hooligan bike, you can do darn near anything to it racy.

Monday, August 2, 2004

NOT a flood victim...

... unfortunately the cars didn't fare as well...

I had ridden the bike out to the Hatboro Car Show. The morning was spent wrenching with Kendra, adjusting the cafe bars and mirrors and replacing the oil tank side cover, whose original paint had flaked off. A good cleaning made her look great. Brass brushes work wonders on rusty chrome!

Arrived at the car show, left when it got crazy crowded. Afterparty was at Brian Isserman's, and after a few drinks and facing the long ride home in the dark I decided it best to park the bike and leave it there.

Good thing, as the corner of our street flooded with 4 or more feet of water. Had the bike been chained where in it's usual spot, it would have been lost.

You can read a little more about what happened to the cars here...

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Managed to get off the awful sissybar. The bike looks a lot sleeker now. I'll hold onto the sissybar, simply because it's so, well, awful!

Also managed to get on the new bars, grips and mirrors. Will take some fiddling to figure out the best position. On the ride today, couldn't see anything out of the mirrors but my pits.

All that's left now is a good cleaning and replacement of the flaking sidecover.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Finally home

So it’s here.

My MINI had to go into the shop tomorrow (to get a check up before this weekend’s track event), so Kendra grabbed my jacket and helmet and met me at the dealership. Then, we made our way back up to Hiway to collect the bike. After a short wait as Mike finished up with another customer, the R5, in all her glory, was rolled out to the street. After gathering up paperwork, making sure everything worked, putting a little oil and gas in it, and paying the man, I hopped on, kicked her over, and stalled. Whoops. Another kick, and I was speeding out into the gathering dusk, leaving a thick greasy plume of blue smoke behind me. Poor Kendra - she was following in the convertible.

For my first ever ride in traffic, I opted to take Street Road all the way over to State Road as my way back to the Northern Liberties. I didn't think I was quite ready for I-95, plus that route also goes directly past the house in whose garage the R5 had been lanquishing these many years. All was good - the R5 is a bit jerky, doesn't really like cruising at a steady speed. But the brakes are good, and acceleration is pretty good. When feeling brazen, I could keep up with everyone at 50mph no problem (hey, what do you expect for my first ride?)

Street Road was fine, I stayed right and no one gave me a problem, or rode my tail or anything. Surprising, actually. The bike smokes quite a lot of stinky stuff, and it got pretty bad at the intersections with long lights. Didn't stall at all after the first few times coming out of Hiway's driveway (!) getting used to the clutch.

Got to State Road. Starting to get dark. This is another first. Nothing to do but grin and bear it. Kendra is still behind, somewhere in the smokescreen. It's taking a while because I'm going relatively slow. We wind our way along the river and eventually get to the more thickly urbanized areas of the Northeast. Almost home. Then, all of a sudden, we're stopped at Aramingo - repaving the whole thing. Damn! OK, turnaround and try some of the side streets. No go. Pretty much lost now. Everything leads to a dead end. Finally after some backtracking, actually manage to get onto Aramingo, before the repaving. They're letting people thru that way. OK. But then I notice everyone merging into one lane. Now, eveyone is cutting me off and snaking around me as I sit in traffic. Smoking like hell. Getting hot in my jacket and helmet. Once I finally am able to stop the hemmorraging of cars in front of me, I start moving... only to happen upon Aramingo completely torn up for resurfacing... exposed tracks, manholes, everything. Screw this. One minute later, I'm on 95.

And it's fine. The bike is up to 60 or so. Running strong. Felt great. Got off an exit later. Finally home. About four hours since I started. Absolutely exhausted. Forearms hurt slightly, a little from the clutch, but mostly from the vibration of the bike.

Lock her up. Cover her up. Go to bed, cuz I'm doing it all again in the morning!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Getting close!

Stopped by the shop yesterday to check up on the bike... all the parts are here - front tire and float needles. Mike and Mike (the Japanese bike specialist) worked on the thing last night and today... it’s inspected and ready to go! As an aside, Mike (aforementioned Jap bike guy) told me to hold on to this bike, as it will be worth something. Agreed.

However, as the bike sat with a full tank, everything got flooded up with fuel again, making it hard to start. Mike disassembled everything again and cleaned out the exhaust baffles. He wants it to sit overnight to be sure it will start and everything works well prior to my picking it up.

Got a chance to look up close at the paint on the bike when I was there last night. Most notable is the bubbling on the cover on the oil tank. Right now there’s a prime example of a whole tank, cover, emblem good paint and all, on eBay, so hopefully I can get that replaced.

Got the 699 Superbike grips... and, of course, despite UPPER CASE EMPHASIS on the order form, still received closed-ended grips. Not that it's hard to cut out the end of gummy rubber grips, but how hard is it just to get what the heck you order?

The Hiway show was rained out last weekend, and is postponed to this weekend. I can’t attend, however, as Kendra and I will be at a PDA track day up at Pocono Raceway. Kendra got a helmet this past weekend, for the dual purpose of attending the track day and riding passenger on the Yammy. Perhaps (and this is her suggestion) she can move to getting a bike of her own...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Hiway is having a motorcycle show this Sunday. Wonder if my bike will be done by then? Still waiting on the front tire, and inspection...

The 698XL Superbike grips I ordered wound up being closed-ended, despite the description on the site, and they didn't carry the open-ended ones. That's OK, though, as I really wanted to get the 699 Superbike grips... same stuff, just look cooler. They're on their way...

Wednesday, July 7, 2004


Got the call from Langel that my title had finally been posted this past Friday. Got the plate and registration today! Heading over to Hiway now to drop it off and check the status of the Yammy.

Also ordered an M2R MR-25 replacement shield (scratched the original up pretty bad), Progrip 698XL Superbike(!) grips for the clubmans (open-ended to accept the bar-end mirrors), and a Kryptonite New York Chain (so you can’t take her, thank you very much). All from

Monday, June 21, 2004


A license and MSF endorsement are MINE.

A title, however, is not.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Good ol’ PENNDOT

So it’s been 60 days since I sent for a new title. Of course in that 60 days, nothing has happened. I call PENNDOT and oh-so-friendly-and-ever-so-helpful Reuben says, glibly, “Oh, that title has been purged from the system, since it was inactive for so long. We need to find out more information.” That’s what they’ve managed to do in 60 days. So now I have to wait until Thursday to call back and see if anyone else has a clue over there. Now I’m wondering if I’ll even get to ride this bike this year.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Tasty Lunch

A bunch of guys fom work and I stopped by Fast by Ferracci after lunch today... what a treat. Lots of Yamaha goodies (including branded mesh jackets... damn!) and a bunch of drool-inducing sportbikes. Of particular note was this monster from Benelli which utilizes dual fans at the rear to suck hot air out from the radiator under the seat... wild in both theory and looks.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004


Still waiting on the state to send me the title for the bike so I can get it registered and inspected...

Stopped by yesterday to see how things were going, and Mike had discovered upon properly inflating the tires that the front had a huge crack running along the sidewall. Rather than replace the front with original-style ribbed, I opted to go modern. Most likely Dunlop F-11.

Also looking for a battery tie-down, as the original disintegrated when pulling the old battery.

Monday, May 31, 2004

More stuff...

Picked up some Clubman bars a few weeks ago, to see how I like them on the bike. Just won an auction for a pair of bar-end mirrors too.

Started my MSF Rider Course, had one classroom session and one riding session so far. Not as hard as I thought it would be... only problems I've been having are with wide slaloms... practice, I guess...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Cool café mods

I had come across James Franzen’s unbelievably cool café Bimmer in my search for cool bikes. The Bimmer has a great one-off solo seat - I emailed him to inquire about it, as to how to go about making or finding a similar one. Here is his response:

The seat was a one-off unit made by a guy that designs stuff like this for a
living - so the unfortunate thing is he's the one with the fiberglass tricks
and not me.

From your site I can tell you've seen "Glass from the Past."
You might want to look at airtech's offerings:
But their server appears to be down this morning.

I am considering some of this guy's offerings on an old Ducati single I'm
building up:
It's in Australia but the US dollar goes farther there.

Because I want to run the old Ducati single with a bumstop seat and no rear
fender on the street, I'm designing a tail light/ brake light/ turn signal
unit that is ultra small - only 1/2" extension beyond the license plate and
super bright - with license plate illumination included. I only have
photographs of the prototype as the refined product is in fabrication now:

One last thing - a guy that saw my seat tried to make his own copy and
documented it on a website:

That R5 will make a sweet café racer! Good luck to you!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Wise investment?

It will be interesting to see how this auction for an R5 identical to mine turns out... bidding already over $3500, though it is in a smidge better condition than mine... at any rate, seems my $550 was well invested...

UPDATE - Winner took it home for $3900.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Big Yama logo

Googled for a Yama logo the other day, came across this really large JPEG image, could prove useful...

UPDATE - Found some EPS artwork that could prove even more useful, via here's the whole list, and there's a few gems in there, including the full tuning-fork logo and even Yamalube... I've added a "Graphics" section to the links on the left. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Parts are here

Received my shifter yesterday, and dropped it off at the shop. The shift rubber arrived today. Mike assured me he’ll be taking the bike out for test runs this weekend.

Also, wound up buying a jacket as well. Knowing the way I sweat even on cold days, I opted for mesh one. I have read a lot of good things about them as well, being just as good as leathers. Originally thought I wanted a Joe Rocket Reactor or Rio, but after trying them on at the Philadelphia Cycle Center, I was disappointed at how high they rode up in the back, even when not in a riding position. I did however try on a Fieldsheer Titanium.Air jacket, and loved the way it fit and looked. After reading this review, I felt confident enough to snag my own.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Took a peek...

Stopped over the shop after work yesterday to take a peek at her. Mike got her started up, and yup, she smokes... nice bluish crap billowing out the pipes. Should be good after a few more starts and a good hard run (the old “Italian tune-up”). She actually has a deeper, throatier sound to her, granted not a H-D, but a lot better than the "ring-ding" I was expecting after reading so much about it...

Anyways, waiting for the shifter and rubber, was shipped on Tuesday.

Russ brought out his cool Yamaha XS1100(?) Franken-racer, complete with self-fabricated hand-laid fiberglass tank and seat and rearsets. Sweet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004


Found some good info on motorcycle anti-theft: a site by a guy who lost his bike to theft, and a comprehensive article from Motorcycle Cruiser magazine... good to know, as I’ll be parking on-street or in an open parking lot...

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Got me a shifter!

Won the auction for the missing shift lever. I’ll be picking up the rubber from Speed and Sport. Now I’ve got my sights on a pair of clubmans...

In the meantime I’m getting some things together to sell on Ebay, including some parts I don’t need... stay tuned...

Friday, April 30, 2004

It’s alive!!!

Got a call from Mike over at Hiway tonight... after a thorough carb cleaning (and almost smoking him out of his garage) the old R5 is purring like a kitten! All she needs to keep going is a new battery! Oh yeah, and that shifter, and some new tires and cables, and inspection and registration... ugh... well, the big question has finally been answered at least...

When the bike was put away, someone had the sense to drain the tank of gas and coat everything in WD-40. Mike commented that after he had cleaned out all the gunk in the bottom that had accumulated over the years, she started up on her first kick.

I got sniped last minute on an auction for a used shifter (dang!). Another one has popped up however (NOS too - good ol’ Ebay!), so I’ll pay more attention this time an hopefully pick it up. Part numbers are as follows:

  • Gear Shift Pedal - Part Number: 278-18111-00-93
  • Gear Shift Pedal Rubber - Part Number: 132-18113-01
  • Monday, April 26, 2004

    Interesting Seat

    Trying to figure out what seat this is... it's exactly what I'm looking for... saw it on a bike being auctioned here, but unfortunately too late. The seller did get back to me when I asked him what brand the seat was, and this is his repsonse:

    I'm sorry but i dont know anything about the seat. As far as i know its stock? I looked at the seat and theres a sicker on the bottom that says 7012.

    It looks like someone took a stock seat and had it reworked and recovered. The stainless trim on the bottom appeares to be stock and the way it fits the tank tells me it was made out of a stock pan and custom covered. I'm hoping it’s a readymade product that I can scrounge up from somewhere. Anyone know otherwise?

    UPDATE - Could it be a Norman Hyde seat?

    Thursday, April 22, 2004


    Been getting some feedback from members of yamahaydsownersgroup, in response to some newbie questions I posted there. A lot of people lean towards staying stock. One response in particular contained some real good stuff, so thought I'd pass it on:

    Safer/better/more reliable?--Number one is tires. On R5's the tires
    need to be updated to moderns---no ribbed fronts. Dunlops may be the
    only ones available in your bike's size. Number 2 either change the
    front brake shoes or have them rechamfered/grooved. Stock R5 front
    brakes come on very sudden and will toss you in a sec. Number 3 is
    replace the rear shocks with moderns. Number 4 is replace the
    swingarm bushings with bronze sintered, and just change the fork oil
    to good moly-based 10-15wt. Number 6 is replace the horn.

    See where this is going??--Nothing to do with cafe or engine mods.

    Only ergonomic item would be to go to low-rise euro-styled bars,
    also called "BMW bars". Please don't go to flat bars; you'll hurt
    your neck at best, won't be able to see at worst. The stock seat is
    a plank, but is still more comfortable than cafe seats. Leave the
    footpegs alone until later; most rearsets make shifting balky and
    make the rear brake less effective with shorter brakearm. Any
    concerns about grounding the stock under-pipe footpeg brackets is
    from old magazine hype. This was always magazines' complaint about

    Also posted more links I’ve found...

    Monday, April 19, 2004

    My Plans

    Plans for the bike include:
    - remove the sissy bar (even though it is kinda cool)
    - install a solo seat (something like this) -OR-
    - install a solo seat cowl (like this) and retain stock seat -OR-
    - just retain and clean up the stock seat (most likely)
    - tail light blinker
    - clubman, drag or superbike bars (clip-ons too expensive)
    - bar-end mirrors
    - new grips (will need new ones with above mirrors anyway)
    - (perhaps) debadging
    - (perhaps) rear sets (if I can find them to fit, or make them)
    - (perhaps) a café fairing (ultra-small, like this one)

    Thursday, April 15, 2004

    A little history...

    A friend of my boss Brian races a Suzuki GSX-R and has an enclosed trailer for hauling the bike to and from the track. Good thing it's enclosed, as it had been raining here for about four days straight. He picked up Brian’s 1971 Triumph Bonneville and his fianceé’s Yamaha (not sure of the model) before heading out to Trevose where my bike had been stored for the last 25 years.

    In the meantime, I brought over my money order and met with Albert, the owner of the bike. Extremely nice gentleman. He related the story of the bike to me. He is a builder by trade, and a friend of his owed him money and was unable to pay him. So he gave him this bike. Albert was interested in riding at the time, as he had friends who rode. He told me about this bike and how deceptively quick it is. He could beat his friend’s Triumph off the line up to 85mph! I didn’t even think this 350 could get up to that! At any rate, Albert got busy with work, and one day he parked it in the garage. One thing lead to another, and there it sat for 25 years. His youngest son Andy (who had posted the eBay auction, and whom I met when inspecting the bike before bidding) had swiped the shifter from the bike to put on his ATV a few years back, so that’s why this piece is missing off the bike. Other than that, the bike is as it was when originally purchased. Albert was even nice enough to include the shop manual for the Yamahas of that year. Excellent stuff, everything needed is in there.

    So we went over to the local notary, paid my $65 (sheesh!) to get the title transferred, and a few minutes after we got back Brian and Jim pulled up in the trailer. After a bit of ratcheting and securing the bikes, we were off to Hiway Motorcycles in Hatboro. Brian’s friend had just opened the shop, and has about 15 Harleys in various states already there. We unloaded the bikes, parked them in the garage, and now I await an estimate of what it’s going to take to get her running again.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2004

    I won!

    I won the eBay auction for a 1972 Yamaha 350 R5-C motorcycle located in Trevose, PA, not far from where I work in Hatboro, PA. Here is the original auction description:

    The item you are bidding on is a 1972 Yamaha R5-350 motorcycle. It has a two cylinder two cycle engine and it has 3,000 original miles on it. The motorcycle is all original with original tires. The bike has been in storage for 25 years, ran prior to being parked and is being sold as is. It has a small dent on the gas tank and is missing the gear shifter, otherwise it is in very good condition. The color is orange and black. Any questions, please feel free to e-mail me. Local pick-up only unless prior arrangements have been made.

    I was the only bidder, and won the item for the opening $550 US bid. The bike came with the original owner’s manual and complete original toolkit. Everything was in amazingly great shape. Everything worked, no exterior rust, no dry rot, no cut wires, all the rubber was soft. Tires will need replacing though. Brakes worked fine, no rust in the tank and there’s compression... the engine sounded like it wanted to turn over! The pictures made the bike look pretty good, but it looks even better in person! A few hours with some chrome polish and wax and she’ll look like she just came off the showroom floor.

    I’ve made arrangements to pick it up and trailer it to a shop near work on Wednesday, April 14th. There it will be looked over and I’ll get an estimate on what it needs to become road-worthy once again.