Friday, September 30, 2005

Hooray for Steve!

Every once and a while someone writes in and tells it like it is:
I just wanted to thank you for all the information your website has provided in helping me resurrect my 72 r5. I purchased it about 2 weeks ago and it has been turning out good ever since. You should one day post what a blast it is to drive, I don't think I read one yet. Anyways, great job on the site.
First off, congrats on the bike! And on your discriminating taste in two-wheeled transportation! And, thanks, of course, for the kind words.

But yes! What a blast this thing is to ride! So quick, so agile! The great feeling you get as the front wheel tries to lift off every gear change! The looks you get from other people on cars and bikes alike - what is that? is it a dirtbike? is it really that fast? is it really that old? I used to have on of those! best bike ever! - all tremendously grin-inducing.

Steve, I thank you for reminding me that riding is what this is all about. The joy in bringing something back to life, shining it up, taking it for a spin and showing it off.

Now I'm really motivated to get this thing back on the road... it's been too long since I've heard the rrrrrrrring-ding-ding...

Grips and Mirrors

JD wrote in to ask a good question about the bar and grip setup on my R5:
I noticed that you have bar end mirrors, do you also have stock grips? If so how did you install the mirror on the throttle grip - just cut a hole?
Here's the deal. I replaced the stock bars for lower, somewhat uncomfortable, but much better looking cafe bars. In order to get the clutch lever off the stock bar, I had to cut the stock grip. I tried not to, but the sucker wouldn't budge. Once the one was cut, well, I went ahead and replaced them both with open-ended ProGrip 698XL Superbike grips.

Well, sorta.

The 698XLs I ordered wound up being closed-ended, despite the description on the site I bought them from, and they didn't carry the open-ended ones. That's OK, though, as I discovered that I really wanted the 699 Superbike grips... same company, same material, just a cooler grip pattern. And supposedly open-ended. So I exchanged for those.

And, of course, they arrive close-ended. So at this point I simply took an Xacto to them and trimmed myself a hole. Both grips, as I had mirrors on both sides.

The grips are excellent. They really dampen the vibration of the motor. However, the bar-end mirrors, while looking rather trick, no matter how much tightening and adjusting, they just never stayed put. The one thing I could count on was a good view of the ground behind me or my armpit - not good when you actually need to check your background for a quick lane change.

So, I decided to remove the bar-ends, replace the original black plastic caps that came with the cafe bars in their stead, and mount the original dental mirror. While it's only on one side, I really like the look of it. Plus, due to the lower speeds of the bike while cruising, I'm usually in the right hand lane anyways. I may keep an eye out for a NOS mirror for the other side too... might not look bad with both on there...

For more info, see posts titled Mirror Swap (5/31/04) and Hmmmm... (7/13/04), below.

Friday, September 16, 2005

"All my life I've wanted to do something big."

Unlike Supercross, and Biker Boyz, and Torque, which all pretty much sucked, this looks like a good motorcycle movie. Anthony Hopkins isn't the type to do crap films, and director Roger Donaldson has good stuff (The Recruit and Thirteen Days) before.

A full website is coming soon, but here's a short synopsis:

Anthony Hopkins stars as Burt Munro, a man who never let the dreams of youth fade. After a lifetime of perfecting his classic Indian motorcycle, Burt set off from the bottom of the world to test his bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. With all the odds against him, he set a new speed record and captured the spirit of his times. Burt Munro’s 1967 world record remains unbroken and his legend lives on today.

Here’s also a website about Bert Munro, subject of the film.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Yamaha Racing 50th Anniversary Microsite

Hadn't posted this before, but Yamaha Factory Racing has put up a microsite with lots of good images of the days of racing glory past. Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Paul checks in

Sorry everyone, my hosting company went down while LA experienced power outages...

In the meantime, Paul Moeller had written in, and I've been meaning to get back to him:

Lawrence, I found your website searching through google and I wanted to drop you a line and ask a few questions. My dad has one of these babies sitting in his shed, probably the exact same one as you have. It's a 1972 Yamaha 350 R5 that needs a lot attention and I would like to be able to give it the tlc it needs. I just have a few questions for you? Are parts easy to come by? I don't really have that much experience with engines but I am mechanically inclined and love a challenge. There is a chance that the engine needs some work, and do you think that with the help of some online materials and book help an engine overhaul could be done by a novice? I am looking forward to exploring your site more and thanks for putting it out there for everyone to see.

Paul -

Sounds a lot like my situation... I love everything automotive or motorcyclic in nature, but don't have much experience doing things myself. I just didn't have the space to work on my stuff that much - rowhome living did limit what I could accomplish on my own. I do enjoy the challenge though, and have jumped in feet-first by buying this bike and attempting to do everything myself. At least I could chain the bike up on the pavement while it was being worked on, and wheel it inside during the winter.

I did however take the bike to a licensed HD mechanic to look her over just to make sure nothing major needed to be done... apparently all that was needed after 20 years of storage was a good carb cleaning! So in my case I was lucky. Just a little tinkering got her legal and back on the road.

However, the bike isn't doing so hot at the moment. Seems the battery is not charging while running, so I need to find those gremlins and get rid of 'em. I have been busy buying a house and moving for the past few weeks, but the new place has a garage (!) so I anticipate a lot more work getting done in the near future!

I started my R5 site as part scrapbook, part experiment, and mostly placeholder for all the links I found while combing the internet for R5 stuff... you see, there was no one site that had everything all together. I think that's why it's become so popular.

Anyways, it seems there's a whole mess of R5s out there, and a pretty good helping of spares and aftermarket parts to keep 'em going. Even New Old Stock! There are also a lot of manuals (factory originals and reprints as well as independent books) still out there. A simple search for "R5" on eBay came up with a handful of stuff, and you can even keep looking for the later RDs, as much of the stuff is interchangeable... then there's a bunch of shops that cater to the early Yammys, and those links are to the left. A couple of the bigger ones that I've seen many a person reccommend are Moto Carrera and HVC. Another good source for finding stuff is by asking around on mailing lists (Yahoo! R5 and Yahoo! RDS) and forums (like USA 2Strokers and OBB). The good news is these bikes are available, there are plenty of parts new and old, and prices are on the cheaper side...

So, I say, if I can do it, you can do it - what are you waiting for? The support is out there... get that stinker back on the road!