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Two wheeled Tuesday – Your first two wheel love

Redusernab January 31, 2012 Two-Wheel Tuesday 78 Comments
1980 Honda CB650 Custom

1980 wasn't only about disco and the BeeGee's

 As the winter rolls on it’s time to start thinking about spending time on two wheels.  The story of a person’s first experience buying a motorcycle can be just as informative as their first car. Your first motorcycle can speak volumes about your personality or it could have been strictly for cost.

My first motorcycle back in 1998 was a 1980 Honda CB650 Custom. The main reason for buying it was the $300 price.  The rest of the motorcycle meant less to me then the starting price.  For some this can be a fixer upper from a motorcycle graveyard or for others this is a trip to a local dealer.

So many options so little capital

So many options so little capital

Most times your first motorcycle is a very quick purchase and one that is gone from your life just as quickly. Plus the old saying of ignorance is bliss is very true. After getting my motorcycle license I had no idea that my CB-650C handled like a broken shopping cart. Owning an older bike normally isn’t the same headache as owning a classic car. You are dealing with age issues but the parts are cheaper. There is just something that feels right riding a universal Japanese motorcycle like a Honda CB750. Having your upperbody into the wind while  listening to all the mechanical noises and trying to decide if it’s something you will need to work on later. Feeling both the eagerness and fussiness of an inline four cylinder. Knowing that there is a lot more power at the top end of the rev band but being afraid that you will kill the bike going there. 

The 1980 lean

The 1980 lean

I only kept that bike for little over two years before replacing with a much nicer and newer Suzuki. So I put this out to the readers of Redusernab. What was your first bike? What memories do you have of it and how long did you end up owning it for?


  • 1slowvw

    I like many others started out with the humble Honda Z50 mine being a 1980 model was only 20 or so years old when I got it. It was mismatched from tank to side panels, but it ran and all three gears worked. Soon it would give way to an 80, then a 100 then a pair of 200's which both blew up, and finally onto a 350 before I entered the world of Honda CB ownership in the form of a 1980 CB750F2.
    The first one is always special though, and I can still remember the puff of smoke as you started it, and the total lack of compression. What I remember most though was having a blast.

    • fodder650

      Like you when I think of my old CB650 my memories are good ones. Mostly because it was the first time i got out on the road with my body in the wind. Really my face was as well since i wore a 3/4 helmet back then.

  • kevin

    I have been riding dirtbikes sense i was 4 and racing them sense i was 14, My first dirtbike was a 83 Z50 that i still have but needs a top end. My first street legal bike was and is a 1993 Sportster. started out as an 883 but now the only stock parts left are the frame and wiring harness From what people tell me my bike should be making close to 95 HP. my favorite part about riding it is taking any 600 off the line for 60 feet and Wheeling farther than them!

    • fodder650

      It's funny but your Sportster should be considered a classic Sportster at this point. Since it has a carb and a hard rear suspension. I don't think any of the modern Sportster stuff is on your bike. What upgrades did you do to it?

  • GlassOnion9

    1969 Honda CT90. Like this:
    <img src=";

    But MUCH uglier.

    Not quite a scooter, almost a motorcycle. Put it in low range, though, and it would climb anything.

    After that it was a '73 SL125

    • To this day, I still want a Honda 90. It's the first bike I remember riding other than a mini bike (my buddy had a 90). I was at the dump a few years ago, and somebody was THROWING ONE AWAY. Can't have that. I saved it, but it turned out to be way too far gone to revive. I sadly junked it, but I still want a complete one to ride around town.

    • fodder650

      You meat the nicest people on a Honda.

      I wouldn't mind finding one of them for my 11 year old son to ride around the cal de sac. He already knows how to shift a transmission but his legs are to short for him to try it on my personal motorcycle. I want to avoid a normal scooter since they are automatics.

      • GlassOnion9

        Yeah the centrifugal clutch makes them a good learner. Don't have to worry about stalling, but you still have to shift. Plus the big wheels on the CT give it quite a bit more stability than little scooter wheels.

    • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

      I still want a 150cc-175cc version of this!

      Dual-range trans, 12V electrics in 1986, large wheels… Just. We. Perfect.

      • GlassOnion9

        They're awesome little offroaders. The only problem is the front fender and mud. One time I was riding it around this muddy field and the next thing I know BAM right over the handle bars.

        That metal fender is about an inch from the front tire and it filled up completely with mud. Locked the wheel completely. Getting it unclogged with a stick while sitting in a muddy field was a good learning experience. The fender came off before mud bogging after that.

        • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

          Yeah, I can imagine!

          They need a BMW GS-like front fender.

          Still, I just love the OEM extra fuel tank. Snorkel intake at rider butt level, very cool.

    • stickmanonymous

      My first bike was a 2002 CT110, which looked almost identical to that one but probably had an extra 3/4 of a raging horsepower. Pulled off a few mad back country roadtrips with that one. Even downhill it topped out at 82kph.

  • topdeadcentre

    My first bike was a 1982 Suzuki GS650GL, which cost me $700 in 1998. It was a great bike; as durable as the Hondas of the era, and easy to ride and fix. I rode it about 2500 miles in two years. I had wanted to start out with a 400cc or less, but I couldn't find anything in that engine size in good condition at a price I wanted to pay. The 650 came along in beautiful condition for its age, and with the riding safety course under my belt, was a great intro to riding. It wasn't at all underpowered, and I'm not a high-speed rider anyway.

    In 2000, I upgraded to a 1983 GS1100GL for $1200, with a very sweet engine and a little more comfort. It's my current bike, but also currently off the road, as it needs a fair amount of electrical and carb work.

    But that 650 really did a great job for the time I had it, and I sold it on to a friend who then lost interest and sold it on.

    When the financial sting of buying a house and the upcoming replacement of my car is over, I may be looking into a much more modern Triumph Bonneville or maybe Sprint for a new riding experience

    The 650 looked almost exactly like this:
    <img src=";

    • fodder650

      That's a good example of the loo of a standard or universal Japanese motorcycle. Since it doesn't look much different from my Candy Red 80 CB650C. It even has the same wheels as mine did. Just curious about a couple things since you normally you don't get a chance to ask these questions.

      What differences have you found between the 650 and the 1100 since they are very similar. Other then I believe your 1100 is a tourer. What did you like more about the 650 over the 1100 or vice versa. In my case owning a giant bike like i do now screws up those days I want to take a 10 minute ride. Owning a 900 pound motorcycle means great highway rides but miserable slow speed around the town riding

      • topdeadcentre

        Many technical details are available over at

        The 1100 I have has the same "L" styling as the 650. The two models share have the same mechanicals (identical engine bottom end and transmission case, ignition system, shaft drive, wheels and tires, and many other bits and bobs), though the 1100 has a wider twin-cradle frame than the 650. The 1100 has a larger seat, larger gas tank, a few added electronics (the best auto-cancelling turn signals of the era), air-preload shocks in the rear and an extra brake disc up front, wider fork tubes (IIRC), and a nicer tool kit.

        Riding differences? The 1100 has much more low end grunt, more horsepower, slightly heavier steering because of the increased engine weight, more comfortable seat for highway trips, smoother engine at highway speeds.

        Here's a picture of an '83 GS1100GL that's nearly identical to mine (mine still has the large OEM turn signals on it):
        <img src="; width="550/">

      • Your CB most likely had Honda's Comstar wheels (stamped/riveted construction). The Suzuki mags were cast, one-piece wheels like most of its contemporaries.

  • <img src=";
    1973 Honda CL125S, but with a replacement 1974 tank, as shown in the picture.
    I bought it in August, 1980, and traded it in on a brand-new Triumph Bonneville the following April.

    A very fun, light bike, but gutless at higher speeds and the brakes were pretty lame.

    • fodder650

      Have you thought about going back and buying another one?

      • Many, many times.

        • fodder650

          it should make you happy to know that the Triumph is making a brand new bike that has the same pipe look as your old Scrambler

  • <img src="; width=500>

    My first bike was a stylish Yamaha RT360 Thumper like the one above. Purchased in the early '80s to MX with my buddies, it was already hopelessly dated. With all that torque, it was a good hillclimber.

    It was also my first engine rebuild. I kept it for two years, at which point my Dad forced a sale because he was tired of seeing it in parts in his pristine garage. I traded it for two BMX bikes and a rowboat. It was destroyed a few weeks later when my friend shunted, due to a pinched throttle cable.

  • Number_Six

    My first was a 1985 Suzuki RG250 Gamma. I was sixteen and I bought the bike brand-new from a Suzuki dealer. My friends were getting Yamaha RZ350s and Honda NS400s at the time, but I was smitten with the Suzuki. I don't actually remember what made the Suzuki more appealing than the other two (which were legends at the time) – it might have been the blue colour or maybe it was the instruments set in styrofoam. Anyway, the bike was a cracker and I loved it for two years before I got the hunger for power and bought the totally insane Suzuki RG500…
    <img src="; />

    • topdeadcentre

      The 250 Gammas are wonderful, wonderful bikes.

      • Number_Six

        I've had a lot of bikes in the years since, but I wish I could still have it and the RG500 today. Although now that I'm 210lbs instead of 170lbs, I'd look a wee bit funny on the 250.

  • Schwinn Qualifier Predator, and yes it was chrome.

  • hotrodrendering

    Mine was a 1969 CB 175, came with ape hangers and exhaust made out of black pipe. I paid $150 for it. I quickly put stock bars and pipes from an old suzuki on, painted it black and rode it to work down 8 mile in Detroit from groesbeck to woodward where the shop was in the 80's. I kept that bike till 2 years ago, countless people learned to ride on it. In the end the left plug hole was stripped, so I wedged an allen wrench between the fins and against the plug insulator so it wouldn't blow out. Eventually the heat and vibration would loosen the allen wrench and the plug would pop out with a loud bang. I would stop, shove it back in, put the wrench back in position and ride off.
    I bought 2 Yamaha TX750's and a 73 CB750F back then, sold them all a few years ago.

  • TX_Stig

    My first was a 2001 Suzuki SV650S. I still see it occasionally, as I sold it to a coworker. I got rid of it because I didn't want to have 2 bikes in the garage. The other was a Ducati 748. As it turns out, I should have sold the Duc and kept the Zook. The Duc was not a great street bike for a brutal summer in Houston. Turns out they are quite sensitive to the high ambient heat, low speed, and being bathed in waste heat from other vehicles. Now I have no bikes. Although, I have been pondering a restoration/modification project along the lines of the last of the great 2 stroke street bikes. Time for my neighbors to hate me.

    • I have a M600 Monster and live in Austin. I sympathize. Low speed and hot hot heat are a bad combo for the air-cooled Ducs.

      • TX_Stig

        The 748's are water cooled, though. Mine had popped it's coolant expansion tank cap once already, due to a deteriorated seal granted. That probably made me a little more paranoid than need be. But the way the pipes wrap, and the rear cylinder roasting one's chestnuts during the summer made for miserable rides. But once the road cleared and you could hit 8 grand a few times, all was well with the world.

  • I was fortunate that my dad was somewhat of a collector of bikes. The first one that I ever rode was a YSR50:

    <img src="; width=550>

    I did not really love it. In fact, it scared the crap out of my 8 year old self. The first bike that I truly loved, from a purely visceral sense was my dad's Bimota SB6:

    <img src="; width=550>

    My father had it painted first in the blue/green/purple chameleon paint, and, Jesus was it awesome. Sure, the bike itself spent more time in pieces than assembled and running, but it looked the part.

    • I think I've said this before, but your dad sounds awesome.

      • He does have lots of cool toys, that is for sure. He ended up trading in the Bimota for a straight out of the crate Ducati 996. That is probably my all-time favorite bike.

  • danleym

    Someday, I will have some input into this conversation. Someday…

  • OA5599

    Kawasaki Green Streak (Centurion), from age 10 to around the time I got a permit for 4 wheels. It was extremely fast for what it was, producing 18.5 hp from 100 cc's on a relatively lightweight frame. Steve McQueen had a fleet of a half dozen of them, and one went for $55K at auction.

    <img src=";

  • MrHowser

    My first bike was this 1980 KZ650.

    <img src=";

    When my dad was in the Navy, he had a '78, blue just like this, and he loved it. After I got mine, he mentioned that his had been really temperamental in the cold, and started only grudgingly. Well, I can tell you that 30 years later, mine was no different.

    I paid $1600 for it, and put less than 2000 miles on it in two years. Stupidly, I let it sit all winter without any winterization, and sure enough, the carbs got gummy. I was getting married and moving, so I unloaded it cheap one Saturday morning, with the promise that the guy would call me when he got it running. He called me back that afternoon, bike purring like a kitten in the background.

    Then there's my Nighthawk. As you can tell, I'm a UJM fan.

    <img src=";

    '91, had 30k miles when I bought it to replace the Audi I sold. Took it into the shop for leaking fork seals, and found out it had bent forks, bad tires, and the original chain/sprocket, among other maladies. Great. $1200 later, I had a great commuter bike for my 35 mile (each way) commute in Phoenix. It was an excellent bike – 50 mpg if I rode it responsibly, and very quick if I didn't. Even laying it down only resulted in $50 worth of parts replaced – not a scratch on the tins. I sold it when we moved to Idaho, with the promise to myself that my next bike would be the one I really wanted, not one I settled for. I fell in love with a friend's SV650 – something about that V-twin grunt really appeals to me.

    • fodder650

      Yeah you have to be careful about winterizing these. I owned a 93 Suzuki GS500E which looked surprisingly like the NightHawk there. Well it lived on my covered back porch. I never put staybill or such in it over the winter. Every Spring I spent $300 or more getting the carbs cleaned and keeping it running.
      I kept it 7 years and put all of 6,000 miles on it. Mostly because, like that Nighthawk, i have a short inseam and it's a tall bike. Once I replaced it with a bike with a low seat I found myself putting a lot more miles on them. The GS500E still lives in my brain for being stupid fun to run. It would get 58mpg when you road it safely. But then that 11000 rev limit on it's parallel twin used to call out to me. Oh that bike was so much fun. I gave it to a friend in the end. Who rode it for a year before selling it for VW Bug parts to finish a project car.

    • That particular KZ650 is among the best looking UJMs of the 70s, in my eye – all the proportions are just right. Looks good in blue, red, black etc, and has proper, metal fenders. I am partial to Kawi inline 4s – my second bike was an '81 KZ750E, and while it wasn't too far removed from the 650 visually, it was heavier & didn't handle as sharply as the 650.

      I'm quite happy with my '99 ZRX1100 now, thankyouverymuch.

  • My first bike was a 100 CC Chaparral, with a 2 stroke Fuji engine, just like a Hodaka. I cut my teeth on it in the woods and swamps of North Florida, where I lived at the time. I was sixteen. Then, I saved up enough for a fairly rough 1970 Yamaha XS650. I had enough rudimentary mechanical knowledge by then to get it sorted out, and rode the hell out of it until I joined the Army. It was a good trainer for the Norton I would buy after the Army, as the Yamaha was a twin, kick start only, pretty simple. Drum brakes front and rear. I liked that bike, and wish I still had it.
    <img src=";

  • tiberiusẅisë

    1977 Suzuki DS80. That bike was a blast. Later I stepped up to a 1975 Honda Elsinore and have loved Suzukis and hated Hondas ever since.

    <img src="; width="400">

  • scroggzilla

    I'm not a bike guy….never have been. However, we had a neighbor who owned one of these…..which I found fascinating as a youngster.
    <img src=";
    Incidentally, the same neighbor owned and drove a Renault Gordini R8.

  • Irishzombieman

    There's been a bike or two in my past, but they never belonged to me. Prior to last April I might've had a thousand miles of seat time total in 38 years. Then I bought a 1992 Suzuki GS500, rated by bestbeginnermotorcycles.com as the best first bike for a person confident of their ability to pick up skills quickly.

    For about $1000, I've got a bike that, while no rocketship by motorcycle standards, will beat to 60 mph any car I drooled over in the 80s. It's light, nimble, simple and reliable, and has, in the words of one period review, all the good stuff about 60s British twins without all the problems that come with being British.

    The models changed very little from 1989 to 2003, disappeared from the US in 2004, then returned in 2005 mechanically unchanged but fully faired. What's that mean? Cheap, easy-to-find spare parts, something I'd not've gotten with the early 80s Hondas I'd been looking at.

    I love this bike, and have put close to 6k miles on it using it as a daily commuter. I'm going to keep it until it dies. Then I'm going to get another one.

    <img src="; width="400/">

    • GlassOnion9

      One of my best friends bought one of those (94, purple) for me to teach him to ride on. It was a perfect first bike. He has since sold it to another friend of ours who is now fixing it up for his wife to learn on.

    • fodder650

      I owned a red one like that with purple decals. I hated the decals but couldn't change them because the paint was different under them. I only rode it 6000 miles in 7 years but I have good memories of it.

      A good site for GS500 owners is GSTWINS.COM which will slow you how to do upgrades and changes to the bike. The forums are active and you will never be lacking for knowledge about this bike. To this day I still say the GS500E/F is the best starter bike on the market. Well it's no longer on the market. Suzuki has finally discontinued it and i have no idea why. Sales always seemed good on it.

  • XRSevin

    1975 Honda 400F, like this one.
    <img src="; width="600">
    Eventually it was painted black, with a Rifle fairing. Later it had a sidecar.

    • topdeadcentre

      Bestest 4 into 1 exhaust design EVAR! 🙂

    • I'm so jealous. I've always admired these little jewels, and the earlier CB350 fours. I had a 350 twin or two, but the sound of those little teeny fours was just a sweet thing back in the day. Nice bike.

  • buzzboy7

    I've never owned a bike. But I do have some love. My good friend has an '85 Nighthawk that I adore. Also I have a really weird lust for these:
    <img src=";

    • Number_Six

      "…I have a really weird understandable lust for these…"

      -Fixed it for ya.

    • Nothing weird about that! I'm disappointed that Honda only sold them in the US for 2(?) years.

      • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        No lie! And that we didn't get the Africa Twin.

        I've had three Transalps, but I regret selling the first one, to this day. The other two were speculative.

  • Slow_Joe_Crow

    My first bike was a 1975 Kawasaki KZ400 that I bought in the spring of 1990. It proved instructive since I had to spend a weekend taking apart the clutch and primary after the shifter detent spring broke and I had to ride home from work in second gear. Then I tried to bleed the front brake and broke the bleeder screw and had to fix that. I always knew it was starter bike rather than a keeper and 5 months later I bought a 1978 BMW R100S and sold the Kawi, but after over 20 years I still have the BMW.

  • I bought a '78 Suzuki GS550 in 1991, knowing little about motorcycles except that I NEEDED one. One of my best friends & his father – both riding since early childhood – mentored me. Good thing too, since that bike had myriad electrical issues.

    A year after I bought it, I rode it from Vermont to the SF Bay area, and commuted on it for the next 6 months or so. I returned to the east coast mid-winter, and a few months later, arranged to have it hauled back by a local guy who was going to be in Oakland picking up an antique tractor. His rig caught fire on I-80 near Donner Pass, and the Suzuki was toast. The insurance settlement let me pick up a cheap Kawasaki KZ750, and it's been mostly Kawasakis since then.

    Not mine, but nearly identical (mine had a black Kerker 4-into-1):
    <img src="; width="600">

    • fodder650

      The moral of this story is to ride your bike cross country?!

      Sorry to hear about it's death in a fire

      • I think that's an excellent moral! I've done it a few more times & it continues to be a fantastic way to see the country. I'd much rather do it on two wheels than four, assuming minimal superslab is involved.

    • Anybody who'd ride that far on a bike like that, and not make a big deal about it, earns my respect and should earn the respect of anybody who has ridden a bike further than going to the corner for a pack of smokes and a six pack of beer. Harley guys boast about riding to the next county for a beer with all their buddies on a Sunday afternoon, they have nothing on you, buddy.

      • Thanks, man. It was a fantastic, fun trip; definitely an adventure. I was in Berkeley one day, and a guy on a shiny, never-seen-dirt BMW R100GS pulled up next to me at a red light & high-fived me for riding so far on a "such a little bike".

        I love middleweights, and one of these days my '76 Yamaha XS500 will be back on the road. Around town, it's much easier to deal with than my ZRX.

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    First bike – 1981 Honda C70…cost: free. Really liked it, didn't love it.

    Second bike – 1984 XL125S. $300, a lot of fun.

    Third bike – 1983 VF750S. I'm still amazed I didn't kill myself on that machine. Early-80's motorcycles were very much like the musclecars of the automobile era. Tires, suspension, and to a lesser degree brakes, were not even in the same sport as the engine.

    '89 Transalp…really liked that machine…a lot. Even tweaked it to be more street-friendly, and it irked the guys on 1000 cc machines I could hand with them in the twisties. Ground clearance FTW!

    Then…I bought this:

    <img src="; width="500">

    Bone-stock when I got it, but it became the LD-rally Frankencycle pictured here. A Goof2 front wheel, extra fuel capacity, two sets of Piaa lights, Russell saddle, some custom suspension work, and other goodies.

    Eventually, the 'command center' looked like this:

    <img src="; width="400">

    I cried, literally, when I sold that bike. While I wish I still had it, but after the GL1800ABS which complimented it almost killing both my wife and I (diesel fuel spill on a back road with a river next to it…in Oregon…during peak snowmelt) made me question if I'd be able to hold it upright at a stoplight, if I got just a little off-balance.

    I knew I'd never likely ride again after selling it. I rode it one time, 'bout three years post GL1800 accident, and my wife, who watched me, said, "it looks like you rode it yesterday!"

    Yeah. That was the problem. I was too comfortable, and was likely, IMO, to make a fatal mistake.

    BTW, buy the best gear you can, head-to-toe, and wear it.

    IOW, ATGATT. I'm living proof gear pays off.

    • Irishzombieman

      I wear 40 pound of extra gear to work every morning (compared to what I take when I'm driving a car). My wife made fun of it all until I explained that it was 40 pounds of durable, abrasion- and impact-resistant stuff that would keep my insides inside in the event of an accident. Long pause before she wondered aloud if it was enough.

      My kids think I look like a superhero. That's reason enough by itself to wear all that crap.

      • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        My wife and I wore dedicated Alpinestars boots, dedicated gloves, Shoeis/Shuberths, and one-piece Aerostich suits.

        Probably $2K, each, but you can't put a price on skin.

        The best part about it was, I could ride in pretty much any weather, unzip the oversuit at work, cram it and the Shoei in the cases, and besides boots, which were very plain black, you'd never know I hadn't driven.

        Even brought shoes at one place, for a while, but it was too much work. I honestly don't think anyone noticed the boots not being dress shoes.

    • fodder650

      I wear riding boots, jacket, helmet and gloves. I'll admit that I don't wear the correct pants and that my jeans won't do me any good. On the flip side whenever my son goes riding with me he has his jacket, helmet and gloves. All sized for him and not hand me downs.

    • Yikes! That's too much of a command center for me, at least on two wheels. But I ride solo, and don't want to listen to anything but the machine.

      Is your aux fuel cell the aluminum box below the rear case?

      • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        All I listened to was my wife on the intercom, the rest is rally gear. A Sigma bike computer for very accurate speed/distance readings, the control box over the left handgrip is for electric grips (bottom left, the only hi-lo switch), a switch for each pair of the Piaa lamps, one for self-created 4-way flashers, one for the map light, and one for the aux fuel pump.

        The fuel pump was a cheap electric one which was in the tail section with the Autocom gear. I needed it only to get a flow started from the 'pizza box', that aluminium cell under the Givi case, then vacuum took over. Usually. Worked properly about 90% of the time.

        Carried 10.4 gallons on that machine, and I put 10.3 and change at a station in SE Nevada at 2AM. I coulda kissed the guy behind the counter, 'cause it'd been a solid 90 minutes at 35 MPH, hoping I'd make it.

        Tip: don't count on fuel in Rachel, NV, after about 9 PM.

        What's missing from this picture is the Garmin GPSIII, and the final Mike Valentine Escort. Over there in front of my left knee was the Kriss Amp-U-Tron, so I knew how many minutes of daylight I had before I had slow to posted, shut off the disturbing amount of light, and cruise in 4th gear for max alternator output.

        I was tough at times…lights or electric grips. Okay, grips on low, only the Piaa 910's, and just low beams on the mains (I put a detent in the middle of the underside of the dipper switch to have both high & low, simultaneously).

        Yeah…I took it seriously.

        • Excellent. I have no interest in rallying (I assume you're talking about Iron Butt or something along those lines), but I'm all for customizing my motorcycle so it works as ideally as possible for me.

          Looks like you did the same with that ST.

  • Impalamino

    <img src=";

    I bought the bike in the foreground first…1979 Yamaha XS750SF. Bought it from some backwoods dude in central Iowa…He had a '78 KZ1000 for sale for a few more bucks, but, this being my first bike, I thought that would be way too much. Spent a LOT of time wrenching on this bike, even though it "ran" and "rode" when I bought it. Pretty much had it completely apart and back together, not counting the tranny/bottom end. The bike in the background is a 1980 Yamaha XS850SG, the bigger brother of the 750. Rescued it from a collapsing barn…no title, brakes locked up…but by that time I knew most of what there is to know about these bikes, and what was intended to be a parts bike became a quasi-legal second rider (switch the plates, they'll never know!). I put about 40k on between the two of them over a period of 4 years in college. Thank God I worked at a service station!

    I still have both of them…but they're moldering in the garage. I can't bring myself to get rid of them…but if anyone's interested…I have a huge box of spares (including 3 gas tanks, a head….bars, seats, you name it, factory service manuals, specialty tools).

    Riding them was a joy. The 750 especially just ripped. Nothing sounds like a triple when it's high in the revs! Scared myself plenty of times.

    • Impalamino

      <img src=";

      A better pic of the 850…taken June '07? Parked in front of the aforementioned service station in Iowa City, IA.

  • P. Frere

    First bike–well-used 1974 Hodaka 100 Dirt Squirt. That was a fun little bike and it stood up to a great deal of abuse by a bunch of teens who really had no idea what they were doing. I remember shedding a tear at the passing of Hodaka in 1980.

    Coincidentally I had a $300 1980 CB650 at exactly the same time that you did. Mine was like the one in the road test picture, even down to wire wheels instead of comstars. A good honest ujm, if a bit porky.

  • VeeArrrSix

    Everyone has a bike but me. Now I'm sad…

    • Irishzombieman

      Easily remedied:

      • VeeArrrSix

        Yeah I've been talking to Fodder about a "starter" bike for myself. I really need to learn how to ride first though.

        • MrHowser

          Surely the People's Republic offers a motorcycle basics class? If you have to get your own bike, pick up something like the undead Irishman posted, or one of these.
          … … … …

          Who cares if you drop it? As long as it still runs when you're ready for your "nice" bike, it'll be worth about as much as you paid for it.

        • ptschett

          I recommend the . Not only will they teach you the basics using (usually) someone else's bike, but also when it's time to get the full license some states will accept the completion card in place of subjecting you to the DMV's driving test.

          Edit: someday I'll learn HTML.

          • pj134

            In PA they're free. Because we're cool. I need to take that class. And get a bike.

  • Kogashiwa

    My first bike was a '98 CBR600F3 – surprisingly suitable for a beginner actually, though certainly fast, it was easy to ride, tractable, docile, and more comfortable than any middleweight supersport had any right to be. However, I can't honestly say I loved it. It served its purpose admirably and is now doing the same for someone else.

    I thought I wanted a naked bike and wasn't certain which to go for, whether the Kawasaki Z1000, Yamaha MT-01 (I still want one of those, maybe someday), Ducati Monster, or go all out and get a Ducati Streetfighter. The Yamaha FZ-1 never really was on my radar because in North America we only got the half-faired version and it looks, well, a little grampa-ish, like a bike that wanted to be a sportbike but couldn't quite manage to be that athletic.

    Then I saw this:

    <img src="; width="600">

    The FZ1N that we never got. Love at first sight. You can easily get all the parts to convert an FZ1, so I bought one the very next week. It doesn't look like that yet, but all the bits are sitting in a box waiting to be put on before the snow melts.

  • ptschett

    In 5 years I put 40,000 miles on my '99 KLR650 which had 10,000 when I bought it (the weekend before Hurricane Katrina hit.) Here's a rare sighting of it in commuting trim, with the milk crate instead of the plastic ammo-box toolkit.
    <img src="; width="500"/>

    I suppose I should decide what I'm going to do with it… the balancer chain tension system failed and wrecked a sprocket on the crank, requiring either a complete engine tear down and reassembly or sourcing another engine (which would be this chassis' third, the previous owner had replaced it with an '04 unit.) Either way I'll be spending more than the bike is worth if I fix it, so it might be time to move on.

    • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

      The best part about dual-sports is saying, "what…that road is a pavement disaster? Really? Hadn't noticed…"

  • Unfortunately, I don't' have one. My mother crashed and shattered her tibia within two minutes of first climbing on a motorcycle, and has ever since believed them to be homicidal death-machines. As a courtesy to her nerves, I've never ridden.

  • Maymar

    To date, I've only had one bike, a '76 CB750 that was meant to be a project. It ran enough that the previous owner rode it over to my place, but then it stopped running after an hour of puttering around a parking lot, and I never had the know-how to get it sorted out (I was in well over my head). I ended up selling it when I went back to school.

    I'm tempted to try again this summer, although avoiding Project Bike Hell. I'm leaning towards a CB125R since they're cheapish and common – something low cost and low maintenance to ride econo for a couple years until I can build up an insurance record.

  • emaren

    My first bike love was a Honda 50 'Scrambler', way back in 1972.

    It belonged to a cousin, Ian. He used to let me ride it when we visited and I nagged my parents into letting me have one for my 8th birthday later that year.

    As we lived 'on base' there were a number of fellow Royal Air Force brats with dirt bikes and we would roam the common land in a crazy pack. Numerous crashes and adventures followed and eventually the 50 gave way to an 80, then a 125 2-stroke.

    The 125 was crazy fast – I would be maybe 11 at the time…

    Eventually I got the speed bug and at 13 we traded the 125 dirt bike in for a 1977 Yamaha RD125.

    This was my first real love.

    Living in the UK I was still too young to ride on the street, but Air Bases have perimeter roads and there was a junior class for circuit races. So the bike lots all of the street gear, gained a number plate and I got my first set of leathers and I went crashing, erm, racing.

    In 1980 the 125 gave way to a pre-raced RD250, which leads my nicely to 1981.

    In 1981 I was finally permitted to ride a 250 on the street – after an embarassing year on a Yamaha FS1E-DX (50cc moded). I spent the entire summer working 40 hours / week saving the money for an RD250LC and in the December I got one – a lightly used RD250LC with a 'Becketts' motor and the all important steering damper.

    Love ?

    More like unadulterated LUST.

    I lasted exactly 13 days, 4 hours and a couple of minutes on the street before putting myself into the Spinal Injuries ward !

    13 glorious, wonderful, dangerous days.

    I still ride, a succession of seriously fast bikes followed the wreckage of that 250, the engine from that bike even survived in my race bike for a while before I graduated to 350LC's, then 600 fours then 'unlimited street bikes' for a while.

    Very little since has come close to the 250LC, that was my love and so nearly my death.


    My Ducati 916 came close, but it too ended in tragedy as it was stolen, but that is another story…..

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