Well, I knew it would happen someday, and it has happened sooner than I expected...
I sold my EX250 Ninja in March 2004.*Snif*
I miss it because it was the bike I re-learned how to street ride on, and I rode
it for 2 years and it never failed me. But, it was time to move up, if even slightly.
And WHAT A MOVE UP IT WAS!!! Holy cow, I never imagined that going from a 250cc bike
to a 500 (well, 499cc) would make that much of an improvement in performance but it sure did!
Sure, it cost me an arm and a leg, (and a kidney, my spleen...) but It's becomming a nice bike. A little tweak here, a
new part there... it all takes time...
To quickly recap: Last Spring I Ditched my old black leather "police" jacket (also known as 'The Oven')
for a Joe Rocket Phoenix mesh jacket ($88 on eBay compared to $119 retail.
Soooooo much cooler to wear in the summertime than that black leather oven. I also added a
set of Joe Rocket leather/kevlar gloves as well (I think they were like $20 or so on eBay.
Good deal over the retail price of like $50? I feel a bit safer now since the jacket has
additional armor inside for protection. But as is the case with any new purchase, the following
year's models have new features that are very attractive. This year I want a new jacket.
The Joe Rocket Alter Ego. It has a rain proof zip-off outer covering, a removeable
liner for cool weather, and underneath the rain protection it's mesh like my Phoenix jacket, so you
don't roast in hotter weather. Plus with the usual body armor, it's a pretty nice jacket. MSRP is $249
but I've seen them for as little as $150 or so on eBay. I've also been thinking of a new
helmet. I'd like to get into one of the helmets with the flip up chin bar. Mainly this is to make
putting the helmet on easier since I wear glasses, and it's a pain taking my glasses off, putting
the brain bucket on, and then snaking the glasses inside the lid. It's a pain, but I'm NOT riding
without a helmet. I've seen too many morons scraped off the road with a mop and two buckets to not
wear a helmet. Mainly Harley riders. -_^
All I need now is a set of leather pants and a decent set of bike boots and I'll be ready
for the AMA Superbike championships! Look out Nicky Hayden! Okay, not really...
The color of my Phoenix jacket even matches the new bike okay!
Put the fairing on although I'm missing a few bolts. The windshield is cracked in a few locations at the mounting bolts so it's not mounted real strong. It likes to rattle as I ride.
Painted it silver just because I can. ^_^ Well, that and I intend on replacing it eventually,
so what the heck. It had already been painted a gloss black by the previous owner so the damage
had already been done. Spray painted the chain guard also. Looks like burnished Aluminium. And it didn't
cost me over $200 either. 2 quick coats of paint after washing it with dish soap to get the majority of
the dirt, oil and grease off, let it dry for a couple hours and it was ready to go. Looks pretty sharp
After looking at the specs of some newer bikes, I got curious as to what kind of horsepower
(or in reality, the lack thereof...) that my bike had. My friend Jason Trumpold looked it
up for me and apparently it has 51.07 Horsepower @ 12,000 RPM. Woo hoo. (That was sarcasm kids. -_^)
Those stats came from the January 1987 issue of Cycle magazine. In that same comparison
they stated that Kawasaki's EX500 had about 10 more HP @ 8,000 RPM, which also makes me laugh. ^_^
As a direct comparison, the 2002 Honda VFR800 Interceptor has 99.1@10,750 RPM, and to REALLY make
you laugh... the 2001 Honda Gold Wing has 104.1@5500 RPM. Of course the GW has a much larger engine,
(and much more weight...) but it still makes me laugh.
A tale of two wheelies...
Okay, so I'm driving home from work and I see a motorcycle parked in a yard, with a home made
for sale sign on it. I think the sign says $3,000 and drive by, but decide half a block later,
even though I can't afford $3k, I'll look at it anyway.
Turns out the asking price is $300.00 instead! Half the bike is in pieces, so I
offer the guy $200 which he accepts.
The bike is a 1984 500cc Honda V-Four Interceptor (VF500).
I thought it was an '84, but it might actually be an '85, as it has factory blue bodywork
which from what I understand didn't happen untill 1985.
I'm pretty certain that sometime in it's life this bike was laid down because the right side engine
casing is scratched, as is the right side of the fork.
Also, you may have noticed that this bike is blue in color. Most of the original VF500's had a
red, white and blue (or black) paint scheme going, which also makes me believe that some or
all of the plastics have been replaced or repainted at some point in time. Or maybe not, I really have
no way of finding out.
Well aside from the color differences, here things get really interesting...
As I said, the bike was partially disassembled...
All the parts are in boxes... and a red igloo cooler... No, I'm not kidding...
When all is said and done I'm still missing...
The exhaust header pipes.
Ignition key. Yep, heading to the local locksmith to get a replacement. You have to yank the
ignition switch so they can make a replacement or buy a full lock replacement set, which includes
ignition switch, gas tank lock and seat/helmet lock. The locksmith will be cheaper...
Side body plastics under the seat are missing.
*UPDATE 8/03: Okay, then after digging through the parts boxes I also discover that half the
parts that were removed from the engine... are missing! Well, not really half, but enough that
rebuilding the rusty mess would be probably expensive, and hard to figure out.
A few images of the basket case, pre-surgery...
The sordid tale is told...
So I was scrounging parts for work from the local Kawi dealer (rubber handgrips for our Arctic Thunder arcade game), and mention I'm looking to get the new motor
installed and running, and I end up meeting the guy who originally owned the bike!
Turns out the bike had a more colorful history than previously known.
It turns out that the original owner had problems with the bike. He took it in to a
shop and they pretty much figured out the problem (broken cam shaft or chain or something...).
Rather than spend the money to fix it, he sold it cheap to another guy, who in turn took it
to a small engine repairman he knew. Well, here things take a turn for the worse.
It seems that the repairman was a drug addict, and after the bike had been partially disassembled
he gets arrested by the police! 0-0
So the "owner" of the bike and a couple buddies reclaim what's left of the bike and sell it to a buddy
of theirs, who hangs onto it for a while and eventually ends up selling it to me.
And to make matters even WORSE, None of the "owners" in the meantime had actually gotten around to
having titled the bike! So I had to get paperwork from 3 different people saying it was actually mine.
Had I known what I was getting myself into, I'd have probably passed on the bike. ^_^
Oh well, live and learn I guess...
But Wait! There's more!
So, I'm getting ready to take the bike to the mechanic and have the engine replaced.
If you said "Uh, oh..." you'd be correct. Here the tale takes ANOTHER turn for the worse.
The mechanic tells me that I'll need proof of ownership... and a copy of the title of the bike
the engine came from. I say, "What?" Apparently when you do what I'm planning to do, you
need proof that you have the right to install said motor into your vehicle, regardless of how
old it is. Apparently the government wants to stop the traffic of stolen 20 year old
motorcycle engines or something...
I was luckily able to find the guy who sold me the motor and he in turn is trying to find
the guy who sold it to him! The guy I bought it from never got to the point of installing
the engine in his bike, so he never discovered all the hoops you have to jump through to
And to make the story even better, and prove that government exists only for the purpose
of making simple things amazingly complex for the avarage citizen, Not only do I need the
bill of sale and title copy to have the work done, without it I can't even get TABS on the bike.
AND... after I GET the work done, I have to have the vehicle inspector inspect it before I'll be
able to get tabs! Doesn't it keep getting better and better...?
Well to make a long story longer, I got the problem sorted out. I actually had to go through the
guy I bought the engine from AND the guy HE bought it from. But now I have a clean title thanks
to the Minnesota DMV. ^_^
Welcome to the money pit. So far I have...
Wheeled it home. It sure rolls nice. ^_^ $200.00
Bought a manual from eBay for $25.00
Bought a different, complete engine. $375 shipped from eBay.
Bought a complete set of four replacement exhaust manifold pipes. $65 from eBay. If I'd have gottem them from a dealer
they would have cost me at least $75/pipe for the front pipes, and $60/pipe for the rear pipes!
Got a replacement key from locksmith. $20. Took me 4 hours to remove the ignition switch
because one of the bolts would NOT come off, and then I ended up stripping the head of the bolt out
in short order. Cheap ass bolts!
Ordered a set of ignition coils and sparkplug wires... $35.00 on eBay.
Bought a set of replacement side panels (12/03) $35.00 (or so) on eBay.
Tranferred the title/got new tabs. $35.00 or so.
Bought a different radiator (5/04)$25.00 (or so) on eBay.Turns out the
lower pipe was bent and it DID leak. So I got the original one fixed for an additional $35.00. Just should have done that from the beginning, damn it...
Took it to a local expert mechanic for a full engine swap. $730.00.
This included some minor welding, carb clean, tune up, gaskets, exhaust clamps, new battery...
Bought a belly fairing and tail fairing, $30.00 on eBay. Mine is kind of busted up, and is missing the side reflectors, so what the heck. Now I'll have a spare plastic to experiment
my painting skills on. I still intend on repainting the bike...
New set of rear view mirrors, and 6 rubber fairing grommets (It's amazing how well NEW rubbers
will actually hold the plastics ON the bike...) $28.00 from local Honda Dealer.
New Brake and clutch levers. $17.00 from Dennis Kirk.com.
Undented Gas Tank. $120.00 eBay.
And the Grand total is: $1775.00
Dang, amazing how fast it adds up! A couple of items weren't really necessary, such as the new gas tank,
and perhaps the new clutch/brake levers, And the second radiator (grrrrr...) but most of the rest was
a necessary evil.
So kids, the moral of the story is... if you're paying $200 for a motorcycle you either need to do ALL
the work yourself, or keep on walking by the "good deal". If I'd known it was going to cost me this much,
I'd probably have passed on it. Last year I could have bought a 900cc sport bike only a couple years old for
$2600. Live and learn I guess...
Late summer/early Fall 2005... I jump on the bike to run to the store. Give the throttle a twist
and hit the starter... and there's no throttle! The darn cable has fatigued to the point where
it broke off, so now I need more parts...
November 2005: Finally got the cash to get the parts.
New Throttle Cable: $65.00
New Throttle Sleeve: $20.00
New set of grips: $25.00 (Damn! I just bought a set of these! Grrrrr...)
Grip Glue: $2.00
Labor: Not done yet
It's been sitting at the dealership for 2 weeks... behind a row of like 30 ATVs that
need service. I'd have done the work myself but SOMEHOW the manual I bought has gone missing.
And I am NOT tearing into that thing without detailed instructions. That '88 Ninja I had
was engineered a bit nicer. Took me all of 20 minutes to put the new clutch cable on the Ninja
and I didn't have to disassemble half the engine to get at it either.
And... it Lives!!
Well, mostly. ^_^ The "new" radiator I bought had a leak in the lower pipe, so after getting it
home after a gas fill (and a run to the Honda dealer for small parts) it barfed its (coolant) guts out
all over the garage floor. *sigh* Took the original radiator in to a radiator shop (Thanks Scott!) and
$35 later, the bike runs again. It likes to slightly leak coolant when it gets REALLY hot, but I can't figure out
where the coolant is coming from. So I get the fixed ratiator back home after work, and start putting it on.
I make a run to Wally world for coolant and on a whim buy some small hose clamps. So a couple hours later
I get the fixed radiator back on the bike, and I mount the tank "correctly." I find out there's supposed to
be a rubber block that screws down on the tail bracket of the tank, and into the frame, locking the tank in place.
Well, a couple Honda factory bolts, some 2" rubber hardware store washers and 2" metal washers locked that
sucker in place tight!
So anyway, I get the radiator all hooked up, and I'm running the bike to get the air bubbles out of the radiator
and all is going well, and I start putting the side plastics back on the bike and I feel something wet! WTF?
So I start looking and smell the liquid... it's GAS!
It seems the OEM hose running to the fuel filter was now loose and the spring clips designed to tighten the
hose down weren't doing their job. I fixed the problem with a mini hose clamp and THAT little issue stopped dead.
Thankfully. Now all I need to do is locate one of the rubber fairing deals that slide onto the front fairing
stay, and I SHOULD have it all togeather. It still needs paint, but that can wait untill I do some experimenting
with that new Krylon Plastic paint... ^_^
I still need to...
Spraypaint part of the frame silver. Somebody touched up the exhaust with black, and oversprayed onto the frame. Morons.
Maybe relocate the rear signals under the seat?
Buy replacement helmet lock. The left side lock casing is shattered.
Get the bodywork repainted. I'm thinking of a Red, White, Silver and Blue scheme similar to this...
Get a new windshield. I wonder who makes them for this bike? I'd like something that provides a little
better airflow over the top than the factory shield does.
Get new decals. I'm going to go with a Honda Wing and Japanese Kanji tank decal, but factory VF500 decals
on the rest of the bike. Not sure what color to go with yet though. I'll have to wait and see how the paint
works out first I imagine.