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Vintage Rider
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420 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
About 10 years ago, when I got really serious about collecting bikes, I had written on a piece of scrap paper, a list of the top 10 bikes I wanted for my own. I wish I could find that list again, just to see if I've missed any of them. I don't recall where a "Big Bear" scrambler was on the list, but probably number 2 or 3.
I've occasionally seen a few that were available, but usually they were rusted beyond what I'd consider a doable restoration and would leave me upside down on it. I've learned nothing rusts faster than a Big Bears mufflers, with the exception being any Bridgestone chrome fuel tank! :biggrin: Then in 2013, there was a black '66 at the Mid America auction in Vegas. I believe it ended up bringing $5,600 or there about. I gave up after 5K as that is all they were worth according to the guide book I go by.
So I recently got back from a little road trip to Yellowstone (to show the Park to a couple of my grand kids) but while I was up there I made a side trip to see about a '66 Big Bear that had sat outside for many years, near the Montana, Wyoming border. Neglected due to the usual weak link being the kick start gear had missing teeth. First impression was, this will need a lot of TLC,:frown: but amazingly the chrome was dang near perfect and all there, even a clean title! :icon_cool: Still it had paint that had faded to the candy color base coat. and looked fairly abused. Seat was in shreds as well. Anyway I thought I still seen enough good things to make a project out of this one, like I need another project.
Here's the way it looked when I found it. Be nice now, remember these will be the "before pictures" :)


Had to bungee what was left of the seat materials to keep them from blowing off while driving nearly 600 miles home, in hopes of having a pattern for the upholstery guy.


One other good point was that it still had the original Dunlops, except they would be cracked too much for everyday use, but based on the wear the mileage appears accurate.


One of the reasons I've always wanted one, besides the fact that they looked cool with all that shiny chrome, is the unmistakeable sound they made. Those short upswept pipes sure would crackle. I remember 1966, being in High School, sitting in the last study hall period of the day near the end of the school year, just before summer vacation, no AC, so the windows were open. I could hear this guy come past the school almost everyday on a Big Bear and could tell what it was just by the sound. Then I would jump up and look out the window envious of this guy that I never met as he ran through the gears for several blocks with his Big Bear!:cool:

Rear view of the short rear fender and pipes. Yes I know the tail light lens is another piece I need, and one is already on the way!
Wow, this bear is fat, at 350 pounds wet, especially for a 250cc bike!!:confused:


Got it fired up today, but only on one cylinder, with just some fresh pre-mix, so not quite the sound I'm looking for yet.:confused:

Oh well, back to tearing down and inventorying the parts on a Honda S90 that I've just started the restoration on.:smiley_drinkcoffee:
Hoping to get to the Big Bear early next spring! Been ordering parts as needed already. Seat, tail light and sealed beam headlight already ordered. Should be a build thread next year, sorry but other projects need finishing first.:p
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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14,359 Posts
That actually looks in good shape, the chrome doesn't look pitted. A little spit and polish.....:)
 

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Six-String Jockey
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1,860 Posts
Absolutely perfect candidate for a restoration. It's exactly what I look for when I do mine. NICE find and decision on buying it. It will be a wonderful machine when you're done!
 

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Vintage Rider
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420 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Got it fired up today, but only on one cylinder, with just some fresh pre-mix, so not quite the sound I'm looking for yet.:confused:
Finally got a chance to look at it again, found plug was fouled. New plugs and running like a bear now. Took it out for about a 7 mile ride, and was able to hear that distinct sound, especially cruising along with head slightly turned back to hear that familiar crackle.:biggrin: Not quite as snappy as I thought it should be under 4k but pulls strong from 5 - 7k (didn't go any further :wink: ) I don't think it would stand a chance in a 1/4 mile race against my X6 Hustler though, just too heavy IMO.
Already got a new seat, tail light assembly, ignition switch and key as well as sealed beam headlight. So with the engine passing the ride test, as far as compression and crank seals, it looks like just a new gasket set and shaft seals. Chain had been tightened like a banjo string :mad: so that didn't do the counter shaft seal any good. Pretty soon will be time for complete tear down for restoration....and so it goes!
 
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