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Moderator - Loves All Motorcycles
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last night I learned that I love big displacement vintage bikes. I was supposed to see a Honda VF500F Interceptor and a Ninja 500R today. Sensing that I got cold feet, the owner of a Suzuki GS850G I was supposed to see yesterday dropped the price to “screw it” money ($500). Well, that certainly warmed me up!

I took a look at it and the bike is fantastic. Not a speck of rust on the frame (it’s even still glossy), no wheel pitting, and while the paint looks crappy, the body panels are free of rust and damage. Best part is that the darn thing started quicker than my Buell. By all accounts, it was perfect.



It’s porky (my is it heavy) but my god is it fast. This freaking thing is out of this world. And it’s comfortable. I rode it 100 miles last night and had the time of my life. It’ll cruise at 80 mph and you’ll feel like you’re on a couch while doing it. As a bonus, everyone does double takes while I’m on it. And with it in that good condition? Some paint and if I ever get bored of it I can make an easy profit.

My dream bike stable changed from “All the Buells!” to “all the old big bikes!”



Until this morning...

Using muscle memory, I accidentally set the petcock to Reserve (I wasn’t aware of this). I made it 1 mile before the bike stopped being able to exceed 6k rpm...****. I turned around and tried to get back home.

At 1.8 miles it straight up died. I looked down and discovered I had the bike set to Reserve. Oops.

I turned the petcock to “on” then tried to set off. It would only start with a flick of the throttle and the most RPM it could achieve is 1.5k and if you let off the throttle it immediately dies. Well, considering I was in the middle of a road without a shoulder, that was good enough to limp me to an area that was safe.

I then thought maybe the fuel gauge sucked so I wheeled it to a station and filled up. No vice, it occasionally would go to 5k and immediately die. All the while there was a little bit of gray/white smoke coming out of the exhaust.

What the heck? Did I flood the engine or something? I’ve read that if you never use the Reserve that there could be water/debris in it, is there any accuracy to that?

I walked it home and took the Buell to work. Hopefully it wakes up when I get home.
 

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If you can get to them, open the carb drains and catch what comes out. You'll know right away if the fuel at the bottom of the tank had been sitting a while. This is why I always switch to reserve a few miles before going for a refill on my CB450. If you can only get to one carb easily, and the fuel is bad, some Seafoam may help get the water and other junk out. It will take some time, if you weren't able to drain the other carb(s). Even if you can drain the others, a double-dose of Seafoam may prevent it happening again.

And congrats on finding such a great bike!
 

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If in doubt...what?
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That reserve thing can be a real problem. Lived in Panama City and ordered a Norton at the Ft Walton dealership. Talked a cousin into taking me over after I got off work. In exchange she wanted me to go see The Exorsist with her at the cheap theater there before we headed back. I picked up my new Norton, went to the theater ( now that's just unreasonable) and saw the movie. My cousin took off somewhere else unannounced leaving me to ride alone. I started hauling ass down long straight middle of the woods (at that time) 2 lane US 98 to home in Panama City. Ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Petcock on reserve. I guess I figured the dealer would fill the tank. Actually I didn't guess anything. Just a dimwitted 20 year old. I got ..kind'a.... spooked out there all by my lonesome, what with all those demons in my head.
 

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If in doubt...what?
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OH and one more thing. I get the big displacement vintage jap bike thing. I recently purchased a '84 Yamaha Xj650 . It had been sitting forever and was in really poor shape. Paid $200 for it. Working on it in spare time when it coincides with motivation. Worked though it electrically first, then rebuilt the carburetors. It starts and revs pretty good but is not right. I lack the skills so far to get it set up right. I am now working through the brake system. No road time yet but I'm looking forward to it. I'm hoping it will be a quick little 'round towner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Muahahahahaha!!! The funny part is that the bike has more cylinders and more power than the smart does.

The first generation models (1998-2007) were TUV certified to tow 800 pounds. The TUV never bothered to test the 2nd (2007-2016) and 3rd (2015-) gen models and Smart themselves never published a tow rating for the newer models. The newer generations are basically just the first generation with more power, more reliable parts, and larger size, so myself and a couple engineers decided to figure it out ourselves. I did 5k miles testing with my second gen (the car above) and the engineers tested the 3rd gen.

Our findings were pretty interesting. TL;DR - The car's pretty awesomely capable with a few modifications, namely a transmission cooler and tires meant for carrying heavier loads.

The car handled extremely well pulling the bike. :)

As far as the bike goes, from what some friends are telling me, I probably sucked up whatever bad stuff was at the bottom of the tank when I turned on the Reserve. That would explain why it rode 100 miles without issue and why it wouldn't run despite the tank being around half when it happened (switching to reserve was an accident).
 
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i have 3 early 80's goldwings in my yard ... 1 will see the road again, 1 not likely and 1 is strictly parts. on top of that, i have my tiny 90cc kawasaki in the shed and a taotao 150cc scooter standing on my rear deck waiting for a part. in short, i have enough to keep me busy. even so, i don't see how i could have walked away from a sweet-heart like that for $500. enjoy !
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks you two!

After some fiddling around, I've discovered that there is a fuel filter. So first thing first, I'll replace that. Then I'll drain the carb bowls. I'm hoping that there was just some water at the bottom of the tank and I need to clear it out of the system.

Worst case, I bet a carb cleaning will get me back on the road. I'm motivated because I know it was working before it died. :)
 

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Hello Miss Mercedes, Congrats on your new ride.
This is not worth getting ones bra straps knotted up over!
Same here when I got the Sporty, 1/2 way to work had to switch to reserve, after that feeling of
'uh oh where's my power going DRATS ! no gas now it is worse on reserve and NO GO ! balls! So I
had to push the bike about half a mile, got gas and she started right up. When I got out of work I
went to get another valve, damn the one I took out was so GUNKED up. I also put in an inline filter.

One day I'm headed back to the house and see a guy pushing an old motorcycle down the sidewalk.
No traffic I pull over and ask 'What's up." "Don't know, was running good then crapped out but there's
gas."

"Well, you just got the bike. . . right?"

"Few weeks ago."

Your gas petcock is bad."

I told him I was up the street a mile or so an had gas at the house and would be right back, and I was.
I gave him a gallon an a half. His bike started right up. He offered me about 5 $ but ya know, it's not
about the bucks, I told him to put it towards a new petcock and how to change it out, to go to Jim's H-D
or St.Pete Motorbikes.

It's cool, ya get into something ya really like and learn things, then you want to help the next guy/gal
with the same problem you learned how to fix. . .it's all good
 

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500.00 bucks heck yeah! Hope it sorts out for ya. You got this!
 
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Just a thought (and it would suck if you found this), drain and remove the tank, so you can inspect the bottom for bubbles in the paint that indicate rusting through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thanks all! When I was examining the bike on Friday evening I did check the bottom of the tank to the best of my abilities with it still mounted. I don't see any aggressive rust on the exterior (just tiny specks here and there) and the inside of the tank is coated in some red stuff. I assume that's some sort of anti-rust coating. Of course, no idea what the condition of the bottom of the inside of the tank is.

I guess I'm still on a new rider learning curve because I also just learned how fast tires wear. During my Friday "TCLOCs" on the Blast I noticed that my rear Shinko hit the wear bars. No big deal, I ordered a new one and I'd have it mounted during the week. Sunny weekend and if I don't ride it hard I should be fine, right? Apparently not. I only traveled give or take 150 miles this weekend and now there's some cord showing on a one inch patch on this thing. Oof. I heard the Blast likes to eat tires but darn, that's fast!
 

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If in doubt...what?
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When you look at the new tire check the date of manufacture. On the side wall will be a DOT alpha numeric ID number. The last for digits are the week and year of manufacture; like LMLNFBDD3216 would be a tire manufactured in the 32nd week of 2016. I know it's important because I got a great deal on a Dunlop tire for my Harley. Felt a bit squirrly on the last leg of a high speed run to NC. Got of the bike and there was huge chunk of rubber missing all the way to the cord. Someone told me about the manufacture date and it turns out the tire was really old. How old is too old? I do not know maybe someone else can chime in on that one.
 

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Most folks recommend 6 years as the maximum age; it really depends on how the bike is kept, though. Outside in direct sun, of course, ages a tire faster then in a cool garage in shade, since UV and ozone are a tire's mortal enemies. Look for fine cracking around the sidewall, and replace if they make you nervous. I replaced some nearly-new (mileage wise) tires on my CB450 this year, because they were just over 7 years old, and felt like riding on rubber bricks. It seemed a shame to toss such new-looking tires, but the rubber was too hard to trust, even after about 50 miles of heat to soften them.

Tire wear is different on every bike - I should get about 15k miles on my Valk tires, barring road hazards, but 7k wore out the rubber on my Suzuki S50, which is over 400# lighter. And I buy softer compound tires, for the grip they provide; no use for harder, high mileage rated tires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The hard part right now is finding a new tire. Plenty of shops open who can change tires, but not even Harley dealers seemingly have any sizes that fit the wheel. Oof. I may have my girlfriend drive me home as I'm not crazy about the idea of riding 50 mi with cord showing.
 
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Ghost in the machine
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Thanks all! When I was examining the bike on Friday evening I did check the bottom of the tank to the best of my abilities with it still mounted. I don't see any aggressive rust on the exterior (just tiny specks here and there) and the inside of the tank is coated in some red stuff. I assume that's some sort of anti-rust coating. Of course, no idea what the condition of the bottom of the inside of the tank is.

I guess I'm still on a new rider learning curve because I also just learned how fast tires wear. During my Friday "TCLOCs" on the Blast I noticed that my rear Shinko hit the wear bars. No big deal, I ordered a new one and I'd have it mounted during the week. Sunny weekend and if I don't ride it hard I should be fine, right? Apparently not. I only traveled give or take 150 miles this weekend and now there's some cord showing on a one inch patch on this thing. Oof. I heard the Blast likes to eat tires but darn, that's fast!
My guess is that that "red stuff" is tank sealer. That would lead me to believe that the tank may have had an issue with pin hole leaks in the past. It might be ok, but I would start keeping my open for a good replacement tank down the road.
The worst case scenario is that someone tried to use a non fuel resistant product (like Plasti-Dip) as tank sealer. That would start to degrade into a gelatin form and plug EVERYTHING in the fuel system up. But let's hope that's not the case.
 
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