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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all;

I'm just wondering why some of us fall for these older bikes? They're finicky, require additional tinkering and don't offer always offer the stability and trustworthiness of the newer machines.

And yet.... I'm looking at a 1975 BMW R90/6....

Thnx!
Philo
 

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Justa anutta Human......
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728 Posts
No old bike 4 me.....
I am tired of all the fixing all the time...
Just keeping up with maintenance of a 2012 sportbike is more then i like...
Lubing chain...checking air pressures...making sure cables are good....brakes..oil checks n changes...etc....I want to ride...not work on it.....
 

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Charlie Tango Xray
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I'm not giving up my new bike for anything... But I do have five vintage bikes that I love tinkering with and riding around town. I love the look of the old UJMs. I love the way they sound. How their exhaust smells in the morning. I finally get to own all the bikes I wanted when I was younger, but couldn't afford back then. I get a certain satisfaction from keeping the old bikes from the scrap yard, and or a slow painful death under a tarp. I'm not an attention whore, but I do love how people get excited when they see an old bike. "Hey I had one of those back in the day!" and "Want to sell it?" Or they'll give me a thumbs up while totally ignoring my buddies on their new $30,000 "Hey look at me!" bikes. :biggrin:
My basement is filled with vintage bicycles too. And I'd probably be collecting vintage cars, if I had the space.:eek:
 

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Six-String Jockey
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Philo,
You HAVE to be a tinkerer at heart to really enjoy owning an older bike. The 8 that I have require almost constant adjustment, repair, and maintenance . . . but I LOVE doing it! So honestly assess your willingness/knowledge/toolbox/free time before owning one, because they are demanding of you. BUT . . . the joys of riding one that performs as it should and looks as good as possible are immeasurable.
 

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Old

My 83 XS400 is just a sweet bike to ride.
My 79 XS11 is just a sweet bike to ride. When I get the Vespa guess what.
The 1100 Yamaha sounds real sweet with the 4 into 1 pipes. The new ones sound over muffled and funny. It also cost about one tenth of a new bike cost, and does the same job.

I would buy an old British 500 single, as that is what they did best. I would consider a twin but not over 650. That is when they vibrate too much, and self detonate. Had my sites on a 46 500 single Ariel last year, and a 650 Norton, but both got sold before I got there.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Troublemaker
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Some people call them old bikes, but when I was first legally riding on the streets, they were state of the art bikes. I still have a 74 Honda that does require some time, but that's part of the charm of owning one. Every year I keep telling it I will restore it to new condition, but every year I just pull it out of the barn and ride it for a week or two.

Only one time has it ever left me stranded, only three miles from home. But even with that, the comments when I stop for gas or at a store makes riding it totally worth it.
 

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Perhaps it comes down to what a person is used to.

A lot of us here are humm....'older' riders. I have over 50 years of riding under my belt. The vintage bikes are what I cut my teeth on. The newest bike I have in my barn is a 82 750 Nighthawk. The rest span from 1966 to 1977.

I personally have no desire to own a new bike. Why? Again it's personal taste. I don't care for the style, all the plastic, fuel injected, computer controlled everything.

I do like the looks of older bikes. Parts that are added on because they had to be there. Headlight? Bolt one on. Taillight? Bolt one on. Gas tank? Same thing. Parts were added because they had to be there. Form and style were not 'high priority'.

The reliability of old iron is directly related to proper maintenance. Proper maintenance = reliability. I have no doubt in my mind that I could swing a leg over my 66 Harley, and drive it coast to coast. Would it break down? Probably not.
 

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Old

Shortly I will drive back down to the boat yard on my 1941 Ford 9N tractor. I have all the tools I need on the rack at the back. My belch mobile truck is a 78. Bought it near new. Even if you only buy new stuff, the same thing happens: It gets old. And you get to enjoy the thrill of watching it depreciate. And you can not claim it as a business expense because you went with the guaranteed salary, not commission. Soon the value drops below the amount you owe, then if you are lucky, you crash it and the insurance settlement is a lot less than you owe. You are left making payments for something you do not own and you need wheels to get to work to make the money to pay ---------
Whereas my XS400 is a reliable set of wheels that cost me less than $1000.
Does it really matter if I drop it?

Unkle Crusty* PS. I bought my SV1000 Suzuki new, plus quite a few other bikes, and my Saturn, and my Isuzu. The cages I could expense, just like the internet connection I am using to send this message.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Pale Rider
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I started riding in 1981, the hey-day of the classic tear-drop tank designs. I fell in love with the styles of that period. Back in 2006, I bought a 1979 Honda CB750K, in fantastic condition, and only 9,600 miles. I upgraded it a bit, with some safety gear (head- and brake-light modulators), new suspension. It ran my wife and I, two-up, around Lake Superior, with full saddlebags, trunk, and a tank bag, in 2009, when the bike was 30-years-young. It ran flawlessly, outside of the throttle-grip coming off in Thunder Bay, Ontario. We ran through four days of rain, in mid-50's temperatures, across Canada. Bike never hiccuped, hesitated, or gave any issues. It ran better than we did, the entire trip.

I'd have run that bike across the US of A, without a worry. Only sold it because the wife insisted we get a dedicated touring bike, which is a 1993 Kawasaki Voyager XII (only 22 years young). The Voyager's style remained the same from 1986, to 2003, when it was discontinued. It, too, is something we'd ride across the country, without hesitation. The bike would outlast us. :biggrin: Cheers!
:coffee:
 

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Justa anutta Human......
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I started riding in 1981, the hey-day of the classic tear-drop tank designs. I fell in love with the styles of that period. Back in 2006, I bought a 1979 Honda CB750K, in fantastic condition, and only 9,600 miles. I upgraded it a bit, with some safety gear (head- and brake-light modulators), new suspension. It ran my wife and I, two-up, around Lake Superior, with full saddlebags, trunk, and a tank bag, in 2009, when the bike was 30-years-young. It ran flawlessly, outside of the throttle-grip coming off in Thunder Bay, Ontario. We ran through four days of rain, in mid-50's temperatures, across Canada. Bike never hiccuped, hesitated, or gave any issues. It ran better than we did, the entire trip.

I'd have run that bike across the US of A, without a worry. Only sold it because the wife insisted we get a dedicated touring bike, which is a 1993 Kawasaki Voyager XII (only 22 years young). The Voyager's style remained the same from 1986, to 2003, when it was discontinued. It, too, is something we'd ride across the country, without hesitation. The bike would outlast us. :biggrin: Cheers!
:coffee:
:71baldboy:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the insights everyone! Lot's of reasons that I understand here. I agree, that to have an old bike means that you have to muster up the willingness and ability to tinker, but I think what it boils down to for me is what ketchboy state:

"I don't care for the style, all the plastic, fuel injected, computer controlled everything."

There's something, I think, that is liberating; a true sense of independence that one gets when you must rely upon your own sense of judgment and the understanding of the machine you ride.

best, Philo
 

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Old style

First new style. Put the key in, pull in the clutch lever, press the start button.

Old style, rock bike back and forth looking for neutral with your hand. I will save the neutral finder for a trivia question. Turn on fuel. Lick finger, determine temperature. Tickle the carburetor. On some bikes you engaged second and brought the bike backwoods to get the piston at just after TDC. Back in neutral you pushed down on the kick starter like you were going to drive it 2 feet under ground. You did this with just the slightest squeeze on the throttle. The stroker set always turned the throttle with the kick. Hardly ever works. You want a fast idle, not 8 thousand revs. Might tickle the carb again if it is not getting enough fuel. Some earlier bikes had an ignition retard. This can be advanced as you go down the road. Hop on bike, clunk it in gear, that's the wrong foot you modern rider. Right foot down, ease clutch, turn left at end of drive, side stand digs in and you fall off. The Ace cafe boys and others, would remove the side stand as they are a bloody danger after having a few in the pub. Besides they drag.

Speed is determined by the tach, after you spent many nights working on complicated math. Who knew you had to factor in 7% for tyre slippage, and adjust the circumference for the flat spot on the bottom.
Easy beezy way was to have a friend drive at a steady 60 in mum's car, then 70 and so on.

Every few miles lower each leg to try and get rid of the effects of vibration, that caused your legs to go to sleep. Sometimes your foot would fall off the end of the peg and hit the road. Real wake up call. After the legs give your hands a rest. the bigger the engine, the bigger the vibration. Used to be able to get 8 sided surgical rubber grips. They allowed for a more lose grip.

I hope you did not wear your best jeans. The hot oil drops from the cylinder head are going to make a mess of them. But it may be dark and your bird may not notice. And the way that thing shakes, you know she will hang on tight. God is on your side.
Just for Kicks by Mike Sarne will help you understand the experience.

Unkle Crusty* Started on a 350 Triumph side valve, about 48 vintage.
 

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The addiction

You get that first old bike that has been sitting in a barn. We are not talking about a garage here, but a BARN. The seat has bore holes straight down to the pan, because, well the mice need to stay warm too. There is paint under the layer of hardened dust from all those years of sitting. It could be beautiful paint, but that is for you to find out later, and the same with the chrome. You open the tank and your nose picks up that acrid smell of old gasoline. You can even tell that it has been sitting for decades because modern gasoline with ethanol smells not at all compared to the old stuff.

Just like an artist,you let the bike speak to you. For at least two weeks,you spray a bit of penetrating oil on every case screw and bolt a couple of times a day, not even touching the fasteners with a tool. Carb screws ditto, and the gas tank is undergoing an internal transformation from electrolysis, chemical cleaners, or both. A bit of light oil penetrates the piston rings waiting for the moment when you choose to try to move them. Patience is its own reward and it can pay off in a big way

Then comes the time when it is time to add air,fuel. and fire to the little beast in front of you. File the points a bit, add a jump wire to the coil, spray a bit of cleaner where you removed the carbs, and then it pops and runs a few strokes. Now you have a hundred dollar runner and there is no feeling like it.
 

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My old Honda has no electronic parts. When we used to do spring and fall tours (typically 4-6 guys), mine was the oldest, slowest, hardest to start bike of the lot. It was also the only one that didn't break down at one time or other. And when something does go wrong, the fix is usually inexpensive. A buddy on a Ducati had a computer chip go bad and had to have his wife drive his truck from Atlanta to NC to get him. Cost him over $600.

I'd love to have a new bike in my budget, but it's nice to know I'm riding a bike that's bulletproof and relatively maintenance free.
 

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Smell

Slumlord.
Lately every time I open the doors of my shed, I am greeted with the smell of apple vinegar. Then I remember, I am soaking the inside of a spare gas tank.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Shaper Of All Things Metal
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For at least two weeks,you spray a bit of penetrating oil on every case screw and bolt a couple of times a day, not even touching the fasteners with a tool.

...and there is no feeling like it.
Not many people understand the concept of patience, patience and more patience when working on and restoring old iron of any kind. When projects are brought to my shop with frozen parts, I start the process you described of continually applying penetrating oils. If they are in a hurry and want it NOW, I will generally turn them away. Had a friend that bought an old hit n miss engine that looked like a solid hunk of rust. He literally soaked the whole engine in kerosene a whole winter before attempting any tear down. That engine is running today.
 

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Agreed

Agreed MetalDoc.
Reading the threads of many who got old bikes, there seem to be two groups. The patient, and the not so patient. Many times I have said I removed the carbs on my XS400 at least 12 times. I do that to give the young guys a clue that it might take longer than planned.
I do wonder how I ever had time to lace in new rims, and the many other things I used to do.
Shirley is sweet. I tell her about what latest part failed or whatever, and she always says, " you will fix it babe "

Unkle Crusty*
 

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I just LOVE antique machinery! I have worked on/restored steam engines from the 1910s, and airplane from 1946, a bulldozer from 1952 and built working scale models of a Civil War cannon, an 1886 steam engine, a 1910 streetcar, and various other things. There is a great deal of satisfaction in "bringing back" something from the past and returning it to working condition. My career was designing and building NEW but my passion has always been in preserving.

(But I still can't afford to get into antique motorcycles :( )
 

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>>Old style, rock bike back and forth looking for neutral with your hand. I will save the neutral finder for a trivia question. Turn on fuel. Lick finger, determine temperature. Tickle the carburetor. On some bikes you engaged second and brought the bike backwoods to get the piston at just after TDC. Back in neutral you pushed down on the kick starter like you were going to drive it 2 feet under ground.<<

Having owned some 22 British bikes in the past, I can well relate to this. (started on a 125cc BSA Bantam) And you know what, I don't want to go through it again! :)

P.S. Bike in avatar is a '58 Indian "Trailblazer". (Royal Enfield)
 
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