My Motorcycle Riding

 

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As youths, my brother Dave and I rode our bicycles all over the countryside. We loved riding around and exploring on them and especially finding big hills that we could peddle up (sometimes walk) and then ride down as fast as we could. The areas we lived in, City of Orange CA, near El Modena and then Goleta, near Santa Barbara, were just being developed, so we had plenty of room to roam. (But, as our mother always tells us, she always knew where we were…right!...LOL ) I remember back then of us watching motorcycles go by and we would talk about owning one someday.

So both our transition to motorcycles was pretty natural.

I joined the Air Force and was stationed a mile south of LAX at Los Angeles Air Force Station (Now Air Force Base). My car, a 63 Chevy Impala 4 door, needed some major engine work and car insurance was too expensive for my $300 a month pay check, especially when it was costing me $125 a month for my apt. So not being able to afford the car any longer, I sold it and put the money toward buying a motorcycle.

Just a few days after my 19th birthday, I bought my first motorcycle a Suzuki 50cc (more like an oversized minibike – but it was street legal). After 3 months and 3,000 miles I decided I needed something bigger, so I talked my dad into co-signing on a loan for me to buy a '72 Yamaha DS7 250cc twin. I put on more than 14,000 miles on that bike until I bought a car and the sold the Yamaha. In the first year and a half of riding and on those two bikes, I put on more then 17,000 miles.

After getting married, I bought a '71 Honda 450 which Chris and I rode all over the Sacramento area. I just loved riding up and down those old river roads with her. But Chris got pregnant with our first son and she quit riding. She insisted someone had to stay alive to take care of our child. Although she went on a couple of short rides with me over the years, that pretty much ended our two up riding for a very long time, like 29 years…..)-:  

Not too long after our son was born, we went to Germany for three years. I was without a bike the whole time, but really wanted one, but I just could not afford one.  But those roads were so inviting!

After we got back to the states and stationed out in Louisiana, I kept wanting a bike, but Chris was telling me “we” couldn’t afford it. Just before her and the two boys joined me, an Airmen I knew on the base was getting shipped out and had a 76 Honda 550 that needed a little work and sold it to me for a camera and a small amount of cash.  Oh yeah, I forgot to tell Chris about it. O-:

Over the last 37+ years I have been riding, I have had a number of different motorcycles.  Every time I got rid of one, sooner or later I would usually have to have another bike. This little fact has caused my poor wife a lot of pain, because she really didn’t want me riding. But she finally got use to the idea that I am going to ride a motorcycle!

From September of 87 to November ’05 I kept to mid-eighties Honda "V4" Sabres (not the twin, Hardley clones of today).  There were a couple of factors that influenced my decision to buy my first V4 Sabre:

-The first was: one fine summer day in 1984, Dave and I rode out to Richmond, CA from Sacramento. Dave was riding his ’82 V45 Sabre, and I was on my ’83 650 Nighthawk (with about 20,000 miles on it at the time) . The temperature was 106F degrees and by the time we returned to Sacramento, (160 miles round trip), my Nighthawk was so hot it sounded like a meat grinder and hard to shift. Yet Dave's bike was fine and didn't suffer from the heat at all!

I changed my oil after we got back and the oil was so hot it had the consistency of water. I found out a couple of months later that my cams were toasted from that ride. (Honda replaced them under warranty!  (-:)  After that little ride, I decided when I was ready to sell my 650, I would buy a water-cooled bike.

-The other major factor happened about 54,000 miles later in August of 1987.    I crashed on the Nighthawk due to the handlebar mounted Vetter Rooster fairing that caused a front-end wobble. I decided that not only would the bike have to be water-cooled, but it would also have a frame mounted fairing. After settling with the insurance company on the worth of the bike and buying it back from them, I turned around and sold it. I then had $1,500 towards the purchase of a newer bike.

By this time, I had my mind made up about buying an 85 VF700 Sabre. They were water cooled, shaft drive and frame mounted fairings were available for them. Plus this bike would last a while from the abuse of my commute.

I had two choices, I could buy a new bike from the Dealer, which only the red stripe was available for about $2,500. Or look in the paper for a good used one. I chose to buy used and I found a nice ’85 VF700S, with 6K, Blue stripe, (which is what I really wanted) and paid $1,800.

I soon found out that the Hondaline fairings were getting harder to find and I had to call all over to find a dealer that could locate and order one for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a color matched fairing, but I was able to get a black one.     A few months later, I found a set of new Krauser saddlebags at a Yamaha dealer near Marina Del Rey. So, I was set, I had a water-cooled, shaft drive, bike with not only a frame mounted fairing, but I also had saddlebags! Something I had wanted for a very long time! (-:

After several years of abuse, the Krauser bags cracked and just wore out, since I had finished school, I just put the old KG rack from the Nighthawk on the Sabre. Not long after that, I found a pair of "still in the box", Hondaline saddlebags made for the Sabre. Now I was really set, I was all decked out with a Hondaline fairing and Hondaline saddlebags! (-:

Then a month later, I became the "driver" of the Palmdale to JPL vanpool, that I had stopped riding the year before. A few months later and since I was no longer using the bike to commute with, the bike became a luxury item and not a necessity. So I decided to sell the bike.    Larry Lilly of Palmdale Honda warned me before he sold it for me, that I would be sorry.  He was right! It didn’t take long before I was missing my motorcycle because like many others, once riding is in your blood, it's very hard to give up! So I went bikeless for 2 years. )-:

After moving to San Diego, I started getting the bug for another motorcycle. The problem was, I couldn’t really afford one and since I didn’t need it for commuting, I couldn’t justify getting one. But I found a job in downtown San Diego and was a perfect opportunity to justify riding again.  It was a 44 mile round trip commute and since a motorcycle could go down the carpool lanes, it just made a lot of sense. So, my search started for another Sabre and shortly I found a ’83 Sabre with only 3,400 miles.

When I first bought it, it wouldn’t even idle because it had been sitting for a long time. I cleaned the carbs, gave it a good tune up with new plugs and all and got it running pretty good. I rode that bike for three years, which was longer then the job lasted. After that commute ended, and since I was never able to find a Hondaline fairing nor saddle bags for it, (this was before I found eBay) and since the bike was not as in the pristine condition I wanted, I sold it to Dave (who had worn-out three ’82 Sabres by then). I even hauled it up to Sacramento for him.

Six months later, I had been working as a part-time consultant for JPL, which gave me some extra cash. That was about the same time the motorcycle bug bit again. I told my wife, Chris that if I bought another bike, I was going to ride it for pleasure as well as transportation to work.

I started searching the different sites on the internet and found the “V45” Sabre that I had wanted from the very beginning. Actually in the States, I could only build one, but it was an ‘85 with color matched fairing and saddlebags. Unfortunately, the bike was in Edmonton Alberta Canada. It had only 8,100 miles on it, was very clean and had not even sold off the showroom floor until 1989.  What a find!

So, for just over four years, I rode the V45 Sabre up to Sacramento several times and on a number of West Coast Sabmag rides and found the V45's power was sufficient to take me along on any road I came across and any trip I wanted to take. And it kept me out of trouble from "getting it on" too hard or to often! In other words, no performance awards  ;-)  The saddle of course needed a lot of work and had to deal with a lot of TB and VSB.

Then in 2003, it happened. Chris decided to ride with me on one of the Sabmag Fling rides. Our first ride in 29 years (-:) and since neither Chris nor I were the smaller people we were back 29 years before, the little V45 had a hard time keeping the pace and also holding our weight. Meaning we scrapped the pegs more then once.

I could tell the little 750 wasn't going to cut it. Now, Dave and his wife Gloria had experienced the same problem when they rode two up on their V45 Sabre. So in the summer of 2003, Dave bought a V65 Sabre. He kept telling me, how Gloria had a lot more room and the bike had a lot more power to handle the load.

So, not letting Big Bro out do me, I decided to purchase a V65 Sabre, so Chris and I could enjoy riding together more. She kept telling me that I really didn't need to buy another motorcycle, but believe me, if "we" were going to ride together, we needed a bigger bike. After looking through eBay, I came across a 1984 that looked in good shape and had the Hondaline fairing. It had just over 26,000 miles on it.

Of course with that many miles, it wasn't as cherry as my V45 Sabre when I bought it. So I went to work on it and did a lot of rebuilding/repairing/replacing parts; getting it in a respectable condition. To make it even nicer, I added a few accessories and a ’85 Hondaline fairing (NOS, still in the box) with the blue stripe. Using my ‘85 parts bike’s tank, fender, side covers and tail piece, I was able to transform it into looking like a Blue Stripe ’85, like my first VF700S Sabre was.     (-:

The V65 Sabre had  a lot more room, and when Chris went on a couple rides with me, the rides were more enjoyable. 

The only real problem with either the V65 or the V45 Sabres, was the maintenance required to keep them up and running.  Because they were 20+ year old motorcycles, they require a lot of maintenance. The person working on it has to pull all sorts of parts off to get to things like the valves and carbs. So unless you can do your own work, or unless you want to learn how to work on a motorcycle or if you don’t have a friend to work on your motorcycle, I think you get the picture, I don’t recommend you buy one. But, if you are one of the above, there is a lot of information and help out on the internet.

And this brings me to why my dear brother, Dave, went out and bought a brand new ST1300 in October of ‘05. He was tired of working on his bikes. Right after buying the ST, he sold his V65 Sabre to a friend and then kept telling me how I needed to get an ST. (For the whole story, <Click Here> ) So, again, not to be out done by Big Bro, the following month (the day after Thanksgiving), I did just that, I bought a brand new ‘05 ST 1300, only I got mine over $3,000 less then Dave paid. (-: 

My first real journey on my new bike was to Sacramento for a Pashnit Group April Fool’s Day ride. This was a distance of some 500 miles just getting to Sacramento, and it was a very long WET ride. The bike was great, even in all the rain I encountered and I encountered a lot of heavy rain! My only real problem was the saddle. I knew it would be, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. I had VSB by the time I got home, after some 1,200 miles round trip.

The following weekend, I hosted a ride here in SoCal with the Sabmag group. About 6 people (Dave was one of them) on five bikes came down from Northern California along with 14 other SoCal locals, showed up for this ride. <Click Here>.     I also talked my wife and my oldest son going on it with us.

We had a great time and Chris really liked the room she had on the back of the ST (Her first real ride on it. I liked the room she had too, because when we were on the V65 Sabre, she would push on my back (due to lack of space) and my fore-arms would get very tired. On the ST, we did not have that problem. And really, the only problem either of us experienced during the ride was the saddle. These stock saddles are terrible for rides longer then 5 minutes. Before either of those rides I had ordered a Russell Day-long saddle and I got it in just before we went up to Sacramento the following month.

Later that year, Dave and I took a ride around Northern California. <Click Here>  If you read about our trip, you could see we had a great ride! (-:

I sold the V45 Sabre to my son, Bobby right after the SoCal ride then sold the V65 Sabre a little over a year later. I was hoping to hold on to the V65, but I was having a very hard time transitioning between the Sabre and the ST during commutes.   

Since then I've ridden the ST to work as much as possible and as of April 2008, I have over 36,000 miles on it. I have ridden it up to Sacramento and last summer out to Arizona in 115 degree heat and the bike did great! 

In June of 2008 I rode out to Taos New Mexico for the ST-Owners.com WeSTOC gathering with a friend of mine from the group. Byron and I had a blast, we rode through the desert in 115F degree weather, up to Saint George Utah where we went through Zion and then down into Arizona for Monument Valley & Four Corners, then into Colorado for Mesa Verde. Then out to Dodge City Kansas, down through Oklahoma, where Byron took out a Pheasant, through a corner of Texas, on into Taos in a down pour. After WeSTOC, we took of and went through the Petrified Forest, Meteor Creator, the Painted Desert, and through the Grand Canyon.   

For all of my adventures that I have documented, just <Click Here>.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Of course, subject to change without notice! (-: