It’s Happened to Bikes, Too

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Almost exactly ten years ago, I bought the last new bike I’ll probably ever buy. The new bikes – like new cars – just don’t do it for me.ZRX12002

Or rather, they do too much for me.

My ’03 ZRX1200 is one of the last sport bikes that came from the factory without a computer, without a catalytic converter – without even fuel injection.

It has four carburetors.

Car people may find that startling, because new cars haven’t had carburetors since circa 1987 – almost 30 years ago.carbs

I don’t knock fuel injection. The benefits – more precise fuel metering, typically better cold starts and (most important of all, if you care about such things) lower emissions – are undeniable. But then, so are the liabilities – including the need for a computer to control it all and the cost of maintaining/repairing it all. When FI works – and it often works seamlessly for years, without requiring any maintenance at all – it usually works flawlessly. But when it develops hiccups, which are often caused by some electronic-related hairball, the finding and fixing can be a real hassle (and a real expense).cleancarb3

I prefer carbs because I am someone who loves mechanical (as opposed to electric) things. I enjoy the physical movement of machinery – as of four slides synchronized perfectly, moving up – then down. I enjoy the act of synchronizing them, adjusting cable tension until it’s spot-on. I particularly enjoy the sound of four hungry carbs sucking air through pod filters.

Plus, carbs are lifetime items. Short of extreme abuse (and even then, most of the time you can salvage the main parts) a carburetor will do its job for decades. I recently restored an old Kawasaki two-stroke triple. The bike had not run since the early 1990s. I was able to re-use the original carbs. Other than cleaning them thoroughly – and replacing small parts like the jets and floats and (of course) gaskets, they were good as new.ontruck

This matters – to me – because I tend to hang onto my bikes. I’ve got an old Kz900 (’76 model) I still ride it regularly. Though nearly 40 years old, it is as reliable as my ’03 ZRX. I’d take it anywhere – and anything that might go wrong along the way I know I could deal with myself, with basic tools – and not much cash lost. I expect to keep the Kz (and the Rex) for the rest of my life – which will hopefully be several more decades.

And whoever gets them after me will – hopefully – get several more decades’ enjoyment out of them. They might last several hundred years. It’s entirely possible.

Now then. Who among you is confident that any 2013 bike will be as long-lived? I mean, of course, if ridden. Ten years from now, what will become of the 2013?

How about 20 years from now?neardone

I expect they’ll have been tossed long before then. Because – like modern cars – they’ll reach a tipping point at around 15 years old, when things (expensive things) begin to go wrong and it’s no longer worth fixing them.

New cars, for example, all have air bags and ABS (and of course, port fuel injection). Get into a relatively minor – and otherwise fixable – accident in which the air bags deploy and the car – if it’s a few years old and its retail book value has dropped to say $6,000 or less – may very well be declared a total loss by the insurance company. Because they’re not going to spend two or three thousand dollars – by itself, 30-40 percent of the car’s book value – to replace the air bags (on top of the body damage). And of course, neither will you.Kz900full II

Catalytic converters aren’t cheap, either. What used to be a $200 slip-on (or even $800 for a complete header and can) is now often twice that for the full factory system, with cat and O2 sensor(s). These will not last forever. What happens 15, 20 years down the line? I can get a whole new Vance & Hines exhaust – the header and the can, everything – for the ’76 Kz for about $400. And it will last for decades. The chrome may eventually discolor, of course, but functionally, the pipes will do their job for a long smog pic

A new GSX-R has a very complicated – and very expensive – exhaust system. A car-like exhaust system. There is an internal valve/actuator – as well as a cat and sensors. All tied into a computer. This sort of rig has become typical. Cut off the cat and a trouble code light will illuminate in the gauge cluster – just like a new car. You can still get away with killing the cat – and run with the tattle-tale light on – because bike smog inspections are easier to avoid (and in some areas, not yet required at all). But they will be.

What then?

A replacement cat isn’t that expensive – about $100 or so. But it – plus the other stuff  – begins to add up. How much is a new ECU? Remember – the bike won’t run without one.'83GL650

It’s not a big worry when a bike is new – and under warranty (and still worth something). But down the line? When it’s just a $2,000 (or less) beater?

One of the things I’ve always liked about bikes (as they were) is that you could pick up a 20-year-old machine (hell, a 30 or 40-year-old machine) for less than $2,000 – and ride it daily. Cheap to pick-up, cheap to ride – and cheap to maintain. You could also restore it to as-new condition for relatively little money. That old Kaw stroke I mentioned earlier? It was in need of everything. But except for rebuilding the crank and painting the tank (I’m not good enough to meet my own standards) I was able to bring the bike back to as-new condition with hand tools in my garage, refurbishing rather than replacing most of the bits and pieces (trim excepted). I am extremely doubtful that a similar exercise will be economically (and perhaps, mechanically) feasible with a 2013 GSX-R basket case circa 2050.junk last

Bikes are becoming over-teched, over-expensive throwaways.

Like cars already are.

Throw it in the Woods?



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  1. All this gushing over carbs… Simpler than FI, my left foot. Carburetors are anything but simple.

    For starters, the specialty tools. You need 16 different screwdrivers to not strip the extra-delicate screws on the Mikunis and Hitachis, some of these screwdrivers are hard to find outside of Japan, and some you just have to grind yourself. Then, someone mentioned a Seca 750. You got that YICS specialty tool handy? If not, you’re gonna have some fun synching that beast. Wet-setting floats (that, btw, requires some more specialty tools) is absolutely insane. I’m fighting that particular battle right now on a Seca 550. And the fact that a change in either air filters or exhaust requires a bunch of guesswork and potentially shamanic drum dancing and sacrificing of small animals to get the jetting right…

    By contrast, the FI in my truck has given me far fewer issues (none). It hails from 1995, it doesn’t care what I use for an air filter, it’s had several exhaust changes without pausing a beat. The trouble codes can be read with a paperclip.

    I like my FJ1200 as it is, but a swap from carbs to FI is something I think about on occasion. Mostly on a colder morning when I have to fiddle with the choke.

    • Hi Mike,

      No doubt, there are lots of small parts – and you do need the right tools/equipment.

      But, no computer.

      As with car FI, bike FI has all the advantages up front. The bike will (usually) run “spot on” – and for years, with little if any maintenance/adjustment required.

      But, carbs catch up after about ten years or so – at which point they still only need minor occasional fiddling (which isn’t technically very difficult) and can be kept in good running order almost indefinitely. I’ve got two bikes that are nearly 40 years old – and both are still equipped with their original fuel delivery systems. The only things that have been replaced are gaskets and fuel hoses. They could – and hopefully will be – still running long after I’m gone.

      EFI/computerized bikes, on the other hand, are throw-aways. Like EFI/computerized cars. You use them for 10-15 years or so; then junk ’em.

      I think that’s a shame.

      • There is EFI and there is EFI.

        The Rochester TBI in my truck that I was talking about made it’s appearance circa 1986. Plenty of vehicles with it are still on the road, or were until the Cash for Clunkers debacle. Volvo 200 series had the Bosch Jetronic FI since 1982 or so, and those Volvos still run, as do the 700 series with Regina systems. You can hardly call a 30-year old car that still runs a throwaway. And they need no fiddling, or at least no FI-related fiddling. No adjustments of any kind, even after replacing a component.

        What I’m getting at is that FI is not what makes a vehicle a throwaway, overall design does that. Disintegrating plastic, paper-thin metal rusting through, stuff like that. It is not impossible to design a lasting FI system.

        The FI parts may eventually become unavailable, but so will carb parts, especially wearable stuff like vacuum diaphragms.

        • Mike, I gotta agree. Every few years, pull that old carb off, clean it good and put new parts in. Every few years, marvel how well that TBI works year after year. Now if I could only get my driveline from my 93 into the sheetmetal of my ’82 I’d have a literal bullet proof truck. I used to hit fairly large trees all the time with my ’82 Chevy pickup and just bowl em over and if something hit the sheetmetal, it would just shine the paint. Lean against some of the newer pickups, esp. the ext cabs and watch the metal bend and sometimes stay bent. I’ll say one thing for the ’93 though, the interior is top notch….and that’s saying a lot in the Texas sun all it’s life.

          • That, actually, shouldn’t be very much of a problem. I’m fairly certain the engine will bolt up mechanically, and you should be able to just transfer the wiring harnesses wholesale. Might have to cobble up a generic fuel pump, but that should be about it.

          • Mike, since both pickups were originally diesel it’s probably a doable thing but converting an auto to a manual with all the clutch stuff, larger radiator, larger condenser, oil cooler, etc. would be more work than I’d want to tackle. I’d bet the rear-end would bolt up and if it wouldn’t it has a 1 ton rear-end in it already. My dog wouldn’t know what to do without an extra cab though. I had one dog who freaked out in a pickup without more cab. I’d put him in the regular cab and he’d hate it. He never quit looking for a back seat. Rarely does a day go by I don’t consider rebuilding the 454 in it and driving the stink out of it.

          • Bill, it’s no story. I worked for Holiday Rambler in the late 70’s at a service center. Every now and then someone would show up with a Ford of GM with a Perkins diesel. Didn’t pull like a 454 but would pass the occasional gas station. 455 Olds were common tow cars for travel trailers and 3/4T GMC 454 pickups for goosenecks. Our service truck was a ’77 GMC with a 454 and a granny 4 speed. I don’t think it ever got traction in the rain.

  2. The issue today is most things are built to be throw away. Back in the day the focus was not being able to salvage something from the grave and today it is to just throw it away and get new.

  3. I sometimes wish my ’90 model CBR1000F had EFI. My ’86 K100RT ex-police is so smooth and efficient, but without a cat. I put ’95 model carbs on the CBR. Much better power, probably about 15%, but difficult to balance as there’s only one vacuum takeoff point! I’d have to plug in my vacuum cleaner in each throat with a vac gauge to set each one.

    “A friend of mine – WERA racer – used to sell bikes at a major store. He switched to parts. Why? He told me he didn’t want to have anything to do with facilitating the purchase of a new R1 or ZX6 by some 19-year-old who only learned to ride a dirt bike six months prior…”

    Agreed. Take a quick look around your local wreckers and you’ll see plenty of late model rockets that barely made it past 10,000 k’s.

  4. …more to your topic, new things ARE less fun and not made to last. I recently bought a 91 BMW 318iS because I wanted a second car, but I didn’t want a second computer. This thing is pretty easy to work on too – which is a claim no one can make about a new BMW. A friend at work has a new’ish 3-series (circa ~2010), he told me today that the mere act of popping open the hood open will draw your blood.

  5. I have a 2009 Ninja 650r and it’s all the Ludicrous Speed I will want for the street: Top speed ~130mph, 0-60 < 4s if you get nasty with the clutch. For me, the joy of riding is the simplicity of just getting around the BS of others – come to a red light in heavy traffic, go to the front of the line. I'm not really speeding, but I'm getting there before you do because I can fit through that gap in traffic 😉

    The roads here are too sandy (FL) to lean in a turn that you are not already intimately familiar. I've nearly eat'n shit a bunch of times when the back end tries to check out and I'm a good 35 degrees leaned-over. I envy you guys up north in the summer with your windy roads and your…soil.

    • Chris, my Sunday mornings used to always be get on my GS 1000 and stay on the FM roads I lived near(only lived on a highway once and that was enough). The problem with W. Tx. is not the good old red clay but the vehicles that use the roads. Come around a curve triple digits and find an oil field truck has come out a really sloppy pasture or field, probably being pulled by a dozer, and the road may be a foot deep in hardened mud that hasn’t even been hit by a pickup or car since they’re going slow enough to go around it(in the barditch since the truck will take both lanes turning). No way to anticipate it and that goes double for farm tractors doing the same. I’ve had stuff ripped off the bottom side of vehicles when someone was coming at me and I had no choice to hit it at speed(trying to brake). Then there are the years grasshoppers are so thick, and due to being cannibals, actually build up a thick, greasy dead grasshopper covering with live ones eating what’s on the road. That’s about as dicey as it gets traction-wise, even worse than ice.

  6. KTM will be introducing a 400CC true supersport bike in 2014. Its going to have 50hp and weigh 300lbs. all for $6k. Honda has the CBR500 and Kawi has the Ninja 650 but both of these bikes are just sport themed cruisers.

    The Japanese bikes will surely jump on this bandwagon within the next 3-4 years as long as the economy doesn’t collapse before then.

  7. Eric, I am with you, — sort of. Your post reminded me of my original “death wish” 1969 Kawasaki H1 500 triple. Hang-on-for-your-life acceleration, just don’t try to stop or turn it. I dearly love my carb’d 93 Honda ST1100, and ’99 6 cylinder GL1500 Valkyrie standard (makes Harley owners cry when the see and hear that black and chrome beast ). I am also restoring a 82 Honda Nighthawk CB650SC and 83 Yamaha SECA 750 I bought for less than $300.00 each, and will have less than $1,000.00 in each when done (ignore the labor hours please :} ). I ride year round, long and short distance for the fun of it, not to be an Easy Rider poster child poser. Contrary to the marketing claims, no motorcycle ever made is cheap-to-keep compared to VW beetle, Toyota Corolla or similar box. The new bikes are very impressive and great, like the computer controlled Kawi Concourse 14 fire breathing rocket ship. And I agree – bring money and special shop tools when it needs service. And don’t even think of riding it 20 years from now when the mechanic looks at you and says “you have a WHAT you need serviced?”.

  8. Agreed completely.

    Even further though, it been at least a decade that the average 600 supersport is way more capable than the capabilities of the average rider…and even for the few that are capable enough to squeeze everything out of them…the opportunities to do so on the street SAFELY are truly few and far between.

    Sure, the rush of a 1000cc supersport on full throttle is available to everyone with even a limited skill set when it comes to a straight line, freeway( on ramp), etc.

    But that joy ride is limited to under 10 secs now before “ludicrous speed”(HT to Spaceballs) is attained on the street….and it’s not the speed that Darwin’s out the lesser mortals…it’s the abrupt stops from it…or lack of stopping from it successfully.

    Do I think they should be outlawed? Obviously not, I’m a libertarian for crying out loud.

    But that being said, a nice healthy discussion is good….like yours.

    Then again, this is an opinion from a guy riding 400cc supersport technology created in mid 80’s and stuffed into a 23 year old bike…so there’s that.

    But my 600cc supersport racing days aren’t that far behind me…and I littered the racetracks with 1000cc riders in my wake at the Advanced/Expert level enough to know what’s what even 10 years later.

    My 2001 race prepped R6 lifted the wheel in 3rd gear in it’s day and generally scared the shit out of me at certain tracks while passing 1000cc bikes.

    The few gods that could pass me on their 1000cc bike on the track were freaks of nature and few and far between.

    The general populace is not up to the task.

    I wish one of the Big Four wouldn’t undertake a superlight bike, 400cc-4…just to prove a point. With motogp technology producing well over 200hp from 800cc, a moderately tuned 400cc bike should reach 80hp easily and with the newer production methods could easily weight less than 350lbs.

    I suspect such a machine would still exceed the ability of 75% of the riding public.

    • Excellent points, Nick.

      There’s a saying you may have heard: It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

      The same applies to bikes.

      I’ve ridden a lot, too. On track and street. As you point out, any modern liter bike can attain Ludicrous Speed in a matter of seconds (literally; you can be over 140 before ten seconds elapse). That can be fun. But what’s not fun is riding a race bike – and that’s what these things are – at perhaps 30 percent of their capability. Here you are, on a machine that’s not really working hard until it’s running well into the triple digits, and you’re in peril of a major bust if you run over 80.

      It’s frustrating – and also kind of dumb.

      Plus, the ergos of these things – full tuck-in position, etc. – suck for street riding.

      Then, there’s the Skill Issue. It’s one thing if you have the experience/skill to ride a liter bike fast (street or track). But the capabilities of these machines are so high (as you observe) that probably not two out of twenty riders are well-matched to their machines.

      And that detracts from the fun, too.

      It’s also dangerous.

      A friend of mine – WERA racer – used to sell bikes at a major store. He switched to parts. Why? He told me he didn’t want to have anything to do with facilitating the purchase of a new R1 or ZX6 by some 19-year-old who only learned to ride a dirt bike six months prior…. .

      Have you noticed the dearth of middle-of-the-road bikes? There are beginner bikes (250 cc Rebels and Nighthawks) and then you move up to a ‘Busa. Yes, there are a few in the not-so-extreme category (SV650, etc.) but only a few. In the naked/standard class, very few.

      • “Have you noticed the dearth of middle-of-the-road bikes?”
        I’ve noticed that middleweights aren’t presently imported into the U.S. in any appreciable volume. There’s only a dearth of demand; this country likes big motorcycles and damn the torpedoes. Other markets have a king’s ransom of reasonably sized motorcycles to choose from.

        An incremental shift is occurring, which is good news for those ‘Muricans with little interest in straddling chrome tractors and race replicas. Witness Honda’s admirable efforts with the new line of CB500s, as well as the NC700 and CTX700. The latter two machines are available with dual clutch (automatic) transmissions. Only the passage of time will reveal if these “regular” bikes secure a sustainable foothold in the domestic market.

        • Why would you want an automatic trans? Doesn’t that go right back to “making it Clover-proof”, thus stripping out the fun for everyone else?

          • The idea behind dual-clutch transmissions is simple, and admirable. The intent of the technology is to make those motorcycles so equipped more accessible to new and/or physically challenged riders who want to ride, but might otherwise be intimidated by or have difficulty operating a fully manual transmission. The “dual” in Honda’s dual-clutch transmissions allow for manual gear selection when desired.

            No one is being forced to purchase any particular motorcycle here. Nor will standard transmissions disappear from the market. What is occurring here is a Good Thing.

            • Hi James,

              I’ve got mixed feelings about automatic bikes.

              Mixed – not because I oppose more choices – but because I think anyone who hasn’t got the physical (and mental) skills to competently operate a small CC commuter/starter bike (with conventional transmission and clutch) probably shouldn’t be on two wheels – period.

              I feel the same way, incidentally, about things on four wheels. A person unable to master a stick-shift car probably ought not to be driving any car.

              Mind: I’m not proposing a ban. Just advising that people ought to know – and respect – their limitations.

              Especially when it comes to bikes. You’re much more vulnerable – and because bikes are single track vehicles (you need to lean the bike as well as steer to corner properly; braking and weight transfer issues, etc.) it takes more in the way of natural skill/physical ability and experience/training to ride competently.

              Making it easier for people who maybe ought not to ride to think about riding might not be such a good idea…

              Just my 50.

          • James, clutchless shifting can be done with a single disc clutch as well as multiple discs if the vehicle is set up that way. I always thought a dual disc clutch was for transferring power without the need for a huge diameter clutch. Trucks and tractors have dual disc clutches(tractors almost always have wet clutches) but I wouldn’t recommend trying to just grab another gear. Of course a good truck driver only uses a clutch when coming to a complete stop or starting from a stop.

          • eric, there’s a flip side. Many old competent bikers have some sort of injury that doesn’t affect anything they do except to shift gears. A shattered ankle and you can’t move that shifter up and down even though that foot works just fine for stopping, getting on and off, etc. I’ve spoken with people who were up against that very thing. My wife’s ankle was shattered in an accident so I’ve been to plenty docs and seen many people who were former riders lamenting not being able to shift. I’ve seen a bike that had been changed to a homemade hand shift for that reason. I remember the good old days of Harley’s and some scooters with hand shifters and foot clutches.

            • Roger all, that Eight.

              For people with such issues, I see no issue.

              My concern is that making the sport too accessible will have negative consequences; i.e., the more low-performance riders out there, the more problems there’ll be – which in turn will result in calls by Clovers for more laws, more restrictions on everyone.

              Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety first…..

          • Well, eric, you’re right if talking about “I’d like to ride a motorcycle but I hate to shift” people. Those who have to think “do I want a bike or not?” don’t need to be riding. It was never about if I wanted one, just making it happen. If you have to consider your options “Do I really want a bike or will it not fit what I want to do?”, the answer is clear, forget it. I know two overweight family guys who bought bikes(Honda 50’s ha ha)to save money on fuel in a gas crunch and rode them to work. Now that was funny.

      • “Yes, there are a few in the not-so-extreme category (SV650, etc.) but only a few. In the naked/standard class, very few.”

        Roger that my friend.

        I can understand that the manufacturers have to make a profit….I’m just not sure if the slot between 250cc and 600cc supersports has been marketed as well as it could be, to be as successful here as they are in Europe and Japan. (You noted the SV650, which is fun and fairly light…the Hyosung still has a bit to go in quality…and now the Kawasaki 650 and BMW 800cc(fairly heavy though).

        That being said, their graduated licensing system(that favors 400cc) also helps the sales figures on small displacement(or lower horsepower via restrictor), especially in the UK and Japan….but I still keep coming back to the practicality issues in many urban/heavy traffic areas here in the US…especially with the “man” cracking down so hard on speeds over 80mph…ending up with big fines, jail time, loss of license, etc. aside from the rider ability issue.

        It drives me crazy that a 600cc supersport is sold as a “beginner” bike at times….and truth be told the 250’s aren’t that exciting after you’ve learned to ride in that 3-6 month window for a lot of beginners.

        • Hi Nick,

          This is pure speculation on my part, but:

          I believe it’s marketing. The “BMW-ization” of motorcycles. Virtually all new cars are now “sporty” – even luxury cars, which are now almost exclusively luxury-sport cars – with firm suspensions, minimum 17 inch wheels, much more engine than the average driver can or will ever use….all because it’s seen as hip and trendy to be “sporty.”

          Looking, that is.

          Advertising shows the glove-wearing stud running the Ring in record time. The hausfrau thinks that’s her. So she gets her $50,000 5 Series… and drives it no more aggressively than her ’87 Buick Century.

          Cars on average are now preposterously over-capable, over-elaborate – and over-expensive – precisely because they’re over-capable and over-elaborate.

          Mind, I love powerful/capable cars (and bikes). But I also hate stupidity and waste. And it’s stupid and wasteful for the average American to be driving a 300-400 hp car capable of 150 MPH no faster than 75 or maybe 80… to ride on 18 and 19 inch Y rated tires… but never take a corner at much more than 5 MPH over the posted (under-posted) maximum.

          And bikes?

          Just in the same way, the marketing and advertising has up-sold people into believing that they must have either a 170 MPH, 9 second quarter mile sport bike…. or a 900 pound cruiser.

          250 cc bikes? 500 cc bikes?

          Those are beginner bikes! They’re for losers!

          You want at least a 650. And then next year, a 1000…..

          • eric, while some may consider 170 mph too much I want at least as much speed as a Veyron. I’ve been searching for one of the old aluminum 427 CI BBC engines I can put twin turbo’s on and build a fast bike. Sure, it might get a little heavy, slightly bulky but those same tires and wheels the Veyron uses should work, especially using all four…..think Chrysler’s big block hemi bike. It may not be the fastest through a corner but just think about that straight line acceleration. And the bling factor, OMG, polish every bit of it till it’s blinding. No sissy grips for me, polished knurled SS, a real he man’s “twist”. Women will fall out of trees and swoon as I go by. After all, that is the whole point isn’t it? And I’ll have official gear, even a HD do rag. My entire helmet will be chromed and built to shed the wettest pair of panties. Even my underwear will be knurled and polished as a constant reminder of my machoness.

            • Me too!

              But then, guys like us will actually use that speed.

              I had the 1200 out the other day; hit close to 160 on the straight stretch before the turn off to our place….

          • Dear Eric,

            You wrote, sardonically:

            “250 cc bikes? 500 cc bikes? Those are beginner bikes! They’re for losers!”

            I know what you mean. The fact is, from a utilitarian perspective, even 125 cc is adequate as transportation.

            This Sanyang 125 is a very popular classic bike modeled on the old British bike shapes.

            Variations of it are used by postal workers to deliver the mail, or small shop owners to deliver merchandise.

            I’m too chicken to ride a motorcycle into the chaos of traffic here on Taiwan. Too many incompetent drivers who might not see me and swerve right into me.

            But if I wasn’t, this would be what I would get.

            • Absolutely!

              My 250 Kaw dual sport is capable of 100 MPH.

              65-70 is no problem.

              It’s light, agile – and more responsive than many cars.

              You can park it anywhere a bicycle fits, just about. Ride down alleys no car would dare attempt. Take it onto the grass – through two feet of standing water.

              It also is capable of 70 MPG.

              Cost me $2,000 (used) seven years ago. So, about $11 a month to own – assuming it’s now worth nothing. And of course, it’s still worth about what I paid for it!

              I think I got my money’s worth….

          • Dear Eric,

            One could even make an argument for 50 cc!

            Remember the commercial jingle, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda?”


            To sell bikes in quantity, they had to overcome the scary Marlon Brando “Wild One” image of outlaw bikers.

            Presenting the Super Cub as a consumer appliance[15] not requiring mechanical aptitude and an identity change into “a motorcyclist”, or worse, “a biker”, differentiated Honda’s offering, because, “the dedication required to maintain bikes of that era limited ownership to a relatively small demographic, often regarded as young men known for their black leather jackets and snarling demeanors.”[32]

            It was an ad campaign straight out of “Mad Men.”

    • Nick,

      I agree with you regarding the capabilities of most 600cc (and larger) super-sport MCs are beyond the abilities of many to ride safely. For the few able to ride safely, there are few places where one can safely use the MC to their limits. (I saw the video of 185+ mph ‘Busa on the Northern State Parkway {Nassau County, Long Island and NYC}. Amazingly dumb and fascinating at the same time.)

      A CBR400R (or similar MC) would be perfect for general riding here in the states. (Alas, it is only available in Japan.)


      I have notice the lack of much between 250cc and 600cc.

      In the last 2 years there is the Kawasaki Ninja 300 and the Honda CBR500R/CB500X/CB500F and not much else new available in the states.

  9. Eric, I took all that you’ve written into consideration last year when I bought my ’05 Z-1000: Multi-port EFI, exhaust catalyzers, ECU, throttle body secondaries, sensors, etc. It’s true that these are all potential failure items, but there is a flip side. High performance at 40+ MPG. We’re talking performance that you’ll only experience in a car in the $100K range. And the bike is as tractable below 6000 RPM as anything you could hope for. Above 6K, pure animal. I love carbs as much as you do Eric and I keep my eyes open for a deal on a 70’s to 80’s @-smoker all the time. I know how to rebuild carburetors and tune them, so my “Zombie Apocalypse” machine is a carbureted KLR-650. It’s still as road side repairable as anything from the mid to late 70’s (points and condenser have their advantages, but electronic ignition requires a lot less fiddling). But for pure pleasure of riding, that “modern” Zed fits me to a tee. Maybe my kids or grand kids won’t be riding it into the 22nd century, but I’m sure having fun with it right now. And I’ll bet it gets me into my seventies (only 16 years away, sigh) without any trouble. Only time will tell…

    • Hi Boothe,

      Yup – an I like your bike (have ridden it).

      But, you oughtta ride mine! It does all you’ve described: Starts immediately, in any weather. 148 dyno’d RW HP. So much torque it pulls like a 3500 Ram dualie Cummins; you can work the transmission, but it’s not necessary to get immediate acceleration. Still pulls hard at 10,000 RPM.

      And it gets 40+ MPG, too.

      No ECU. No FI. No catalyst!


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