Rueing the Sherpa

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As hysteria about Coronavirus spreads – faster than the disease and possibly more dangerous than the disease – I’m really regretting having sold my dual-sport Kawasaki KL250 Super Sherpa (the Lesser Known Kaw) a few years ago.

A motorcycle that can go off road – can go places even a jacked-up 4×4 truck can’t – is the perfect tool for dealing with Hut! Hut! Hut! WuFlu “checkpoints” and national prison “lockdowns” pretexted and justified by what may prove to be a contrived panic, contrived for just that purpose.

Nahhnlevven – when “the enemies of freedom” supposedly struck – was messy and too local. If you weren’t in NYC or DC it was abstract. But a continental plague or fear of the same is just the ticket for penning in the cattle, with the cattle lowing and mooing to be led to saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety, as per H.L. Mencken’s axiom about government.

I’d rather look out for my own saaaaaaaaaaafety than trust it to – of all things – the government. That would be like giving a meth addict your debit card and PIN number; see what your balance is tomorrow morning. This is exaggerated – but only a little. Remember Katrina – and how “helpful” the government was then.

No matter your political persuasion, realize and come to grips with the hard cold fact that you and yours will be on your own if things get ugly.

Or rounded up.

It is much better to rely on yourself – and your friends and family. Do not make the mistake of relying on the government, that lice-infested nest of indifferent incompetents, grifters, power-trippers, fools and knaves who not only think they know best but will use guns to convince you that they do.

Which is why I miss the Sherpa, a small dual-sport (on/off-road) motorcycle Kawasaki made in the early 2000s, which was the era of the apogee of motorcycle design, just as ten years or so earlier was the apogee of car design – if you wanted a car with all the bullet-proof reliability, minimalist maintenance of modernity without all the crap (e.g., “assistance” technology and such) that modernity has become.

The little Kaw had more range on 2.5 gallons of gas than any electric car has now – because its single-cylinder engine only needed a gallon to travel 80-100 miles, which is twice as far as any hybrid car. Two or three five gallon jugs of gas stored in my shed means mobility for weeks – months – if there’s no more gas available at the station.

Even if the power gets cut off, I’m still mobile.

Well, I was.

A dual-sport/dirt bike can get to places – and away from places – you can’t get to (or get away from) on four wheels, even if you have a 4×4. A truck, no matter how much ground clearance it has, is too wide for the woods unless there’s a trail and any trail can be blocked. A dirt bike doesn’t need a trail. Everywhere is its trail and good luck following a dirt bike unless you’re on one, too.

Most armed government workers aren’t – and the few that are ride big on-road bikes that are much less useful for travel than your own two feet when the pavement turns to grass turns to rutted muddy earth.

The Sherpa would give me the option to break left – or right – and into the Woods at the first sight of a Corona “checkpoint” and the ability to put real distance, quickly, between myself and armed government workers sent to enforce a “lockdown.”

The bike is also cheaper and easier to keep than a horse, which may become very important if the economy craters due to the panic ginned up over the WuFlu virus. It’s air-cooled so there’s no radiator, coolant, hoses or water pump to worry about. The ignition is electronic and essentially maintenance free. The fuel system is mechanical – a simple carburetor and gravity-feed fuel from the tank above. It can be cleaned out for the price of a can of carb cleaner.

1.6 quarts of erl is all the engine needs. Keep the chain cleaned, greased and adjusted and the tires inflated and that’s about all there is to do. Unlike a horse, which must be fed and groomed and exercised when you’re not using it. A dirt bike can rest in the shed until you need to use it.

On-call survival situation mobility.

Which – fool that I am – I sold in order to pay Uncle. He got my money (again). And now has me by the reproductive equipment, since I can’t head off into the Woods in my Orange Barchetta.

But I’ll never sell that one, even so!

. . .

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  1. Eric,

    Last week, you mentioned your Sherpa. For grins and giggles, I went on Cycle Trader to see what I could find. I found one in the whole country-ONE! It was in WA State, and it was for sale for $4,000.

    A good alternative may be Royal Enfield’s Himalayan. It has a 411cc thumper; it’s light; it was originally designed and built for use in India, so it doesn’t have the tech and BS modern ADV bikes have; and it can go wherever there are roads-or NO roads! With 411cc, you won’t get there fast, but you’ll get there. With that undersquare, long stroke engine, you’ll have enough torque to get over any obstacle in your way. They’re simple enough that anyone or any mechanic in the world can work on ’em. The best part? Y can get ’em brand new for $5K or so! To learn more, go here for a modern, possible Sherpa replacement:

    • Marky
      Royal Enfield just recently got involved with the American Flat Track Series racing. I believe they won a race already this year.

    • Nice looking bike. Kind of reminds me of an older Harley, a Triumph, I think it was.

      I wonder why they put two front fenders on it? Extra splash protection? The guards on the gas tank were a nice touch.

      411cc does seem a bit small for certain street use, I remember thinking my 650 barely cut it driving around some faster streets & hyways. Compared to a 250 though, … just depends on where you’re riding, I suppose.

      I shouldn’t have looked at it, I’ll probably have dreams about it.

  2. I am ignorant of Spanish as all languages but this one made me tear up from laughing.
    8:33 / 8:52
    #bultaco #trialclasicas #sherpa 1a Trobada Club Bultaco-trial motos clásicas-Bultaco trial sherpa T
    Pre-coronervirus folks had a lot of fun. If Eric studies this he will see that all wear a helmet, but no facial diapers.

    • Top shelf!

      And: I do wear a helmet when I ride off road and full gear (of course) on the track (though not lately as I am currently too fat to fit into my Alpinestars).

      But, when I feel like just knocking around the country roads all around me, I like the wind in my hair – and yes, the bugs in my teeth. Is it a little “riskier” than riding with a helmet? Potentially, sure. But doesn’t the actuality of feeling the wind in your hair count for anything? If it’s all about risk mitigation, then why not always full leathers, boots and gloves, too? Why even ride at all – since being on a bike, even geared up, is far more potentially risky than being inside a car. And surely all cars must have eight air bags and every possible saaaaaaaaaafety assist? Hell, driving itself presents “too much risk.” Thousands die every year.

      It ought to be outlawed.

  3. Hi Eric,
    I have compiled the following list for exactly that, the added convenience of off-road:
    Kawasaki KLR
    Suzuki DR
    Honda XR or XL
    Yamaha XT, TT, or SR

    Do you have any objections on any of these?

    • Manuel, thanks for your shopping list. Once I get my truly awful car bedded in I will shop for something more economical. I kick myself in the back of the leg for not buying a perfect Yamaha 400. Yeah it is a road bike, but you know the fun factor.

  4. Great article Eric. I’m with you I’m not worried about the virus what so ever I am however worried about the government and getting even more of our freedoms taken away. People have become cowards

    • Thanks, Brian!

      And, yup. The fear – of everything – that characterizes the population has done its awful work and not just as regards muh muh muh Corona. It has ruined cars – and driving. Created an entire generation of passive/helpless kids who have been trained to be terrified of everything – and await orders.

      This all happened so fast, too. America – the not-a-bad-place-to-live – existed as recently as the ’90s.

      And now it’s almost entirely a memory.

      • How much did you dump it for? I am a loser on pricing gasoline engine stuff. You sold me on it as I dumped my BSA 500 a long time ago and still only have a 444. Even with the valve lifter it is a whore to start. I’d rather have a horse.. The mares are somewhat tame and do not bite very hard and will not break your foot on a kickback. Besides I could get a good lady bird dog to run from horseback where they are reticent about motorcycles.

        • Hi Erie,

          I let it go for $1,500 IIRC. Which was about what I paid for it, so roughly even Steven. Lately, I ride my ’83 GL650 the most because it’s the most comfortable and versatile (lots of storage; two “suitcase” saddle bags and a large cubby behind the passenger seat) and because it’s ok if it gets wet. My polished Kz900 not so much!

          • Gee Eric, you are a real prick. I likely would have bought it for a hundred more had you listed it on the site. I like your Kaw, but I don’t need no more road bikes.
            I do have a kick ass ’59 BSA A10 Super Rocket with roller cam and dual carbs on a welded up head. Somewhere around 13.5/1 C/R and likely shorter lived. It was the fastest thing at Great Lakes Dragaway for a few the early ’70s.
            If any of you goofballs want the beast, I will sell for a good price to you. It is not pretty but it sounds good.

              • Hi Erie,

                That thing is better-looking than most women – the thing which attracted so many men to motorcycles once upon a time. I could sip coffee and just stare at it for hours.

            • Morning, Erie!

              I know it 😉

              This was one of those situations of Garage Too Full, which sometimes triggers Sell It Now syndrome. Friend of a friend bought it and – at the time – I was relieved to have the space back. The one thing I don’t like about my house is that the garage is too small. However, there is more space inside and I have been seriously thinking about a ramp to the front door and two of my old Kaws in the house. The problem is keeping them in the house with gas in the tank and ready to ride. I brought my S1 250 triple in, briefly – and much as I love the smell of gasoline in the morning, it tends to give one a headache. Plus, I put a propane heater in the TV room….

    • Hi Fred,

      Well-said (as always)! It’s both alarming and depressing – as we’re powerless against this sort of legalized theft. It makes me wish whatever I have was in the form of something under my physical control. Gold and silver, for instance.

      • One troy ounce silver coins have been selling for around $16 – $18 and have been for years. I have a small stash in event that SHTF. I figure one or two coins is a fill up of gas.

      • I keep only operating money in the bank, the rest in cash, gold and silver. And lead. Central banks are still manipulating Gold and Silver, selling what they don’t have, or no intention of delivering what they sell. Physical Gold is real Gold, paper Gold is just more fiat money. Its going to get dangerous. We may have to use the 2A for what it is intended. Tyrants.

  5. Eric,

    You can still find good replacement bikes for the Sherpa. The Yamaha TW200 comes to mind, and I believe it still has a carb. It’s air cooled. The TW200 has been production for decades, so they’re easy and cheap to find; parts, likewise, are easy to come by. It’ll go on and off road. Plus, it has those fat tires which, in addition to giving it character, enable it to handle any off road environment… 🙂

  6. The suzuki drz400 is still sold brand new with a carb. Same design for the past 15 to 20 years. Sold for under 7k new and regularly sell for around 3 used. I bought mine new in ’13. Havent fed it much more than some gas oil and tires. Recently changed the chain and sprocket set. Got 24 thousand on ‘er and she feels as good as new. Dual sports are the perfect second vehicle.

  7. Now that everyone (well, the media) has officially gone batshit over this “outbreak”, it’s only a matter of time until the US joins Italy in a nationwide lockdown. I betcha a dollar to a doughnut that once the dust settles, the dildos will then say that “climate change” somehow caused the virus to thrive and spread out.

    • Jesus,,, There was a race scheduled at the local track. They cancelled it AFTER the drivers and cars arrived! I am in North West Florida. Not one instance of this bug in the area. Never in my life have I witnessed so much insanity.

      If it really exists the virus was likely designed at Ft Detrick and escaped. It was shut down recently by the CDC for “saaafety reasons”. I imagine some of the military folks that went to Wuhan last September for some kind of World War Games may have passed it on. Just another conspiracy theory.

    • Climate change will be a hard sell, since CO2 output will drop significantly. Of course once it has the Eco Freaks will insist it stay that way, unless their cell phones stop working. I think I read that China’s CO2 dropped by 25% in the Wuhan region, which is a major industrial area.

  8. The good news is you can find bikes like that pretty easy. Just have to look, sometimes longer than you would like, but I’ve seen similar bikes friends have owned year in and year out. And pretty cheap too. Agree, that was a good model though.
    As for new, much better all-around dual purpose, some call adventure style bikes, are the buzz today. Most manufacturers have them or will soon. Some recent examples are Kawasaki 300X and Honda’s 500X. Both around $5-6K +/- new, and both two-cylinder for way better road manners, and still light enough to do light off-roading. Yes, they have fuel injection and the like but are very reliable. Will they stand the test of time? I think so. I took apart my injection system on one of my bikes. Very simple injector and a fuel pump. The fuel pump will be the achilies heal, but can be had in the aftermarket for $50. Obviously the computer that drives all said E-stuff would doom the bike if not avail in say 10 years, but I’ve seen one fail even 15-20 years old. Obviously the good old carburetor is the best of the best for very long term life, but the trade off is they are finicky, and older models don’t like our modern ethanol fuel.
    Hell, even amazon is now selling DOT legal dual sport bikes, i think for around $1500? I would never buy one, but looks like lots are. That’s less than half of the big Japanese versions. Obviously from China.

    • I bought extra carbs in a box for my fire pump (cheap Power Fist), generator (Honda) and chainsaw (Poulan). FP was $24, gen $42, CS ~$30 IIRC. Very cheap insurance.

      Actually bought two for the fire pump as I had forgotten fuel was in it one year and it gummed badly. Just put the new on because I was too lazy to rebuild the one on it, and fires season was already here. The old one eventually got cleaned up and sits in a box with the others.

      Would do the same with any bug out bike. $150 in spares is not nothing, but priceless if you need them. Patch kit and a set of tire spoons too.

  9. I’m don’t know much about motorcycles, but that never stopped anybody from stating an opinion. 🙂 And here’s mine. If you really think getting out of Dodge could be your best option, you might want to cover a lot of miles… That Sherpa looks perfect for zigging through the thick woods. But it looks kind of slow for on road travel. Pretty sure I’ve seen some bikes that could go faster, carry more cargo, and yet still be pretty economical, and adequately agile in the thick terrain where the Sherpa would excel. So the Sherpa might not be optimal, except as a limited, special use tool.

    Second, whether someone is considering a “bug in” or a “bug out” scenario, it would be a Really Good Idea to “be there,” before the roadblocks go up, and the drones start hunting for you in particular. True, “stuff happens” and you may need to leave at the eleventh hour. Still, getting to where you want to be EARLY should be Plan A.

    • Hi Mike,

      A 250 cc bike can cruise at 70 – with a top speed, all out, around 90-100 or so. It’s enough for highway use, though I would not want to do it for more than 30 minutes or so. Large cc dual sports like the KLR 650 can comfortably cruise at 70 all day, but they are much heavier and so much more unwieldy off-road.

  10. Nice little bike. Shame you had to sell it, especially to the largest fraudster on the planet. They still make some decent off road / on road bikes. A 4 cycle might be best. No mixing. Maybe one of those 4 wheeler things.
    Like Anon writes,,, hiding is almost impossible unless you can get out of the country, say Latin America but our government has most countries hating us sooo much they’d probably rob / kill you on sight.

    While we are shivering in fear of Corona virus ( CV ), Uncle is shipping nukes to Poland,,, the same Poland that got WWII started by not negotiating with Germany concerning the Poles stealing property and killing ethnic Germans. Poland had a Free Start a War card as the UK promised them protection.
    Now we have the ‘alleged’ virus which some claim to be manmade, regardless of which country one wants to accuse. They are locking it all down. Italy,,, the EU,,, US no longer allowing flights from EU. Stocks seem to be going down at a controlled rate,,, a thousand or so a day. AND, this is a Man Made Global Warming believers wet dream. My personal opinion is they are trying to let the air out of their bubble somewhat slowly. This also gives them an alibi for screwing up the economy….. “its the virus’ fault”
    All the CDC test kits are unreliable in that they give different results with the same client. For a couple of months the CDC refused to test Americans unless they just came from Asia. I have no idea haw media came up with their numbers. Now they have opened up 78 labs for hospitals to send their samples. The CDC is a government agency, (part of HHS), so if they want those tests to be positive,,, positive they will be. I don’t trust them or the WHO. They are all compromised.
    So the question is,,, will they lock it down every winter if this virus, like the flu decides to visit? According to them I have a good shot at dying as I am 70…. as well over 90% of those dying are elderly. but personally I’d rather die than live like a coward screaming “I’m gonna die!” hiding in my cave waiting for the all clear horn.

    • The Polish Marshal Ridz-Smigly and his general in charge of defending Warsaw, Thadeus Kutrzeba, grossly over-estimated the capabilities of the Polish military to mobilize and hold their positions. Furthermore, they rushed what they did have to the borders, and had about 30% of their forces to try to hold the “Corridor”. This not only left them vulnerable to the Panzer formations, once they’d punched through their lines, from raising merry hell in their rear, shooting up command posts, depots, and seizing critical road and rail junctions that facilitated movement of the German forces and prevented the Poles from re-supplying and reinforcing theirs. Also, despite this campaign being touted as the first application of “Blitzkrieg” (what we’d term today “Shock and Awe”), in reality the real credit for shattering the Polish forces belonged to the German ARTILLERY, which, thanks to their opponents mis-guided deployment, provided them with a “target-rich” environment.

      What made matters even worse for the Poles was that they hugely underestimated the German’s capabilities. Their military observers, invited all along to watch Wehrmacht maneuvers, actually sent reports that the German forces were largely a bluff and a sham, with most of their “tanks” being dummies made of wire and sacking, mounted on trucks, used for training (it was true that the Heer did have “ersatzpanzers” for training, to conserve fuel and wear and tear on the REAL panzers), and that the impressive display of Luftwaffe power was the same few squadrons, with new squadron and wing insignias hurriedly applied when they landed at nearby airfields to convey a false impression of strength! The Poles believed that half of the German combat aircraft were grounded due to a lack of engines and/or spare parts, and that the Luftwaffe had only 48 hours worth of AvGas on hand for operations. These were tragically, for the Poles, proven WRONG. The outcome of “Case White” was effectively decided in the first three days, and the Panzers rolled to the Warsaw city limits within a week.

      The only things the Poles did right were (1) they got most of their Navy out of the Baltic and into the North Sea three days before hostilities began, to join up with the Royal Navy (2) they mounted an effective counter-attack against the main German thrust aimed at Warsaw on Sept 10, 1939 (Battle of the Bzura) which, though the Poles were pushed back, rattled the Nazi nerve, (3) contrary to what’s commonly supposed, actually got most of their combat aircraft evacuated to the rear, which were effective in operations while they could fly, (4) manged to get a good deal of fighting men out of Poland at the end, which fought on with distinction during the war, mostly with the British, and, (5) finally, had partly deciphered the German Enigma and got their research and their copy of the device out in time, which proved a huge, if not decisive, advantage to the Allies. Indeed, it was further deciphering work of the Enigma that led to much of the computing development, some of it under the Mathematician Alan Turing, that led to the big post-war jump in computers.

      • You know your history. Trouble is I thought I knew history as well out of government school. Went in the service at 17,,, to Viet Nam at 18.
        When McNamara cried his heart out on TV explaining how the Gulf of Tonkin was a fake I started to research it and wars past. Found out EVERYTHING I ‘learned’ was false. From the Spanish American war to the present MENA wars the US and UK were the culprits instigating the wars.
        Remember the Maine,,, The Lusitania, Sinking German shipping before the US entered WWII, forcing the Japanese to attack Pearl, the Korean conflict to stop the Commies, Gulf of Tonkin lie to get involved in Viet Nam. The Lies of Milosevic to bomb Serbia, OBL did 911 bs, Yellow Cake, WMD, Iraqis killing babies in incubators, the bad Taliban, Libyan soldiers taking Viagra to rape all the women, Assad gassing his people, and today Russia, Russia, Russia is trying to destroy our exceptional democracy. It’s never ending and Americans went along with every lie and still do.
        Nukes are in Turkey which caused the Cuban crises in 1962 and now nukes going to the unpredictable Poles. There is simply no need for this except to agitate the Russians even more. The very same Russians we have to hitch a ride to space because we no longer have the ability. Boeing has three strikes now. their 737 junk,,, their space capsule junk and their new air tankers (KC 46) the Air Farce can’t use (except in emergency) because there is no way to monitor the refueling. The really stupid part,,, The Air Farce accepted 30 so far and are accepting more and will have to pay more for the fix. Maybe Space X.

        Enjoyed your post, learned a few bits I did not know. Thanks.

    • “especially to the largest fraudster on the planet.”
      Should be
      especially because of the largest fraudster on the planet.

    • Full spectrum omniscience & omnipresence is the wet dream that always dries to an unsightly crust.

      But omniperpetually wet behind the ears (& sellers into that niche-an abyss of a market, do love a good boogieman story).

      That old boo!dist Nietzsche says polish your mirror. And wash those sheets.

      As for Sherpa, the original, & still the best – in my time zone & frame – was the old Bultaco. A real trials & tribulations bike.

      (“Dual-use” means the representing face of the source of those trials & tribulations has insinuated-infiltrated consciousness…a Bul’ll Taco a paved road as well as anything with lights & a plating license plate will.)


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