Dumb – As Seen in the Rearview

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We all do dumb things – which we thought at the time we did them were smart things. One of the dumbest things I’ve done over the past several years was to sell my Kawasaki KL250 “Super Sherpa” dual sport motorcycle. 

Dumb – for a number of reasons that become more painfully apparent with each passing day. 

I thought, at the time I sold it – for $1,500 – that I was being smart. I wasn’t riding the bike much; it was taking up space in the garage and adding to my list of things-to-do, such as servicing it each season and keeping the tires aired up. I also had a fat tax bill that year and figured I could use the money. Plus, I got about what I paid for it, so – essentially – I had free use of the bike for the time I owned it and (so I thought) I could buy another for about the same $1,500 when I had more time to ride trails.

Now I am kicking myself for how dumb I was. 

The low-miles, excellent condition bike I sold for $1,500 about eight years ago? Replacing it will cost me close to $3,000 now – assuming I can find someone willing to sell me his. There are very few such who are willing – as is the case with used cars and (especially) trucks – because the people who have them know the value of what they’ve got.

And not just in monetary terms. 

The Kaw I sold would go nearly twice as far on a gallon of Let’s Go Brandon! than the Toyota Prius I am test driving this week (review here, if interested). That’s about 100 miles per gallon, which can be viewed as cutting the cost of a gallon of Let’s Go Brandon! by half – vs. driving a Prius. In effect, about $1.70 per gallon to travel the same distance it costs $3.40 in the Prius. And about a fourth vs. what it costs me to drive the same distance in my 22-miles-per-gallon truck.

If the cost of a gallon of Let’s Go Brandon! rises to $6 – or more – as seems imminently likely given the increasing likelihood of a “splendid little war” with Russia over Russia’s pending piping of lots of gas (the natural kind) to Germany – then being able to travel 100 miles on a gallon of Let’s Go Brandon! will be more than just a way to save a little money.

PS: Don’t buy Brandon’s bamboozle about defending the “freedom” of Ukraine; Brandon doesn’t defend the freedom of Americans. Like the “fight for freedom” in Iraq, this is about gas – and a “splendid little war” over it may cause the price of gas – the liquid form – to rise so high most of us won’t be able to afford a gallon of it.

Even if we do own a Prius.  

Think for a moment about the implications of this. Many Americans have to drive to get to where they work. What happens when the cost to drive to work makes it no longer worth going to work? A Hobson’s Choice is presented. Stop working – in order to avoid paying (for gas) and you become unable to pay for other things, such as the mortgage (and the endless “property taxes” on the home you thought you owned, even if you have paid off the mortgage). Also food, the power bill.

What now?

If you have a bike that can travel 100 miles on a gallon of Let’s Go Brandon! you can still get to work without it costing you more than it’s worth going to work. You can also get to necessities – such as food – and still have some money left in your pocket to buy it with.

Using the bike to go shopping (any motorcycle can be fitted with side-saddle storage containers that hold more than you might think) is a  way to recover some of the value of your money, lost to what is innocuously styled “inflation” – as if it just kind of happens that the buying power of your money is diminished. That no one is responsible for it being diminished.

You’ll still be paying Let’s Go Brandon! prices for the food, of course. But because you didn’t spend as much Let’s Go Brandon! money on the gas to get there (and back) you’ll have a bit more money left, to buy more food.

Bikes like my ex-Kawasaki also go anywhere, being dual-sports. Which means they are fully capable (and legal) for on-street riding but also designed to be capable of going off-pavement whenever the fancy suggest – or necessity requires. It is rather difficult for a car – or even a truck – to follow a dual-sport motorcycle into the woods. And you never know, in these Let’s Go Brandon! days, when having that ability could be very necessary, indeed.

A light, highly mobile and highly fuel-efficient dual-sport bike can be considered a kind of break-only-in-emergency expedient. Something you thought you’d never need for that but now – if you’re like me – you wish you still had.

. . .

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52 COMMENTS

      • Having worked in an American equipment factory, I can’t imagine their products are inferior. Most of our mechanical components came from around China and were assembled with frames and weld assemblies made with glitchy old robots and temporary workers. Building the whole thing in China just means that you might have to reassemble it. factories suck post covid19 and the best workers have been pushed out for not wearing masks or taking weekly nose swabs or vaccines.

    • I wouldn’t do it. Most likely just throwing your money away. If you go for it, make sure of at least one thing first, that you can get parts for it. Proof of parts avail. first. Maybe look for a similar model a couple years old and if you can get parts for it.
      I’ve seen too many of these bikes collecting dust because the owner can’t get parts for it. Now it’s possible there are better brands and/or distributors that do it right, but I couldn’t tell you who they are. If you can find a brand that’s been around a while and has local even just North American support then it’s probably OK, but again I don’t know of any.
      On the opposite side of the coin, you anti-up and get a name brand Honda, Yamaha, DOT dual sport, etc… for say $5-6K and you can pretty much guarantee it will be worth a large fraction of what you paid for it even 5-10 years down the road, and it will still be running too.
      I’m reminded of a story 20 years ago when I needed a farm tractor. I was looking at all the top brands, about $12-14K at the time. And I really couldn’t afford it, but I really needed it. My brother in law needed one too for a little farm he just bought. I bought a john deere, he bought a $6K unit out of a catalog, one we all know of. His lasted about 6 months, blew a very important hydraulic valve, couldn’t get the part, and it’s been rusting out the past 20 years. Mine is still going strong with heavy use, just typical maintenance. And guess what, it’s still worth about $8-10K today.
      And just for Eric cause of our friendly debates about E-stuff. This JD 4310 was the first year they went all e-control (2002). I was very nervous about it, but I couldn’t get the prior year model, all sold out. All the e-servos like the forward and reverse pedels, etc.. all still work, 20 years later. And the parts are still avail, if one ever does go bad. Easily replaced too, unlike e-crap inside our car/truck engines which I do indeed detest. Sorry had to add this tidbit.
      Best of luck.

      • Great advice, Chris!

        PS: On the tractor front… I have a Satoh (Mitsubishi) Beaver tractor circa 1979. The thing always amazes me in that how can something with moving parts never stop working? Its mechanically injected diesel engine always starts. The hydraulics always work. All I’ve ever done to it is change the oil every season, the hydraulic fluid every other and grease the fittings. I expect this thing to still be chugging along long after I’m gone!

        • Thanks Eric. I guess my simple MO has been when buying anything expensive go with a popular, popular, popular. Ie….. honda, etc… bikes, etc… Still have a 71 CT70 and even with honda discontinuing most parts today; since so many were made and loved, the aftermarket is alive and strong. I just got a new wiring harness! for it, go figure………
          My JD tractor now has aftermarket parts avail. very popular model series.
          Just got a new hood, grill, cosmetic stuff cause of my abuse (tree smashed them, glad it wasn’t me) all for $400, JD was double, but suprisingly still avail. And they look pretty darn close to OEM, probably are.
          I’d put Mitsubishi in the category as well. Probably made 10’s of thousands if not 100’s of thousands of your tractor worldwide? I am a big Mitsubishi fan. Their electronic companies are making some of the best e-control stuff (plc’s, touchscreens, vfd’s, etc..) that stands the test of time, and why my little biz just started representing them.
          Popular, popular, popular. Just my 2 cents.

  1. Eric, To this day, I still kick myself for selling my GPz550 back in the 80’s. But it was the right thing to do at the time, and I suspect your sale was too.

    I’d pick some iteration of the Honda Trail 90 for a SHTF vehicle today, backed up by a decent mountain bike.

  2. You can take some street bikes off road . I remember some guys out here taking a beater inline 4 cylinder 600 hill climbing and I was amazed how good it did with a street rear tire.

  3. Once gasoline prices hit catastrophic levels, me-says $5.00+/gal, people will have to make some choices. My own personal theory is that when they hit in 2008, people who were getting by with the skin of their teeth (primarily due to over-buying on their house with the super-loose mortgages being written at the time), said to themselves, “I can either go to work, and feed my family, or I can pay this mortgage.” They overwhelmingly chose the former, hence the housing crash. We will see something like that, but this time it will be writ large.

    • The problem is that: 1) BlackRock and other big investors are buying whole swaths of houses, and turning them in to rentals; 2) they’re restricting supply, so as to keep prices up. I don’t know if we’ll see a wholesale crash of the housing market this time.

    • Tom, I was in California a week ago and premium gas is well over $5 per gallon most stations had regular for around $4.99 no one cares, everyone is driving pickups and SUVs

  4. ‘Don’t buy Brandon’s bamboozle about defending the “freedom” of Ukraine; Brandon doesn’t defend the freedom of Americans. Like the “fight for freedom” in Iraq, this is about gas’ — eric

    Speaking of gas wars, this is from AP News “EXPLAINER: when to use the ‘invasion’ label in Ukraine”:

    ‘Mary Ellen O’Connell, a Notre Dame law professor and an expert on international law and the use of force, says any crossing of a national border with military forces is unlawful, even if it’s called something other than an invasion.

    “A lawful response is gauged by the scale and effects of the incursion,” she said. “Using force to take control of an entire country, displacing a government and military forces loyal to it is the most extreme form of violation.”

    Bad, BAD Putin … oh wait! ‘Using force to take control of a country’ is exactly what WE did in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Luckily we escaped sanctions for the ‘most extreme form of violation,’ one which we hung Germans and Japanese for.

    It’s not bad when we do it, Eric! 🙂

  5. If the owners plan is to break the country down to basic survival they are succeeding. While George Carlin’s big club files G6 flight plans to attend a San Francisco wedding. Now our Canadian brothers & sisters are subject to the crown feezing a single mother’s bank account for a legal donation she made.
    You can smell it in the air.

  6. I’m so very glad I still have my 73 BMW. I’ve neglected her for years, riding and warming up about an hour or 2 every summer. But given a little fresh gas and a couple vigorous kicks, I would feel comfortable taking her across the mojave desert- or around the world. 2 Bing carbs, 2 sets of points, and 500 lbs of bulletproof awesomeness. Maybe my next set of tires will be more aggressive than the ancient set of street skins she wears now.

  7. I no longer have it, but wished I did, a 1973 Yamaha RT 360, a single cylinder dual sport bike, it was a 2 stroke and would get about 85 miles to the gallon. It was a bitch to get started, the foot crank if not careful would come up and smack the back of your heel if you didn’t hold it down with your foot. I always had a bruise back there from it. I fabbed a small trailer hitch to pull a small trailer, the 4′ orange kind you use to buy from auto parts stores and had to assemble and came with 8″ tires. I replaced the tires with 12″ and I use to carry groceries home and would use it to carry my camping and fishing gear. It was very versatile and again I wished now I had kept it…

  8. Eric,
    For some reason I’ve been locked out of the dashboard. This is what I get when I try to log in,

    “Your access to this site has been temporarily limited by the site owner

    Your access to this service has been temporarily limited. Please try again in a few minutes. (HTTP response code 503)

    If you think you have been blocked in error, contact the owner of this site for assistance.”

  9. [In Sam Kinison voice]: Oh-oh-OH-OH-OHHHhhh!!!

    $1500……

    Eric, a dual-sport is the only motorcicle I’d have any use for…..and if I could find a deal like that, I’d buy it on the spot. I WISH I’d ever see a deal like that!!!!

  10. Yep. I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for an inexpensive, simple, older dual-sport for a back-up/bug-out bike for a few years now. No joy.

    They used to be all over the place for cheap but the used prices today are just stupid. And very few of them go up for sale at all. They are holding their value to the point where you’re better off just biting the bullet and getting a new one.

    I still have a couple of older street bikes, but I would like some off-road capability also…

    • The last time Eric talked about his departed Sherpa, I looked for one on Cycle Trader. I did a NATIONWIDE SEARCH, and I only found ONE! It was in WA state; it had a few thousand miles on it; and the owner wanted $4,000 for it.

      • Well, if the big die-off from The Shot keeps on going like some have written about & talked about online, it may well be those bikes will come out of the woodwork pdq.

        I had some of the same results looking for cheap bikes, total tear downs street bikes was all I found. Lots of, “We’ll buy your used older motocross dirtbikes” type ads though. Makes me think there’s warehouses full of them somewhere as somebodies nest eggs or sumthin.

        Those Yamaha 250’s sure do look nice, but for $5,000, it ain’t happening, Winter and all that.

        I keep picturing all those mopeds they drive in Asian countries & in Euroland. Decades ago I used to love driving a moped. Now, doing so seems a bit suicidal what with all the Vaxxed drivers out there. Plus, those things have a weight limit, built for tiny guys & light packages, it seems so anyway.
        Is a scooter a step up from a moped? It’d probably be a bit embarrassing riding a scooter. Maybe not if you’re under 22yrs old? Idk.

        • Helot,

          It depends on the scooter. If you go with one that has 150cc or more, it’ll hold bigger people; they’ll also have a meaningful amount of storage space. Suzuki makes both the Burgman 200 and 400. As someone who used to own a Burgman 400, it’s big and powerful enough for the highway, yet it’s not too heavy to use in the city, either, Plus, you can carry a few bags of groceries in the thing!

          Don’t forget Honda or Yamaha, either, if you’re looking at scooters. If you wanted to go with something besides the Suzuki Burgman scooters, I’d recommend Yamaha; they’re the only company besides Suzuki that makes a scooter with more than 150cc.

          BTW, I started off on a moped-good times! These days though, I want something that can at least keep up with traffic…

          • Man, happens to me every time I read these dual sport articles of Eric’s, I get to looking on Craigslist.

            Those scooters look to run about $1,200 to $5,000, for 150cc, wow. I just couldn’t do it for that few of cc.

            I liked this ad for the Vespa Sprint Racing Sixties, kinda cool looking:

            “Every detail has been designed to add a touch of uniqueness, delivering not only a glorious riding experience, but the chance for you, the rider, to stand out from the crowd.

            Vespa Sprint Racing Sixites are usually $6,249.00

            Also available in 300cc!

            What? University Scooters?
            Well, we’ve spent the last 10 years building the scooter culture in Iowa City as MopedU. [Crack me up, MopedU! Ha!] We’ve adding new brands (Vespa and Piaggio!) and are excited to continue leading into the future. Our mission? We’re here to make it easier to get from where you are to where you want to be.”

            But, whoa! 5 to 6 Grand?! I’d much prefer a Yamaha xt250 for that price. Esp cause I don’t live in the city.

            I saw a used Honda 650 enduro for about 4 Grand, I’ve always thought of those as, Da Best. That whole, air cooled 650, seems ideal if you’re not in heavy stop n go traffic.

            A few years ago, I came this [-] close to getting a KLR. …

            …Wish I had more money.

            BTW, thanks for sparking the memory of drilling holes in the exhaust of mopeds to get ’em to go faster. Those were the days.

    • Hi Mark,

      Yeah – but it’s injected which means a got-damned computer. And it’s $5k. Plus the taxes. Plus the insurance, if you have to finance it. What I miss – badly – is being able to buy a used 250 cc dual sport in great shape for $2k or less. With no got-damned computer!

      • Thanks to the emissions regs worldwide, new, carbed bikes are going the way of two strokes. The Royal Enfield Himalayan started out as a carbed bike in 2016, but it since has gotten EFI. You can thank governments worldwide for this.

        What you could do is this: get an extra ECU to carry with you.

        The only other thing you could do is save your money, so you can pull the trigger the moment a 250cc, carbed dual sport becomes available.

      • Unfortunately, thanks to Brandon’s policies, used bikes, particularly the kind you’re looking for, cost almost as much as a new one.

      • Eric, please don’t let a got-damned computer stop you from getting a bike you would like. I too was skeptical 15+ years ago. I’ve since had 10+ of the machines that I abuse and never had a got-damned puter failure. And that’s with mud and pressure washing, etc….
        The only parts I see as potentially consumable is the injector itself (which is just a very simple switch), and the fuel pump. Both can be acquired as spares, which most likely will never be used, because I used to do that and never used them.
        I had one system failure in 15 years and it was just a split fuel hose after the pump so it lost pressure. $5 fix.
        Here’s the spares cost for the bikes I ride, just FYI
        Complete fuel pump assembly $400 (aftermarket same unit $200)
        Computer $190
        Injector assembly $200
        This stuff is for a $12K bike BTW.
        Enjoy all things motorcycles from today until……………………………
        From my perspective, once you get past 50, days become numbered. Enjoying is far more important than worrying.

        And I still have carb’d bikes too, but to be honest, I don’t like them as much mostly because of how finicky they are with altitude/temp changes (2-strokes).

        • ohhh, and BTW, carbs can suck the life out of you too. Had to change one out from a brandy new bike, that just didn’t work right out of the box, and it cost me $400 plus my time to investigate, do the work, etc…. And you know the drill ‘it is operating per spec Mr. X, haha’. End result was awesome for my needs. But it was a carb that had me pulling my hair out.
          But to be fair, had a fueling problem with a brand new injected bike too. Turns out our illustrious EPA is making manufacturers go so darn lean on these things lately that I had to go to the aftermarket to fix it, and $150 later it was fixed with a little plug in dongle. It just tricked the puter to think it was colder than it really was to richen it up. Worked great.

  11. Eric,

    Here’s another good candidate bike that can go anywhere: the Royal Enfield Himalayan. It has EFI, though the early models came with a carb. The valves use an easy-peasy screw & locknut adjustment. YouTuber Itchy Boots has owned two of them, and she’s ridden them in all kinds of conditions. You can get a brand new one for $5,300. To learn more about it, go to YouTube; also go here: https://www.royalenfield.com/us/en/motorcycles/himalayan/

  12. Eric,

    One, don’t despair! Don’t beat yourself up. You made the best decision you could at the time. Two, there are good substitutes still available: the Yamaha TW200 and XT250. Both are air cooled dual sports that are still available; both can be purchased BRAND NEW TODAY! That’s right; for about $5K, you can buy a brand new Yamaha dual sport motorcycle today.

    The TW200 has been around for decades; other than the color, little or nothing has changed. It still comes with a carb! Since it’s been around so long, it’s built a large, loyal following; parts for the TW are widely available and easily obtainable. There’s an online forum for it. It retails for $4,800 new. You can learn more about this cult bike here: https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/dual-sport/models/tw200

    The XT250 is an air cooled, single cylinder bike that has fuel injection. It can be had for $5,200 new. It looks a lot like the Sherpa, only it’s modernized. To learn more about the XT250, go here: https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/dual-sport/models/xt250

    • A couple years ago I bought a bike that doesn’t seem to make it onto too many people’s radar: Suzuki DR200. Single cylinder, air cooled, carbureted, simple as can be. I paid $2500 for a 2013 with 160 miles on it. It now has over 6,000 miles on it and it has been loads of fun. At under 300 pounds it’s like a mountain bike with a motor. I don’t believe I’ll ever sell it.

  13. My nephew helped me work my business for the summer months going on 25 years ago now. I bought a dirt bike for his around the town hangout bicycle after his workday was done. I paid 250 dollars for it brand new, part of the wages paid to him. He was happy. He sold it about a year ago for 1200 dollars.

    He owes me 950 dollars. lol

    Gasoline and diesel sales will decrease by more than half if the price of gas goes to five dollars and six dollars for diesel.

    Fuel theft will increase by 500 percent. Back in 2009, three BNSF engines were on a siding near a rural small town. When train engineers went to retrieve the three engines, the engines were all empty of diesel fuel. You have to have a fuel truck to pull that off.

    There are thousands of trucks heading for DC right now. Don’t know if anything will be accomplished, their choice to do what they think is right. Regardless, they’re on the way to encircle the DC beltway for possibly days to get the message across.

    It is understood the trucks won’t enter the city, a fool’s maneuver that would be to go directly into that snake pit. It would be the highway to hell entering DC, don’t do it.

    Biden could sic his F-15s after the convoy by the time it passes through Dayton or Memphis.

    If that would happen, you’ll see open revolt, lots of attacks on infrastructure.

    The fed gov won’t survive.

    The residents of DC have to be getting nervous, they’ll head for the hills, let the trucks do their thing.

    Washingtonians with food trucks love demonstrations, they make good money. Demonstrators gotta eat and stay someplace. 20,000 demonstrators with 500 dollars each to spend will make folks in DC 10,000,000 dollars richer. Washington has to survive somehow. The only thing politicians can do is talk, eventually, everybody stops listening.

  14. Eric – your Silverwing should have plenty of room for shopping.

    If not, then look into getting a Honda PC800. I have one and you can put a lot of groceries under the seat.

    Even has a drain plug if you want to ice up your meat or beer.

    Not really suited for off road though.

    Anon

  15. It is indeed a sad state of affairs, where we might need to resort to such means of transportation to simply LIVE, much less prosper. And since no politician EVER takes the blame, it must be our fault.

  16. I feel ya, when I found out my wife was pregnant with twins 6 years ago I had to make some sacrifices, sold both my motorcycles and my new snap-on toolbox, to eliminate payments and put money ahead for diapers and necessities. I have not been able to re-acquire a 2 wheeler yet, but hope to stumble onto the right fixer upper in my price range. A mid 80s Honda ideally, though I work on lots of different bikes for people. Do have a fun project due in soon. A 1919 J model Harley-Davidson in need of magneto repair, all the old timers that understand magnetos are gone, and the new generation of wrenches can’t fix a damn thing that they can’t plug a computer into lol.

    • Rusty,

      Any A&P mechanic (i.e. someone with an FAA license to work on airplanes) would understand magnetos, because piston powered aircraft still use them. Why? Because they can run INDEPENDENTLY of the electrical system! That’s right; the whole electrical system can go on the fritz, but the engine(s) will still run because they have magnetos as part of the ignition system.

      • A 1952 Ferrari F1 car with a Lampredi 4 cyl. engine had two magnetos, redundancy so you could win a race.

        A 1913 bugatti type 22 had no cooling fan, no generator, no starter motor, no fuel pump, it had a magneto, the lights ran off dry cell batteries you had to replace, no charging system, very simple, far less things to maintain or that could break.

        It was the first light weight sports car 1140 lb. the 1957 Lotus Super 7 looks almost like a copy of it.

        All we have done is go backwards since then, today’s cars are the most complicated, vastly overweight, cheap plastic crap, very expensive, over computerized, defective, impossible to fix properly abortions.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVl3cEkSSo0

        • This 1913 Bugatti is like a work of art all copper, brass and bronze, (modern cars are just cheap plastic crap filled with computers), it is 109 years old and is daily driven. Maybe this is the last good, real, beautifully made, properly engineered car, everything just got worse since then.

          The dollar in 1913 was worth 100 cents, today’s dollar is worth 4 cents, maybe there is a connection.

          Today’s EV’s last ten years and are scrapped because it costs a fortune to replace the fire bomb lithium batteries.

          • Indeed. The model T Ford is also a magnificent work of art. While the Bug is a symphony in metal, the T is a true transportation phenomenon. Able to go nearly anywhere on tall skinny wheels, articulating flexible frame and transverse leaf springs, and repairable indefinitely by a blacksmith or farmer. We’ve made it all so complicated and less effective.

    • If you need magneto rebulit/repaired contact
      Rudy Calin
      REBUILTMAGS.COM
      8431 Scandia Trail N (Hwy 97)
      Forest Lake, MN 55025
      651-233-6655
      E-mail: [email protected]

      He did nice job on my tractor magneto without breaking the bank

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