by Will Graham of CYCLEPEDIA Press LLC
I feel no guilt after abandoning two long running motorcycle projects. The decision to do so was an easy one. I had two non-running bikes taking up precious garage space. I didn’t ride the 2002 Yamaha R6, or the 1985 Kawasaki KX250R, and I didn’t have time to work on them but I did find the courage to be painfully honest with myself. I had lost interest in completing either project. It was time for them to go
If I’ve learned anything from the experience of cleaning house it was acknowledging when to move on. My advice to you is to bale on any project bike that you haven’t touched for more than a year. If it’s been in your garage, barn, storage building, or at a friend’s house in pieces it’s not doing anyone any good. Unless it’s a rare collector’s item, why hoard it? I say, get rid of it and get what you can for it – devote your motorcycling resources to something you can hop on and ride. I even gave myself an extra year to work on my projects but despite the extra time I still didn’t touch either one of them.
The first generation Yamaha R6 was a sweet ride when it was new. Unfortunately I bought it after it had been ridden far too many hard miles as a race bike. I should have walked away from it in the first place, and I definitely should not have paid as much as I did. I let nostalgia get the best of me- the bike reminded of my first street bike. I wanted to rework the tired old racer into a bitching streetfighter.
As much of a jalopy as it was, the R6 ran when I bought it. It had some problems but it was fun to ride. The carbs worked well from closed to ¼ throttle. But if you tried to give it more gas than that it would fall on its face, and then after a delay, it would clear its lungs and fly. Also, the clutch crept, the brakes were shit and it looked completely dreadful. Despite all this you could tell there was a high performance, well-engineered machine hiding in there.
So I parked it and began to accumulate materials to build my dream bike. For months I spent every day thinking about how I was going to transform this bike into the most awesome ride – I started by replacing the clutch plates and then without incident I never worked on it again. I hadn’t given up on motorcycling, just the opposite. I was riding and working on bikes more than ever, just not that bike.
My dad was nice enough to let me borrow his fantastic Hinckley Triumph Bonneville until I got the Yamaha running. But soon I decided I needed my own bike so I bought a KTM 690 supermoto. The KTM was everything I had been looking for. I could ride it as a commuter, back road blaster, and dirt road explorer. All I did on it was ride, change the oil and change the tires.
During this love affair with my new KTM I thought about selling the R6 a couple of times. But I would continue to make excuses why I should keep it and promised myself I would get to work on it in spring. Spring came and went twice and still the bike sat.
Eventually a Honda CRF250X loaner came to live in my garage. This made one bike too many for my wife. I had promised her that I would not get another two wheeled vehicle without getting rid of the R6. I could make the case that it wasn’t my dirtbike, but even I knew the time had come for it to go. I listed the sportbike on craigslist and within a few moments my phone was blowing up. Apparently lots of people want a clapped out Yamaha R6. In no time the bike, spares, track bodywork, all of it was gone. I lost my shirt on that bike, but I couldn’t have been happier.
This purging of old junk felt so good that I decided what I needed was a second dose. My 1985 Kawasaki KX250 was completely torn apart for an overhaul. Unfortunately every time I turned around I found a damaged or worn out component. Rather than spend the time and money bringing it back to life I made an executive decision, pulled the plug and sent it to the scrap yard.
I have taken a lot of ribbing over killing a vintage bike, but I have no remorse. That thing was on its death bed. Now it can come back as a something new that doesn’t take 500 kicks to start and vibrates so bad it blurs vision.
Ahhh Bliss! I have room in the garage. I may even allow my Kawasaki KLX-110 minibike to leave its parking spot in the basement to live with the big dogs. I have money in my pocket to keep rubber on and oil in the KTM. Most of all I have the peace of mind about not having junk bikes tying up my resources that could be put to better use.
My motorcycling time is finite. Now I get to spend all of it riding and maintaining the bikes I ride regularly. So if you have a bike wasting away do something about it. Either fix it or move on. Maintenance is necessary, project bikes are not. Don’t waste your time and money. Get something fun that makes you want to go ride. You won’t regret it.