A joy forever

Letter of the Month, Classic Motorcycle Mechanics, Issue #242, December 2007

By Mike Wischusen, Melbourne

I was in the process of selling my place so had to get my very tired Yamaha SR500 over to my mate Ian’s place for storage 30 mins away. I agreed to meet him at a designated spot at 7.30am as I wasn’t sure where his place was.

The SR had a leak in the rear tyre and would go flat within half an hour.

As many SR500 owners know they can be a tricky bike to start at the best of times, so I pumped up the tyre, tried to start the bike and flooded the engine. By the time I got her started the tyre was already 40% flat, so I switched off as it was going to stall anyway.

I pumped up the tyre again, tried to restart and went through the same process. Kick… kick… kick… flood engine, finally get started, squishy tyre, switch off, pump up tyre… you get the idea? I did this four times, getting more and more aggravated each time and all the while getting later for my meeting with Ian.

I finally got it started with a pumped up tyre, went to ride off and one of the indicators lenses fell out (I previously replaced the lens screws with non-standard ones, Stupid, stupid, stupid!). I turned around, rode back up the drive and got off the bike, which promptly fell over as I didn’t put the side stand down properly. Then I woke up the neighbourhood with a very loud “FFAAARRRKKKKK!!!”

I must have looked ridiculous in full riding kit swearing profusely at an apparently dead motorcycle leaking  fuel all over the driveway. After fixing the indicator I finally got it started with a semi-pumped up tyre and careered madly down the road swearing at anything that moved. I got to Ian 30 mins late with a flat tyre, a bent clutch lever, mangled indicators, and steam coming of my ears, vowing that the Yamaha wasn’t a classic bike as is commonly thought of, but just a “total heap of s@#t that deserved to be set of fire and thrown off the nearest cliff”. An unfair judgement I know as I can only blame myself.

Ironically two years later I have just completed restoring it as my first restoration. I couldn’t stay angry at it forever and it now runs and rides beautifully, and starts first kick.

I love the magazine [Classic Mechanics] and haven’t missed an issue for years. Your series of articles on the XT500 rebuild was a great help during my restoration.

How about a series on 1971 Kawasaki road-trails before I start on my next project, a 1971 lime green Kawasaki 350cc Bighorn? If you are going to dive in at the deep end you may as well do it properly!