Friday, February 27, 2015

Finally....The CR 250 has landed...

Last weekend everything came together at Aduana (the Mexican customs agency) Apparently the right guys were manning their workstation and so...the 1976 CR 250M with the sketchy paperwork made it through. Saturday afternoon it finally arrived. Above it a picture of one of the guys who assisted with the delivery.

Upon further inspection the bike has proven to be in better shape than I anticipated. From the ebay pictures it appeared that the seat and tank were close to perfect. The wheels also appeared to be undamaged. In fact the tank is just about perfect. The seat is absolutely undamaged and apparently unused. The side panels are both in good shape and show no evidence of ever having numbers applied. No adhesive...nothing! The tank has three very small indentations. I would not even call them dents.

I quickly got the bike up on my workstand to take a closer look and snap a couple of pictures. Below is a picture. The only thing which is obviously missing is the front number plate. I'll have to look around for one of those. I also noticed that the brake lever is black plastic and quite short.

Below is a picture of the gas tank. If you look closely you can see the very slight indentations. I will not be painting it or attempting any repair. I like it just as it is. These pictures make it look a bit redder than it really is. The nice Honda red is slowly (almost 40 years..) turning to a dull orange. The frame is the same way, i.e...more orange than red.

Below is a picture of the bike from the front quarter. As nearly as I can tell everything is there (except for the number plate) and everything is in good shape. Cosmetically I will just clean it up and mechanically I will be going through the ignition system, the carburetor, and I will be taking a look at the piston. I am hoping that I can get by with just some rings...We'll see.

My first mechanical project started yesterday. I took off the rear wheel and the left side crankcase cover so I could get a good look at the sprockets and chain. I have ordered a new chain and both sprockets. The rear tire was pretty well worn down along the center but the side knobs still had their little tits in place. This bike has never been used in anger. It really does appear that the bike was just occasionally fired up and ridden around some very gentle trails.

Working on the rear wheel was a bit of a revelation. First of all, the rear axle appears to never have been removed. The threads of the axle were perfectly clean and shinny under the axle nut, The wheel rim itself is perfect and bore no scars of any contact whatsoever with rocks. The finish on the rim was still factory fresh, a beautiful unmarked silver/grey paint. The edge of the rim had no marks that would have been present if the tire had been changed. I am pretty sure that the tire was original to the bike.

My last project on the wheel was to remove the tire. Never an easy project, but a 40 year old tire makes it even more difficult. Tires get really really hard sitting around for 40 years. I was able to get one bead off, but getting the second side off was just impossible. I fired-up my grinder and just cut it off. My next treat will be to install a new tire, but at least it will be soft and pliable. Below is a shot of the wheel before removal.

That's all for now folks. After I get the new tire on I will wheel the bike away to make room for the TY. All it needs is a little more assembly.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Elsinore...before it was a bike it was a race

As I wait expectantly for the delivery of my (1976) Honda CR 250M I took a quick look into the "way back" machine to revisit my youth. Attached are several pictures from my entry in an  early 1970's Elsinore Grand Prix. On this occasion I rode my Suzuki Twin Pipe. I am the handsome devil in the exact center of the work shirt...very cool at the time. 

One of the striking things about dirt bike racing in the 1970's was the incredible number of manufacturers. Races today draw no more than four manufacturers. 

Before the race...actually the day were required to park your bike overnight...something like a Six Day Trial event. I think it was a ploy to get more people to spend the night and hopefully drop some money in the local restaurants and motels. My recollection is that this did not happen. In those days the racers were much more likely to camp out in some illegal area and drink themselves to sleep. This is probably not what the organizers had in mind.

The pits...If you needed to visit the pits during the race...this is what you saw. Utterly disorganized and vaguely dangerous. It was a 100 mile race. Ten laps of ten miles each around a course which encompassed both the city of Lake Elsinore and the surrounding countryside. Dirt bikes of that era had smallish tanks so virtually everyone had to come in. In my case I had no clear idea how long my gas supply would last. The fuel tank was stylishly small (and beautiful..) on the RH. I ran out of gas in the middle of the third lap. I asked one of the spectators to "loan" me some pre-mix. The guys were happy to do so. I made it back to the pits and refueled. By the way my refueling "rig" consisted of multiple one gallon wine bottles filled with premix. I was lucky to survive the 1970's.

The Finish line...again yours truly on the Twin Pipe Suzuki. This is a nice shot of the locals...consisting primarily of friends and family. This shot does should not remind anyone of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.  This was a very different kind of crowd, although it must be said that they were in period costumes. actually did race right through the town...on motocross bikes...with knobbies...with expansion chambers (sans mufflers..). It was just a little surreal. I discovered that the curbs were not a hazard at all. On knobbies you ended up doing a fair bit of sliding on the asphalt. The plan, at least for me, was to start a little slide near the middle of the street and use the curb as a berm. It was more than a little above my skill level, but it was a why not!

Fashionable hair...a little bit dismayed by the attention of the photographer (first and now ex-wife)...clearly a "Before" picture.

Just as clearly this would be an "After" picture. I do not look quite so I? I was happy to call it a day and try to decide if I wanted to do this again. As it turns out, I did it once more.

Once more into the breach...As it turns out, I could not stay away. This was the next year riding a Kawasaki Sidewinder. Slower than the Twin Pipe...just as loud...and the suspension was utterly unforgiving. This was the last year of the original Elsinore Grand Prix. It was revived in the late 90's and I did that event once on an older single pipe TM250. The atmosphere was different. Lots of very expensive Japanese Motocross bikes emerging from large well equipped vans...etc.., etc..., etc...You know the scene. I am pretty sure that it is now gone forever.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Man can not live by dirt bikes alone...

For the past twelve years I have been living in Baja California. This has given some of my friends on Google the impression that I live only for older dirt bikes. In fact my mind is a bit more open as can be seen in my last post about my dormant F1. Above is one of my street bikes from the 80's and 90's.

It was a very straight forward Suzuki GS750 when I bought it in the early 80's. Since I lived in Los Angeles at the time I went over to see Racecrafters...a shop in Hollywood I see what they might like to sell me. The only thing that they had that I could afford was the GS1000 style bikini fairing. I stuck it on and happily rode the bike for the next ten years or so.

In the mid-90's I decided to do a little more. First I contacted Corbin...the maker of very nice custom seats. I sent him my seat base and a picture of Wes Cooley's GS1000 and asked him to make me a new seat just like Wes Cooley's. Obviously, they did an impressive job. Next, I picked-up some rear sets from England. Then some Progressive Shocks and a four into one header. The paint was courtesy of a custom painter who had a shop near my office. All I told him was that I wanted a GS1000 style paint job using red as the main color instead of the Suzuki blue. It worked out well. I think that at some point I installed somewhat lower bars...nicer grips, etc...

This was an amazing bike that I would be happy to build again. I used it for almost twenty years. I know that I never checked the clearances on the valves. I'm not even sure that I replaced the spark plugs. I did change the oil regularly and put in new points and a condenser from time to time. It ran like a train always.

Right now I live in a place where the roads are mediocre and drivers are just plain dangerous so I do not venture out on my street bikes very often. If/when I return to the United States I may build another one of these.