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Harvey's 1978 Kz650b

Vintage Honda

When I saw the ad for this Kawasaki, there was only one picture showing a bike covered with grime. It didn't appear to be horribly wrecked and rusted though, so I called. It turned out the owner had parked it 20 years prior, and never rode it again. I did something foolish and asked if he would deliver it (sight unseen) for less than the already very low asking price. He called my bluff and said yes! Oh great, what have I done now. It turned out better than I could have hoped though. It only had 8k miles and after I washed off the dirt, it shined up like new.

I was asked to write a little about my history with motorcycles. So here goes; When I was 5 and living in Alaska, I got to ride on the back of a neighbors speeding Vespa. Being an almost new Italian scooter, it wasn't “Vintage” or “Japanese” or even a proper “Motorcycle” but my first ride on a 2 wheeler was . . . well, actually I almost fell off, but it was exciting.

My introduction to Japanese motorcycles came about when I was 14. While walking home one day, I found an almost new Honda Super 90 for sale. The owner gave me a ride and I was hooked. I had saved my paper route money and came up with just enough to buy it. Unfortunately, my dad sold it after the police stopped me for no drivers license, a noisy straight pipe and various other infractions.

A short time later I purchased a Bonanza BC1500SH mini bike. At the time, it was advertised as the fastest thing on wheels up to 50mph. It came stock with a Hodaka Ace 100cc 5spd motor , 6 inch wheels, and a nearly useless brake. Years later we clocked it by radar at almost 70mph on the return road at SIR. It was still accelerating but I ran out of road. Later, I bought a Honda CL77 (305 scrambler) that I took my drivers test on. It’s still in the garage along with the Bonanza after 46 years.

The first and last new motorcycle I ever purchased was a 1975 Honda CB550F Super Sport. My friend and I had wanted to purchase a red and a blue CB400F that year. However when the 550 version with equally swoopy 4 into 1 pipes came out, I had to have it. I was sold, partly because I had drooled over the CB500k (four piper) from the day they came out. My friend eventually got his blue '75 400 and probably still holds a grudge that I didn't get the red one.

After a few years of military madness and college, I wanted a skill that was fun. I enrolled in AMI motorcycle mechanics school in Daytona Beach Fla. (next to Embry Riddle for you airframe guys) The back yard of the school shared a fence with the Daytona speedway. One day a friend and I climbed the fence and walked to the middle of a steeply banked corner. While taking pictures, I noticed someone doing practice laps and coming our way. We may have broken a speed record scrambling to get off the track. At school, we worked on anything, so we got a lot of pieces of uh. . old, unique bikes in. After that, I worked at a Honda shop and then a Suzuki, Kawasaki, American Eagle, Rickman, Laverda, Montessa, Zundapp, Bultaco dealer. I did that through the 70’s and early 80’s. Those were years of transition from simple air cooled bikes with spoke wheels and kick starters to machines with radiators, shaft drive, rotary engines, computers, fuel injection, turbochargers etc. Now we have luxury liners with bluetooth, digital dashboards, surround sound, and cup-holders in the armrests. What will they think of next ?

Like many of you, I joined the VJMC mainly for the magazine. Back then it was a black and white photo-copied newsletter, but still well worth it. The club and the magazine have come a long way. The more participation we have, the more fun it is for all of us.

Hey, that was easy. Now it's your turn to send us info on you, your bikes and interests. Send photos of you and your bike(s) if possible.

Ride Safe, Harvey