Sunday, December 27, 2009

5. Elbow deep in it.

I dug in, and parts began to fly off the machine. I was elbow deep in the tear down. No matter how long I examined the bike, and no matter from what angle, I came to the conclusion that getting dirty, to dismantle, was the best way to get a grasp of what I was in for.

No matter how small any project starts, it always grows exponentially. This project seems to be no different. As parts went from a complete bike to an empty basket a strange thing happened. When said part was bolted to the complete lot it seemed fine, maybe a bit dirty, but okay. By the time it sat in my hand being turned over and over, it needed to be replaced, or at least refurbished. So different piles formed, replace pile, refurbish pile, the pile of absent parts that needed to be purchased, so on and so forth.

The first off were the bars, they turned out to be Renthal, hard to believe under all of the blue, and purple. Basically all the controls were worse for wear, cables and wires shot, grips in trash can, kill switch dead, throttle rough, front brake gone, clutch useless.

I knew I could refurbish the bars, so off to the shops for sandpaper, shop rags, wire brushes and wheels, rubbing compound, primer and paint. This project is going to be done on the cheap, I could probably challenge anyone to produce as solid and beautiful final product as this on a slimmer budget than I. But, I digress; so off to Helmart for the rags and rubbing compound, Made in China Freight tools for brushes and wheels, Dollar Bush for sandpaper, and Shkunks Auto for the paint.

After doing a bit of research I settled on giving the aluminum bars a sort of anodized look, but with paint. I must say I was a bit skeptical of this stuff, but I went for it, picking up Dupli-Colors METALCAST in smoke color. This was to give a bit of a titanium look, and as I am going for a green and black motif, the smoke seemed like the right color. A rattle can of paint and primer in hand it was time to return to the work shop. Just wait til you see that place.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

4. Dirty and Saggy

If you refer back to the second post in this series, and read the original sales ad, you will see that this bike is afflicted with a rear wheel problem. Apparently, the two wheel bearings were not doing their job, at least not very well.

When I went to look at the cycle for the first time I asked the young lads about this situation. "We fixed the busted wheel bearings, and then after a little while the rear wheel started to feel funny, and the chain kept poppin' off." "At the shop they said nothin's broke, but that we forgot to put in the third bearing." I think they meant wheel spacers, because there seem to be none found. "We don't have the money to fix it, so we're sellin' it." I checked it over, they had done a number on the rear hub, but it was not ruined beyond repair, or replacement. Of course, not only did the bearings need to be replaced, but also the sprocket and chain as well.

Just look at those wonderful straight teeth, and the mounting bolts, things of beauty. "The chain kept poppin' off." I wondered how it could have stayed on at all, especially since they lubed it with a thick, gloppy coat of rust. Now, if the rear sprocket is in such a state as this the front can't be much better. It isn't.

Perhaps I am being a little harsh in stating that the chain was lubed with rust, upon closer examination, it can clearly be seen that, indeed, oil was used. Not just any oil, either, but used engine leakings mixed with a hearty dose of sand. Super lube, to be sure.

This coating not only would protect the chain, but also the entire undercarriage, engine and carb. I could see giving this thing a bath was going to be fun. Here would be the perfect opportunity to dirty up my new scrub brushes, making sure that whatever they came in contact with, from here on out, would be streaked and smeared with the tarry goo. I had a few tricks up my sleeve though for taking care of that grime.

Super lube, rust, missing bearings, they all added up to a saggy, limp, or not so limp chain, depending on where you tried to flex it. With all that free play just imagine what happened to the sliders and blocks; gone. My replacement parts list was growing at an alarming rate.

If this was the drive side, what did the brake side look like?

Friday, December 11, 2009

3. Potential?

This is what a 1989 KX 125 should look like in its stock, pristine condition. I can say, without a doubt that my specimen looks nothing of the sort; to be honest, I hope it does not turn out in such a manner as depicted in the photo above.

As could be observed in the internet "For Sale" posting, $350 was the asking price. One point you could not see was that this was not the original price listing of $400. The kid was nuts, 400 bucks, even 350 is a bit loony; needless to say, I did not pay even $300. No, I was able to "bargain" my way down to 200 clams. Now, you may look at the following photos, and exclaim that I, myself, must also be some kind of loony in the first degree. Ah, but I can see potential, all be it, just slightly.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

2. Time to Buy a Bike

It was time to buy a bike. After spending the summer baking my head at the local road race track I noticed an infield MX track, hmmm, what's this I wondered. I took a walk to examine the dusty track more closely, a sign greeted me with the words : Thursday night motocross. Then a list of dates, which I hastily seared into my brain.

A week later I worked through lunch so I could finish work an hour early, and make it to the track by six. Ah, to taste the dust, breath race gas fumes, and hear the ring, ding, ding for the first time in twenty some years.

Yes, the past twenty years were spent with my buttocks firmly planted atop a road bike. Sometimes on a "cruiser", which is my trusty, rusty rat bike, a Virago 920 circa 1981 that I had to create from boxes of assorted parts. The Virago and I have made many a trip, in many a season around the old haunts of Michigan and Wisconsin.

My butt doesn't really sit atop my other road bike, it is more my crotch. A Gixxer 1100, nearly 25,000 miles around the midwest over a period of 4 years. Trips to AMA road races at Elkhart Lake and Brainerd, camping trips in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. Wasps down my leathers working there magic over and over again.

These bikes have made the long trip from Wisconsin to Oregon, new roads to discover, little unknown towns to dawdle in. Only time will tell whats out there.

I gave up on my woods bike, an XL 250, my enduro dreams, and lust for motocrossers after moving to Wisconsin twenty years ago. Wisconsin is an Indian word meaning: no place to ride off road without asking 60 people for permission and then trying to avoid the obnoxious throttle only has full open speed freaks. The trails are deadly, I went once, about 500 yards and was nearly run over by something I still could not, to this day, identify.

The Virago, my gixxer, they have been life savers, quite a strange thing to say about motorcycles, but to me no statement could hold more truth.

Time to get back on track. What, no ring, ding, ding....? Four strokes? I thought those were for old guys who liked to ride slowly over wet logs, and putt through swampy mud puddles. Yet, here they are burping over table tops and taking apart berms. Well, they did the trick anyway, I have never looked back since, the dirt bug bit again, and it bit hard. Now all I needed was a bike.

The ad above says it all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

1. A False Beginning

This is the beginning, of what, we shall see. Will it end up another pile of parts, nuts and bolts rolling around in the bottom of a plastic storage box?
After waiting 20 plus years for my "new" dirt bike I was finally able to lay my hands upon one. It is quite certainly not the most beautiful, or the biggest, 125cc's to be specific. It is not the newest, in fact the last time I rode a dirt bike, this one was rolling off the assembly line in Japan.
So why a 1989 KX 125? The answers are quite simple, no deep inner allegiance to the brand, I've had Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis. No KX lust from my teenage years of Motocross infatuation. The simple answer is...The Right Price and it runs, yes, it runs.
I must admit it is a bit rough, but I see a beauty hidden underneath the hideous spray bombed plastic, the years of neglect and hard rides, the forgotten bearings.