(As told from the crazy man’s perspective)
The story actually begins at this spot in 1986 but it doesn’t become apparent until a little over a month ago.
This is the spot when I was 13 years old, a friend of the family put me on their son’s 2-stroke Yamaha 125 and told me to try it out. I had driven 3-wheelers and a 4-wheeler a couple times in the past but this was a whole new ballgame. It took me 4 or 5 tries to give enough gas and let out the clutch slow enough to not stall it. I finally got it rolling, shifted up a couple gears and wound it up until I got into the powerband. I WAS HOOKED! The 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers were suddenly forgotten as a way to have fun. THIS is how to have fun.
This friend of the family took it upon themselves to go out find a similar bike for me. A few days later an ’81 Yamaha IT175 shows up out at our farm. My father said “This is too expensive of a gift, you have to take it back” but after seeing how much I really wanted it, finally gave in. I wore the usual “full gear”: open face helmet with goggles, denim jacket, baseball gloves, jeans and hi-tops even if it was 100 degrees out. That 2-stroke bike would fly 80mph+ with a scrawny 13 year old on it all over the back roads I could find within a tank of gas. Everything was great for a while. I rode through rain, snow, etc. and loved every minute of it.
One day I was doing a top speed run and came over a hill to find a curve that I knew I couldn’t stop for. I grabbed the brakes, pulled hard as I could and finally was thrown over the handle bars. I slid to a stop on my back in a barbed wire fence. All of a sudden the bike flopped on to my leg and the rear wheel was a couple inches from my face (open face helmet, remember?) and still spinning fast in 6th gear. I was able to work out of the barb wire fence without getting cut up and got a few more inches away from that spinning knobby that wanted to grab my face. All of a sudden there was a pain in my leg. I looked down and realized that my leg was still pinned under the bike and the exhaust was burning me. I yanked my leg out, stumbled over to hit the kill switch and realized that the burn was the only real injury I got out of this wreck.
I limped the bike home and blamed the bike for the wreck. I made up something about the brakes locking up and throwing me without saying anything about how I had just topped 85mph moments before on gravel in the hills. The mount between the tach and speedometer broke and my dad wired them back together. I rode it around like that but much slower. The friend of the family heard about the “accident” and said “We’re getting rid of that dangerous bike and getting something safer”. We went down the local Yamaha dealer and looked around. I really wanted an XT350 but they only had an XT600 on the floor. I sat on it and could get the balls of my feet on the floor but we all knew that it wasn’t going to happen. Then we saw a brand new ’88 TW200 and knew that it would be great. They haggled on the trade in and final price but the dealer was overmatched and it went out the door far below MSRP. We took it home and my dad just said “I give up. You need to pay them back for this”. (I eventually paid half of it and got the title in my name)
I drove the TW200 everywhere that I took the IT175 but it didn’t go nearly as fast. It might not have been fast but it was stable and just wouldn’t quit. I tagged and titled it after a while of riding back roads and still had it when I got married. I’d probably still have it today if someone hadn’t taken it from our apartment complex (no insurance, planned on getting it going in the spring). I saw it a year later at a pawn shop. It was stripped down and repainted but still had the JB weld on the engine case from a nick in one of my many adventures (plus I checked the VIN). I ran to tell my wife but we had a Valentine’s banquet to go to so it had to wait until morning. I ran down the police station to file the report but they told me it was already sold by the time they got there. “You have to go through the DA to sue the new owners to get it back” the officer told me. I just let it go at that point, wasn’t worth the fight to get a messed up bike back. My wife promised me that we would get another bike. “You had a bike when I married you and I know you’ll have one again”.
Fast forward to 2007.
I want a bike again, bad! I find a great deal on a used ’06 SV650 in the off season (January). My wife agrees that I’ve been patient (10 years and change) and we get it. A few weeks later the dealship jacks the price up to the spring pricing on the identical other bike they had and I see how good the deal was. The next 4 years is slowly building it into the bike I want it to be. Upgrade shock and springs, top case, tank bag, wind screen, etc. I ride it to Arkansas, Missouri and haul it out to California on family vacation to ride Mullholland, Malibu, etc with my brother in law. February 2011, somebody takes off with it in the middle of the day, out in the open, next to a busy street while I’m doing some computer work. The insurance is getting ready to pay it out a couple weeks later when I get the call that the police have my bike. The meth producer they caught had a warrant out for his arrest (should have been wearing a helmet and they wouldn’t have know it was him) and they had a 100mph+ chase before ending with a low side in gravel next to a theater.
After running the numbers I realize that I’m starting over from scratch with the money the insurance is offering. I go with the better option to buy the bike back with a clean title and take what’s left to put it back together. I had a trip planned with my brother in law but he didn’t want to ride halfway across the country with his back acting up (I don’t blame him). I took the trip money, insurance money and computer job money and used them to fix the bike up the way I want. I replaced the horrible stock seat with a Sargent, replaced the missing luggage, knock off adjustable shorty levers, usb power for GPS, etc. I also added some SW Motech side racks and bolted some Seahorse SE720 (similar size to Pelican 1520) cases to them.
Fixed up looks like this
I’m riding it again and loving it more than ever. There’s no worries about dings or drops. It’s already been through it all and still going strong. Sure there’s a few scratches and a couple dings but it still gets compliments. I go to bike nights and everyone wants to sit on it, ask about everything I’ve done to it and listen to the war stories.