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Old 02-03-2014, 08:35 PM   #1
Prof J OP
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Location: Gatineau, Canada. Nice curves, awful pavement
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Touring on UJM

Anybody tour on a 70's or 80's UJM?

I tried many bikes but I still think my 82 Seca is great. One day, when I break free from raising my 5 kids, I want to ride across America. In the meantime, I would enjoy reading about ADVs who do it on old bikes. Any RR's out there?

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Old 02-03-2014, 10:59 PM   #2
davidji
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There are ride reports with old UJMs here on advrider. I remember reading a couple. Start browsing or searching and you'll find 'em.
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Old 02-04-2014, 03:41 AM   #3
rivercreep
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In my youth, I did a New England tour on my 1978 Honda CB400 Hawk.
I.M.H.O. they just don't make good basic bikes like that anymore.
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Old 02-04-2014, 03:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rivercreep View Post
In my youth, I did a New England tour on my 1978 Honda CB400 Hawk.
I.M.H.O. they just don't make good basic bikes like that anymore.
A new Honda CB500 costs about the same (in constant dollars) and is vastly better in every functional way. The good old days weren't that good.

- Mark
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:57 AM   #5
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In 1974 I rode from Montpelier VT to Tempe AZ on a Honda 305 Dream. I kind of rushed it, 7 days which included a 2 day stopover in Colorado. Unforgettable.
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
The good old days weren't that good.
The good old days didn't have motorcycles as good as today's motorcycles, but the motorcycles worked just fine. I continue to ride my mid-70s bikes a good bit and they are very enjoyable.

No, they are not maintenance-free, but they're not troublesome either. No they don't have the smoothest suspensions, but they work fine on roads and gravel -- freeway seams are a bitch which is just one more reason to stay away from freeways. Parts for many older bikes are readily available although some parts for some bikes are hard to find.

If you enjoy riding that particular motorcycle, do it. It wasn't built to sit under a coat of wax under a soft cover in a garage. If you need better performance, a new motorcycle will certainly provide that.

Riding different motorcycles provides different experiences. There is no single experience that is the "right" one.

In 2012 I rode my '75 CB750K to Ohio and around there. Lots of good miles.
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Grinnin screwed with this post 02-04-2014 at 07:06 AM Reason: Corrected tagging on quote.
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:18 AM   #7
rivercreep
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
A new Honda CB500 costs about the same (in constant dollars) and is vastly better in every functional way. The good old days weren't that good.

- Mark
...by your perspective.
To me, the old one was better because it was a simple design (no liquid cooling/plumbing to work around or fail) and my old CB400 could handle saddle bags and a larger windshield with minimal expense.
Not so with the new CB as it's headlight design prohibits a large touring screen and its side panels will get damaged if you just throw saddle bags over them, without supports.
To me, the new CB500 is worthless as a practical commuter and if your battery goes dead, it has no kick-starter as back up. (my 78 Hawk had both and I usually used the kick starter as it'd fire up on the first jump, almost every time)
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:44 AM   #8
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Timely subject for me. I pulled out my old album from a trip I took in 1975, the first trip I took with a camera.
The camera is a box Brownie Kodak that my mother got upon graduating High School. It uses 128 roll film. You have to pull a bit of the film and start it on another roller to load. To take a picture you open the veiw finder on top and look down to line up with the subject.
Anyway the ride I took was nearly 6 weeks and a little over 8000 miles. My bike was a new 1975 Kawasaki 900 Z-1.
I went west to Texas, crossed into Juarez , Mexico pretty much by mistake and was glad to get out, only to have the US border guard make me strip everything off the bike, then act discusted when there was nothing to bust me for.
I rode around New Mexico into Arizona and hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a girl I met from Florida. I turned east and spent a couple of weeks in Colorado. When my money ran out I rode straight home 1200 miles. I made it to Louisville, out of gas and money and was able to swap my flashlight for a dollars worth of gas to get home on,on fumes.
The whole time, I had no trouble from the bike. I changed the oil a couple of time and put gas in. That was it.
Two years later I rode it to California and back , another 8000+ miles.
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Old 02-05-2014, 05:16 AM   #9
markk53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rivercreep View Post
...by your perspective.
To me, the old one was better because it was a simple design (no liquid cooling/plumbing to work around or fail) and my old CB400 could handle saddle bags and a larger windshield with minimal expense.
Not so with the new CB as it's headlight design prohibits a large touring screen and its side panels will get damaged if you just throw saddle bags over them, without supports.
To me, the new CB500 is worthless as a practical commuter and if your battery goes dead, it has no kick-starter as back up. (my 78 Hawk had both and I usually used the kick starter as it'd fire up on the first jump, almost every time)

I agree totally with your comments about the 400 - that was what made a UJM a UJM, it could be whatever you decided it would be, even if it changed overnight! Sweet...

As for your comments about the CB500 and no kick start, all I can say is you're wrong.

The 500 is quite practical. A releatively small foot print as motorcycles are, can have bags/box on it or bungee on whatever. Heck, a back pack and it's like commuting on a CB400! Jump on and ride.

As for kick start - I have 30,000 miles on a KLX650 dual sport without any need for kick starting. That IS one area where new stuff is good - electrics. The electrics, like starters and all, got more and more reliable through the 70s and to date. It got to the point where having a kick starter made about as much sense on the bikes as having a hand crank on a car.
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Old 02-04-2014, 10:14 AM   #10
tkent02
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
A new Honda CB500 costs about the same (in constant dollars) and is vastly better in every functional way. The good old days weren't that good.

- Mark
Buy a UJM for maybe about $1000, (give or take $800) spend another $1000 getting it in safe reliable condition, then maybe $200 a year for oil changes, tires and such.

Pretty darned inexpensive for a motorcycle.

They are not vastly better. Quite a bit faster, better brakes, some have nicer suspension, some don't. Maybe ABS. Some newer bikes are lighter, but a lot of them are not. The suspension and brakes can be upgraded on the old bikes, quit inexpensively. Newer bikes require less maintenance, but they are not more reliable. (unless you choose not to do the required maintenance)
One day a year is enough to do everything an old bike needs. Maybe twice a year if you ride a lot.
Not much more than what a new bike needs really.

New bikes are fine, I have a few, a KTM, a BMW and a Suzuki. I ride the old ones more often.
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Old 02-04-2014, 04:27 PM   #11
markjenn
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Originally Posted by tkent02 View Post
They are not vastly better. Quite a bit faster, better brakes, some have nicer suspension, some don't. Maybe ABS. Some newer bikes are lighter, but a lot of them are not. The suspension and brakes can be upgraded on the old bikes, quit inexpensively. Newer bikes require less maintenance, but they are not more reliable. (unless you choose not to do the required maintenance)
Look, I'm an old bike fan too (I have a CB750K1 and a CBX), but I don't think anybody riding a CB400F back-to-back with a CB500F wouldn't came away absolutely astounded with how much better the new bike is. It's like night and day.

BTW, I owned two 400Fs too, and it was a great bike to look at and trundle around on now and then, but by today's standards, it was a total POS with miniscule power, a wooden disc brake in front and a hair-trigger drum in back, terrible suspension (especially fork compliance), etc. While it was one of the smoothest bikes of its era, it has the characteristic inline-four buzz and would be considered a relatively vibey bike if sold today.

Old is great and if you like the simplicity and basic nature, go for it - a bike like the CB400F can certainly be an everyday bike or even a touring bike if you want. But it just is not even on the same page in overall functionality.... a CB400F compares to a CB500F about like a 1975 Honda Civic compares to a new one.

- Mark
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:11 AM   #12
Tuna Helper
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Originally Posted by tkent02 View Post
Buy a UJM for maybe about $1000, (give or take $800) spend another $1000 getting it in safe reliable condition, then maybe $200 a year for oil changes, tires and such.

Pretty darned inexpensive for a motorcycle.
What are you doing to make it "safe and reliable"?
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Old 02-05-2014, 04:50 AM   #13
markk53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
A new Honda CB500 costs about the same (in constant dollars) and is vastly better in every functional way. The good old days weren't that good.

- Mark

Maybe not, but I'm betting a lot of us could quite easily do every bit of work - including fork seals and engine rebuilds - on a CB400F over that of the new 500. THAT is what many of us mean by a good basic bike... at least I do. There is also a certain joy in riding a very elemental bike that isn't there with newer stuff. It's like sitting on the bench seat of a 68 Chevy C10 versus being coddled and absorbed into the bucket seat of a current Chevy Silverado. Just something I still love about the feel. Fact is the only thing I didn't and don't like about older bikes is totally curable - suspension.

For the OP I agree, nothing like an 80s UJM. Only thing they need to really do a great job is suspension. A set of good shocks ($300-600) and a Race Tech Gold Valve cartridge emulator or the like and Progresive Suspension fork springs in the forks to have a ride to rival the new stuff, which usually need springs or damping fiddled with too.

There is adventure in riding the basic motorcycle over the modern compartmentalized bikes. A UJM is more touring than a sport bike and more sporting than a touring bike, lighter than many sport tourers and more comfortable than most sport bikes. That is the UJM. My favorite was the Nighthawk S 700. It was better for me than my bare standard 83 Gold Wing and definitely better than any sportbikes I'd ridden. The seat and ride position was virtually perfect.

At this point, I am going totally single cylinder, serious elemental. My Zephyr will be sold. My KLX650 will get 17s for road use, and a KLX250 was added to the garage for more serious real dual sporting. My project/play bike is an SR500 street/tracker. It just suits the way I have become over the past few decades, as I started finding riding secondary roads as much as possible (including dirt/gravel) and not finding any joy in sheer mileage and wide open highway/freeway riding. Only one draw back to dual sports and most singles I know of is the seating for highway use - and that is why I have a pick up and trailer. When there is a drone to a place we want to be I'd rather sit in the cab with a few friends shooting the breeze on the long boring run to the destination. Besides 15 mpg in a truck with four guys is the same as 60 mpg on four bikes with four riders - no energy consumption increase.

In addition I can deal with virtually anything on these bikes. For me the reward isn't in the miles droning down a freeway, it is the ride on the roads that are fun. But if I had to, I know I can add a bit of a pad (ATV cushion) to the seat of the 650 and hit the highway. I also kind of like the elemental kind of character - nothing more than is needed to do the job. Especially with the manual compression release kick start equipped SR500. Pure elemental motorcycle - no "alloying" extras like electric start or counter-balancers.

You see, my dual sport 650 had done everything that all the new stuff had done. I rode it and hung close to sport bikes, packed up some stuff on it and rode some longer distance stuff (nothing major, but it could go touring with some side bags hung on it, no power problem), and it certainly does the around town and general screwing around as good as any current bike... it also goes easily on dirt/gravel too - BONUS! So it does do what the new stuff does in pretty much as good a fashion when you talk general purpose motorcycles. Only thing that would be nice to have would be EFI, but my carb does the job without any more than fiddling with the choke when cold.
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Ever get lost? You know, that good kind of lost - come to a dirt road intersection and you have no idea where you are or which way to turn? I like when that happens!

Mark - klx678
95 KLX650C w/Vulcan piston bigbore, Now an 09 KLX250S, selling my 90 Zephyr 550

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Old 02-04-2014, 06:39 AM   #14
sonnystile
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This summer I took my 99 Nighthawk 750 from Louisville Ky to Thunder Bay On and back.

3600 trouble free, comfortable miles.

Gonna try to make the left coast this summer.

Yeah, the 99 is a little newer than vintage, but it's a UJM to its core...


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Old 02-04-2014, 06:40 AM   #15
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