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Discussion Starter #1
Cool as hell site. Been perusing for the last couple weeks, lots of knowledgeable people around here. Anyway, no bike yet, but looking daily. I'm sure I'll be around quite a bit more once I actually ahve something outside of my other motorcycle.

Anyway, you knew I was going to ask a question or two, so here goes.

I'm looking for anything really, but what are some of the "faster" Japanese models from the 70's? I currently ride a 2003 Honda F4i, so don't worry about a noob on a bike. I also realize I probably won't get that kind of speed, which is fine. I just don't want a slug.

I'm kinda leaning towards trying to find an RD400, but really haven't seen any for sale in Kansas City or the bordering states, so I'm not sure how likely I'm going to find one.

On a side note, I passed on a '74 Suzuki GT550 yesterday that ran, but without a title, for $300. I'm kinda having the opposite of buyers remorse. I wish it was sitting in my garage right now.

Well, a bit long, but hello and thanks for any advice you can give me.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for making me feel better about it! lol

It was fairly rough as far as things go. Not wrecked but almost everything showing would either need re-chromed, replaced,or removed not to mention new tires and probably most everything else rubber. Missing headlight, cracked speedo cover, etc, etc. Still though, that kind of comes with the territory, and I'm wishing I would have just pulled the trigger.
 

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quote:Originally posted by 2_wheeled_slave


I'm looking for anything really, but what are some of the "faster" Japanese models from the 70's? I currently ride a 2003 Honda F4i, so don't worry about a noob on a bike. I also realize I probably won't get that kind of speed, which is fine. I just don't want a slug.

I'm kinda leaning towards trying to find an RD400, but really haven't seen any for sale in Kansas City or the bordering states, so I'm not sure how likely I'm going to find one.

On a side note, I passed on a '74 Suzuki GT550 yesterday that ran, but without a title, for $300. I'm kinda having the opposite of buyers remorse. I wish it was sitting in my garage right now.
You want fast, early Jap two-smokers will go. There are other models/variations but in my opinion these are the most common/commonly built based on what I see come though the bike yard I work at:

RD350/400's are out there, and they can be made fast as snot. Lots of aftermarket parts too.

Kawi H1/H2's (a.k.a. KH500 and KH750) are out there too, but pricey. In the case of the 750, they were legendary fast (and dangerous as hell due to flexy frame design). S1's (250cc) S2's (350cc) and S3's (400cc) are also pretty cool but getting rare.

Suzi T500 (a.k.a. Titan). Badass twin with parts availability between RD's and KH's.

They heyday for Jap two-strokes really kind of ended around '73 or '74. Emissions laws and the CB750 and Z1 killed them. Seems to me that models that came out beginning in '73 started suffering from factory de-tuning.

Post '73-'79 fast?

CB750, KZ900/1000, GS1000

These are a LOT bigger bikes, but parts can pretty easily be found (except for maybe the KZ's -- they have a cult following).

RD's your best bet for availability and price in my opinion.

Before I get flamed, I know I probably missed a few models.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the bike suggestions. Yeah, it's hard for me not to want an RD400 from what I've read about them, plus I like the way they look. Although, it won't look the same for long once I get one mechanically sound.

There's a guy somewhat local selling 3 CB750s for $750 each. None run (which is the killer for the price) and 1 or 2 have titles. I'm interested in those, but I'm kinda thinking I want a small speedster even in a 750 could run with it. Sleek and fast is kinda what I want at the moment.

Whereabouts you guys look for bikes? I've only perused craigslist mainly.
 

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check my RD restoration thread. i love my little smoker. parts are easy to get from a place like HVC cycle and they aren't detuned from the factory i dont think. i like the 400's because they have rear disk brakes, where as the 350's had a drum. many people say however that the 350's were faster because of their shorter stroke and faster revving. i have chambers and pods on my RD right now, and very soon i am doing different reeds and a boost bottle to get me just a little more off the bottom end. i would love to have an H1 or 2 or even an RZ350 or (keep dreaming) an RZ500. i like the little two strokes just because the power is fun to play with and they sound awesome. good luck in your bike search. craigslist and ebay are good sources for parts and bikes, that is what i use, but you might want to call around to specialty shops like HVC and see if they know anybody with one for sale.
 

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keep looking of an rd. even a 350. i wish i had one. i want one. ill have one. in the mean time ill just spank it to kraps post. he didnt leave out a single bike i want. there is nothing cooler looking than a 2 stroke with 3 chambers hanging under it. sweet the kawasakis are just mean looking. gs1100 is awesome. the cb750, although a great bike, is just getting too much attention lately. like the cb350's great if you want an easy build, but not so great if you want unusual.


jc
 

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Discussion Starter #10
quote:Originally posted by joe c

keep looking of an rd. even a 350. i wish i had one. i want one. ill have one. in the mean time ill just spank it to kraps post. he didnt leave out a single bike i want. there is nothing cooler looking than a 2 stroke with 3 chambers hanging under it. sweet the kawasakis are just mean looking. gs1100 is awesome. the cb750, although a great bike, is just getting too much attention lately. like the cb350's great if you want an easy build, but not so great if you want unusual.


jc
I'm tempted to call ole dude back that I talked to yesterday and see if I could still buy the GT550. For one, I really doubt that he still has it, but it's possible. 2, I think I pissed him off by low-balling. I wasn't really trying to, but being my first build (whichever bike I get), I was a little scared, and disposable income is a little tight now, but should loosen up. OTOH, I think deep down, I do want the RD, but something tells me I won't ever get a running one for 300 bones.
 

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pass on the GT550.

I love GT550s, I would love to have one, but for a first vintage bike and first bike project a little two stroke that needs everything is going to be:

1) expensive
2) a pain in the ass to work on (despite these bikes being stone simple)
3) expensive
4) at least 2 years before she sees the road.

Unless you have 2 stroke expirence, don;t think about buying a two smoker based on these two words: crank seals.

If you don't know how to evaluate whether the bike needs cranks seals or not then keep this in mind ---> They are seals, on the crank, which if they are shot will require you to do a bottom end rebuild and have the crank rebuilt by a shop (which will cost more than your bike). A two stoke that needs crank seals will run, but she will sump tranny fluid which will burn out the tranny and excessivly smoke. May even hydrolock the bike if you are not careful. The fact that it doesn't have a title is also another no dice issue.

Look for a nice 4 stroke bike that runs that doesn't smoke and hasn't been pranged. Buy the best FUNCTIONAL bike for the money. IMHO the best deals going right now are 1977-1979 GS750s. You can get a running one for less than $1000 if you look, and a really really nice one for about $1500. I just sold my GS750 for $1 per CC and that was a running bike you could throw a leg over and ride. And they are no slouches - looking at deep 11 second quarter mile times with a competent rider.

vintage bikes are old bikes, they will always need something, so buy the best mechanical bike you can and I gaurantee you will still have to fix it, just in case you were worried about loosing out on the working on it expirence.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hey, I appreciate the advice. It makes me feel better about being scared away from the bike. In fact, some of what you just told me I read you say before when I was doing searches on this forum. In fact that's one of the reasons I didn't buy. It smoked a fair amount on startup, and of course it smoked some after, but I remembered you posting similar thoughts in another thread and I didn't know if it was a normal amount or not. At least it makes me feel a little better about not having her if nothing else.

Bummer about the no 2-stroke advice, but it's better to know now instead of later.
 

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Take a look at mid-80's bikes also. I think you can find a pretty good deal - the 70 bikes are getting a little pricey. I saw a posting for 83 cb1100's for under 3 grand. Pound for pound the susuki 750's are the best deals going right now and they are great bikes - One of my buddies had one and loved it.
 

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The mid size(550-750cc)KZs,GSs and XJs are excellent machines to start out with.

They won't have the outright power or speed of your F4i,but they are relatively grunty inline fours,comfortable and easy to ride. Around town power is very good for what they are and for their age.

With big bore/carb,cam kits you can build them to a power level well beyond what they came with from the factory. To do that though personally I'd just go with a 900cc+ bike and build that up.
A big-block Suzuki or Kawasaki is a quite powerful machine even by todays standards.

If you like a little newer style then the Honda "F" models are hard to beat and their engines run pretty strong.
http://www.cb1100f.net/

For a more race or cafe look I prefer the look of the Honda CB or the Kawasaki KZs.
 

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don't be totally scared off by crank seals. a shop manual and some time and you can split the cases of a two stroke. hell, i put a new crank in my whizbang 250f motocrosser with just my manual and that was supposed to be hard to do. but geet is right, crank seals do go out, but you can also snap a valve spring in a 4 stroke. they all have their own demons
 

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it isn't the work in swapping them out - crank seals usually have to be installed on the crank by pressing the crank apart, machining, balanced, repressed - etc...

I don't know about RDs but an H1 or H2 kawai crank costs $350-$400 for stock seals (more for lab seals), and a T500 crank (similar to a GT550 crank) costs about the same. On a $300 bike, a $350 expenditure plus at least a month of nights and weekends tearing it down and putting it back together (on newbie time) plus the gaskets and misc other parts you will need make it not feasible for a newbie with no two stroke expirence.

Don't get me wrong, I love two strokes, and I recommend good running ones all the time to people, but if you don't know how to test crank seals and leak down then it is best avoided. I currently own six two stroke bikes (4 Kawasaki h1's + 2 T500s) in various states of repair and I learned all these lessons the hard way.....It is ok to want to two stroke but buy the best one you can afford.

The other reason I tell newbies to avoid two strokes is the pipes. A 4 stroke you slap a set of straight pipes and maybe you loose like 1 or 2 hp but the bike mostly runs fine. Two strokes on the otherhand - the pipes are responsible for intake and exhaust timing. you fuck with the pipes on a two smoke without first reading a book on chambers and you easily end up with a bike that runs like crap if at all. Since it is a newbie impulse to make these bikes as loud as possible (for no good reason other than to be obnoxious), and stock two smoke pipes are kinda ugly anyway, well let's just say it is easy to get in over your head, Fast.

The nice thing about a japanese four stroke is that you are much less likely to get one with major internal problems, although everybike still has problems. Don't be a stupid cheap noob - know what you are buying and spend accordingly.
 
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