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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We give newbs a ton of shit for their first projects. I ran across a few pics of my first (bike) project so I thought I'd post them for a grin. Keep in mind this all happened 20+ years ago so I may get some of the info wrong, and it predates megapixel digital cameras so there are very few pics, most of them are crappy quality. It also predates internet forums so I didn't have a thousand people telling me I was wrong when I did stuff. Or telling me the right way to do stuff...

Anywhos, here's how it all started for me. My second bike was a basket case RD350. I have written down I bought it in August of 1992 for $100. I bought it as a parts bike because of the aftermarket parts. I remember it as being more complete than this but who knows. It was behind some guys garage under a tarp. When he pulled the tarp back to show me the bike there was a bag of weed sitting on it. I got the bike, he kept the weed.

This is after I dragged it over to a friend's house.






Spare parts. I thought the DG heads were the cat's meow but I guess they aren't all that? Whatever. They looked fooking cool to me.


No, it did not run when parked. Note it's got a DG swing arm too. That was even cooler than the heads to me.


My shop and workbench at the time. Living on the first floor in a ratty apartment complex had it's advantages,


At this point I don't think I had decided to build a race bike yet. I was still entertaining the idea of building it as a street bike? In any case, now I needed a bike to put the go-fast parts on. I started searching the Trader ads (pre-Craig's list, The Trader was the rag everybody put their ads in). I saw an ad for an RD350 that was priced about right. I went to look at it and found...
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
...I started searching the Trader ads (pre-Craig's list, The Trader was the rag everybody put their ads in). I saw an ad for an RD350 that was priced about right. I went to look at it and found...
... this.





Two stroke freaks have already noticed, that's not an RD350. It's an R5. Some lady was "simplifying her life" and was getting rid of projects she would never get around too. The price was right and it was a solid bike, so I bought it anyway. I have no clue what I paid for it, I have forgotten most of the details about this thing.

The teardown began as I started trying to build one bike out of many. (I was still searching for another RD)



Judging by this mock up I must have still been considering a street bike at this point



The shipping crate in the background of that shot was from my first bike. The disadvantage of living in a rundown apartment is no garage, However like I said I was on the first floor, so...


The pizza delivery guy told me "you have a motorcycle in your living room". I told him that would be against fire codes. The red thing was furniture. My neighbor had a jet ski or two in his living room. Apparently not long after I moved, a notice was sent out that no motor vehicles were allowed in the apartments. Spoil sports.

I continued the search for an RD. The next bike I looked at was an hour and a half from my house, I had to borrow a truck to go look at it. I pulled up, walked over to the garage, and after saying hi to the guy selling it I looked down and saw another R5 that was being advertised as an RD, though to be fair, this one did have RD bodywork on it. I told the kid it wasn't an RD, it was an R5. I was a bit pissed... then the kid said something along the lines of "Oh, that would explain why it says R5 on the paperwork". Grrrr... So why did you advertise it as an RD? "Some guy down the street told me it was an RD". Never trust the seller. I didn't buy that one.

A little later I came across one at the "local" motorcycle boneyard, Cycle/Recycle in Indianapolis. $700 IIRC? The guy said I could ride it home, but that was over an hour on the backstreets so I hauled it instead. Good thing I did. No way in hell this bike would have made it four blocks let alone 40+ miles. I've forgotten all the issues but it was nowhere near rideable. I had a storage unit at this point and it got stuffed in there for winter.





EDIT: I just came across more info on the RD stuff. Turns out I bought the R5 from a woman named Sue, for $130. I'm starting to doubt I paid $700 for the RD, that seems like a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I gathered all the parts I thought I needed from the various bikes and started working. I didn't take many pictures after this.

In progress, I think the plan was for a race bike now.


And, the last picture I took of it. Not quite done yet but close.


I finished it in late summer 1993 IIRC, took it to a WERA rider's school at Putnam Park and got my provisional novice license on it. A friend was there and took a couple pics with his little instamatic but most of them are pretty worthless. This is the best of the few pics I have of the completed bike. I'm #907. No bonus points for figuring out where that came from.


Cropped version:


It was hotter than hell that day so I was worn out by the end of it. Plus, the bike had developed some transmission problems. In order for me to race the next day I would have had to tear out the engine, rebuild the trans with different parts, and put it all back together again, in the back of a truck, in a parking lot. I got back to my apartment, sat in the bed of the truck for a while staring at the bike, slapped some mosquitos, and decided I was WHIPPED. I went to bed instead and slept for 12 hours. There was only one race left that season and I didn't get the bike fixed in time. About the same time I moved into a house with much nicer shop facilities, got a couple other projects (including a 650 Hawk), and the RD kind of lost priority. I rebuilt it but then sold the whole lot of two stroke stuff to the first guy who came to look at it. He wasn't really in the market for more RDs, but the ad looked interesting, and you can guess the rest.

Yes, I spent time and money building a bike I rode for one day. It was worth it to me though. I learned a few things. One thing I learned was how many RD fans there are out there. I couldn't believe how many comments the bike got at the track and just sitting in the back of the truck. It wasn't my best work, but it was functional, and people seemed to appreciate that.

After I sold the RD I bought an Ascot with the intentions of building another race bike. Not long after that got underway my dad died, and that took the wind out of my sails for a while. Lots of things happened in the months after he died and I never pursued racing again after that. I have done track days, took Code's Superbike school, that sort of thing, but for some reason racing just never appealed to me as much anymore.

I have been kind of jonesing for a track bike lately though...
 

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Cheers for the post mate, made my day!

Reminds me of my dad telling me he built his first BMW when he was working on the assembly line in Berlin in the 2nd floor of an appartment complex. Fuck knows how he got it down the stairs... it's an R100...
 

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here is the thing. Yes you made mistakes, lots of them. But you probably also sought out advice, did real research, and generally talked to people. More importantly you forumulated a goal, and although you revised it half way through by going from street to race, you knew where you wanted to be at the end and you forumulated a plan to get there and see it through.

How many newbie "cafe kids" do that? How many of them sit there and pour over old magazines looking for features on stuff they wanted to know? How many of them know where they want to be at the end? Most think they will just make this shit up as they go along. Also most treat this fourm and others like it as their research...."no need to do any further research those suckers on the forum are happy to answer my questions. derp."

When I was a kid in the pre-useful internet days if you wanted to know about something it involved books, and seeking people out, and figuing out who were the experts and how to get their smarts inside me. I have a stack of old hot rod, car craft (and honk), rod and custom, cars and parts, and a million other obscure titles that I bought from swap meets just because they had articles on pontiac 400 engine performance. Books too...manuals, the good stuff. I have a fisher body manual for GM A-bodies before anybody was repopping them, and I had to wait 6 months till a swap meet came along to get it. I had to work for it and therefore I valued the knowledge it imparted. You know what, some of that stuff is on the internet and I don't miss waiting 3-6 months for a swap meet to come along, but a majority of that stuff is still in old magazines in an old carboard box at some swap meet rat's booth at the pomona swap meet. I'm not saying the old days were better.....god no - I can't tell you how many of those old crusty mags smell so bad I can't have them in my house so I am all for things being easier.

But if you seek out knowledge you have to take it and be appreciative. Intelligent discourse is always welcome (the why question) but telling someone who has been down the road a million times that his advice is not going to be taken because it doesn't jive with the vision you don't really have? well youget a kick in the ass for that. And we kick a lot of newbies in the ass here.
 

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The sad thing is, there is SO much more information to consume these days if one is willing to research.
 

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The sad thing is, there is SO much more information to consume these days if one is willing to research.
yup....but who is consuming it? one out of every 10 cafe kids? one out of 5? just us?

How many newbies have you run into that don't even own a service manual and are trying to do stuff? That used to be a no brainer....
 

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BTW, DesmoDog...thank you for sharing your pics.

BTW, to put some perspective on this - $150 in 1992 money is about $250 today which for the DG heads and swingarm alone was a bargain. But then again RDs were just useless junk in the the 90s - like sandcast cb750s and ELR replicas, and other old junky bikes.
 

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not enough folks are consuming it. I read constantly. Everywhere. Luckily i can retain alot from those random thought -> random google search -> random reading sessions.

Wish I could have scored an RD when i was younger. All gone now, just like Desotos.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
here is the thing. Yes you made mistakes, lots of them. But you probably also sought out advice, did real research, and generally talked to people. More importantly you forumulated a goal, and although you revised it half way through by going from street to race, you knew where you wanted to be at the end and you forumulated a plan to get there and see it through.

How many newbie "cafe kids" do that? How many of them sit there and pour over old magazines looking for features on stuff they wanted to know? How many of them know where they want to be at the end? Most think they will just make this shit up as they go along. Also most treat this fourm and others like it as their research...."no need to do any further research those suckers on the forum are happy to answer my questions. derp."

When I was a kid in the pre-useful internet days if you wanted to know about something it involved books, and seeking people out, and figuing out who were the experts and how to get their smarts inside me. I have a stack of old hot rod, car craft (and honk), rod and custom, cars and parts, and a million other obscure titles that I bought from swap meets just because they had articles on pontiac 400 engine performance. Books too...manuals, the good stuff. I have a fisher body manual for GM A-bodies before anybody was repopping them, and I had to wait 6 months till a swap meet came along to get it. I had to work for it and therefore I valued the knowledge it imparted. You know what, some of that stuff is on the internet and I don't miss waiting 3-6 months for a swap meet to come along, but a majority of that stuff is still in old magazines in an old carboard box at some swap meet rat's booth at the pomona swap meet. I'm not saying the old days were better.....god no - I can't tell you how many of those old crusty mags smell so bad I can't have them in my house so I am all for things being easier.

But if you seek out knowledge you have to take it and be appreciative. Intelligent discourse is always welcome (the why question) but telling someone who has been down the road a million times that his advice is not going to be taken because it doesn't jive with the vision you don't really have? well youget a kick in the ass for that. And we kick a lot of newbies in the ass here.
Looking back there are a LOT of things I'd do differently now! But the funny thing is, on the 350 I'm working on these days (Ducati, not Yamaha), the rearsets are kicking my ass. Can not get them made. On the RD I kind of sort of remember how I did it, using an old swingarm spindle and bushing for the pivots, and ending up with something surprisingly nice for a first shot. One biker-type guy (jeans vest with patches, young, real deal from the looks of it, not a dentist anyway) was checking out the bike in the back of the truck once. I was waiting for some grief about it being a Japanese two stroke but after studying the rearsets for a while he asked "Did you make those?" I said yes, he said "Nice job" and walked away. The bike gathered just as much interest as my Ducati did, and like Geeto mentioned, at the time RDs were basically cheap little "old" bikes no one really wanted.

Anyway, back then I was not at all outgoing and used to keep pretty much to myself. Once I got into this I had (and still have) a bunch of books, magazine articles, and that sort of stuff about RDs and two strokes in general. I even have a fax from Keven Cameron somewhere. I had been reading Jennings' book and had a few questions. For whatever reason I gathered up the nerve to call the magazine he was writing for and ask to speak to him. Obviously he wasn't there, that's not how it worked. But they did give me a fax number so I faxed my question. I've forgotten how long it took but I got a faxed reply. One handwritten page with more info than I knew what to do with. Way over my head in some spots but it was pretty cool that the guy who's columns I had been reading would be so helpful. I've forgotten why I didn't try to contact Jennings? I'm assuming he was still alive back then? I guess I was just more familiar with Cameron's work or something.

Anyway now I'm rambling, this post has brought back a lot of memories. I did all this back before I was so jaded with motorcycles and everything was so cool to me, even POS 20 year old Japanese two strokes. Reading the replies has reminded me of yet another pet peeve - not buying a shop manual for whatever it is you are working on. Seriously people? If you can't afford a manual or three, you shouldn't be trying to rebuild a bike.

And Geeto, I know exactly what you mean about magazines and books. I had hundreds of old car and bike magazines stored up until a few months ago. I finally started going through them to thin the herd - I scan the articles I'm interested in and throw the mags in the recycling pile. For five weeks I'd have a box by the curb that was about as heavy as I thought they'd allow, filled with magazines. I got through maybe half of them. The thing that amazed me is how many of them I could look at the cover and remember a bike that was in that issue... some of them I just had to keep though. Cycle and Cycle World with the first reviews of the 907ie. The Cycle issue with the 851 on the cover, I remember my dad looking at that one and talking about bikes with him because of it (he didn't ride but was a true motorhead in his youth). Basically the ones that fed my Ducati lust before I had the resources/knowledge to do it with the real thing. Which reminds me, I uploaded a few articles for my Ducati buddies, here's the link if anyone's interested. It's not ALL Ducati related but it's mostly Italian stuff. I've got a bunch more in PDF format but didn't bother uploading most of it.

Index of /Mags

And with that I should shut up and get back to my real job. Thanks for the comments guys, it's fun to look back at how things started for me. Truth be told I wish I was still as amazed by everything as I was back then.
 

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eveything is still cool. The secret is to find some people doing someting you haven't done, watch them, then do it yourself. If you are just trampling the same ground over and over again you start to dig a rut. Also take breaks. It's perfectly ok to say fuck motorcycles for 6 mos and not feel guilty about missing it.
 

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This is pretty awesome. you guys who've been playing w/ bikes for a whlle should do this if you've got photos/stories to tell. kind of like being a kid and sitting down w/ an old timer and hearing all his crazy stories.
 

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Great story DesmoDog, gotta love the old stories and to have photo's even better

How many newbie "cafe kids" do that? How many of them sit there and pour over old magazines looking for features on stuff they wanted to know? How many of them know where they want to be at the end? Most think they will just make this shit up as they go along. Also most treat this fourm and others like it as their research...."no need to do any further research those suckers on the forum are happy to answer my questions. derp."

When I was a kid in the pre-useful internet days if you wanted to know about something it involved books, and seeking people out, and figuing out who were the experts and how to get their smarts inside me. I have a stack of old hot rod, car craft (and honk), rod and custom, cars and parts, and a million other obscure titles that I bought from swap meets just because they had articles on pontiac 400 engine performance. Books too...manuals, the good stuff. I have a fisher body manual for GM A-bodies before anybody was repopping them, and I had to wait 6 months till a swap meet came along to get it. I had to work for it and therefore I valued the knowledge it imparted. You know what, some of that stuff is on the internet and I don't miss waiting 3-6 months for a swap meet to come along, but a majority of that stuff is still in old magazines in an old carboard box at some swap meet rat's booth at the pomona swap meet. I'm not saying the old days were better.....god no - I can't tell you how many of those old crusty mags smell so bad I can't have them in my house so I am all for things being easier.

But if you seek out knowledge you have to take it and be appreciative. Intelligent discourse is always welcome (the why question) but telling someone who has been down the road a million times that his advice is not going to be taken because it doesn't jive with the vision you don't really have? well youget a kick in the ass for that. And we kick a lot of newbies in the ass here.
@ Geeto67 I am a newbie to this forum and its stories like this that put a better perspective to the hammering that some newbies get here(Appreciating experienced knowledge), I have read alot here and see how "newbies" get ripped, and sometimes i think its a bit harsh, but i have come to realise that info given does not filter through to some as easy as to others! and in that case you gotto bend and take it..
As for the comment about books and manuals, maybe its because we come form an era before internet, but i have a manual for every bike i have ever owned or had to do any major work on, along with that i have plenty books (maybe all of them) about 2 stroke tuning. having said all this i still expect to get some flack on my build, touch wood nothing yet.

Back on topic...
This was classic.
One biker-type guy (jeans vest with patches, young, real deal from the looks of it, not a dentist anyway) was checking out the bike in the back of the truck once. I was waiting for some grief about it being a Japanese two stroke but after studying the rearsets for a while he asked "Did you make those?" I said yes, he said "Nice job" and walked away.
:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Also take breaks. It's perfectly ok to say fuck motorcycles for 6 mos and not feel guilty about missing it.
A few years back I was putting time into getting my 350 finished. My wife was out of town, I had planned on spending the entire freaking day working on it. That evening I was getting frustrated with my inability to get anything done so I came upstairs to eat. I planned on going back down after dinner and working on it untl the wee hours of the morning.

As I sat there eating I was thinking about what a PITA this thing had been. People wouldn't answer e-mails, shops wouldn't reply about parts availability/prices, yadda yadda yadda yadda. This shit was supposed to be fun. I decided to watch a movie and then go down to work on it.

The movie I decided to watch was "It Might Get Loud" which is about some guitar players. I had been telling myself for 30 years that "someday" I wanted to learn how to play. By the time the movie ended I was convinced the time was now. I didn't so much as touch a bike for at least six months after that, and really haven't gotten back into them as much since then. I've got a bunch of guitars now, still can't play for shit, but at least I'm trying.

To tie this back to bikes, maybe... The backstory to this is, 30 years ago my dad gave me a kit to make an electric guitar. I started on it but never finished it and therefore never learned to play. I dragged it around to all my new apartments and houses because "someday" I'd finish it and learn to play. It seems blatantly obvious now, but the detail I missed back then was, I didn't so much want to learn how to build them as I did play them. When I finally gave up on the building idea and just went out and bought something, the progress began. I did end up building a few by the way, but they weren't/aren't my "main" guitars. And trying to learn on anything I had built would have made life even harder.

I think the same is true for newbies to bikes. Don't let the concept of building something get in the way of the reality of learning to ride. Riding bikes and building/modifying bikes are two different things. Learn to ride before you embark on the project. Buy a bike that runs. It will NOT be more expensive it the long run and you won't be nearly as clueless when you start a project.

As for bikes I think I'm forever jaded at this point. When you're standing there looking at a just released Ducati superbike and your mind is wandering, it's a pretty good indication you're not as bitten as you used to be. This from a guy who rememebers walking into a show and seeing the latest Ducati superbike (888SPO IIRC) up on a stand, and being transfixed. Mouth literally open, staring. A woman walked up and asked me what it was. I told her. And then added "and it only costs fourteen five!" She looked at me and said "fourteen THOUSAND?"

Well yeah, I guess at the time that was a lot of money. I had recently bought brand new car for less. But I still thought that was the best deal going.
 

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yeah...there hasn't been a new motorcycle that I have said "I need to have that" in a long time. I think that comes directly from ducati...or rather the disappointment of new ducati ownership and all the ways in which they feel they need to screw their customers to stay alive. I just don't want to buy anything new anymore. However, I started having dreams now about a guzzi lemans I. It's becoming an obsession.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)

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Discussion Starter #20
That's pretty funny - getting added to a database purely on crappy before pics from 20 years ago.

They must have an earlier software release of the chatbot.
Yeah I'm kinda wondering how in the hell that picture from that thread got "chosen"... I imagine the guy who put the orange bike together running across the pic and thinking "HEY! There it is! A picture of that awesome RD I put together, and some other dickhead is taking credit for it!" Well dude, contrary to what the guy who sold it to me said, it wasn't even rideable let alone awesome...

Anywhos, I was going to leave a comment explaining it wasn't me, but you have to register to comment and I'm not registering. Though if the pic is hotlinked I could have some fun with it... ;)
 
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