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Real Stinkers...Motorcycles We Wish We Could Forget

    Owning and riding motorcycles can be one of the most gratifying experiences in life. The open road or trail, fresh air, all the power you want with a twist of the wrist, and many other wonderful things. That's all great, but there is the other side, bad experiences, bad roads, traffic, snow storms, and the occasional bike that just won't cooperate. When i say "cooperate", that is polite for a motorcycle that can be found in the dictionary as the meaning of "piece of crap". What I'm talking about is a bike that handles horribly, breaks down frequently, is too heavy, expensive to fix, catastrophic engine failures, or all of the above.
    If you have a look at , you'll find a comprehensive article listing a pile of these bikes, based on his experiences both testing and riding them. The motorcycles I'm going to write about, like Hunky, are based on my experiences.
1978 SUZUKI SP-370
    Without a doubt, the sp-370 was the absolute worst dirt bike i ever had to wrestle with. My brother sold his ts-185 and decided that more horsepower was in order, and he wanted to try out a four stroke. At this time the bike was stock and was puffing lots of blue smoke. He had it bored out to match the new piston and probably only had an hour or so on the engine, when I decided to take it to Dexters' Gravel Pit for a test run. I was climbing up a pile of sand when it lost traction, and due to the incline, me and the bike went backwards and upside down. No big deal right....wrong. I got the bike, and myself back on our collective wheels (legs), and booted the engine to life, only to see thick clouds of blue smoke...WTF!! I figured  some oil got into the air box and was getting sucked through the carburetor, causing the Then it crossed my mind that possibly some oil got by the piston into the combustion chamber. Great, just start it up and let the oil burn The oil ring let go allowing oil into the chamber. To this day I get blamed for the damage, but the fact is, I did nothing that would have caused this to happen. Then, feeling bad about the whole thing, I bought the bike from my brother and decided to give this four stroke thing a go, but as it stood it was an overweight, ill handling, under suspended, piston eating beast.
    This time, inspired by an article in dirt bike magazine, I stripped it down to the frame, installed the swing arm, shocks, and forks from an sp-500, removed everything that didn't need to be on the bike, lights, gauges, wiring, ect, in the hopes of lightening it up, and making it handle better. With two new tires, and another new piston, it was ready to go.......until yet another oil ring bit the dust and the blue smoke reappeared. Sometimes you just can't win, so i began carrying two liters of oil, and a box of spark plugs on every ride. This thing smoked so bad it would give you a migraine headache within ten minutes. At the end of it, the bike was eating a liter of oil an hour and I lost count of spark plugs. I ended up giving it away as utter disgust took over.
    Even with the changes I made to lighten it up, and the suspension changes to make it handle better, it was still a pig of a dirt bike. Someone once told me they were referred to as "toad bikes", and I won't disagree. The other thing about it was that it had no means of decompression for starting it. There was a little window in the valve cover, and one of the cam sprocket bolts was cad plated, making it more visible through the window. The idea was to get the bolt in the center of the window, and give it a hefty boot. Sounds easy, but if the engine didn't catch you were facing a sore foot, or being catapulted over the handle bars....which was great if you were sitting in wet mud. It also had a gas cap. probably from a street bike, which had a nasty habbit of leaking profusely if there was more than a half tank of gas, and that was with a new gasket. Imagine, you're howling down a dirt road, with a migraine headache, on a vile handling bike, only to hit a pothole, and end up with gasoline all over your balls and hammer and the intense burning that goes along with it...great fun!! No question, this bike was the worst one we ever had, and if there was such a thing as the "elcrapo" award, this machine wins hands down. Although we never took a picture of the bike, the above picture is what they looked like in stock configuration. 
1979 SUZUKI PE-175
    Following the raving sucess I had with the sp-370 , a certain shop teacher friend of ours had a 79 pe-175 up for grabs. What needs to be explained at this point is that most dirt bikes that come from his neck of the woods are ridden hard, put up wet, and left for dead, usually for a decade or two, before my hands touch them....because I like a challenge, and the price is always right. Anyhow, with the help of another friend, Steve, I brought this crate home, with the plan of getting it running first, then extensively modifying it for poker runs, and general off road fun.
    Getting it to run took about two hours, but it ran badly, and wouldn't shift. In the meantime, another pe-175 parts bike became available along with a 79 rm-125. I procured both and the long process of building a bike began. I had Bedouin Barry build the bottom end and hog out the cylinder pretty near to the maximum. The carburetor, forks, swing arm, silencer and shocks came from the rm-125 and made the bike handle and perform well, infact, that bike was probably the fastest 175 I ever rode. Everything that wasn't required on the bike was stripped off to make it weigh less (power to weight ratio). In addition to this, any parts that could be replaced with ones that weighed less were. The seat came from a Kawasaki kdx-420, and the handlebars and controls were aftermarket.
    All of this resulted in a dirt bike that had enormous power and good handling, infact, the harder you rode it, the better it handled. What makes this bike a stinker boils down to metallurgy. On the first shakedown run, third gear flew to pieces, which is the way it stayed once the excess metal was flushed out of the gearbox. Next to go was the kick start gear, which couldn't be replaced unless the engine was torn down, so from then on, it was a bump start model. With another good flushing of oil to get out excess metal I was back in action. The other metallurgy issue was the magnesuim Suzuki used in their clutch covers, which was very brittle and broke very easily. Thankfully, Loctite had a liquid metal that would stick to magnesium, and was not effected by oil. Other than these issues, it was a decent bike . With the advent of the internet, i learned that Suzuki did indeed have some issues with gears at that time and there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent the problem. The bike was eventually sold and from what i was told, parted out. 
1975 KAWASAKI G5-100
     Over they years I have had several of the Kawasaki rotary two stroke motorcycles in various sizes and models. They were one of the most reliable and powerful motorcycles of their time. Having said that, I once had one that I'm convinced, was possessed by the devil himself, and to this day I'm convinced that satan took up residence in its crankcase.
    This bike made it's rounds in the circle of friends i had at the time, and no one seemed to be able to get this thing working right. It spent a year sitting outside the local party house, and its gas tank was used as a urinal for some sloshed souls, and it was full!! The air filter had been removed and the housing it sat in was full of chip bags, candy wrappers, and beer caps. As things go, it was my turn to try and get this bike running correctly. First thing was to get someone to perform an exorcism to evict satan from the engine, then empty the piss out of the gas tank, clear the trash out of the intake, rebuild the carburetor, set the points, do a compression and leak down test, new spark plug, change the oil, ect.
    It passed both the compression and leak down test, and everything else looked good, so it was time to start it. Two or three kicks and it started right up. Once warmed up, I set the idle and let it set there idling for a few more minutes. Then, it goes full throttle, all by itself, for no reason. Shut it off, check everything out, and no issues were found. I started it again and it sounded great, so i took it for a test run, only to suddenly feel intense heat radiating through my arse...because there was a massive flame coming out of the exhaust pipe. I stood up so as not to burn myself and the bike goes full throttle hurling me into a snow drift.
    I guess the exorcism hadn't worked!!  I replaced the throttle cable, and a few more parts, and did some more tests, but couldn't find any faults. Reagardless of what i did, the results were the same spooky tendencies. Eventually, after enough pairs of burned jeans and crashes, I sold it for parts, but what i really felt like doing I can't repeat on a family oriented website like this. Like I said, these bikes were some of the best of their time, but this one had a mind of it's own. Hind sight being what it is, if I were subjected to the abuse this bike had endured as mentioned above, I would probably do strange things too.