I don't know much about UJM's but I want to learn thread

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by nashopolis, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. El_Oel

    El_Oel Laugh. Out Loud.

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    I see as I reread your posts that you wouldn't mind a 2 cylinder. What size bike are you looking for? That will help narrow it down. My Seca really wouldn't be what you would want, being a one year only deal in the states.
    #21
  2. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    The OP didn't ask for a commuter for Chicago traffic, he said he wanted to get into a classic Japanese bike. All I'm saying is that when you desire a classic bike, you are signing up the technology of that era. If you main objective is to have a bike with modern brakes and shaft drive, then maybe you'd be better served by buying a newer bike. ABS brakes are better still, so one could just as easily make ABS brakes a requirement and you'd start reducing your number of 80's options to perhaps one ridiculously expensive BMW.

    You decided it was a priority for you to have shaft drive and dual discs in your older bike. Great. Nothing wrong with that. But as general advice for someone wanting to buy an old UJM BECAUSE he likes old UJM's? Not that useful advice IMHO and unnecessarily limiting. Mostly I see it saying "buy what I decided to buy because my priorities are the right ones". And you aren't selling. As but one example, a 1971 CB350 is a very cool bike and great fun to ride. Yes, it has drum brakes and chain drive. As well as crappy suspension, points ignition, and a lot of vibration. You buy one for these things, not in spite of them.

    - Mark
    #22
  3. Kamakura Kid

    Kamakura Kid Been here awhile

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    I think a great bike for someone experienced with motorcycles, but just not with the 70's UJMs, is the Kawasaki KZ1000. Fairly affordable, many different variations (even a shaft drive), and the beautiful thing is that even though they were discontinued for the civilian marketplace back in 1982, they continued to be made for the police market as the KZ-P until 1998. Which means if you pick wisely, you can have a nice 70's "UJM" that is only actually 11 years old. Some police bikes are wore out early, some are not. Try to find one from a local department that shifted to HD or BMW in the late 90's and therefore early surplused their KZ-P's, you should be able to find low mileage bikes. Most of the KZ-P owners advertising on CL seem to know what PD their bike belonged to.

    Regardless of whatever UJM you find, you'll want to put Z1 Enterprises' website on your favorites. They stock parts not just for old Kawi UJMs, but also UJMs from all four Japanese manufacturers. And, customer service is top-notch.

    http://www.z1enterprises.com/catalog.aspx?pid=TOP
    #23
  4. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    +1. Z1 is a great place and the prices are excellent.

    - Mark
    #24
  5. Kamakura Kid

    Kamakura Kid Been here awhile

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  6. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    That's essentially a basket case as are most early Z1's that are less than $5K. When a CL ad says "project bike", katie bar the door. Go ahead and jump - we'll watch.

    - Mark
    #26
  7. hobbes23

    hobbes23 Been here awhile

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    Read: http://www.slate.com/id/2227844/pagenum/all/ ("The Cult of the Vintage Honda")


    I loved my CL350 and then the engine seized. I will rebuilt it! You should get a UJM! I found drum brakes fine even for quick stops in traffic. Plus, you really don't need to worry about locking the breaks up! The suspension worked fine.
    #27
  8. Kamakura Kid

    Kamakura Kid Been here awhile

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    You mistakenly assume I think rationally when it comes to Z-1's. :evil

    A mostly there 73 Z-1 in that condition I would get just so long as I can turn the crank by hand. Actually running would be icing on the cake.

    That said, you do have a good point. Someone not used to dealing with older UJM's would be better off going for some other bike that is in better shape to begin with. Like a late 90's KZ-P, perhaps?
    #28
  9. nashopolis

    nashopolis Been here awhile

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    some asked if I was into 2 cylinder bikes the answer is yes!

    everything I have now is one or two cylinders
    not opposed to more but unsure if 4 is twice the work of 2 (which would make some sense)

    generally I am in into lighter bikes. I got my 70 bonneville resorted today and I LOVE it. Everytime I ride it I say this is a motorcycle! I'd ride the wheels off it but it is a real sentimental thing. My uncle had it since I was 3 and it means way more to me than an object should.

    But really I want something vaguely relaible and relatively cheap to get into that can be mine to love but without the danger on an heirloom.

    maybe I can ask questions about bikes that catch my eye. I'll report back.
    #29
  10. nanno

    nanno Been here awhile

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    Me being an everyday-rider and a dedicated fan of UJMs and some of it's variants would give you the following tipps:

    1) Try out some of the rides that were suggested, most of these bikes ride like a hippopotamus in a shopping trolley, although the gear can be vastly improved.

    From there on there are two possibilities: you catch the bug or you don't. If you do, read on:

    2) Pick something that is common. Examples: Kawa Z, Suzuki GS/GSX, Honda Bol d'Or, Yamaha XS

    3) The engines (roller-bearing-cranks) on Z1-900-1000s, Suzuki GS750-850-1000s, GSX1100/1150 are near on indestructible

    4) The worst thing that those beasties suffer from is a disease called pre-owners, just expect the worst and be happy, if you ended up a little better.

    5) Both Zeds and GSes can be retrofitted quite easily with more modern carbs and uprated electrics

    6) Be aware, that you will have to get your hands dirty.

    7) The Yamaha Triples are overweight and overengineered (just what makes them perfect everyday-rides with a sidecar attached, I am a little biased here), the Yam XS11 is on big MOTHER.... and heavy but hey...

    I am sure you will pick something nice.

    Greg
    #30
  11. buls4evr

    buls4evr No Marks....

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    I would look for a Suzuki GS850G or a KZ650 Kawasaki. Understand that a vintage bike is not cheap to rejuvinate or own. At least you don't have to see yourself coming and going to work on the same bike as everyone else rides. An added bonus is that you will really learn EVERYTHING about your bike. They have many fewer parts than modern bikes and are basically understandable. Go into restoration with the pre-conception that every seal and rubber piece is probably in need of replacement as well as most bushings(especially swing-arm) and some bearings (wheel?) and you will be more realistic on your purchase price. I mention these bikes because they had good reputations back then and you can still get parts and support today. Markjenn said it very well also. I also suggest you spend that money and get support from VJMC or some similar club so that you have someone to answer your specific questions about your bike. Have fun.
    #31
  12. rufusswan

    rufusswan Been here awhile

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    He gives himself the best advice yet. Starting with a vague idea of 'want', prowling CL ain't like pagin' thru a Bass Pro catalog. The descriptions may not (or will not) match what you see in person. What's is available to buy may not be 'near at hand' either. Best to find something you can actually see and get your hands on, and speak to a seller in person.
    #32
  13. JR Greenhorn

    JR Greenhorn Been here awhile

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    Lot's of well-intended advice in this thread, but so far the most critical aspect of buying an old bike hasn't been directly addressed.

    The most important thing to remember when shopping for old bikes is that this is purely an emotional decision! Nothing about owning, working on, or buying old bikes makes any kind of sense if you get down to it, so it's critical to find a bike that speaks to you from the start. You need to find something you can just stare at in the garage for hours, find out which engine's sound makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, and which bike's power character matches how you like to ride.

    Who cares what kind of brakes it has, how many cams, or whether or not it's got less damping in the suspension than a storm door shutter (with the torsional rigidity to match). If it's not a bike that draws you in, you may never finish the project, or if you do, you might end up just getting rid of it at a loss when it's done.



    Luckily for someone just getting into old Japanese bikes, nearly every model worth considering has some sort of cult following these days, so once you get an general idea of what grabs you, digging into the details will be a cinch.


    One of the best ways to start getting acclimated to the different models out there is to dig up old magazine tests on the different bikes. Here's one nice site that will get you started: http://motorbikearchives.com/. You'll also often find scans of old magazine articles on websites devoted to a particular model of bike. I've had good luck with dirt bikes by searching sites devoted to competitive models that have shootout-type articles that cover the bike I'm actually interested in. One nice thing about digging in this way is you get a more objective perspective of the bike from when it was new, instead of hearing every reliability horror-story about some component guaranteed to go bad. Learn about the bike's own merits first, then dig into the 30+ years of reliability "reputation" and decide what you want to get yourself into.






    If you like that Bonnie, I suspect the only thing that's going to scratch that itch whilst being Japanese and (relatively) avialable, cheap, and reliable is Yamaha's XS650. No four is going to have that great parallel twin "blat", and neither will some other twin with it's crankpins spaced at some silly angle other than a proper 360-degrees. However, with something like an XS650, you'll have to decide if you can like it for what it is, or if it will always just be an imitator to your truly beloved Bonnie. At least you can tweak an XS to make what you want of it and not have to feel bad about cutting one up.

    For me, the engine that comes next closest to that parallel twin "blat" is big mellow 2-stroke singles. Plod around on a Yamaha DT400 for an afternoon, and you'll see the similarities in the power delivery (although you'll be giving up a lot of top-end compared to the twin). However, a DT or [Suzuki] TS is going to be a short-hop street bike at best, and these days they're truly happiest lazily cruising ATV trails and minimum maintenance roads anyway.


    I wouldn't worry too much about maintenance on an old four cylinder. If you can chisel the varnish out of two carbs, surely you can chisel it out of two more. Same goes for pretty much anything you'll be wrenching on. Remember, there's only more pistons, rods, valves, and carbs. The cams are just longer, and everything downstream of the crankshaft will have similar part counts regardless of how many cylinders are driving. In short, you're buying an old bike to work on it, so don't be scared off by a little extra wrenching.

    What may end up scaring you off when it comes to the four-cylinder bikes is the totally different feel they have compared to twins or thumpers. Fours carry their weight higher than twins, and you'll feel it. You won't have the low-end grunt (although you'll get it paid back on the other side of the tach), and you'll likely be rowing the gearbox much more often. These are exactly the qualities that draw many of us to fours, and they're a hoot when you get after it on one. However, I'd recommend snagging a ride on somebody's old UJM four before diving into one, based on what you're accustomed to now.


    If you really want to ride the wheels off something, consider the old 2-stroke streetbikes. The Kawi triples are all motor, if that's your thing, while the Suzook's are somewhat mellower and more well-rounded. For a smaller, lighter bike you can ride the wheels off of, you'll be hard-pressed to find something better from the '70s than Yamaha's RD350. These bikes love to be ridden hard, but don't count on being able to tool around much--7/10ths pace or better or the bike won't be happy.





    Clearly I've got the most experience with old Yamahas, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I've found Yamaha to still have the best stock of parts around for old bikes, although every part that leaves an inventory shelf is one less out there these days. Also, I'm just not into well-rounded--that's what new bikes are for. I like unique, and most of the bikes I mentioned specifically don't really have any thing that compares very directly. As far as I'm concerned, that's how you know you're getting close to selecting the right bike--when nothing else really compares.
    #33
  14. nashopolis

    nashopolis Been here awhile

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    thanks for the thoughtful response

    I would like to get some seat time on a few bikes...
    I really have been feeling lately that my possessions own me as much as I own them so might as well make it a good marriage.

    right now it all comes down to time or the lack of it. No time to go look anywhere but on the internet. I was bummed that I had to miss barber. I'm sure i wold have been able to ogle a few bikes there. Anything else good to attend in the southeast this fall?
    #34
  15. asiafish

    asiafish 850G

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    An interesting "modern" Japanese twin is the Kawasaki W650 from the late 90s, which adds modern reliability to vintage charm.
    #35
  16. asiafish

    asiafish 850G

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    A strong +1 on the GS850G. Mine is a 1980 with 36,000 miles that looks and rides like it did 31-years-ago, but with better tires.


    [​IMG]
    #36
  17. RobbieO

    RobbieO Muskokatard

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    Honda CB350 Twins!
    This 35+ year old bike has a smoother transmission than my 2007 BMW.
    Dead reliable and fun!

    [​IMG]
    #37
  18. MODNROD

    MODNROD Decisions, decisions

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    Suzuki GS500 twin.

    Typical UJM........round headlight, roundish tank, fat squared-off seat, pipe each side, boringly reliable.

    Best bit is they last forever (a thousand couriers around the world can't all be wrong), are cheap as chips, and many parts can transfer from other Skuzi 4's........which is good, coz the bastards never break, are fast as crap, live under trees and rocks all over the world, and although I've never had one I've been trying to catch the bloody things at the drags for 20 years! :rofl
    #38
  19. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer

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    [​IMG]

    This is a clone of my first street bike. I bought in 1973 when I was 18. I waited til my parents were out of town and got my uncle to co-sign a loan to cover half of purchase. I already had the other half.
    !0,000 miles later I got my dad to drive me to the Kawasaki dealer. I was 19 and spent all the money I had on a 1975 Kawasaki 900 Z-1.


    So I'd recomend getting a 350 Honda and riding it 10,000 miles before moving to a 500 lb. 4 cylinder.

    The extra weight and horsepower of the big bike is no joke. And if you don't open the throttle, you're just riding a heavy lump.
    #39
  20. drhach

    drhach gorillamanufacturing.com

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    I personally own a Suzuki GS1000, I love it and it suits me fine. Based on some of what you have said, I would echo the XS650 as a consideration. It seems that given what you do or don't want, it might be best to stick with bikes that are already in good running shape but not necessarily showroom fresh. This would give you the opportunity to basically sell the bikes for pretty much what you pay for them (assuming you take good care of them). You can buy a twin or a four or a triple or whatever and not really be out more than a couple thousand dollars. If you lose a few bucks here and there, call it the "leasing fee". I think that for me, I probably would like any bike that I got though. I think that my GS is the best of the bunch. I'm sure if I had gotten a Z1 or a CB, I'd be saying the same thing. They're called "Universal" after all. They all pretty much stop the same, get the same fuel economy have the same performance, etc.; not exactly the same but they are all peers. Honestly, I think if you love your Bonnie that much, consider the XS650. Otherwise pick a four. A four isn't really "four times the work". There is the issue of hte carbs, but it really isn't that big of a deal.
    #40