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Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by jordan325ic, Jan 9, 2013.
I'd second the Suzuki GS500 twin. We bought one as Skowinski-wife's first street bike. It turned out to be a great machine, very capable - much more so than I expected, and easy to maintain.
My 1978 Yamaha XS650 SE meets all of your requirements. Its about 48 HP and gets 55 mpg. It has kick and electric start. Valve adjustments/camchain adjustment are very simple to do. I use a Pamco electronic ignition, which is very reliable.
It might be hard to find one in good condition.
I'll second third and fourth the XS650. Throw in a 750cc kit for a bucketload of torque. The sky's the limit with mods on an XS.
An early Virago before they went all choppery might be a good bet. Yes, there are horror stories about the starter and carbs, but they are all solve-able, and you get a genuine simple and rugged motor in a standard-ish configuration. Very smooth running too, unlike the XS. You can always throw in a later motor if you want, and there are kits to mod them to a single carb setup like a Harley. Even a 500 Virago would be a significant step up from your 400 I think.
Not a lot of choice with an aircooled motor and two carbs that's not a twin, but the 83-86 GS550's only had 2 carbs, albeit, dual-throated. Really though, I think you are worrying way to much about the carb thing. Balancing 4 carbs is easy and needs doing pretty infrequently.
You might consider the big brother to the bike you already have, a KZ750 twin, but I think your 400 has a better motor, frankly.
If it was me, I think I would try to find a low mileage Suzuki 650 Tempter in blue and silver. They are pretty simple and never seem to command much money, unlike the XS. Hell of a lot newer, more modern and, in my opinion, better looking then the KZ750.
Ducati Monster, Cagiva Alazzurra, Cagiva Elephant, Honda TransAlp, Honda Hawk GT, Honda GB500, Yamaha SRX, Kawasaki W650......
Oh, yeah, right then. Norton Commando.
You can look for a 2000 Triumph scrambler (lot's of parts, 2 carbs's, fun, ...)
It has a lot of the same you have now just a bit more hp & reliable...
Still i do like an old guzzy too!
But these bike's are a bit more heavy than your easy to live with KZ400
Get a good CX and it's all smiles; get a troublesome one and it's not made to be easy to fix.
Mine came with a burnt stator which can be caused by low crankcase oil -- and stator replacement is an engine-out procedure. The ignition timing signal coils can also degrade and it's another engine-out procedure. The ignition module for pre-'82 bikes is unique and is unavailable. These built their reputation for reliability before the electronic components were 30 years old. I have, however, had no trouble finding gaskets and seals.
Other bikes share ignition modules with several other models from the era so they're still available from the manufacturer or from aftermarket.
My '75 CB750 seems durable enough and uses those simple points. . .
XS650. I owned and commuted on one a few years ago and Mike's XS650 was a great source for cheap parts. I have been riding a Norton Commando since I had the XS and after some initial teething problems, it has been quite reliable, has excellent and relatively cheap parts availability, and a huge owner network.
Interesting topic.. Since I'm also looking for my next bike and I kinda like the o.p.'s KZ400 and motorcycling ideas, I'll toss my ideas into this thread also.
I had a '75 Kawasaki KZ400D before I bought my current '89 Ninja 250 in 2006. I've got my eye on the Ninja 500, Suzuki GS500, and the '98+ Suzuki Katana 600 for my next bikes. I've also looked at a '81 Suzuki GS450 and a '81 CX500 but again like the KZ400, being that old parts availability might be an issue. However a BMW or a Triumph as posted above would be interesting also.
Mid '80's Honda 700 Nighhawk S.
Good style, plenty of power, and the simplest maintenance of practically any bike. Everything hydraulic, including the valves, and a drive shaft.
Yeah...I would agree, the only real maintenance chore (aside from fluids, air cleaner, and spark plugs - all easy) is to sync the four carbs. I never owned this bike so don't have first hand experience on how often you would need to do that.
Wow, after reading about this bike, thought that it sounded pretty good and just about what I'm looking for. Then I did a cl search and as it turns out there's one for sale somewhat locally to me.
Thanks for posting this, Tony
Ducati Darmah - Ooooh yea. Too bad I'll have to save that one for my dreams. Expensive and rare. Beautiful machine though, aesthetically and aurally perfect.
Suzuki VX800 - Cool suggestion. Actually never heard of that one. The weird carb setup and the water cooling are the only big downsides to that, but if one pops up I will check it out. Not a huge fan of the sportsbike plastic, but it sure looks better than the comparable cruiser.
XS650s - Cult following means good parts availability but prices are going up like crazy in my area. A bit too similar to my KZ400. I've heard those XS650s have a good amount of character. The sound of a 360 twin doesn't do it for me... maybe with one of those 270 degree cranks. Why are all the great bikes that meet my criteria parallel twins??
I'm sort of surprised old Triumphs made it into this thread. I had the impression that old british bikes were prone to major problems frequently. The newer Triumphs are also pretty, a scrambler would be fun.
I would love to see just one picture of an EVO engined sportster with a centerstand if you can find one!! ( I think that is an old ironhead sportster)
Or perhaps I could buy a sportster and then find a place to mount a 2x8 and a long pipe for emergencies...
Thanks for the suggestions guys.
I'd agree with you on the Sportster - I may be biased as I have one!
I went from an airhead to a 2006, last of the carb 883 and haven't regretted it. Easy maintenance: single carb, hydraulic valves and belt drive with bags of character. Fast enough for me and limitless accessories available!
The biggest pain if you have spoke wheels with inner tubes is a roadside puncture, but I'm not sure I'd be bothered to try and remove the wheel at the roadside even if I had a centre stand.
There are plenty of lifts available for use at home once you get towed!
This guy here has the right idea. Any of the Hondas with hydraulic lifters and shaft drive are going to be about as maintenance free as you will find a motorcycle. Any of the other ideas you are having about bikes older than 20 years are a bad idea if you are looking for less work, just for the fact that older bikes have issues period.
Also, lol at the guy recommending an old Triumph
+1 to that...
My vote goes to the Honda VT500 Ascot
Meh, I really should have phrased the thread title better. I want a bike that is easy and enjoyable to work on, not a bike that doesn't need much maintenance. I love working on simple motorcycles, even if they have to be worked on every weekend. I hate taking off plastic, draining coolant, having to wriggle wrenches into tight spots, etc...
Anyway, thanks for the help guys. I posted on a Harley forum and got some pictures of an evo engine frame from below. I think it won't be too tough to custom fit a centerstand down there, which pretty much settles it unless I decide I hate it. One of those old Guzzi's would be even better, but they're just so rare and out of my price range.
This picture also helped my decision:
You can remove all the cruiser with just a seat, tank and bars.
The Harley Sportster is a truely great bike.
Get one from 1986-1994. 1986 was the first year for the Evo motor and after 1994 the electronics get exponentially more complicated every year newer. Ones in that year range sell fora bout $2000 in my area, which is pretty cheap but about 2x as much as a 1980s UJM...
Pre-1992 will be a 4 speed and post-1992 will be a 5 speed. Personally, I prefer the 4 speed since the final drive ratio in top gear is the same... so your highway RPMs are the same with a 4 or 5 speed. It has plenty of torque, so I prefer the less shifting and simpler tranny mechanics of the 4 speed. Its bullet proof.
Its a Harley, so cheap parts are everywhere. It only has one carb, which hangs off the side for easy access. It also has hydraulic lifters, so younever have to adjusta valve. Older ones are chain drive, which I prefer, and easy to maintain.
They have very reliable alternators, solid state regulators, and electrinic ignitions that last forever. Did I mention how cheap and easy parts are to get? I have seen centerstand kits for the Evo Sportster, but the factory only offered a centerstand on sportsters from 1957-1978.
The early Evo sportsters are as simple, bullet proof, and easy to maintain as it gets. Plus, they are a ton of fun.
Get some taller shocks and knobby tires and they do ok off road too!
I also love the xs650. My only problem with the xs650 is that their stock charging systems suck and are very expensive to get parts for. Even one in good shape will barely charge your battery below 2,500 rpm.... so do not sit in a traffic jam for too long. Newer perminant magnent alternators can be easily adapted or bought as a kit and you will have a very solid bike. A nice XS650 will run you about as much as an older Evo sportster, about $2000 in my area. Stay away from really beat ones. After you fix the carbs and charging system you will have spent more money than if you bought a nice one to start with.
The yamaha xt500 is about as simple as it gets, and tons of fun... but might not make enough power for you. I weigh 150 lbs and can comfortable cruise on my 1978 xt500 at 65 mph with a -2 tooth rear sprocket installed. Again, these tend to cost more than the average UJM... but I guess its expected that you will pay a bit more for true greatness...
I have to disagree with your comments on the XS650 charging system. Yes, you need to replace the stock rectifier and the stock regulator, but new replacement parts are inexpensive. I bought new rectifier parts for $15.00, and a NOS automotive regulator (VR-115) for $20.00. My bike starts to charge at around 1500 rpm, and puts out 14.2 volts all day long on the highway. Its normal for these bikes to not charge the battery at idle of 1200 rpm.