Sunday, March 14, 2010

Just Another Ugly Bike?

A few days back I was puttin’ around town when I spotted some bikes outside a local watering hole. So I stopped and sat for a while. One guy I didn’t know kept staring at my bike. About ten minutes later he says: “Ya know, that thing is about two steps from a rat-bike”. All I could do is say ‘Thanks’. The dude made my day! That guy new a fine piece of Japanese craftsmanship when he saw one.

Now the old girl is 32 this year and she was looking pretty ugly last year when I decided to rearrange her parts. The first thing to consider was the budget, or lack of. After consulting with my finance administrator (wife), a budget was decided upon. It would consist of whatever spare parts I had or whatever I could get for free. So the show bike theme was out. Why not go the opposite way? No paint, no cleaning no nothing. Just use parts never intended to fit. Make it even uglier, but with style. The decision was made. It would be a piece of shit but look like a hundred dollar hooker from a distance, a ‘long’ distance.
The budget quickly went south. The timing advance was worn, as were the clutch basket studs. The threads were somewhat smooth and would sometimes make it hard to shift. So new parts were purchased. The bike now had a value of about $60.00.

The one thing I knew was getting changed was the rear fender. I hated the short skinny one and wanted a much longer one, (don’t we all). An old Yamaha front fender seemed to fit in the space, somewhat. But mounting it with the struts was not to be. New struts were made at a cost of I now owe a favor. The saddlebags, that have been cut up for different bikes, and are now held together with old bootlaces, cover the custom struts just fine. The seat mount is really hoakie but serves the purpose. The rims were found hanging on the wall of a barn. They were put there around 1980. I aired them up and used the rubber that was on them since it was better than what I was running. I don’t think the FL shocks have any fluid in them. But the forks leak anyway. An old re-jetted Sporty carb feeds the thing, sometimes.

Now without making this to long with a lot of boring detail, here’s the question: Is this thing really about two-steps from being a rat-bike? Which I take as a compliment. Or is it just apiece a of crap? In which case I made a mistake by cleaning some of the rust and heavy grime.


Webster World said...

I have built a few bikes on the same budget. The thing I liked the most is I did not have to spit shine it. Once I was standing out side this bar burning one with this 1%er and he asked why it looked so bad(ratty). Answer "Well if we were not standing here and a pick-up come screeching to a hualt and three dude's jumped out to grab a bike what's the last bike would they steal?" He laughs and says your right.

Arizona Harley Dude said...

Yep, it is a rat bike for sure, but at 34,508 miles and 32 years of age it is a low mile beauty that must have only been ridden to charity poker runs by a little old lady on Sundays after church. Looks great for her age!

B.B. said...

The bike looks's the guy riding it who's ugly! ;)

Janet/Corn Dog said...

It's not a piece of crap, it's got character! And a bajillion stories behind it, I'd wager. Everything about it says "lifetime of experiences," and that makes it beautiful!

Willy D said...

Webster: You’ve got a point. But I think I’ll still padlock it anyway.

AZHD: 150 MPH speedo. Now you know that’s not the original. The speedo drive on the front axel just got replaced also. It’s been broke for years. I do like the idea of picking up little old ladies at church. Sounds kinky!

B.B.: Ouch. Need some work done on your bike?

Janet: A ‘corn dog’ from Iowa? Go figure. It’s still a piece of crap though… when it refuses to start;)

mq01 said...

beauty!! and ps, willyD, some of those $60 hookers have a heart of gold ;)

FLHX_Dave said...

man, I loved this thing when it was just a frame with something that looked like an engine in it.

If I thought I could get away with it...I would relieve you of this responsibility, however, I like breathing's a good thing!

So I'm saving up that $100 so I can get it on with your lady.

Willy D said...

mq01: Yes, I know. I was wrong to poke fun at the world’s oldest profession. I was bad. I need a spanking. I’ll be right back…

Dave: That $100 usually turns into 3 or 400. Dinner, dancing, a gift. Keep saving.

Big Daddy said...

I love rat bikes!!
Bring it on by.....I need some parts..;]

"Joker" said...

I was gonna say I hope Big D sees this because he'd love it, but he beat me to the punch. I'll go along with that it has character, and it's not even close to a rat bike in my eyes.

We used to have this guy who was tagging along with us we called Honda Jim. He had an 81 CB 650 Custom that was probably the biggest piece of two-wheeled shit I've ever seen still running.

One of his mirrors was broken and he had it all wrapped in electrical tape - nice touch. The seat was ripped. The stuff that used to be chrome looked like somebody with real bad psoriasis, and whatever could be rusty was. The icing on the cake was it blew oil all over the place so if you were either unlucky or dumb enough to ride behind the bastard your own bike would be coated with a film of oil after a few miles.

That was a rat bike and Honda Jim was a mooch. He'd show up at our tattoo parties first thing and go right for the food table. He'd bring a six pack of Twisted Tea and when that was gone he'd just go in the big cooler and grab a beer. So one day my buddy Jackson (he holds the parties at his house) says to him, "Hey...I thought you didn't drink beer?"

Honda Jim laughs and says, "I usually don't...but these are free."

Jackson responded coldly, "No...they're not. Somebody paid for that beer."

Honda Jim didn't come around anymore after that...thank God. I heard he sold the rat Honda to one of the cooks at the Boneyard for $ absolute rip-off. That piece of shit wasn't worth 50 bucks! But you know what killed me about it...that same year and model Honda was the first bike I ever owned...and I paid the same amount of money for it back in 1988 or so. Except for a rip in the seat, it was in fine shape, and just needed a set of pipes, which I got used for $75. I taught myself to ride it and she was a great starter bike. It sort of killed me to see the memory brought back by a mooching poseur on the rattiest of rat bikes.

Sorry this was so long Willy, but it just triggered the story in me...

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Your bike is just another used Harley. It's been well loved. Maybe not well maintained, but well loved.
Check out this ratbike. Fishing anyone?

IowaHarleyGirl (Stephanie) said...

I love the bike. If it doesn't have a few dings and scratches it means the damn thing sits all the time and is never riden. What good is a motorcycle if you can't make a shit load of memories while riding it!!!

WooleyBugger said...

Rat Bike, is there any other way? Looks like a fine bottle of well aged JD to me.

Willy D said...

Big D: I need parts also. We’ll make a trade.

“Joker”: Yea. But that was a Honda. A Harley rat still has class and style.

Mr. M: Just like it’s owner.

Shit, I’m not sure that’s even a bike. Funny.

IHG: Memories are good. It’s the ones that return as nightmares that bother me.

WooleyBugger said...

Oh Wait! Did you mention old Sporty Carb? I have a round slide Mikuni you can have...or trade, have plus another for parts.