Monthly Archives: March 2017

Ridin’ and Fixin’ them

Funny how fellow riders react to my passion for old motorcycles.  My old pals from Clearwater, FL couldn’t care less, preferring to concentrate on the latest Transformers-looking GSXR1PANTVRZX that require 10 hours of training just to learn how to zero de trip meter. They often ask me “why do you spend so much time on those old things?” My answer is always the same: If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.

It might be a matter of age too. With one exception, the FL guys are much younger so they didn’t lust for these bikes in the dealers showroom, staring at them for hours like they were posters of Ursula Andress coming out of the Caribbean sea. The first Yamaha dealer in my little sleepy town (across from Rio de Janeiro) opened its doors in 1973. Its tiny showroom was cramped with DTs, RDs, and TXs. Brazil usually got its models from the International lineup (Europe, Asia, Africa, and So. America) so the colors were a bit different than what was sold in the US. For example, our TX500s and TX650s were gold and black, looking just like the American TX750.  Add the RD200 and the showroom looked (and it was!) a gold mine. I spent more time there than I did in school!

Region might be another factor. Every time I take one of the old ladies out for a spin around here (N. Georgia), I get a lot of compliments and – the best part – questions about the bike. Refueling stops on the ‘75 650 generally earn a thumbs-up or two.  Dogwood Rally’s boss Marty Hallberg introduced me to a nice group of chaps that immediately identified every bike I rode to our meetings. I can’t wait to see if they can correctly identify the year/model of the little Ducati when they see it.

I do like the modern stuff but working and riding those old things make us feel “at home.” For me it’s like I’m on an intravenous drip of pure endorphins.  Perhaps it’s the satisfaction of working with my hands.

Matthew Crawford explains that very nicely (if not scientifically) in his book “Shop Class as Soul Craft”. If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend that you do so. And quickly.

John Chaves – jchaves@xs650society.com

New Address and more

The Society has a new address (at the side bar on the right) so make sure to use it in all communications with us. The USPS is forwarding any current mail but let’s avoid unnecessary delays. Thanks David Mangeim for the welcome card!

I am excited to be living up here for many reasons. The excellent never-ending network of great riding roads and the mild weather are a no-brainer however, being closer to a few fellow Society members ranks up there.

Doug Whiteaker’s gorgeous 79 Special

Marty Hallberg is one of the most influential persons in the classic bike scene around the Smokies, successfully promoting and producing two major gatherings around this neck of the woods, the Smoky Mountain Dogwood and the XS Southeast (re-baptized as Vintage Yamaha) rallies.
I attended the XS SE in 2015 (European trip kept me from participating in this year’s event) and I was impressed with the number of participants (near 100) and the overall quality of the event host at the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge near Robbinsville, NC. If you have never been there, I strongly advise you to make plans to go in 2017. You will notice that I have included it (as well as the Dogwood Rally) as an official Society event (used to be listed under “Other Events”) and we have big plans for 650 riders.

Bruce Leinaar, Doug Whiteaker, Steve Fillweber, and Camden “Shorty” Price are also a full tank away (maybe 2 but who’s counting) so I am hoping to get to see them more often than one or two rallies every year.

Since the new year is upon us, I will take the opportunity to reveal my two Society-related resolutions for 2017: Get our loaner bike up and running and complete the website.

I have enough parts to put a 1980 650 together, mostly with original parts donated to me, requiring a few bucks in gaskets and other small services to get it running reliably. The objective here is to haul and have the bike available for far away members that could fly/travel to an event and will need a bike to ride. I have had every newsletter since issue #1 digitized and they are ready to be uploaded to the website. It will be a bit of work for cataloguing, archiving etc. but I promise to get it done in 2017.

Movin’ and Shakin’

After many years of pondering and evaluating, my wife and I made the decision to move to north Georgia. I never required any convincing to live there (phenomenal riding roads, scenery!) but it took her a little while to come around. In fact, it wasn’t even in her mind until we spent this past summer in a rental cabin in Helen. Sipping her morning tea, overlooking the forest covered hills, plus hiking in a few of the many parks in the area won her over. She then went on a secret house hunt, finding a little mountain side jewel just outside Dahlonega that checked all the boxes on our “must have” list. Garden tub, wood floors (for her) and a cavernous 1500 sq. ft. full size basement (yay!). I’m talking about true man cave with lounge, 4 working bays and plenty of room for a machine shop and motorcycle parking. All that plus a 2 car garage upstairs! Yes, we are excited with the change of scenery (I have been living in FL for 27 years and she’s a native). We’ll be there by mid-November and I’ll notify members of the new address.

Speaking of change, I had the opportunity to visit the new headquarters of MikesXS, meeting Russell White and Norton Muzzone, the new General and Product Development managers, respectively. Norton needed no introduction to me. He’s the owner of Legacy Cycles from Melbourne, FL which specializes in restoring XS1s and XS2s and a longtime supporter of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club (VJMC).  Russ was very friendly and eager to show me the place. While visiting the warehouse, I brought up the number of complaints I have heard in the past from members all over the country who had problems with poor customer support when they had issues with their purchases. He assured me that the old “sell & forget” philosophy that tarnished the company’s name was gone with the old ownership & management. They are now committed in establishing long, lasting relationships with their clients, listening to their feedback and ensuring that any issue will be resolved to satisfaction.

I left impressed and optimistic with what I saw and heard. Norton’s technical reputation and attention to detail (his work speaks for itself) definitely contributed to assure me that there’s a new Sheriff in town.

Can I have a Hallelujah!