My New Infatuation

So, I have been having tons of fun restoring my C70 these days, and still love it, but I have my eyes on a new (old) bike… a Honda CB350. These were apparently very popular in the early 70’s, and tons of them were sold here in the States. I see ads for them every so often, prices ranging from “free” to $1,500 for a close-to-perfect specimen. I am interested in a “runs, but needs some work” condition model. The motorcycle itself is not really a sought-after classic, but I like the look of it, and it’s small, light. Plus, parts are readily available on ebay, with more availability and cheaper than C70 parts.

One of the things about the C70 is that, although it goes up to 40mph, it takes it’s own sweet time to get up to speed. I guess that’s the trade-off, however, for being so economical (over 100mpg). But being rather slow makes it more dangerous, even for neighborhood riding. The bigger bike is safer, since it can pull away from tailgating cars more easily. With the C70, once you hit 40, that’s pretty much it. The CB350, from what I have read. has enough power and zip to accelerate faster than most traffic. (How’s that for rationalizing)

My thinking at this point is that I need to get fix the C70 to as good a condition as I can, then sell it to fund my CB350 project. It’s funny, but a nice C70 sells for pretty good money. I think I would be able to get $1,000 for it. By my estimate, I have put a grand total of $500 into it, including buying the bike itself.

At any rate, to do more restoration on the C70, I need to wait until we are in the new house, so I can unpack all my tools and C70 parts. Plus, we will have a 2 1/2-car garage, which means more room!!! So, this project will have to wait until 2006. In the meantime, I still have some things I can do to the C70, like work on some electrical issues.

Class: CM

That’s on my temporary driver’s license. It means I can legally operate a motorcycle! I was only planning to renew my regular license today, then study the little Motorcyclist’s Handbook before taking the test at a later day, but after waiting an hour at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DMV to you non-Texans), I said to myself, “I’m not waiting here again” and I decided to just take the motorcycle test. I figured that the info from the MSF course was still fresh in my mind, so I had a good chance of passing. The test was done on a computer, with 20 total questions. You can skip questions, and they will be repeated later. You only actually need to answer 14 right, so I skipped a bunch, and answered the easy ones first. I then came back to the ones I skipped, answered three of them correctly, and the test ended, indicating that I answered 14 correctly (100% correct) and I passed. Woohoo!

MSF Beginners Course : Passed

On Saturday, I woke up bright and early and met my fellow students at “the range” which was the Pflugerville High School parking lot. There, we met the instructor, and those without their own helmets and/or gloves got fitted with ones the class provided. I had my HJC half-helmet and leather gloves, so I was all set. The bikes that they had for us were Kawasaki Eliminators and Honda Rebels. The two students who had the most experience got the two Rebels, which were 250’s, and the rest of us got the Eliminators, which were 125cc machines. In all, there were seven of us, because one of the women from the Thursday night class didn’t show. Anyways, we all got our helmets and gloves on, then got on our bikes. The instructor led us through a quick tour of the bikes, then we “power-walked” our bikes to the staging area, and the actual range.

Our first exercise was power-walking (actually, walking while mounted on the bike, but without actually starting up the engine) across the range, then turning the bike around, then coming back. It was during this first exercise that one of the students, and older lady who I suppose was in her mid-fifties, dropped her bike and had to be helped up. We finished the exercise, then took a break. The lady decided that she needed to take some private lessons before re-taking the MSF class, and called it quits for now. That kind of sucked, because she was so gung-ho before the class, and was the first one at the range that morning, waiting with helmet and gloves.

Anyways, the rest of the morning was spent riding around the range doing a number of drills and learning the basics. It was tons of fun, and really helped, especially learning how to counter-steer. That is incredible, and so easy after a little practice.

In the afternoon, we went to the classroom and finished up our book-studying. At the end, we took a written test, and I scored a perfect 100.

The next day, we met at the range once again at 6:45am. The woman who was a no-show the day before showed up and asked to reschedule. We were wondering what happened to her, but I guess something came up… The Sunday training class wasn’t quite as fun as the first day, because we focused on slow-speed maneouvers (not that the previous day was filled with high speed thrills) and also because it started raining. I had a rain jacket, so I was dry up top, but my pants got soaked.

The training went well, although I had a bit of trouble shifting from first to second. It always happened as I started the exercise and was heading towards the instructor. Later on, I just kept it in second the whole time, including accelerating from a stop. At about noon, we were finished with our training, and it was time for our riding tests. I think there were five skill evaluations, and for each mistake you make, you get one or more points. You are allowed up to 21 points to pass, and I ended up with 11 points. I thought I did better, but oh well… I know where my riding weaknesses are, which are slow right-hand turns, and emergency stopping. :O

In the end, all of us passed, with scores ranging from five up to 16. I got my certificate, a patch, and some coupons for riding gear at the local motorcycle shops. Next step is for me to take the written test at the Texas Dept. of Transportation to get my motorcycle endorsement. Then, I can decide if I want to insure and register my C70. I already have my eye on restoring a bigger bike, a Honda CB350 from the early 70’s. We’ll see…

MSF Beginners Course

Last night I went to the first class for the MSF Beginners Course. There were eight students, including me, and the rider experience ranged from “used to ride a lot, but some years ago” to “I only sat on a bike once”. The youngest student was probably about 21, the oldest was nearing 60. Basically, the classroom session was going thru the course book, and answering the test questions, then talking about the answers in more detail. The instructor was very knowledgeable and funny, and had some nice insights. The things we covered from the book were really basic, though, like motorcycle controls, basic operation, and gear. I am really looking forward to the riding portions of the course, which start tomorrow and end on Sunday. It’s going to be fun!