Posts Tagged ‘Honda CB750 Custom’

Exploring Leads To New Things To Explore

Monday, December 4th, 2017
motorcycle on Delbert Road

The end of the city–for now.

I had to take advantage of the great weather we’ve been having in early December so I headed out Friday to put some miles on my Honda CB750 Custom. Not sure where to go but following my nose I decided to follow Smoky Hill Road out as far as it goes–and find out where that is.

Smoky Hill goes a long way. I know I’d been out that way before but at one point I got to where I was pretty sure I had gone east on some other road and so staying on Smoky Hill meant something new. Well, a short while later it ended at the entrance to some big country club housing development. So I wandered on through and found my way out the other side, onto County Line Road. What do you know.

I turned east on County Line and it was just a short distance to the eastern edge of the development, and that was also the eastern edge of development in this area. On east it is all prairie. See the photo above.

That eastern boundary is Delbert Road. I was interested in going south but was just a bit more interested to take it north and see where it went. So I turned north. But it didn’t go far before it became a dirt road and I stopped. I was on the Honda, and the Honda can go just about anywhere as long as it’s not too extreme but this road looked dicey.

Plus, this all looked familiar. I was convinced I had been here before, though having arrived from a different direction. Doing a search on this blog I found this post from January 2016 that confirmed it.

But here’s the thing: when I wrote that post nearly two years ago, I was coming north and ended up going west. That means I’ve never been further east on County Line Road than right there. That’s some place new to go sometime soon.

This time, however, I headed south on Delbert Road, unknowingly reversing my path from last January. I was looking for a paved road headed west so I turned onto Buckboard Road but that soon turned to dirt. No matter, the Honda can take this. I then wound around and found myself right back where I had been, having just navigated a large circle. The area is full of ranch-style homes with lots of acreage–horse properties, I presumed.

Having looped back I ended up going back out the way I’d come in and continued south on Delbert. This brought me to East Parker Road and I headed west to CO 83 and from there on home.

So yeah, technically I was revisiting ground I had been over before but you know what they say about a road looking totally different when you go the other direction. Plus, there has been a lot of development out there in just two years. And who knows, maybe the next time I try following Smoky Hill Road to its end it will keep on going. Heck, five years from now I’d bet on it.

Biker Quote for Today

Whether you are sad, lost, lonely, or broken, there is always a fix . . . motorcycle.

A Homecoming Of Sorts For The Experienced Rider Course

Monday, July 3rd, 2017
motorcycle training course

Bob sets up cones on the course for the next exercise.

I’ve always been a big proponent of rider training and that led to an offer for me to take another course at no charge. The assumed quid pro quo was that I would then write about it. Well, of course I would, I write about just about everything in my life that involves motorcycles.

So on Friday I went up to Thornton to BLACK B.A.G. for the ERC, or perhaps it is now considered the BRC2. I’m not totally clear on this but I believe the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s old Experienced Rider Course has been totally revised and what had been the ERC is now considered the Beginning Rider Course 2. Doesn’t matter.

There were three in my class: me, Bob, and Will. Bob rode dirt bikes as a kid but hadn’t ridden anything after about age 25 until in November he bought a Kawasaki KLR 650. He took the BRC then and was back now for the ERC/BRC2. Will is a National Guardsman who needed rider training certification in order to be allowed to ride his V-Max on base.

The instructor is also Bob. And Bob is a good instructor. He inserts enough humor to keep things fun and he has developed effective techniques for eliciting participation from the students. Participation requires attention and thinking, and those enhance learning.

Knowing I was going to be doing tight maneuvers and, who knows, might even drop the bike at some point, it was easy for me to decide which bike to take. Both the Concours and V-Strom are tall bikes with big gas tanks up high. I rode my CB750 because it is lower and has a much lower center of gravity.

What I didn’t think about until I got there was that this was sort of a homecoming. I lived up on the north side of town, in unincorporated Adams County,for 17 years before moving to southeast Denver 21 years ago. When I bought my first motorcycle ever, my 1980 Honda CB750 Custom, this was where I lived. I learned to ride on that bike and when it came time to get my motorcycle accreditation on my drivers license I went to the Motor Vehicle office in this very shopping center where BLACK B.A.G. now operates. I took, and passed (on my second try), the riding skills test on this very motorcycle that I was there on for training on Friday. This is where it all started.

There’s no question I’m a much better rider now that way back then. A lot of that is simply experience, but there’s a good bit of it that is due to all the rider training courses I’ve taken over the years. We talked, for instance, about making U-turns on narrow roads. My buddies in the OFMC universally do Y-turns, jockeying back and forth, while I slip the clutch, ride the rear brake, and easily ride the U-turn at walking speed. I learned that in these classes.

So what did I get out of this latest one? I’ll get into that in my next post.

Biker Quote for Today

Some take drugs, some drink bottles. I solve my problems by twisting throttles.

Starting Big

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
Ken and CB750

I still have that bike, and I still have that jacket. I don’t still have all that hair.

Big, 800-pound bagger motorcycles are very popular, at least in the U.S., but there’s one place you’ll never see them: at the Department of Motor Vehicles on the license testing range.

When you’re getting your motorcycle accreditation you have to pass the written test and also pass a driving test, just like with a car. The driving portion for a bike takes place out in the parking lot, where they set up cones and have you ride through the course demonstrating your competence. On a scooter, or a small bike, such as a 250cc Honda Rebel, it’s easy. For a beginning rider to maneuver their full-size bike around the course, the likelihood of success is minute.

I didn’t know this when I bought my first bike. But I learned.

I had ridden motorcycles whenever I had the opportunity for many years, but it was only once I bought my first bike, a 1980 Honda CB750 Custom, that I got licensed. My friends told me then that it would be good to get a small bike to take the test but I didn’t have any idea where to get that small bike so off I went on my 750.

Now, a 750cc bike is only considered a mid-size bike anymore, though it was a big bike in 1980, and it still weighs about 500 pounds. I suspect the licensing examiner was surprised to see what I rode in on but no matter, let’s go do the test.

The first part of the course demonstrates handling control. You have to weave around cones in a slalom pattern at slow speed. Then there was a right turn, and another right turn, which set you up to come into a much tighter box where you have to do a 180-degree turn.

I did not make it through all the cones and when I came around for the 180 I had not understood the directions properly. I thought the examiner told me to stay outside the lines, when in fact I was supposed to stay inside them. I was successful in staying outside. You then start out from a spot where you accelerate forward and then brake and swerve sharply as if you were avoiding an obstacle. That part was easy.

Of course I failed the test. And I was very surprised when she told me I utterly failed to make the U-turn within the lines. Ooooh. Within! I get it now.

Second Try

Now that I knew what the test consisted of I practiced. I showed up again a few days later, not at all confident I would succeed, but willing to take a shot at it. With no training I instinctively figured out that to weave through the cones I had to use a technique called trail-braking, where you keep the engine revved for stability while working the rear brake to move forward at about walking speed. To my relief, I got through the cones just fine.

Heading into the U-turn I now knew I needed to stay inside the lines and, using trail-braking again, I successfully executed the turn. Coming out of it, however, the lean was too great and the bike laid over on its side. It didn’t actually go all the way down; it ended up resting half-way up on the foot peg. I looked at the examiner and she said she couldn’t help me but if I got the bike back up I could keep going with the test.

I raised the bike and continued and everything else went fine. She passed me. Yahoo!

I have since learned that one of the major benefits of taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation riding course is that you learn on small bikes and at the end of the course you do the riding portion of the test. If you pass, all you have to do to get your license is go to Motor Vehicle, pass the written portion, and pay your fee. Of course you also get some training in the process, which is a very good thing.

Had I known all this that’s probably what I would have done. I didn’t, though, so now I take pride in being able to say I passed the test on my real, full-sized highway bike. And I love the looks of amazement I get when I say that.

Biker Quote for Today

Myth: You only live once. Fact: You die only once, you live every day.

First January Exploration

Monday, January 11th, 2016

I got out for three quick rides on Tuesday last week just to run the bikes a bit but on Wednesday the weather was very nice so I went out again on the Honda for a real ride. With no destination or route in mind–as usual–I headed west on Belleview to University and turned south. By this point I was thinking I would follow University as it curves to the east and becomes Lincoln Avenue, turning off at the road heading down to Daniels Park. I hadn’t been to Daniels Park in many years and it just seemed like it was due.

motorcycle at Daniels Park overlook

The Honda wasn't built for dirt and mud but it does OK on them.

Now, just to date myself, I’ve been in Denver long enough to remember back when once you got south of County Line Road on University (C-470 didn’t exist back then) the road turned to gravel and there was nothing out there but grazing land. It’s all part of Highlands Ranch now, and it’s a city.

So Highlands Ranch had plenty of signs telling you this park is this way, that park is that way, and I figured they would have a sign pointing the way to Daniels Park but either they didn’t or I missed it. Back in the day it was easy: you just cruised along until you came to the solitary road going south, with a sign for the park. But I didn’t know what that road had become–it was probably something like County Road whatever back then–so I had no idea where to turn.

No problem. I continued on to where I hit I-25 and took it south to the Castle Pines exit and went west. I knew that ran into Daniels Park and I figured I would then take the road north and find out where it comes out along the road I had just been on. I was also sure it was all paved by now. I thought it was the last time I was out there.

So I got to the main parking lot and was very interested to see that the pavement stopped there. Fortunately, although I was not on the V-Strom, I was on the Honda and the Honda is OK on gravel. It doesn’t necessarily love gravel the way the V-Strom does, but it definitely doesn’t hate gravel the way the Concours does. You know, it’s an old CB750, a UJM, and those were do-anything bikes. I knew it would be OK.

It turned out the road was actually quite good. They’ve obviously put plenty of mag chloride on it so there was only the occasional patch of loose gravel.

So the road headed north as I knew it would, until it hit a T intersection marked Grig’s Road. To the right the road was paved and headed toward some houses. To the left it was gravel and open land, so I went left.

At some point this did turn into Daniels Park Road–I guess it has both names along here–and it was headed north again. But before long all the new roads totally obscured whatever the old road used to be. I ended up connecting with McArthur Ranch Road at another T intersection and this time I went right. That took me to Quebec, which I took north and eventually got to University.

Looking at the map I see that if I had jogged west a short run on McArthur Ranch Road I would have hit Wildcat Reserve Parkway and that looks like it would have taken me up to where the old Daniels Park Road must have turned off. But it’s all different now. There are houses and malls and churches and schools as far as you can see. It’s all just city. And even the roads that used to be don’t exist any more.

So it was a fun exploration, and a great day to be out on the bike. And then the next day it was cold and snowy. I want more days like that one.

Biker Quote for Today

Travelling in a car is like watching a film. Riding a motorcycle is like starring in it.

Another One Bites the (Harley) Dust

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Something over 20 years ago the OFMC started out with three guys on two Hondas and a Yamaha. My, how times have changed.

John's new Harley on the dealership floor.

John's new Harley on the dealership floor.

A much larger group now, we got an email from John a couple days ago with pictures of his new Harley. As John noted, on our upcoming summer trip there will now be six Harleys, two Hondas, and one Kawasaki.

John was the one on the Yamaha–a Virago–in the beginning. It was just a few years later that he bought a Honda Shadow and he rode that for 19 years. The Virago went to his son, Johnathon, who only rode it a few years before buying his own Honda VTX.

Bill started out on a Honda Shadow but it has been a number of years now since he gave that to his son, Jason, and bought a Harley. That one got stolen so he bought another, and after a couple years Bill decided he was ready for a change. So he sold that Harley to his brother, Friggs, and got a new Harley.

Friggs had been on a newer Virago that was his first bike, but when Bill made him an offer he couldn’t refuse he became a Harley owner.

Dennis was riding a Gold Wing when he joined the OFMC, but after a few years he traded it on a Harley. Does anyone see a trend developing here?

Johnathon’s friend, Randy, joined the group, and like Johnathon he rides a VTX. And Jason’s friend Brett joined, mounted on a Harley.

Which leaves only me. I was the second of the original members on a Honda, my CB750 Custom, which I still have and still take on the trip occasionally. But in 1999 I bought a new Kawasaki Concours and that is still my preferred ride. No, I will not be getting a Harley any time soon. I probably won’t ever be getting one. That’s just not my kind of bike. But hey, if those guys want one, good for them. There comes a time when it’s time to stop putting things off. As John said recently, “The rainy days we’ve been saving for are here. It’s time to spend some of that money.”

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Biker Quote for Today

Bikes are better than women because you don’t have to pay child support/alimony to an ex-motorcycle.

Knocking 55,200 Miles Off My Honda

Monday, April 9th, 2012

broken speedometer

So is it a good thing or a bad thing when you have a 32-year-old motorcycle with only 29,000 miles on it? If you think in terms of using the bike for what it was intended, i.e., riding it, that would be a bad thing. And even if you were selling it, I’m not sure I, as a buyer, would consider low mileage necessarily good. That would raise questions about how gunked up the carbs might be and what else might be ailing from neglect.

Or it could just mean you replaced the speedometer. I mentioned awhile back how the dial on the speedometer on my 1980 CB750 Custom has broken (see photo above) and I needed to replace it. Also, the gears inside were making a high-pitched shrieking that made riding it very unpleasant. And you can’t fix a speedometer. They’re deliberately built so you can’t open them up and work on them; otherwise, anyone could just go in and roll back the odometer and sell the vehicle as having a lot fewer miles on it.

So that meant replacing it. Joel, my mechanic at Mountain Thunder Motorsports, picked up a replacement from Steele’s and on Friday I came by to have the work done. But when Joel brought out the new (for me) speedo it wasn’t the right one. So Joel sent me over to Steele’s to get the right one.

I did, and the new speedo shows only 29,375, compared to the 84,575 miles I had on the old one. Dang, that high number gave me a lot of cred; now it looks like I’m just a wannabe rider. That’s less than 1,000 miles a year. Oh well, I know how to fix that. Ride.

And I learned a couple things. First, Joel put the new speedo on so quickly it occurs to me I could have done it myself and saved what I paid him to do it. And I’m sure Joel wouldn’t have objected to that considering that he bought the wrong one from Steele’s and can’t return it. It’s his. So the whole thing probably comes out a wash for him. Meanwhile I paid for the right speedo and for installation. I guess I need to have more confidence in my mechanical abilities. I’m not averse to working on things, I guess I’m just reluctant to screw with something that might get expensive if I mess up. But how badly could I have messed up replacing a speedometer?

Whatever. At least now I can see how fast I’m going and I don’t have that horrible screech. And hey, it’s riding season! Hot dang!

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Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re becoming addicted to riding when you leave your car in the garage in favor of riding your bike to work on a 36 degree morning


Hesitations With The Old Honda

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I love my 1980 Honda CB750 Custom. It’s the first bike I ever owned and I’ve had it for what seems like forever. I still ride it regularly and though my Kawi is a more dependable bike, the Honda is just more fun to ride. It’s that “dependable” part that’s getting to me, though.

Me on the CB in CaliforniaI rode the Honda today. And as I got on it and fired it up I had the same thought I always do anymore when I ride it: Am I going to get home today without any problems?

I can safely say now, after the fact, that I did indeed get home without any problems. But that’s the problem. Too often in recent years the answer to that question has been “No.” Last year it was out of commission for a lengthy period and in the last few years I’ve only put about 700 to 800 miles on it a year. Most of the time I ride the Kawi. Whereas I used to take the Honda everywhere (of course, it was the only bike I had), now when I plan to take a trip I always take the Kawi. First off, frankly, the Kawi is a better highway bike. But secondly, and also a big factor, I just don’t trust the Honda.

So why don’t I just get rid of it and get a newer bike? That’s pretty much what my mother said once when I told her one of our critters was sick. But no, it just doesn’t work that way. I love this bike. I wanted a bike for so many years and I finally got one. I got this one. And this bike has brought me more joy than I can begin to say.

OK. Fine. So what’s the big deal? Keep the bike, and keep riding it. But now we’re right back at the start. I really don’t enjoy wasting hours of my day waiting for the tow truck to arrive. I really don’t enjoy helping to ensure that my mechanic lives an affluent life while I scrape by. And I’m not equipped and I don’t have the time to do all my own repairs the way some folks say I should.

When you’re talking love for your kids you always think unconditional love. There’s nothing they could ever do that would cause you not to love them. But a motorcycle is not your kids. And sometimes, regret it though you may, the time comes to get rid of the bike. I know it will shock many of my friends to hear this–even my wife–but that day may be coming.

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Biker Quote for Today

I don’t think duct tape is gonna fix that.

On the Road Again on My CB

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Yahoo! I got my CB750 Custom back from the shop and had the chance to ride it again. As I mentioned last week, I’d had electrical problems with it all summer, but now it’s fixed.

Me and the CB in CaliforniaAt least it better be, I paid more than $400 for a new stator and rotor. That’s after having it in once before where they cleaned the contacts and thought that was all that was needed. At this point I’ve paid almost as much in repairs this year as I’d judge the bike to be worth if I were to sell it.

Not that I’m going to sell it. This bike has a ton of sentimental value to me, starting with the fact that it’s the first bike I ever owned. How many people have you heard remark wistfully that they’d sure love to have that first bike back? For me, the answer is “a lot,” and I’m happy to be able to say I still do have that first bike.

And you know, I’ve been everywhere on this bike. That’s us in California there in that picture, and I’ve been all over the west on it. We’ve been together for more than 20 years, and that’s more than I can say even for my wife and me. Lyle Lovett has a line in his song, “Don’t Touch My Hat,” that goes ” . . and we’ve been together through many a woman.” Well that’s the deal here, too.

Of course, keeping a motorcycle running as it gets older gets harder and harder. The dealership I used to take the Honda to eventually fired me as a customer because they don’t want to work on older bikes. So I switched over to Mountain Thunder Motorsports, where Joel specializes in these old guys. I’m wondering how long it’s going to be before my Kawasaki dealer fires me and my 1999 Concours. I’ve already started taking it to Joel for some things.

Our first extremely cold weather hit the day after I picked up the bike, so we’ll see just how much I get to ride it in the near term. Doesn’t matter, though. It’s running good again and I’ll be on it whenever I can. Hopefully for at least another 20 plus years. Dang, maybe someday it will be worth a lot of money, like a lot of 50-year-old bikes of other kinds are now. Then I’ll be riding something classy.

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Biker Quote for Today

Remember kiddies, bikers have more fun than people.

Keeping the Old Beast Alive

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The last time I’ve ridden my 1980 Honda CB750 Custom was early October when I took it to the shop for repair of the electrical problem that has plagued me all summer. It’s still sitting there.

Me and the CB at the Canadian borderJoel, who runs Mountain Thunder Motorsports, my shop, tells me the issue is a burned out rotor, which is on order. It’s been on order for six weeks now.

That’s a problem those of us who ride older machines run into with some regularity. It’s hard–or damn near impossible–to get parts sometimes. In this case, getting a new rotor is dependent on Honda doing a manufacturing run of this particular part. Presumably they wait until demand builds up and it makes sense economically for them to do it. Meanwhile my bike sits and waits.

The issue for me, however, is that if it’s another month before they do a run it will be sometime in December before I have my bike back. And that would mean not riding the bike even once in November. Anyone who knows me knows that is totally unacceptable.

I’ve been riding this bike for more than 20 years, and when I bought it I made myself a promise that I would ride it at least once a month every single calendar month. It got pretty iffy a couple times but in all these years I have kept this string going. But now it is threatened.

So I did the only thing I could do. I told Joel it is extremely important to me that I have the bike back before the end of November and if that means replacing the rotor with a used part rather than a new one, then so be it. He said OK, he would do that, and he promised I’d have the bike back before the end of the month.

Obviously I’m hoping this doesn’t turn out to be an expensive move. Obviously, a used rotor has more of a chance of dying soon than a new one does. Will I be right back in for another one all too quickly? I sure hope not. And it may be silly, so you can call me sentimental or whatever, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take to keep my every-month string going.

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Biker Quote for Today

I don’t know, it’s kinda weird, but the constant chest pains seem to go away when I let the clutch out on my bike.

Things Get Better

Friday, December 29th, 2006

When my parents moved into a well-to-do development in South Carolina about 18 years ago I remarked that perhaps I’d ride my bike down to visit them there. They informed me that motorcycles were not allowed in this gated community. Of course I was indignant. The reason was noise, but as usual the community had not attacked the actual problem — noise — they had attacked what their preconceived notions focused on. That is, motorcycles.

Never mind that plenty of cars, trucks, delivery vans, and lawnmowers make a lot more noise than my 1999 Kawasaki Concours or my 1980 Honda CB750 Custom.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who found this offensive, and while change takes time, change does occur. A few years passed and my father, who was the editor of the homeowner’s association newsletter, sent me a copy of the latest issue featuring a story about half of dozen residents who had ridden their bikes on a 5,000 mile journey. No Hell’s Angels, these retired engineers, accountants, lawyers, etc. And the community was pleased to see their neighbors having such a good time.

We just got back from there — Keowee Key, on Lake Keowee, outside Clemson, SC — yesterday. We went down for Christmas with Mom and the rest of the family. As my wife and I walked around one day I was pleased to notice a motorcycle in an open garage. Then the best of all was as we were leaving yesterday for the airport. Just as we were passing through the exit gate four leather-clad riders came up on their big cruisers and passed unheeded through the entrance gate. Things do get better.