The bike came home, and tear-down began. Everything I found would be expected by anyone to takes the care and feeding of old dirt bikes seriously. Anyone insisting a two-decade-old bike NOT have most of these issues at purchase will spend as much on that bike as they would on a new machine (they are called “vintage shop restorations”).
Craigslist pictures are always taken to hide problems. Horrors, or amusing jokes, always come during the visit to see the project. Even if externally clean, you will still find a significant portion of these items hidden upon a real inspection. Of course, such a complete inspection is never allowed when negotiating a purchase. How many sellers will be comfortable with you pulling out a compression tester or voltmeter in their driveway?
Because of this, one must anticipate, and budget for, common problems when planning a purchase. Some of what I found me laugh. Some just made me shake my head thinking that a person was willing to ride the bike in this state. As with most of my bike projects, the triage process brought me a level of sympathy and understanding for the bike. I started to see her history. I began to care. I began to realize she deserved better.
For brevity, I’ve kept the triage results in a bullet-form matching what I scribbled on my workshop notepad as work proceeded…
In Pursuit of Clean
This is the time-consumer and the scar-revealer. All that funk all over the place can sometimes make a gem of a bike look bad. Other times, it really acts like makeup on the last-call chick at the bar…yeah, it was bad enough to need beer goggles, but man, the reveal is even worse. Time to see what is under the sediment.
- Oil-encrusted dirt/funk everywhere
- No junction-rubber between silencer & exhaust, so mid-bike coated in black dirt-magnet slime
- Chain-sling funk caked everywhere you’d expect
- Sun-faded/weakened plastics covered with graphics in lieu of needed replacement.
- Tweaked bars, spray-painted over faded anodizing, with matching bent levers and hand-cut foam to replace the original clamp-pad.
- Torn/faded/stained seat cover, but the underlying foam was good.
- Air filter just looked dirty but started to disintegrate as soon as I touched it.
- Original coolant hoses were present, with all their bloating and rotting, but with perfectly fresh coolant?
- Angled/tweaked radiator (unnoticed until off the bike…minor), no fin damage
Wow. I can’t figure out how people can let brake systems get so out of hand. Hydraulics are less intimidating than electrics…at least to me. What, if they don’t lock up immediately, don’t fade completely and don’t scream like a banshee, they must be good? I can see people being intimidated by suspension internals or by major electrical hop-ups but being able to stop reliably with good modulation seems to be something everyone should put high on the list of must-haves.
- Heavily-scored front rotor, with thin, unevenly-worn front pads
- Thick pads in back, but a noticeably warped rear rotor…possibly from impact? Would stock guard still be intact with a hit hard enough to bend that?
- Original brake lines, with no marks on caliper/cylinder banjo bolts (never cracked or bolts replaced)
- No marks on front cylinder screws
- Brake fluid like medium-roast coffee when cylinders opened up
Okay…I sort-of get a lack of maintenance in this area for many. If they move up and down, don’t lock out and don’t pogo-stick the rider off the bike, suspension components are usually feared by the mass of riders out there. How many bikes with potential were thrown out or passed over just because their forks and shocks were never maintained, much less tuned, for the rider/style/skill using it?
- Dried dirt/grease funk from stem bearings, but not from linkage bearings
- Pushed-down filth on fork sliders…old dirt, or fresh leakage from bad seals?
- Corrosion spots on rear spring, likely from stone impacts and lingering filth
- No marks/scores on shock spring preload rings
- All clickers work front and back…and show no signs of being touched
This is always a crap-shoot. Fortunately, with a two-stroke, there is very little to complicate repairs outside of almost-intentional neglect. This is the part of the bike that also gives the best insight into the ownership lineage of the bike.
- Stock silencer…never repacked, spray-painted black to hide scars
- Exhaust chamber crushed & leaking…one rotted elastomer
- Carb looked to be in good order
- Reeds in good shape (Boyesen dual-stage in place)
- HUGE gouge in back skirt of Namura piston
- Welded-in and broken rings
- Acne on inside of head and piston top from ring shrapnel
- Wear to Nikasil, plus aluminum deposits (cold sieze?) with stock porting
- Two small notch-gouges in a transfer port and an intake port from ring-eating
- Small oil puddle (green) under flywheel…bad/old crank seals?
- No play in crank bearings
- No vertical-plane play in rod, and side thrust in spec
- Missing Stator flange nut!
- Corrosion on electrical components & bolts behind magneto/flywheel
- PO claimed to have replaced coolant pump seals
- Coolant looked fresh
Notchy, stiff clutch with first lever pull...
- Will need to replace cable by default
- Stock pressure plate (flat)
- Hinson basket, plates (friction & steel) and springs, all EC (YAAAAY!)
- Stock inner hub seriously grooved, which is the price of steel plates on a stock hub. I will buy Pro-X replacement for budget purposes
- Push rod showed no end-dimpling or wear
- Testing arm/rod motion with cable pull and end-pressure showed no notchy/inconsistent travel, end heavily corroded, though…will replace.
My conclusions from looking at the motor provide at least two life-stages for this CR. There was a first-owner to really cared. They installed a Hinson clutch. They rebuilt the water pump. The second owner was a kid or someone who was seeking minimum input. The power valve was gummed up. They ran a cheap Namura piston without checking cylinder tolerances. They ignored worn cylinder plating. They went to pull the flywheel but go so scared that they didn’t even replace the flange nut they removed. This second owner, realizing the damage from the eating a cheap piston, decided to button the cancer patient up and sell her off or part her out.
In my experience, very few people even think to look at their wheels outside of replacing worn tires or fixing flats. If a bike is lucky, it may get an owner who taps spokes to listen for rattles whenever a tire is changed. How much power is lost to shot bearings? How many wheel hubs are destroyed due to absent spoke maintenance? How much bad handling or high-speed “nervousness” is caused by wheels that are sloppy, misaligned and way out of true? When will riders learn that a wider-than-stock rear tire won’t necessarily improve traction…and will likely worsen handling?
- Sprockets and chain shot, as expected
- Duct tape is never an appropriate replacement for a rubber rim strip
- Every spoke nipple not just seized, but rusted solid onto spokes
- Glue-residue from tape impacting tire bead surface
- Filthy rim-locks…need a cleaning before I can confirm integrity
- Pristine rotor bolts, but destroyed sprocket bolts
- Bearings and seals serviceable for initial ride-testing…nothing rusted or notchy
...yeah...this bike is going to be fun...