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Apr 26, 2012

Triumph, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Confused?

OK. It’s been three months since I started this chapter, so let’s get up-to-date. Let’s begin with a synopsis:

I take the MechanicUpRoad to court to get parts back, I win.
The Sherriff accompanies me, we get parts back.
I get more than expected, but the wrong forks.
MechanicUpRoad offers to finish the work I paid for.
We go to the racetrack, my wife gives me permission to race.
The MechanicUpRoad agrees to build a YZ490 race bike.
I buy a 1973 Yamaha DT3 to practice racing (or as ace-in-hole race bike).
My wife buys us a 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 900.
We decide the YZ490 is too much, building the DT3 as the race bike.
VN900 windfall.
Fleshing out the above, as you may already know I took the mechanic up the road to court and won. I got a sheriff’s deputy to go with me to his shop and I got my parts back. In fact, I got back more than I expected.
Some of the parts were new, and I had almost enough to complete the bike. I noticed I had the wrong forks and when I called him he offered to find the right ones and when I went to pick them up there was a shift in our relationship. He agreed to to help me finish the bike and I agreed to help him with his business. We’ve since become friends and he’s helped me with everything I’ve needed with all my motorcycles.
Around this time my wife and I went to the flat track races at the indoor track in Salem Oregon. I was hoping she would see how fun and safe it was, but shortly after we arrived a woman rider crashed and I figured I would have no hope of convincing her to let me race. But the fallen woman did not scare us off, in fact we had a great fun time and my wife could see how much I enjoyed myself, and much to my surprise I got the green light to join them and go racing.
It had been 40 years since I had been to the racetrack, and I always hoped to give it a try.  I’ve made friends with a local racer, and he let me take his bike out on the track for some practice laps. What joy I had! The speed, the power, the sights and the smells were exhilarating.
Let me spend a minute and tell you about the smells. Two-stroke motorcycle engines mix oil and gas. The oil has Castor oil as an ingredient and it has a unique aroma that I had almost forgotten about. To me, it smells like racing! Being at the racetrack brought those memories flooding back.
The mechanic up the road became excited about creating a race bike for me. We decided a Yamaha YZ 490 engine that he had at his shop would make a good starting point. He wanted to develop a frame for this bike and perhaps market it to other racers.
Others that I spoke to about this project were dubious that I could hang on to such a powerful motorcycle, and maybe I should look for something more tame. I found a running Yamaha 1973 trail bike that I could use as a practice bike while the race bike was being built. One thing led to another and the mechanic up the road and I scrapped the idea of building the YZ490 and decided we could use the 1973 Yamaha as our platform.
I liked this idea because the cost would be less and due to the year it was built, it qualified for ARHMA historic vintage racing. Although the cost would be less than the bigger race bike, I knew the only place I could acquire the funds to build it will come from the proceeds of selling the Triumph. Hoping that this would motivate the mechanic up the road to finish my original project was optimistic but we began the parallel course of finishing the triumph and building the race bike.
At one point since my last chapter friends of my family told us to visit a motorcycle Museum in Portland. We did and it was a fantastic museum but it was also a motorcycle dealership. The dealership has salespeople of course and one of them convinced my wife to sit on a Yamaha cruiser that even at her short height, her feet would reach the ground. He asked her to imagine herself flying. We looked at many motorcycles I did not expect these thoughts would go very far but we were back within 24 hours to buy a fantastic 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 900. Now, even though I had sold my 500 Triumph, and the 650 Triumph which is the focus of this blog was not running and neither was my Yamaha practice bike, I now had a motorcycle to ride! However, shortly after purchasing the Kawasaki, someone backed into it and did enough minor damage that their insurance is paying for my race bike. The Kawasaki has had the obviously damaged parts replaced, but the minor scratch on the exhaust pipes is not noticeable and the value of replacing them will fund my project!
I have since been back to the racetrack and my friend allowed me to use his little 100cc Honda to run some practice laps on. It was so fantastic! I ran that bike for six 10-lap sessions. I found muscles I didn’t know where there! I am now even more and more excited to finish the Yamaha race bike, and go racing.
Will the Triumph be finished? I believe it will. I don’t think I’m going to keep it, when I compare the modern Kawasaki to the vintage Triumph I now believe having a reliable motorcycle to ride on the highway in addition to having a race bike is worth letting go of the magic I once felt about this 650 Triumph. Of course as Curly in City Slickers said “The day ain’t over with.”
So, we’ll have to wait and see how all of this ends, but for today I will share some pictures of what we’ve been doing.
Taking the 650 up the road
Salem Oregon Fairgrounds Indoor Racetrack
World Class Racers Right In Our Backyard
She knows it’s going to be a race bike!
Both my bikes up the road
Kawasaki VN900 ‘Blue Smoothie’
‘Head our on the Highway’ …in whatever comes our way’
Albany Oregon Outdoor Racetrack
Go Speed Racer, Go


The next chapter will be the end of my story of the 1967 Triumph : -(

But the good news is the stories of me and my motorcycles continues in a new blog at Bikes in the Dirt
Chapter 21>

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