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From the Owner
The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle

Steve Anthes’ 1982 Honda Ascot


Rider: Steve Anthes, Malo, Washington
Age: 68
Occupation: Retired media producer
Current rides: 1982 Honda FT500 Ascot, 1984 Honda Gold Wing GL1200 Standard, 2003 Honda Nighthawk 750

Steve's story: "I'm retired, with a lot of time on my hands and cautious not to drive the wife nuts, so every year I find a project bike on Craigslist and make it my winter project. After seven projects, I thought I was done with this phase of late-life crisis, so after finishing refurbishing and selling a 1971 Bultaco Matador, I started looking for a bike ready to ride. I was thinking of a Kawasaki KLR650, but changed my mind when I saw the headline of an ad for a '1982 Honda Ascot in mint condition.'


"A couple of pictures from 10 feet out looked good to me, and the ad said 'in showroom condition.' Excited, I called the seller, who told me he wasn't into motorcycles and the Ascot had sat for 12 years in his garage. We all know how emotions and motorcycles make for irrational decisions, but I couldn't resist an '82 Ascot with 2,000 miles on the clock. I told the seller I wanted the bike, but I live six hours away. He had other lookers and if I wanted the bike I had to pay him up front. So I did something I've never done when buying a bike... a few clicks of the mouse on PayPal and the bike was mine.

"When I arrived at the seller's, the bike was parked in his driveway. I jumped out of my truck and checked out the bike... that I now owned. The plastic seat cowl was cracked down the middle. 'Hey, that's not mint' I said. 'Oh... didn't I tell you about that?' The tank had some chips, the back brake was locked on and the engine would only idle and died when I gave it throttle. That's not mint! But, I kept thinking: an '82 Ascot with 2,000 miles... you'll never find another. So I loaded her up and headed home.

"Once up on the rack I could see the bike had never been cleaned and was put away wet and dirty. The chain barely flexed and was caked with waxy chain lube. I split the chain, cleaned it and the sprockets and got to work on the brakes. The pistons in both calipers were frozen. I've done many brake rebuilds, but this was the worst. It took me days and copious amounts of liquid wrench, compressed air and yanking with pliers to free the last piston. I had to buy one new piston along with new seals and pads. I flushed the tank and sent the carb off for a complete rebuild to Mike Nixon at the Motorcycle Project. New gas and a rebuilt carb and the thumper was thumping.

"A week after I bought the Ascot I went under the knife for back surgery. This winter I'll strip the bike down to the frame and engine and go through the whole bike doing my three R's: repairing, replacing and refurbishing. Yes, emotions got the best of me buying this Ascot, but I don't regret it. Only made for two years, it's a classic vintage bike and I look forward to not hiding her, but riding her."

Frank Ravetto’s 1966 Honda S90

honda s90

This photo is of my 8-month-old grandson Anthony on my 1966 Honda S90. I restored this bike nearly three years ago, largely from a rolling chassis and an engine I found on the ground at a swap meet. It did require some eBay shopping to get it all together. Except for a few cold winter months, I have ridden it continuously as around-town transportation. It generates numerous thumbs up at stoplights and some great stories from people who walk up when it's parked, like the guy who had one as a kid and got his first concussion after falling down when the front fender came loose and rotated around the tire. I had two different guys tell me they had one while serving in Vietnam. One guy said he was sure glad it was reliable as it often got him back to the base just in time for curfew. These are great little bikes and probably the reason why Honda is still here and BSA isn't. Full disclosure: I also restored and ride a 1970 Triumph Bonneville.

Frank Ravetto/Prescott, Arizona

Mike Taint’s Green BMW R75/5

green bmw

In a local bookstore here in Ohio, I saw this interesting-looking magazine called Motorcycle Classics, so I picked up a copy. Imagine my surprise when I saw the editor has the exact same bike as mine — the only other one I've ever even heard of!

Mike Taint/via email

That makes two of us, Mike, because I'd never seen another one either. BMW called the color simply Metallic Green, and apparently it wasn't very popular in the U.S. Glad you found us! — Ed.

Lloyd Gloekler’s 1968 Moto Guzzi V7

moto guzzi

Great article on Paul Harrison's 1967 Moto Guzzi V7 (November/December 2017). The V7 has truly defined Moto Guzzi in the half century following the V7's introduction, and a tip of the hat to Paul for rescuing his from the trash bin of history within the crazy time frame he set for himself. The V7/V700 was produced for a very short time, replaced in 1969 with the heavier and bulkier 750cc Ambassador. It is nice to see another one of the early 700s on the road. I had the pleasure of showing my 1968 V7 (serial number 1526) at the Motorcycle Classics show during the 2016 Bonneville Grand Prix and can attest to the great ride these early V's afford. They are smooth, with a great rumble and an authoritative, not quick, but steady push from that big torque engine.

Lloyd "Michael" Gloekler/via email

Jim Bottomley’s Honda NT650 Hawk

honda hawk

I loved the recent issue of Motorcycle Classics (January/February 2018). That nice Honda NT650 Hawk reminded me of one of my favorite rides. I turned my Hawk into a track bike and rode three dozen track days with it, although as I progressed I encountered persistent cooling problems, even with a Ninja radiator. After blowing it up twice, I sold it and moved to a Suzuki GSX-R600, which had stunning performance but lacked the Hawk's soul.

Jim Bottomley/via email

Ben Schenk's 1966 Kawasaki 85 J1TR

Ben Schenk

I was very pleased to read the latest Under the Radar column in the September/October 2017 issue of the magazine. The story featured the Honda S90, but also gives “Contender” status to two other bikes: The Suzuki K11 Sport 80 and the Kawasaki 85 J1.

I will soon be working on a 1966 Kawasaki 85 J1TR, which is the trail bike version of the J1. I think that was a very good choice for a bit of focus. It is a somewhat rare little bike, as it was the first year that Kawasaki imported motorcycles into the U.S. as their own company. The J1TR was manufactured in 1966, using premix oil/gasoline. In 1967, this bike was replaced by the J1TRL, which was the same bike, but with “Superlube” oil injection. The 1966 version also utilized an all-chrome tank with painted accents while the 1967 featured chrome side panels on each side of the tank. The 1966 model was painted a root beer-like brown color, while the 1967 TRL was painted a vivid bright red color.

The photo shows the 1966 Kawasaki 85 J1TR bike I have in the shop. This is obviously a “before” photo. It is “as discovered” in a garage in Sumner, Washington. I purchased this bike from a relative of its original owner. The bike is complete. Following a major parts hunt, I have all the remaining chassis parts in storage waiting for overall restoration. Just too much other work in the shop right now. Keep up the great work with the magazine. I am an original subscriber.

Ben Schenk, Schenk Racing Enterprises/Eatonville, Washington

Rick Campbell's 1989 Honda Hawk GT

Rick Campbells Honda Hawk

Your excellent September/October 2017 issue underscores a most important point about the success of Honda Japanese motorcycles in the early years: they were not just “styled” but were integrated designs. The beloved Honda S90 (I had two) proves the point: sprightly, reliable, and simply elegant in their design. Hondas of that era always looked right to me. In contrast, the Ariel Leader and Arrow demonstrate the failure of later English design. The Arrow’s red-and-white paint scheme was the ultimate example of putting “lipstick on a pig.” Sadly, the Commando Hi-rider is an even worse example of the same thing. To underscore the point, after World War II, England produced the Corgi, America produced the Cushman Eagle, and Japan produced the Honda 50. Engineering and design were far superior on the Honda.

I say this after spending a couple of wonderful morning hours on my 1989 Honda Hawk NT650 GT, and wondering why today no one will make a compact bike even close to it in terms of finish (polished cases, aluminum frame and swingarm, sandcast aluminum brackets), low weight (390 pounds) and good handling. No offense to the good folks at Royal Enfield, but this is much more bike than their historic singles, which I considered before buying and restoring the Hawk. Engineering, when combined with good esthetics, results in successful motorcycle sales. I think you have to look very hard to find ugly motorcycles that sold well.

Rick Campbell/Tigard, Oregon