Check out Craig Allen’s ‘new’ toy!
You've heard the phrase..."everything that is old is new again."
I'm finding this to be true...and my "new toy" took a long road...to it's new life.
Some background is needed.
Back in late January, I get a call from a (long time) best friend...that I don't get a chance to talk with very often. Jim says: "Hey...I'm going to be up in your area on Saturday morning. What time do you have to leave for work at NJ101.5?"
He's just bought a new road bike...and is headed to North Jersey to pick it up.
I have time before the Saturday afternoon show, so I ride up with him...we pick up his new "wheels"...and we talk all the way up...and back. It was great to get "caught up!"
We have been friends since we were in Junior High School...just a few years ago...and, without Jim, I probably would never have had a chance to develop a love for motorcycles!
At around age 14 or so, Jim got a little Honda XR-75.
Often, I was Jim's "passenger"...sporting a football helmet, so that I was "safe."
Eventually, he talked me into giving riding a try.
I'll never forget the first time that I really gunned the little XR-75...hit the jump...popped a wheelie...and landed with perfect form. Jim ran up to me, telling me how great it was!
Sure...I was cool on the outside....but so scared on the inside...that I had just about peed myself!
Flash forward to now...and many bikes later for Jim.
As he's about to head home with his latest proud possession, and I'm about to jump into my Honda (car) and head to NJ101.5...we're still talking about the old days...and I say to him:
"If you really want to see something that will make you cry, follow me."
We walk out to the shed. It's dark inside...and I point to the back corner.
"Remember this?" I ask...
"Oh wow...I had forgotten that you have this" he exclaims!
It's time for another story. I'm famous for stories!
It's the early 1990's. Jim's wife expresses a desire to ride! Then, she finds out that they have a daughter on the way. That's the end of dirt biking for her.
One day (a year or two later), Jim asks me if I'd like to buy the bike from him. I write a check.
When we were "kids," there were lots of places to go trail riding and "dirt biking" in Hillsborough. By the 90's...not so much.
So...I ride with friends in South Jersey on occasional Sundays (my only day off).
One day, we're riding early in the morning after a rather heavy rain. Not the best riding conditions, to say the least (and the most). But, it had been planned for weeks, so, off we go.
I power into a rather nasty, muddy turn (berm)...and...slide in the water and mud, and fall.
My stomach eats a handle bar/grip. My fall (somehow) messes up the kick starter, and the clutch (on the handlebar).
I can't get the bike started. No way. No how. Frustration (and anger) ensues.
Eventually, the rest of the guys realize that I'm not in the "pack," and they circle back. They're not happy with the riding conditions either, and we split up. The day is over.
I walk my bike out...and get it "trailered" back to my home in the 'boro.
A few weeks later, I end up changing radio jobs...and no longer have time to ride on weekends.
Remember...there's no place to ride near me, anyway.
And my bike won't start.
Then, I move to Philadelphia. The bike eventually makes its way from the garage...to the shed at my Dad's place.
Which brings us to NOW.
Jim takes another look at the bike, as I move some of the "stuff" out of the way.
"I'll bet you that I can get it started," he says, matter-of-factly. Did I mention that he makes his living in "auto mechanics?"
"Really...SERIOUSLY?!" I exclaim.
You see...I had never given up hope that someday the bike might move on its own again...but, that hope had been dimming in the last few years.
"Absolutely," Jim says. "I'll be back in a few weeks to pick it up."
...early Sunday morning, March 26th...
...my XL-175...leaves the shed for the first time in this century.
I'm giving it some long-overdue TLC...its first step on the way to "coming back to life."
It was a "classic" when I bought it in the '90s (I'm the 3rd owner...yes, I have the title).
An added bonus: LOW mileage!
After a little elbow grease, its just about ready...
...for the next stage in its LONG life!
We strap it down to the back of Jim's SUV...and, 20+ years later...it's headed back down to South Jersey...for a new lease on life!
Jim works on it, on the weekends. We talk often, and he gives me constant status updates.
He strips the bike down.
Jim's daughter Jill helps clean it, on the outside...
While Jim cleans the XL on the "inside."
Gas tank...carb...spark plugs...wiring...electrical system...brakes...EVERYTHING!
This model/era bike needs a battery to power the lights. A new battery is obtained. The lights are dim...Jim has to check the electrical system wiring (there's a broken winding), because the battery isn't charging.
The (off-road) tires were brand new when I bought the bike. You'd figure that they were shot...dry rotted. NOPE! They've been holding air for weeks...and look brand new!
So, a few Saturday afternoons back...I had just done my 6:18 traffic and weather ...finished talking up the song...cut the microphone...and my phone rings!
"I just sent you a picture and a text...and I just couldn't wait for you to see it, and respond," Jim says with great enthusiasm!
If the studio TV cameras were sending out a live feed...you would have seen me start to pace the studio, with my cell phone pressed tightly to my ear.
"I have the answer to the big, 900 pound gorilla question," he says.
"And..." I say in breathless anticipation...
Jim explains: "I gassed it up...gave it a half-hearted kick...and it FIRED RIGHT UP!"
I am now...jumping up and down!
"There was some black smoke for the first few seconds...and then, it starts running clean."
I am amazed...
He continues: "It's been running for about 15 minutes...I rode it around the back yard...the brakes are squishy, but I'll work on that."
I am THRILLED!
The brakes are "squishy." After this many years, not a surprise!
The little red Honda XL-175 is running...and it started on the FIRST KICK, in over 20 years!
After a few weekends in Jim's "motorcycle hospital," I have taken delivery of a bike with a new lease on life!
Yes, I still have a few things to do:
Find the original blinkers (they are in a box...somewhere...maybe...as they weren't needed for a "dirt bike")...or get some aftermarket blinkers.
Get side mirrors.
Buy a new helmet....stylish, of course!
Register and license this (former) "dirt bike."
And...get my MOTORCYCLE license.
In the meantime, I am having the time of my life riding around my yard...reliving my motorcycling youth!
I can't thank Jim enough for all of his hard work...and for his love of a challenge!
And, a challenge this bike has been. But, its BACK!
And...I look forward to "bugs in my teeth" in the "Big Summer Of Fun" 2017!