I Love Showing Old Bikes…

May 21, 2012 View Comments by

…just not enough to miss a race. That was the dilemma that Yates and I faced last weekend. Saturday, May 12th was the day of the Carolina Classic Motorcycle show sponsored by the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. It is always a super cool event, especially considering that admission is free. And believe me, admission to the show is the only thing about vintage bikes that comes free, or even cheap for that matter. We’ve ridden down for the show the last couple of years, always promising that “next year, we’ll polish up… err… scrape off the rust, load up our junk… err… classic machines, on the “stick welder special” trailer… err… custom built motorcycle hauler and chuff on down to Spencer ready to give Fred Sanford… err… Jay Leno a run for his money”.

But seriously, we do have some nice bikes that certainly qualify. Yates’ ’72 Norton Commando is “as complete as it’s gonna’ get this year” and looks quite spectacular, especially considering that it’s a daily rider. The Norton ran fairly well shortly after purchase, and then it began smoking. Long story short, it was reduced to a pile of parts and a pile of parts bills before rising, Phoenix-like, from the usually dry basement, just in time for the spring rains to sling road dirt all over the new mufflers and brand new paint job. “I didn’t buy it to look at, I bought it to ride”. Take that trailer queens.

I wish I could say the same for our other star of the show (that we didn’t enter) my 1976 Honda MR 250 Elsinore. Like the Norton, it too exhibited the foibles of vintage ownership. A day of hard, off road riding blew about every seal Mr. Honda deemed necessary to keep vital fluids contained in their respective receptacles. No big deal, I thought, it’s a Honda; apparently, the only Honda that Honda only made for one year. “Uhhh, yeah, I’m pretty sure parts from the MT 250 will fit it, but don’t quote me on that.” and “Sure buddy, no problem, those CR 250 parts will work fine. Just remember, no refunds” were fairly typical of the responses regarding my parts inquiries. Well, that and “You got a MR what?”.  But, thanks to ebay, a little diligence, and a Canadian cat with a puzzling parts inventory, I was able to corral all the necessary parts to get the MR back up and running in time for the show. And then the email came. Flat track racing is starting. All other projects get shoved to the back burner, or maybe it was that big box the angle grinder came in.

Well, we had every intention of showing our bikes. Instead, we just made it a quick stop in Spencer on the way to the track. Instead of a trailer lovingly laden with a Norton, MR 250, ’86 XL 600 R, and ‘78 KZ 650 C, we arrived with a stripped down XR100 on the back of the truck. OK, it may be a mini bike, but it’s still racing, and racing takes precedent. Oh well, maybe next year… if there’s no racing.

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About the author

At 16, I got my motorcycle license and cut my street teeth aboard a Honda MT250 dual sport. I quickly discovered that motorcycle touring was an excellent antidote for acute wanderlust.