Ah, vintage motorcycles - No matter how well you plan and prepare, nothing seems to quell the mischievous nature of the little gremlin that seems to reside in all things carbureted. An irksome imp whom I oh-so fondly call #*@%^$ occasionally visits my 1978 Kawasaki KZ650C. Unfortunately, the little rat decided to check in just two days before Kathy and I were to leave on our long-awaited tour to historic Williamsburg, Virginia.
Despite a weekend of head gasket replacing, general maintenance, and double-checking by longtime friend and mechanic extraordinaire, Gary Yates, the above-mentioned Puck still managed to maintain an obdurate toehold within my KZ. I swear I heard cackling when we finally traced his whereabouts to a vacuum petcock that suddenly lost the ability to say no to the flow. The result was a pool of gasoline on the garage floor and a crankcase full of fresh 20w50 that now smells suspiciously like the fluid in a parts washer.
Oh well, it's important to note just how long that faulty gasket has been cheating gravity's good work. Around the time it was installed, I was probably sitting agog, listening to that unknown Van Halen guy wailing on guitar and trying to figure out why Roxanne was putting out a red light in the first place. With no way to regulate the flow from the fuel tank and no way to procure the necessary replacement parts in time for the scheduled departure, the KZ had to be placed on the injured reserve list.
Thankfully, our publisher Christa offered a perfect last-minute substitution in her 1972 Yamaha XS650. As one of the few motorcyclists in that 40-ish age bracket who has never ridden an XS650, I jumped at the chance. Well, that and the fact that my lovely wife was quick to remind me that she wasn't going to use her last vacation days of the year sitting at home. Problem solved, we packed the sporty Givi Arrow soft bags, threw them over the Yamaha's seat, and hit the road.