Showing posts with label Honda Interceptor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Honda Interceptor. Show all posts

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Dreams and Realities

It's the bike on my bedroom wall when I was a kid.
As near as I can tell the '84 Interceptor is still for sale, though the owner isn't responsive to emails.  I'll end up phoning and see if I can get up there next week to look at it.

In the meantime, a Concours appeared nearby that looks like a good buy.  Mechanically good but a bit rough looking, it's priced to sell.

So here I am again at the intersection of fantasy and reality, wondering which way to turn.  The Interceptor isn't running, will need a complete rebuild (it's been sitting for a decade), and costs $700.  It's also a good couple of hours away and would need me to find/rent a vehicle to bring it home.  The Concours is twenty minutes away, roadworthy and is $1000 or best offer.  Price wise there is little between them.

Owning a bike at all is a dream come true, so the dream versus reality distinction is finer here.  The question now is which direction do I want to go next?  Last year I did a lot of miles on the Ninja.  This year I've been riding a lot of different bikes and the Ninja hasn't seen me as much.  I want to continue to expand my riding repertoire.  Both bikes offer bigger engines and variations on the sport touring theme.  The Interceptor would be my first Honda, the Kawi would introduce me to shaft drive.

The purpose of buying a fixer-upper is to have something to spanner in the winter months, so the idea of repairing the Honda isn't fearsome, it's something I'd look forward to, and parts seem to be available for it.  There are also a lot of information sites on the web about it.  I'd always assumed I'd buy a Honda bike, but I've been waylayed by Kawasaki's awesomeness.  I'm trying not to be brand specific but rather honour the engineering.  Having said that, I've always had a crush on Hondas and Triumphs.

She doesn't look like much, but she's got it where
it counts... If it worked for Han Solo, it'll work for me.
Is this my diamond in the rough?
That Concours needs some TLC too though.  The Concours is ten years newer with lower kilometres.  This seems like a no-brainer, but this is where emotion clouds the decision.  The Interceptor has been my dream machine forever, I've always wanted to own one.  The Concours is a much more usable machine.  My son and I could tour on it comfortably and do a lot of miles.

The Concours is also a gentler machine, and while I'm still an adolescent when it comes to riding a motorcycle, I'm 45 years old otherwise.  That the Concours is a big guy who can move with surprising speed is a much better fit for this balding, middle age guy than an '80s superbike.  There comes a time when you don't want to look absurd on a bike, or maybe that just doesn't matter.

In a more perfect world I'd have a big enough garage to get both.  The Interceptor would get stripped down and prepped as a vintage race bike.  I could then live out my dreams of riding it on the safety of a track.  The Concours would get fixed up and cover some huge miles, occasionally finding some twisties to show off its athletic prowess.

Buying a bike has been such a visceral experience that I think I'll have to see both in the flesh before I make a decision.  I'm hoping that the Kawi strikes an emotional nerve with me because if she can get under my skin I know she'd be a better fit than a feverish teenager's dream.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Intercepting Possibilities

I just came across some dream project bikes.  There are a pile of '80s Honda Interceptors online this week, and an interesting little VT500.

Low mileage but not in working condition, just what I need to break down and rebuild!

Asking only $400, but it's a hike out the other side of Toronto.

For $700 there is a higher mileage but better cared for Interceptor just up in Angus that comes with all the shop manuals.

Or I can drop $700 on bits and pieces in Kitchener and put an Interceptor back together again, because dude took it apart and now has a garage full of unspecified parts.  Brilliant.  Seven hundred bucks might be a bit much to clean out his garage, though it's close by and it'd be easy to go pick up.  Might be a good choice further down the road, but not for a first project bike.

Another possibility is the Honda VT500.  This air cooled beauty is in great shape and would be a fantastic starting point for a cafe racer build.  It's been well taken care of and I could probably ride it home from out Brockville way.

Lots of possibilities on Kijiji this month...

Saturday, 21 June 2014


A friend's daughter came by last night because she was interested in The Ninja.  I'm rabidly interested in riding as many different bikes as I can, so when they asked if I wanted to follow along on the Honda Firestorm she'd ridden over I quickly grabbed my gear.  With aftermarket everything on it, the Honda backfired loudly and took off like a scalded rabbit.  The steering geometry on it is very vertical and the grips small, making the bike turn in very quickly even though it feels heavier than the Ninja.  It was definitely a young man's bike, riding it for more than an hour would be agony, but I totally get it, it was a blast!

The test ride ended up not fitting the rider (she found the Ninja tall and the riding position too upright), but the possibility of Bike2.0 got me thinking...

They have a nicely-looked-after '06 Concours at Two Wheel Motorsport.  It's an athletic mile eater that easily 2-ups and is in its element as a long distance tourer.  This particular one is low kilometres (~50k) and well maintained, it would run for ever with no problems.

I'm pretty weight fixated after riding the Ninja and doing a lot of thinking about bike dynamics, and the Concours isn't light even if it is light on its feet for a big guy.  I was wandering Kijiji yesterday after suddenly facing the prospect of maybe being bike-less and came across another interesting choice.  I've been doing a lot of reading on the new VFR800f Interceptor.  This is another athletic mile eater that is at home in the twisties, and at over 150lbs lighter than the portly Concours it plays to my sense of what athletic means in a bike.  I've always been a Honda fan, I had a picture of one on my wall when I was a kid, it'd be cool to own one.

The VFR on Kijiji is an '02, almost half the miles of the Concours for sale and 'meticulously maintained'.  Not to be an English snob or anything, but the add is nicely written too:

Mint condition, meticulously cared for, very low mileage (28000 km) VFR 800 VTEC with ABS. The VFR 800 has the distinctive single sided swingarm, ABS and the legendary Honda Interceptor V4 engine that is famous for producing one of the most intoxicating exhaust notes of any motorcycle powerplant... it's music. This bike is just as comfortable eating up corners in the twisties as it is taking you on multi day trips in comfort. It comes with 2 seats, the stock one and a Sargent seat, 2 windshields, stock and a tinted Zero Gravity windshield, solo seat cover, PDF Honda VFR800 Service Manual and a set of frame sliders still in the box. Also installed are the 2006 VFR clear tail light and smoke front turn signal light lenses. $5700 or best offer.

There is something about a rider who knows spelling and grammar that gives an air of competence.  When this guy says it has been meticulously maintained I believe him because he knows the word meticulous (and how to spell it).

I've got such an itch for this bike that I'm tempted to give him a call and ride down to Hamilton to give it a go.  I only wish I had the money aside to snap it up if I liked it as much as I think I might.  The process of selling the Ninja means that the VFR might be long gone by the time I'm ready to pull the trigger.

That was quick.  I'm glad he sold it, but sad too...

Monday, 17 February 2014

Dream Project Motorbikes

Some dream project bike builds...

Stock (before)

1970s Honda CB750 Cafe Racer Mod

I'd take the standard CB750, strip it down, refinish it and modify it into a cafe racer along the lines of this Dime City Cycle build.

I'd modernize the pieces that need modernizing.  This isn't a period remake, it's about creating something new with old bones.

A cafe racer build (after)
The CB750 that Dime City put together gives you an idea of what could be done in customizing an old CB750, but I'd do something different.

I'd hope to be able to pick up the bike for less than a couple of grand and then put at least that much into it again as I stripped it and put together a personally customized cafe racer.  The CB is a big bike, which would turn into a bike cafe racer for a big guy.

Being Austin - build my own Mondo Enduro Machine

Austin on his mighty Suzuki DR350
Find a Suzuki DR-350 or DR-400, hopefully one that's been sleeping in a barn somewhere, clean off the straw and strip it down to nuts and bolts.  

In rebuilding it I'll not only end up with a dependable long distance off roader, but I'll also have laid hands on the entire thing before it inevitably breaks somewhere far from anywhere, meaning I'll know how to get it going again.

Long distance and modernizing modifications would include a long range tank, updated suspension and an engine rebuild with performance carbs and a re-bored engine. 
Find a 1990s DR350 Suzuki dual sport
bike and prep it for long distance off
road work, Mondo Enduro-ize it!

The goal would be a minimalist go-anywhere machine that isn't all about branding.  So many adventure bikes are all about the BMW-ness or whatever.  This bike would be a capable, light-weight all rounder that isn't about advertising but all about going anywhere.

Anime Dreams: taking the bike I loved as a kid and building an anime custom

The bike that was on my wall when I was younger was the Honda Interceptor.  With a complex, powerful v-4 engine and the sharp edged eighties styling, this bike was the bomb.

I'd want to do a rebuilt / customization that keeps the feel of the bike but also feeds into the Japanese animation fixation I've had forever.

Influencing the build would be Akira and Robotech.  BBB-Bike has already done a Cyclone customization, which is a bit more comicon than I'd be aiming for.  

My Interceptor would still be an Interceptor, but with little tech-touches that bring out the anime in it.  LED lights, a customized, anime inspired seat/rear cowling and mirrors, that sort of thing.

Real Restoration: a Triumph Bonneville the same age I am

an new old Triumph Bonneville
Henry Cole did a restoration on a '70 Triumph Bonneville in the last season of The Motorbike Show on ITV (not sure why ITV isn't offering a webpage for that show, they should be).

What they started with

Henry and Peter Thorne (the restorer), of Aspire Restorations, take what can only be described as a complete wreck (a frame and fairly useless lump of engine) and completely rebuilt it.  It ends up pretty much being a new 1970 Triumph Bonneville.

I'd like to find a British bike built on the same day I was born (in the UK) and do a restoration on it, then we could both age gracefully together.