I was practically raised on a motorcycle. My first gasoline powered toy was almost identical to this bad boy, a Kawasaki KV75. Far from road-legal, I typically buzzed around my parents 7 acre (~2.8 hectare) property and zipping down the beach road near the house I grew up in. The sleepy little town of St. David’s is in the Bay St. George region of the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador, right below the Port Aux Port Peninsula, located right on Crabbes River Delta, near the long bridge crossing to Jeffrey’s. My father’s land is in the red boarder, my uncle’s in blue and my grandmother’s in green. The growl of that little 2-stroke was a familiar sound around those old stomping grounds.
I was later upgraded from the humble 75CC engine to a 125CC, a Honda NX125. This one was street legal, though I never had my license. It was fine though, because the tires seldom ever hit asphalt. It was still my claim to fame, and I put thousands of hours on that sucker puttering around the horse pastures and around the tri-estate area that my family presided over. Mine even had the same blue seat and white paint job as this guy, though mine had turn signals, an official dualy. I pretty much beat it to hell, just like my old Kawie. I was 8, as I recall, when I got Ol’ Red, and he now belongs to my nephew, I think, or maybe a cousin. This honda, though, was repaired over and over again, and later sold while I was in university. I’ve been meaning to get my Class 6 (motorcycle) license for about 14 years, but never really got around to it. Those thoughts, however, are soon at an end.
About 12 years ago, by my reckoning, my father purchased an old scrapped motorcycle from a mechanic friend of his for $500.00. This was a beautiful black Kawasaki, and he took it home with him (we were living in Corner Brook at the time, 120km (~70mi) away), then out to the cottage where he and his brother, who is a very talented mechanic, picked and puttered with it for nigh a decade. I never knew that Dad had plans for that motorcycle all along.
He was saving it for me. The black beauty is a 1980 Custom Classic, Kawasaki Z440 Twin LTD, a four-stroke. It’s all I can do to hold it upright once the kickstand is released, god help me if the sucker ever tips over; it weighs over 400lb (~181kg).
Anything that needed work was replaced (not repaired) with stock period parts, so it is ultimately restored to original condition. There is a slight problem with some of the valves, we think, because after about 30 minutes of running-time it’ll stall, and not run again until the engine cools down. I don’t even have a motorcycle license yet, but if I can get a little trailer attachment for this guy, I can drive HIM across the island all next year during my work with fisheries, if all goes to plan. I have all winter to putter and play with it, I’ve got the HAYNES manual for this model series and will be able to find out all the sorts of things to cause challenges for him. It’s currently parked in the ‘side room’ of the garage, where the future lumber wood storage place is going. It’s safe there, out of the water and in a relatively heated environment. It’ll never freeze, and that’s the main thing. With 239664 (not sure if that’s in miles or kilometers, to be honest) on the odometer, it’s definitely seen lots of highway in it’s day, and with enough care can see another quarter-million before being laid to rest. It’s so exciting to have this there, among my other winter tinker-toys, and sometimes I forget how fortunate I am to have so much at my disposal. That said, I don’t own snow mobiling equipment, don’t own an ATV, am not a fashionista and try to live as cheaply as I can so that I may have nice things, occasionally. My CNC machine, once I get that guy running, will be a source of income, and if I can get my motorcycle going, that’ll be a great help next year as a source of income when claiming mileage. The Islander 19′ RV, a 1994 Dodge Ram 3500 converted cargo van, that my parents sold me gets about 15 miles to the gallon (~15.7 l/100km), while the Kawasaki will get 62 mpg (3.8 litres per 100 km) with a 12.00 litre (3.17 gallon) tank. I get paid $0.48 per kilometer, so I’d be ROCKIN if I could use that machine instead the RV. It turns out that every town I work in will have hotels/motels/cabins that I stay in at no charge to myself, so the RV was a little redundant. A real treat for late next summer when I get to holiday with Sarah and the dogs in Gros Morne, though.
In the meantime, I can dream of cruising down the Viking Highway on Black Beauty.