Imagine holding onto one of your first motorcycles that sparked the passion for you 20 some years earlier… Unfortunately, not many of us can say we still own that very motorcycle. This weeks story is quite the rollercoaster of the trials and tribulations of a 20yr journey with a motorcycle.
One evening I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a few post sharing a photo of a full fairing small displacement Honda CB with the caption reading *STOLEN. This image kept resurfacing on my feed over the next couple days, I was curious to see if the bike had been found so I followed along the threads regarding the stolen bike. A few days later, the owner of the bike had made a post saying the bike had been found, in that post he had mentioned retrieving the bike he had owned for 20yrs. That sparked some serious interest, it’s not every day you hear of someone owning and continually rebuilding and riding the same motorcycle for 20+yrs. We reached out to Joshua to get the history and find out more about the recovery of the bike.
When I was 12 years old my dad bought me my first motorcycle, a 1973 ke100. Shortly after my parents got divorced and I needed some guidance while growing up. We lived in Huntley, Nebraska; a small town of 50 people. There was a small motorcycle shop ran by a man named Sam Had. He invited me to come in and helped me learn how to work on the bike. After repairing the ke100 we sold it and acquired a basket case SL100 set up as a dirt bike. It wasn’t long before I had burned a hole in the piston, Sam happened to have the parts to rebuild the top end. After staying up all night on a Wednesday rebuilding the bike we had it going. I parked it at my house Thursday evening, and Friday morning I walked out to the bus and the bike had been stolen. Never to see it again, I was heartbroken.
Sam invited me to go with him to Burr Oak, Kansas to a huge Lumberyard barn with several hundred motorcycles. We found a 1974 Honda CB125S, the motor was stuck, tank was rusted thru, tires were flat, had no seat, BUT it had a title. In Nebraska when your 14yrs old you can get a school permit to ride to school. After purchasing the bike, Sam Inspired me to build it as a little road racer, so we did. The tank he had was off of a Suzuki SP370, it fit perfect. We fabricated a seat out of an old stop sign with the stock taillight turned upside underneath it. We added two layers of carpet foam and a few rivets to hold it together. Next, we took some old handlebars and turned some foot pegs on the lathe. We then welded up a set of clip ons, turned an aluminum manifold to mount a dellorto carb. We also rounded up some used 100cc bits to build a motor. It had no kick start, so a short bump and your hand over the carb it would light right off, the straight thru megaphone was LOUD.
I was riding back home from a friends house leaving around 11:30pm at night. Running wide open down the road at about 65mph, the motor locked up!! The tire skidding, I pulled the clutch. I was barreling down the highway at 65mph in pitch black as the lights worked off of the motor. I was able to get the bike stopped and pulled out my Flashlight, there was oil Everywhere. The bottom end of the rod shot thru the front of the motor. I pushed the bike off in the grass and waited for someone to drive by. Three hours later a drunk old lady stoped and picked me up, she drove me home using both sides of the road; I’ll never forgot that night.
Now that the current motor was toast, we did more scavenging. Sam and I found a 125 motor that turned with good compression, we threw it in the frame and it ran well.
Sam invited me to ride with him from midwest Nebraska to Illinois to Oquwaka Moto Guzzi rally. We packed only a sleeping bag and slept on the grass at a church the first night. We made it to the rally after two days of riding. I remember slipping my foot over the muffler anytime we passed a cop so we wouldn’t get stoped. It was a memorable trip to say the least, the poor little motor ran wide open for hours at a time. I was only 14 at the time, I didn’t get the youngest rider award as I wasn’t on a Moto Guzzi, despite 400 miles we traveled to get there.
When I turned 16, my surrogate family helped me fabricate an aluminum fairing. We literally took a panel off of an old caned ham camper that had been abandoned for years. Lots of torch annealing and a large stump helped us hammer out the shape. When it was all finished I proudly mounted it on the little bike.
Sam reached out and invited me to go back to Illinois for the Moto Guzzi rally, so we hit the road. We camped on the same church grass as we had previously done two years ago. We made it to the rally and decided to go out on the big group ride. A large, tall man by the name of Howard wanted to take the Honda for a spin, Howard weighed around 300lbs and was over 6ft tall. When he sat on the bike, it appeared to have saddle bags, even tho it didn’t. The group rode on and Howard led the way, he even Passed a white pickup going 55-60mph. He got off the bike at the next gas station and raved about how fun it was.
Over the next few years it had a series of different motors put in it. I went to college, graduated and got married. After getting married I upgraded it to an XL185S Engine(180cc) and it was now a 75mph bike. Front wheel was swapped out for a cb175 wheel. In between jobs I gave it a paint job, and Continued to ride it here and there.
Fast forward to 2020, I recently got invited to do a 5 day, 800mile ride through Colorado. Which meant it was time for a real makeover. My dear friend and mentor Don Huebert had started a cb160 front wheel with a bacon slicer but never finished the bike, so I bought the project from him. I laced the wheels to shouldered Aluminum rims and polished them up. Mounted up Dons wheel on the bike and it started to take shape.
I bought a gas tank, seat and built some new clip ons. I had an old tiny full race fairing that sat just perfect on the bike, I fabricated together some mounts, a little paint and the bike was looking great. I decided to install a XR200 motor in it with the 6 speed transmission. The bike now pulls throttle wheelies and Will run about 80 mph. We go out on the group ride and the bike is preforming flawlessly. Sam had also come along on the ride but got sick, so I skipped out on a day of the ride and drove same back to Colorado Springs. I let a rider who’s bike had broke take it for a ride while I was gone. After a 400 mile round trip I was back with the group, with parts in hand to fix the riders broken bike.
We visited National Sand dunes just north of Alamosa, CO. If you remember the scene from the movie the world’s fastest Indian, where Burt is racing down the highway and the police pull him over, that’s how the bike felt going full speed towards the sand dunes. We parked that night at the hotel in Canyon City. The next morning I went out to get on the bike and it was gone. Completely heartbroken we called the police. They had taken it from right in front of the lobby. The sag vehicle driver of the trip needed a break from driving so I continued on with the group driving the sag truck. The manager of hotel shared pictures of the bike on Facebook, and someone saw 2 people riding it towards Pueblo. I called the Pueblo police with no luck of any info regarding the bike. Later another person had seen someone crash the bike in front of them and noticed the 52’ on the bike. He commented after he saw the post of the stolen bike.
With the trip over and me continuing to shed tears, I gave up hope. That Saturday we went to camp for Sunday was a vintage motocross race. Sunday morning I got a message from a friend of the thief who stole the bike (she saw a post on Facebook local stolen page) and gave me enough info to call the police and send them to find it, the police called me back and no bike. I begged the officer to look in the next couple houses as I knew it had to be close. An hour later the officer called and said they had found the bike! It had been crashed two times, the fairing was removed, tank dented, seat busted and many other broken parts. BUT BY SOME MIRACLE I HAD IT BACK! Thank you God!
I borrowed my in-laws Van and left the race to go pick the bike up. The stone reliable bike had loosened the top of carb and likely didn’t run well, maybe even caused the crash. I couldn’t be happier to have it back, now its time to rebuild again!