Friday, March 16, 2007

Second Hand Happiness

Old Scoot mentioned having what's now becoming thought of as a classic old model, the Honda Helix. His bike has lots of miles meaning its getting ridden. Far too often I hear about scooters from the mid eighties on being sold for a song with three to five thousand miles on the clock. Bikes which are probably due for a tune up and good going over from sitting in the back corner of a garage somewhere.

These bikes were fun while their owners used them but some reason caused them to be put aside, relegated to storage. Maybe the owner decided it was time to move into something larger or life just changed as often happens. Great scooters, low miles.

You can find these machines for a song by listening to the grapevine. They were running when put aside. Gummed carburators, oil and brake fluid changes usually accomplish enough to get them back on the road. Oh, and this is important; you will require new tires. Going over the details starting with a good cleaning could show a nice gem underneath. Just some loving care. If the prospective seller finds the title, you might have just found yourself a very inexpensive ticket to ride.

A friend was recently given a Yamaha Riva 180. He literally sprayed some carb cleaner through it, changed the oil, drained the tank and added fresh fuel just to see if it would run. He replenished the old battery with distilled water and trickle charged it. You can thumb the starter and that old '83 Riva will fire and run every time. Cost of the Riva? His time into it so far.

Japanese scooters have been in the states a long time. They made their mark here with an ad campaign that anyone over thirty can quote. "You meet the nicest people on a Honda." Suddenly everyone wanted to ride the little Honda scooters. They had larger wheels, a version of legshields and they had a look all their own. Because of the placement of ads, everyone had seen the 70cc scooters. Honda placed the commercial in mainstream magazines. Everyday people riding and smiling while riding. The company founded by Hoshiro Honda had had created an icon.

Since the early seventies Japanese scooters developed their own reputations of reliability. They became thicker looking. More plush. They boasted good power and larger models could get above sixty miles per hour. The little 50cc models were seen hanging around college campuses, waiting for their owners to take them to the local watering holes. The bigger models had their own niche. People who rode them might've started on the smaller and just enjoyed them so much they had to have the next model up. Even in the seventies and eighties the Japanese scooter manufacturers carried automatic scooters. They were stone simple to use and pretty basic to maintain. And they were dependable.

I like to surf the internet looking at all the different scooters that have been made since the seventies. Different designs, interesting solutions to one thing or another, they all had something worth taking a second look at. There are websites dedicated to common problems one model or another had and the solutions to those problems. Most often its really not expensive even by today's standards. For a fraction of the cost of a new scooter you can be into something you used to think was pretty nice. For not that much more you can have it running as new. Hard to beat that logic against the rising cost of virtually everything in today's economy.

I'm developing an interest in finding a certain model Honda I've always liked. This thing was considered plush in its time and still looks it today. Those bikes have never looked "cheap" to me and they still don't. They're out there. In a garage, basement or barn. Waiting for someone to put them back on the road.

Is there a model you remember that caught your eye?

The Roadbum


Combatscoot said...

Honda Elite 250. There's a website somewhere about a fellow who rode one around the world.

American Scooterist Blog said...

Yes. That is the one. The CH250. I could get the Riva 180 off my friend but the Riva 125 is a little better looking I think, although the power might be a bit less than I'd want. It would have to be the Elite 250 for me too.
Thanks John


Honky-Tonk Dragon said...

My first scoot was Riva 125, purchased new in 1995. Man, I loved that scoot! And it stole me forever away from motorcycles, and tucked me firmly behind a legshield. I'd actually take it on the highway, since I could hit 69mph on it.
Still miss it...