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What old bike surprised you with its competence?

Hank.SD

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Over the years I've gone back in time, driven 100% by nostalgia, and picked up bikes that I lusted over as a kid. VF750F, GS1100E, TDM 850, etc.

The vast majority felt as old as they were, and didn't stick around that long, having checked the been there done that box.

Of them all, the one that surprised me the most in terms of how well it worked, was an '83 GPz 550. That little bike just worked great. Its one I wish I still had.

It wasn't perfect, but it was an 8.5. Here are a couple pics I took as I was foolishly getting ready to sell it for a pittance.
 

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Alan F.

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I had a chance to pick up a 550 Zephyr a year or 2 back. It had rusty tank seams up front and I passed on it, but it appears to be a fine bike with few flaws. Do you know if GPZ550 and Zephyr550 share much in common?
 

Hank.SD

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I had a chance to pick up a 550 Zephyr a year or 2 back. It had rusty tank seams up front and I passed on it, but it appears to be a fine bike with few flaws. Do you know if GPZ550 and Zephyr550 share much in common?

I would guess the engine of the Zephyr was extremely close to the GPz, as Kwak used some of those designs for a looong time. I doubt much outside that, but I could be totally wrong.
I had an 03 (?) ZR-7 which also a really good bike, but much newer than that old GPz. I'm pretty sure the ZR's engine wasn't a whole lot different from the early 80's 750s.
 

Chickenstrip

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The bike I look back at and still appreciate is the VFR500 I owned back in the mid 80s. I've never owned one since, and haven't ridden one either - it wouldn't live up to my recollection of it. As I recall, the handling great at all speeds, the brakes were fine and even the power two-up was sufficient. I rode it from CA to ME and back. Okay, the riding position was not great for that.

hondaVFR500.jpg

(Not mine ... downloaded photo.)
BTW, I did own a 91 VFR750 - it wasn't nearly as fulfilling.
 

TommyA

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Dunstall Norton. At the time I had a Yamaha R6 and thought that the Norton would be awful. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it braked, handled and the power was decent (compared to a modern I4 600cc).
Not the actual bike, just a pic of the interwebs...
4.staticflickr.com%2f3793%2f12279300123_2f2a7d190f.jpg

7323928146_e9707343e5_b.jpg



 

kickstandsup

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Over the years I've gone back in time, driven 100% by nostalgia, and picked up bikes that I lusted over as a kid. VF750F, GS1100E, TDM 850, etc.

The vast majority felt as old as they were, and didn't stick around that long, having checked the been there done that box.

Of them all, the one that surprised me the most in terms of how well it worked, was an '83 GPz 550. That little bike just worked great. Its one I wish I still had.

It wasn't perfect, but it was an 8.5. Here are a couple pics I took as I was foolishly getting ready to sell it for a pittance.

I had an 82 GPz 550, the first year of the UniTrack rear suspension, and that bike introduced me to...Malcolm Forbes.

The 82 was the "hot" bike that year, and everyone was all excited about the mono shock. I managed to snag one. Went to some bike event in rural NJ, was standing next to it chatting with a few friends.

Walking toward us is this older guy with an entire entourage, all with matching polo shirts emblazoned with "Capitalist Tool" logos.

He walks up to me and asks, "Is this your bike?" Yes. "How do you like the new suspension?"

We chat for about 10 minutes, he invites me over to his "group" where they've brought 2 hot air balloons and are giving tethered rides.

A cool, low key, knowledgable guy. A memorable experience for me.
 

p3ga

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Looking back over all the bikes I owned, the '82 Yamaha Seca 650 - outfitted with a Rifle fairing, Corbin seat, Krauser hard bags, and suspension upgrades worked better than just about everything else that it shared the garage with. Sold with a ridiculous number of miles as the new wife at the time - well let's just say she was a pain in the ass & I'm far better off without her.
 

matty

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Had many bikes over the years that were surprising , but to single out just one bike that punched well over its weight and fought out of its class too there is one that stands out clearly.
This 1993 Kawasaki EN500A3, i purchased with just 13k miles on the clock and , in a scruffy condition having been sat for a long time outside.
Here is is as i purchased it for £300 in i think IIRC 2015.
Running and taxed and tested .

1645651936795.png


Once home a quick clean and check over, i was immediately surprised at the way it went down the road. Its screaming 500 twin close ratioed 6 speed gearbox, light controls comfortable seat and very competent frame , it was a big surprise.
The sports bike engine in that cruiser layout, was just not what i was expecting at all, and what had started out as a cheap project i might run a wile and sell, became a keeper and i still have it to this day.
Its currently undergoing a full refinish, right down to a bare frame. i have been running it for years as a stripped down bobber style with triumph speedmaster drag bars , But i kept the feet forward footrests and stock mufflers which i feel make the best of this bikes potential and perfect for what i want from it.
Great little bike well worth getting if you find one IMHO.
 

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Ausfahrt

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Although it's a bit small for my 6'-5" frame, the '87 K75 won't blow you away with its performance but just does its job. I bought this one on the cheap with the intention of flipping it but my oldest son, who was born in '87 claimed it as his own.
1645654614612.png
 

phreakingeek

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I have a couple that fit into the conversation...

First was a 1995 DR350 that I got in trade from a riding buddy. I was looking for something to get back into riding more dirt than road and he had the DR350. I had a 2001 DRZ250 once upon a time and figured it was going to be about the same. Well I was constantly surprised at just how well that DR did in the woods. It wouldnt win any races, but it chugged along and was so fun and easy to ride that I now regret getting rid of it. It was way overdue for some serious maintenance, but for 20+ year old bike, it was fantastic.

Second bike was a 2004 R1150GS that I got from my Dad in 2014. He had it parked in a shed at his ranch in AZ for a couple years. I was expecting the worst when I had it shipped out and got to work on it. I'd asked and received a lot of good advice on what to do for maintenance even before trying to start it the first time. Changed out all the fluids, filters, battery, flushed the brakes, and just general clean up. I was shocked and amazed when I turned the key and hit the button. I dont think it cranked for more than 5 seconds and it roared to life. Idled a little rough for maybe 5 minutes, and settled down to that boxer clatter. Grabbed my gear and took it out for a ride. I know it probably sounds like a cliche, but that beemer changed my life. Rode it for 30k miles before I ended up getting a water cooled R1200GS.


2013-10-08_18-43-11_217.jpg


2014-02-01_16-50-09_258 (1).jpg
 

Ausfahrt

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The K 75 thats a inline triple right? mate has one he did a sort of cafe racer theme on his, he got it as a neglected husk of a bike. But over one winters worth of nights, he put together a nice motorcycle personalized to his likes.
Yup, inline triple and smooth as silk. If the ergos had fit me better I may have kept it for myself!
 

JimVonBaden

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Looking back over all the bikes I owned, the '82 Yamaha Seca 650 - outfitted with a Rifle fairing, Corbin seat, Krauser hard bags, and suspension upgrades worked better than just about everything else that it shared the garage with. Sold with a ridiculous number of miles as the new wife at the time - well let's just say she was a pain in the ass & I'm far better off without her.
Add the Turbo, and it was an incredible bike at the time. Fast and fun to ride. I got mine in 1982, and rode the hell out of it.

Old GF on it in 1982:
to8bmD.jpg

25 years later:

sL3wAI.jpg

I purchased a used one a few years ago and was very disappointed. It handled bad, was slow and poor brakes. Sometimes it is best to leave the past in the past and romanticize it.
 

JimVonBaden

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The K 75 thats a inline triple right? mate has one he did a sort of cafe racer theme on his, he got it as a neglected husk of a bike. But over one winters worth of nights, he put together a nice motorcycle personalized to his likes.
I've had two of them, a C and an S. Both great bikes that I put many thousands of miles on. Stone reliable and solid bikes!

lPmb9S.jpg
7B33XA.jpg
 

motocopter

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Hard to consider the question for the thread as my old bikes were new then. Technology was what it was then. So, it would seem there were bikes that worked well and some that didn't. Here's a couple of pictures of my bikes from the day that were good enough to take road racing.

1979 RD-400F (1).jpg 1979 RD-400F (2).jpg

1983 GPz-550 (2).jpg 1983 GPz-550 (3).jpg
 

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