Yes, folks, I bought a $300 motorcycle off Craigslist. It was a chancy move, and one that appropriate about an complete year account of wrenchin’. It was a aggravating ordeal, and I wouldn’t acclaim it to the faint-of-heart, but what I abstruse from this auto I wouldn’t barter for the world.
In my accepted attitude of surfing Craigslist for 12 hours a day (I bend the added 12), I came beyond this alarming 1981 Suzuki GS550L. A complete aboriginal bike! It’s not too fast, not too slow, has acceptable aftermarket support, low bench height, archetypal styling: how could it get any better?
So I alleged up the agent and he told me article to the aftereffect of “It turns over but doesn’t fire. The appellation doesn’t accept my name on it. I don’t accept a key for it, I stol….” banausic banausic blah. I wasn’t listening. He said it turns over, so that’s acceptable abundant for me.
I collection bottomward to Nine Mile Road aloof arctic of Detroit and met the agent at his home. The dude was alive on a Chevy S10 and bare the bike out of the way. He cranked her over with a screwdriver, and I anon fell in love. There may accept been a behemothic alias of smoke advancing from the electronics, but the affection wants what it wants.
“I’ll booty it!” I said. And I loaded her up.
Once I got her home, I accomplished that maybe my adulation had addled me to the actuality that the bike had complete problems. Or that maybe I should accept listened to the seller. In fact, I apparent that conceivably a bigger description than “motorcycle” would accept been “conglomerate of genitalia shaped as a motorcycle.” Still, I was assured I could get her all anchored up.
I aboriginal had to amount out what was activity on with those electronics. The lights didn’t work, the horn didn’t work, the gauges didn’t work. Frankly, annihilation formed except the starter, which alone cranked if you shorted the solenoid with a screwdriver, an accident that was consistently accompanied by a ample alias of smoke.
The base didn’t assume complicated until I started unplugging things and apathy breadth they went. Eventually, I had to do article horrible. Article wretched. Article so unpleasant, mothers alleged their accouchement inside, birds chock-full chirping, and the sun cowered abaft the clouds: I had to breach out the base diagram.
That blend you see aloft sends all-overs bottomward mechanics’ spines. That’s a atramentous and white base diagram. They’re actionable in 12 states (not really, but they should be).
See those altered kinds of dotted lines? Well, anniversary arrangement represents a wire color, and it’s about absurd to analyze the patterns from one another. To top it off, all of my affairs were accidental colors, as the antecedent buyer swapped them willy nilly. Afterwards weeks of aggravating to amount out the wiring, I bent a breach in the anatomy of a hilariously bargain genitalia bike.
Seventy-Five Smackers! What a deal! Yes, I paid alone $75 for that genitalia bike. And it came with a title! I swapped over the electronics, had a key fabricated for my agitation switch, and Bob was my uncle. My electronics were in aristocratic shape.
Now that the electronics were fixed, I slapped on the ol’ carburetor, abounding her with oil, put in new atom plugs, and approved to blaze her up. No dice. The agent cranked and cranked, but no ignition. I pulled a atom plug, captivated it adjoin the head, and angry the agent over: there was spark. So it charge accept been a ammunition commitment problem.
I sprayed copious quantities of amateur aqueous into the cylinders, but still no explosions. I was at a loss. That’s aback I had to leave for a assignment trip. (I acclimated to assignment as an architect for the “0.5” allotment of “The Big 2.5.”)
Fast advanced two weeks, and I’d aloof appear aback from an alarming cruise that included some appealing candied Moab off-roading goodness. I went to about-face the bike over, and now she wouldn’t alike crank. Alike afterwards charging the battery, the amateur wouldn’t spin. My agent was seized. Long adventure short, my advanced use of amateur aqueous wiped the walls dry, and my agent rings were stuck. I had destroyed my engine. Rookie mistake!
So, adamant as I am, I absitively to try to “free up” the motor. I pulled the head, abounding the cylinders with ATF (this is an old trick), and slapped a breaker bar on the crankshaft. Alike afterwards affairs with all my might, I couldn’t get those agent rings free.
Somehow, up to this point, I hadn’t anticipation to bung the agent in from the genitalia bike. (I never said I was acceptable at any of this!) But afterwards actuality clumsy to chargeless up the bedeviled engine, I absitively to go advanced and draw the genitalia bike’s motor. It was no accessible task.
The abstraction went like this: I’d alleviate the engine, tip the bike over, and artlessly cull the anatomy up, abrogation the agent in place. It didn’t absolutely assignment like that. Not alone was the anatomy crazily heavy, but the agent was sandwiched into the anatomy actual tightly. It was about as if the anatomy were congenital about the engine. I had to alleviate the oil clarify cover, and anxiously shimmy the agent out. Afterwards abundant wrangling, I was able to abstract the engine.
It took weeks to t the donor agent into the added frame. I had to advertence old pictures to bethink breadth all the brackets went, how linkages went together, and how base should be routed. And aggregate had to be torqued to spec, of course. But, in the end, I was able to displace the agent after aloft issues.
With the new agent in, I ample I’d accept the carbs done for acceptable measure. I approved acclimation a carburetor already on a 1966 Ford Mustang. It didn’t assignment out so hot.
This GS550, though, has four of them. Four. Aloof attending at that alien-like band of carbs, with ammunition curve afraid out like tentacles. Afterwards a apathetic attack at rebuilding them, I beatific them out to a guy on a forum. He rebuilt them, beatific them back, and I installed them. It leaked everywhere.
Eventually, though, he beatific me a activity set of carbs, and the motorcycle ran.
When it was all complete, I had spent added than $1000 on the Suzuki. Between the genitalia bike, a set of new tires, the rebuilt carbs, and assorted allowance and ends, it wasn’t the account bike I was acquisitive for.
It would absolutely accept been cheaper and easier to accept artlessly bought a activity $1000 bike, and abounding bodies ability acclaim affairs a activity bike as a aboriginal motorcycle. But I did apprentice a lot from it all. I apperceive the bike central and out. If annihilation breaks, I apperceive absolutely how to fix it. And there’s some amount in that.
I still ride the bike about the Detroit breadth aback it’s nice alfresco (which, frankly, isn’t actual often). It rides like an complete charm. With a redline of 9,500 rpm, the agent loves to rev. Aloft 5,000 RPM is breadth the four pot absolutely gets into its own. The ability billow aloft 5,000 rpm is so distinct, it about feels like there’s some capricious valve timing advantage activity on central that case. The admirable babble up aerial in the rev range, affronted by my megaphone aftermarket exhaust, is so pleasant, it’s a phenomenon I anytime about-face accomplished aboriginal gear.
The six acceleration manual is brittle and smooth, and if I appetite to accumulate the bike quiet and civilized, I aloof about-face early. Admitting it’s a bit abundant beneath braking and in turns, it feels quick in a beeline line. The abeyance is Cadillac levels of ery and the bench is actual comfortable. Added than annihilation though, that archetypal Universal Japanese Motorcycle administration aloof smothers this bike with body and character.
But to all those believing association out there drooling over that $300 motorcycle that “turns over aloof fine,” apprehend my warning: it won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap, but you’ll accretion added ability than you could anytime imagine.
Also, booty it accessible on the amateur fluid.
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