I’ve decided to participate in the Ozark Mountain Scramble, a three-day event/ride in June that has just three simple rules: Your motorcycle must be from 1980 or earlier, 750cc or less, and cost no more than $1000 complete. This appeals to my sense of practical motoring.
I’ve chosen two bikes for the OMS. (Yes, I know I can only ride one at a time.) One is a 1974 Yamaha RD350 that I’ll write about later, and the other is a 1977 Kawasaki KZ400. I spent some time Christmas Eve checking it over, and I’ve already learned that while the bike is a 1977 model, the engine has been swapped in from a KZ440, probably from 1981. (The frame should be the limiting factor for the OMS age requirement, so I think we’re in the clear on that.)
An initial list of things that will need to be addressed, or perhaps just ignored to stick to the budget:
- The rear sprocket is pretty ugly, so it would be good to replace it. That means replacing the front sprocket and the chain, too.
- The fuel tank is ugly on the outside, but what matters is that it’s rusty inside. I’ll treat it with either Caswell’s or POR-15 so that rust doesn’t end up getting into the carburetors.
- Tires, tubes, and rim strips should probably go without saying, since the bike hasn’t seen a road in many years. The OMS route is about 600 miles, and the ride out and back will add another 1000 or so miles.
- The steering head bearings are a lot loose. Regardless of that I’ll need to clean and regrease them, but “loose” often means “screwed up,” too. If the parts are cheap enough I might just replace them for good measure.
- I’ve already removed the carburetors, and they don’t look all that bad inside. They’ll get new o-rings and rubber plugs where needed and maybe rebuild kits for good measure. The carb holders are pretty well ruined, so I’ll order a new set. The airbox-to-carb boots look good enough, though I suspect they’re not a perfect fit.
- The headlight and chrome trim that holds it in place are both missing. Since I believe in stock motorcycles, I’ll probably try to get stock parts for this. Adding an LED headlight could be amusing and might fit the budget, but it would be weird to use a modern component here without changing anything else from stock.
Oh, and then there’s the right muffler rubbing on the rear brake arm, plus the angle of the luggage rack relative to the fuel tank, handlebars, etc. Based on the evidence so far, I suspect this bike was crashed at some point, and that as soon as I get it to where I can do an actual road test, I’ll find that the frame is “tweaked.” Whether I try to remedy this problem will depend on just how badly it rides. Fingers crossed on that one; I’d really rather not have to convert this into a parts bike. (Or maybe it will give me a chance to learn frame straightening, because that’s a great idea.)