My last motorcycle was a 2008 BMW F800GS and most of the time riding it was spent worrying about the money I had put into it and what I would need to put into it when services rolled around. I was distracted away from my surroundings, distant from any joy and anxious that if the bike broke down then I would also breakdown. When I sold the bike I actually had an audible sigh of relief. It was bliss. A lot of my worries went away with that machine. A glutton for punishment I was back on eBay looking for another motorcycle about 8 weeks later. However I would not make the same mistake again.
I had a new set criteria; it had to be cheap, a machine I could work on myself and inexpensive to run and maintain. When you increase from pedal to ICE (internal combustion engine) power you are always going to have to pay more but still it does not have to cost the earth. Back to basics was the name of the game.
So after a number of weeks the 2002 Kawasaki ER5 was delivered. I bought it from a scrap yard for £750 (do not ever trust the price on the mudguard) as a cat D write off* and over two months set about getting it road worthy. To date I have changed the spark plugs, rebuilt the brake calliper, bled the brakes and put on new pads, put on new fuel lines, new clutch cable, changed the fork oil and seals, replaced all bulbs, changed oil and filter and changed the coolant. I have also done lots of small jobs to make sure it would be in a road fit state. Not all of this had to be done but it worth doing when you have no idea when it was last done. All of this has been done for less than £100. So far so good.
I have learnt a lot while doing this and learnt the art of taking my time to complete these jobs and to think rationally when faced with something I am unsure about. I am still awaiting the paperwork I need to have the bike on the road but we are not far off burning off down the road.
I have been very lucky with this bike and found a couple of surprises. I bought this bike with no paperwork or knowledge of its history. I found this energising and exciting a complete unknown – only more to be discovered. I found it interesting that the previous owner has been communicated thorough the machine. It has clearly been well looked after all the wiring is neat; it has aftermarket air filter, chain, exhaust and almost new tyres and clearly has been well maintained and loved.
This motorcycle suffered a low sped low side crash that dented the petrol tank and damaged the left hand mirror. It was a ‘write off’ from the insurance companies view and subsequently was sold to me.
Often you have to be wary of motorcycles being sold at 11,000 miles when a ‘big’ service is needed at 12,000 or mindful of any big payout you, as the new owner, will have to undertake in some short months. In addition, when you are thinking of selling any vehicle you may be less inclined to replace parts when needed or service it well. This bike was clearly still being ridden and the owner or rider planned to continue riding it for some time until they binned it down the road. There have been a few steps in between but imagine that this person binned it down the road and walked off. I came along picked it up dusted it off and have ridden away. Magic.
It is a simple machine and should be classed as a good transport solution and not that as a frill-seeking machine. Having gone through the whole machine it clearly has been built well in the first place, metal plates have been proudly stamped with ‘Made in Japan’. Bikes like this are only getting fewer in numbers as a lot are now outsourced to other regions of the world instead of in the country of origin of that company.
It can be described as a ‘honest’ motorcycle. Having said that a friend invited me to go on a track day with him on it (as it is not on the road yet) and I wasn’t completely against the idea. Ringing the neck off the thing could be fun. This motorcycle is very different to any that I have ridden before. It will be the cheapest, least powered and most basic one I have ever owned. As I said going back to basics! Theses motorcycles have proven themselves over the last twenty years so I do not for see any problems that I will not be able to manage myself.
So not for everyone buying a crashed vehicle with no history, paper work and little mechanical know how but armed with a service manual and a bit of time it is something that I am already enjoying more than my last motorcycle; and I haven’t even ridden the damn thing yet.
* an insurance company deems that the cost to repair the motorcycle outstrips the motorcycles value and therefore not worth fixing. Though this makes financial sense a lot of the price of fixing a machine is in the persons labour hours charge instead of parts. Well if I am doing the work then it starts to make a lot of sense. ‘Cat D’ is normally only cosmetic stuff. Cat C ‘light damage’ but repairable. Cat B & A cannot be returned to the road. It has to be scrapped.