Backroad Ramblings August 2010

August 31, 2010
Jason Giacchino
Jason Giacchino
Contributing Editor| Articles|RSS

A freelancer and published novelist Jason is currently the editor in chief of Mountain Bike Tales digital magazine and holds a State University of New York degree in applied science with a minor in journalism. When not hunched over a computer monitor, he can be found playing outside in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York.

No Threat to Land Speed Records Anywhere

“How fast would you say it goes?”

I ignored the question at first, instead devoting my attention to the arduous task of lining up not one or two planks/makeshift ramps, but three to the tailgate of the pickup truck.

Kawasaki Tecate
After Mike invested his time and energy bringing back to life the 1985 Kawasaki Tecate-3; The Honda 200X restoration project was handed over to me. (1986 Tecate-3 pictured)

“I mean like top of fifth gear, wide open. Just estimate how fast you think it would go.”

The interview was coming from a friendly neighbor of mine who, as if drawn to the presence of another off-road vehicle being unloaded in my driveway, decided this would be a good time to stroll over and discuss top-speed stats.

“Well,” I began with a sigh, “with me in the saddle, nowhere near Thanksgiving dinner, on the Bonneville Salt Flats, wind to my tail, skin-tight Lycra body suit, fresh tires all around and the moon’s gravitational pull on the planet at its absolute maximum, I would say it’s easily good for 43 mph.”

He was already on his way back across the street by the time the farthest left plank slipped off and landed on my wife’s foot. Had I known unimposing top-speed figures were such an effective tool at sending him packing, I would have been discussing my riding lawnmower’s performance years ago. Slippery, dew-covered planks and nosey neighbors notwithstanding, the unloading of my latest acquisition was fairly uneventful under the clear July moonlight.

In my ever-curious rotation of cycles, ATVs and dirt bikes, this latest member of the brood has the distinction of being both the oldest current entry and the least premeditated of all time. Additionally, it represents one of only two inner-family transactions to have taken place between my relatives, which happens to consist of nearly a dozen riders of various disciplines. Interestingly and purely coincidentally, both cash transactions were for the acquisition/departure of three-wheelers of all things.

The specimen in question that yanked my neighbor off the couch was one well-used 1984 Honda 200X that had been in the stewardship of my cousin, Mike, for the past two years during which he managed to amass a whopping six minutes of saddle time.

He picked the machine up in a fit of nostalgia with intentions of restoring the ATC to factory freshness amidst countless other restorations, motocross racing, full time jobs, house remodeling and a whole host of similar distractions. The lowly Honda sat quietly in the corner of his garage while awaiting its well-deserved massage. And the time had nearly arrived when a 1985 Kawasaki Tecate 3 came along in the form of a tantalizing Craigslist ad, but that would also end up putting the final nail in the coffin for the Honda 200X restoration project.

Honda ATC200X
An initial inspection on the Honda 200X revealed not too difficult repairs like a fork rebuild, a rear shock replacement and new rear brake assembly. (1986 200X pictured)

After several months of showering the Tecate with affection and pricey bling, Mike has himself a machine that outperforms the limitations of the three-wheeler each and every time he rides it. Having fulfilled his ambition to resuscitate an archaic three-wheeler, the Honda’s time for departure had arrived. All Mike needed now was a fool with a little bit of cash, a powerful imagination, and a sympathetic heart when it comes to honest equipment in need of a little TLC. Enter yours truly.

Looking only to recoup the $300 he invested initially in the ATC, he presented his case to me this past Tuesday evening. Saturday night I was lining up three wheels to three planks; hardly enough time for me to conduct my usual pre-purchase ceremony of incisively poring over old magazine articles, Googling every possible related search string, and scrutinizing eBay for part-support. Instead, I handed over the three bills, unloaded the machine (which fired up in only three-kicks by the way) and parked it under a tarp to await potential restoration.

Truthfully though, it really shouldn’t be all that taxing of a project. Initial analysis reveals a 26-year-old machine requiring only a fork rebuild, a rear shock replacement, adjustment of some noisy valves and a whole new rear brake assembly (which, if Internet rumors are to be believed, can be accomplished with more readily available Honda CR85 brake components).

It’s certainly been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to test my skills on three-wheels but I’m looking forward to the occasion with a strange sense of patience that only comes with the satisfaction of fine tuning a project such as this. If all goes well, it would make for an interesting conversation piece not to mention a decent loaner machine for our ever-increasing popular weekend trail rides. And who knows, with a little finesse, 45 mph may well be a possibility. Just don’t tell my neighbor.