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2009 Grave Robbers Ride

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This photo needs no caption except: This is Steve Wilkinson.
This article and many more like it are featured in Issue One 2010 of MotoUSA Magazine. This coffee table quality publication features timeless articles that focus on the best destinations and the rides from around the world is brought to you by the editors of Motorcycle-USA.com. Get your complimentary copy with every order from the exclusive distributor Motorcycle-Superstore. (While supplies last!)
We knew something was wrong heading up Lolo Pass. Wilkie had been setting a leisurely, yet steady pace for hundreds of miles through the Idaho and Montana mountains, but now his little Honda was burping smoke and smelled awful. Making a rapid approach, our three-rider group blitzed by grinning good luck. Wilkie grinned back. Miles ahead, the small pods of our nine-rider troop collected together in the dirt parking lot of Lolo Hot Springs. We waited for number 10.

After enough time to pull off helmets, gloves and jackets, and speculate as to poor Wilkie’s fate for a good 20 minutes – there he was. The Honda CB350 sputtered, hiccupped and popped its way down the asphalt and up the dirt. Pungent smoke followed, along with the sizzle of burning oil on the hot engine. Enveloped by a bungeed sleeping bag, tent and side luggage, Wilkie rolled to a stop with his feet pitched on makeshift highway pegs – a pipe lashed to the frame with half a roll of electrical tape.

Jumping off the bike and pitching it on the centerstand, Wilkie cackles while pointing at his rear tire. One side glistens in the sun, completely slicked with oil. Running to the front of the bike he looks at the four header pipes.
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“I blew a cylinder!” He yells, his voice raised because his ears are ringing with wind noise, not in anger or despair. Far from it. Our rally leader is giddy, hopping around with excitement. He blew a cylinder.

This was not your typical biker run…

Robbing the Grave

There were two simple requirements for participation in the first-ever Grave Robbers Run: Bikes had to be older than 1980 and no more than $1000 could be spent purchasing said bike and bringing it up to running order (exceptions made for safety items, like say, tires with tread on them and chains with more metal than rust…). After that, the plan was ambitious: Ride these junkers out of the grave and over 750-miles of mountain roads in the Idaho and Montana hinterlands.
Motorcycle USA tagged along with the Robbers aboard the vintage-themed Triumph Bonneville SE and Ducati GT1000 Touring.
Motorcycle USA tagged along with the Robbers aboard the vintage-themed Triumph Bonneville SE and Ducati GT1000 Touring.

The man behind the concept, Steve Wilkinson, is a friend of MotoUSA as a representative for powersports gear distributors like Joe Rocket and AXO (the latter actually sponsoring the ride). Motorcycle Superstore E-Commerce Manager Greg Anderson and I were eager to accept his invite out to Boise, Idaho – even if we were flagrantly flaunting the rules.

MotoUSA showed up with the retro-themed Ducati GT1000 Touring and Triumph Bonneville – a fitting backdrop for a modern classic comparison. I was happy to have a bike I knew would start with dull reliability every time I thumbed the starter, but there was great jealousy as the Grave Robbers assembled.

Seventies’ era Honda CBs started appearing, including two CB350s and a CB360, along with a Honda Hawk and CL350 Scrambler. After an hour a Hondamatic showed up too, with a Suzuki GS425 and Kawasaki KZ650 joining the fray. All were loaded haphazard with sleeping bags, camping gear and random tools, including extra parts that owners suspected might fail along the way.
One of the Robbers rides: 1972 Honda CL Scrambler.Grave Robbers Ride: Suzuki GS425.Another Robbers ride included this Hondamatic.
Three of the more eclectic rides to make of the Grave Robbers included a Honda Scrambler (left), an indestructible Suzuki GS425
(center) and the two-speed Hondamatic (right). Virtually all the rides were purchased on Craig's List for well under $1000.

More surprising than the rides were the riders. We expected adventurous grey haired chaps, but only four riders, including myself at 32, had even been born before the 1980 cutoff for the bikes! The largest contingent were in their early 20s or late teens, including Wilkie’s son and several friends. Wilkie and his two close friends made up the older vets.

Almost all had bought their rides off Craig’s List for dirt cheap. One, the Suzuki GS425, cost a piddly $150 and like most of the others was purchased in unstartable condition. But Wilkie guided the inexperienced through the restoration process: new tires and chains, occasionally soaking seized cylinders in brake fluid, flushing out old fuel tanks and the magic fix in most cases - cleaning out the carburetor. The youngsters, some of whom had never fussed with a motor before, were prodigious carb cleaners by the time their ancient mounts kicked over and fired to life. One young Robber rolled his eyes in mock horror when asked about the procedure. He’d cleaned his Honda Hawk’s carb 25 times.

In the Pines, in the Pines…
Idaho City was once the most populous town in the Idaho Territory thanks to a gold rush. But those days are gone.
First stop on Day 1 was Idaho City, which was once the most populous town in the Idaho Territory thanks to a gold rush. But those days are gone.

Yes, they grow some big ol’ Russet potatoes in Idaho, and the college football team plays on blue Astroturf, but once you get out of the flat drudgery of the I-84 Snake River plain you see what Idaho should really be known for – some of the most beautiful and rugged mountainous terrain in the Lower 48. Our planned three-day journey would skirt majestic ranges like the Sawtooth and Bitterroot, with almost a dozen rivers and two crossings of the Continental Divide along the way – a big loop from Boise up to Lolo, Montana and back. A memorable ride to be sure, provided those old bikes could make the journey...

Our Grave Robbing crew hobbled up Highway 21 – the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway – headed to Idaho City. Once the most populous town in the Idaho Territory upon discovery of gold, but like many such boom towns in the West, surviving today as a quasi-ghost town (relying on the annual Western National ISDE Qualifier as a major economic boost). The rickety buildings were an interesting site, but the first day was all about the natural scenery. The twisting Alpine road on 21 to Loman was memorable, but the first view of the aptly named Sawtooth Range in Stanley was worth the ride by itself.

The view of the majesty Sawtooth Range was worth the ride all by itself.
The view of the majestic Sawtooth Range was worth the ride all by itself.
Growing up in the West develops a powerful lust for open country. Fortunately, there are still great swaths of unspoiled landscape in which to lose yourself. Only three small towns dot the vistas of our route as we trace the Salmon River from Stanley to Challis on Highway 75, and then the Lemhi Valley and Salmon, Idaho on Highway 93. The open landscape as the thick forest transformed to bare rock and desert scrub is humbling - the only constant being steep canyon walls and an accompanying river whisking runoff to the Pacific.

That evening the crew shook out the kinks of 250 miles in the saloons dotting the main street of Salmon, which at 3122 population is a small town by any standard but the largest, excepting Boise, that we would ride through. Strolling back to the hotel that evening we reflected on how remarkable it was that nothing major went haywire. One rider, the youngest at 17, had a pair of minor low-speed get offs on his Suzuki, but no harm, no foul.

About then we smelled the gas fumes, a great slick of oil and fuel cascading from the Scrambler during our evening misadventures. Looks like we might get a late start tomorrow…
It looked like our trip might slow down considerably when seeing this oil and fuel slick the morning of Day 2.
It looked like our trip might slow down considerably when seeing this oil and fuel slick the morning of Day 2. But a quick fix was found and the behemoth wrench unveiled.
Due to the breakdown  Wilkie got the wrench.

Crossing the Great Divide

The Robbers awoke, waiting for the Scrambler to get a fix. A hole in the carburetor float leaked all the fuel and we needed a part shop, which needed to be open, which needed to have the proper replacement for a 1972 Honda CL Scrambler on hand. Here’s where the Grave Robbers were acutely unaware of their exceptionalism. The average rider would toss their hands up and call roadside assistance. Trip’s over. Not in this case. The exact part was found immediately in the town’s small bike shop. Open up a couple tool kits from fellow riders, fiddle with the carb, then kick the little CL to life and listen to a sweet purr from a 37-year-old bike!

We were surprised the little bike resuscitated so quickly, but not as surprised as when Wilkie brought out “the wrench.” A gigantic, grotesque mother of a wrench. A wrench that could tighten bolts on the Golden Gate Bridge, double as a medieval mace or bludgeon a full-grown bison. For our purposes the iron monstrosity served as a baton ritually passed to the latest rider breakdown. And it would get passed around with alarming regularity.

The first true test was an ascent of Lost Trail Pass, crossing the Continental Divide and entering Montana. Our Day 2 route traced footsteps of Lewis and Clark, not to mention Sacagewea – who, by the way, was born in present day Salmon (one of the reasons she was invaluable to the expedition because she spoke Shoshone, the dominant tribe in western Idaho at the time).

The Robbers took a liesurely approach to their near 800-mile journey.
The Robbers took a leisurely approach to their near 800-mile journey. This Robber's CB360 took an even more leisurely... As it often didn't want to start.
Climbing into Montana was memorable, but stopping at the top wasn’t optimal for one rider, whose CB360 refused to start. The last two to set off on the descent, we waited for the CB to kick over – to no avail. After many frustrating minutes he decided to coast down the pass and try jump starting. I followed for a time, watching in horror as he balanced on one footpeg trying to pirouette over his stacked gear, all the while his Honda rapidly gaining MPH as it freewheeled down the pass. Back safely in the saddle after a couple false starts, he waved me ahead and I enjoyed the triple-digit jaunt to catch up with the others. We all waited for the straggler at a perfect vantage to take in a long glimpse of Trapper Peak and the Bitterroot mountains, where upon arrival a cool down and tightening of the spark plug provided a fix for the 360.

Riding through the relatively congested small towns of the Bitterroot Valley proved the most tedious part of the trip. Fortunately, a stop in Darby, Montana allowed for some pranksterism in the form of a life-size cardboard cutout of John Wayne, purchased at a local souvenir shop, which was zip-tied to the back of the Hondamatic.

One rider got an unexpected pillion in Darby  Montana.
One rider got an unexpected pillion in Darby, Montana.
It’s an odd feeling trailing the visage of the Duke staring you down on the road. Motorists seemed confused too, but cardboard pistols drawn, and who knows how many real ones concealed (this is the Idaho/Montana panhandle after all…), the Robbers rode on in good humor – the Duke making it not quite to Lolo before the joke got hazardous enough to end up in a gas station garbage.

After Lolo, however, we started to climb again, which brings us back to Wilkie and his blown cylinder. The wrench was transferred as the great debate swirled over what to do. It is an immutable law of nature that broken machinery requires a quorum of men to debate the correct diagnosis and merits of solutions. Wilkie’s fix was no different, the consensus being to identify the blown cylinder and pull out the plug. Suddenly, the Honda was demoted to a CB270 Triple.

There it was, another five minute fix and we were back on the road. And Highway 12 proved the best riding of the day, skirting the Lochsa River and blasting wide sweepers en route to our night’s destination – the Three Rivers Resort.

Confluence of Rivers
 
The Lochsa and Selway converged to form the Clearwater River not a mile away from our cabin door as we awoke for Day 3. The morning would be a scenic jaunt down 12 to the town of Kooskia, followed by some fantastic roads – maybe the best of the trip – south on Highway 13. After that it was bigger highway, in the form of 95 and 55 to Boise.

The Day 2 destination was the Three Rivers Resort and its spacious cabins.
The Day 2 destination was the Three Rivers Resort and its spacious cabins.
The final day would prove to be the sprint, or rather, putter to the end. The odds of Wilkie limping home appeared either decent or lousy… We couldn’t be sure. Other rides seemed suspect too, notably the CB360 Twin, which was now skittish on whether it ever wanted to start.

Memorable stops on the way included a pullout descending the Whitebird Summit on 95, where the earth seemed to stretch out forever. The Grave Robbers also took a midday dip in the Salmon River, as the more respectable riding public kept on the road. The water temperature soothed overheated bodies, and the white sand beach, that’s right, white sand beach, was all to ourselves. We were having fun, and it showed – a perfect contrast to some others we saw on the road.

Sturgis was only days away, and there were plenty of real “bikers” heading out. One group gave a look, not a scowl, per se, but a look of near disapproval. I remember one rider in particular in Stanley, perfectly done up in the official H-D leather, official barely legal helmet, official head band and surly attitude. He was smirking at the Robbers’ collection of rides, and you could see “jap crap” and “rice burner” right on the edge of his lips. But he couldn’t say it. No one could. It’s next to impossible putting down a group that was having as much obvious fun as we were. Not to mention the fact that his bike was double, probably triple, the price of the entire Grave Robbers stable.

The final day included a refreshing dip in the Salmon River on HWY 95  the third such road on our trip to follow the Salmon.
The final day included a refreshing dip in the Salmon River on HWY 95, the third such road on our trip to follow the Salmon.
The wrench couldnt decide where it wanted to stay throughout the trip.
The wrench couldn't decide where it wanted to stay throughout the trip. This was particularly true on the final day, where it changed hands repeatedly.
It must be tiresome living up to an image, rather than riding for fun… But nothing could’ve brought us down.
That the wrench refused to stay in one place on the final day just made it more fun. Who would hold it last? The CB360 wouldn’t start. Here’s the wrench. Kawasaki’s battery went dead. Wrench. Somewhere in there Wilkie got it back again, and then passed it off. One wrench bearer actually dropped the monstrosity in the middle of the road, which could’ve taken out a semi – such was its ungodly size. But he smartly retrieved it before getting rid of it again.

As the hours wound on, the crew scattered into small groups, or solo riders. Every man for himself back through the more congested Highway 55, and stellar views of the Payette River rapids, before opening up to divided four-lane and downtown Boise.

As with the beginning, at the end we waited as Grave Robbers trickled in one or two at a time. As more and more arrived, the wrench was nowhere to be seen. We couldn’t decide if it would be fitting or a big letdown to go rescue the final rider just miles from the finish. But just as we made ready to go looking, we could hear the motors.

The final two limped into the driveway. The $150 Suzuki, the most bulletproof bike of the bunch it would turn out, escorting the CB360, whose rider kept his sneaker smashed over the right cylinder. Rolling to a stop he raised his foot to reveal a wad of duct tape barely keeping a problematic sparkplug in place. He’d made it to the finish, the last man to lunge across the marathon line and jumping off the Honda he hoisted the mammoth wrench above his head.

He was grinning ear to ear, and so was everyone else.
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Grave Robbers Run Map
Grave Robbers Run Map













Our Grave Robbers Ride skirted a whole host of rivers and mountain ranges through Idaho's pristine back country.
RATING THE GRAVE ROBBERS
ROADS ****
The roads on our journey delivered scenic views and certain stretches were five star and then some. Of course, 750 miles of road are bound to have some long, straight boring parts, and we hit a little construction on Highway 12 with lots of gravel.

SCENERY *****
If your experience with Idaho roads is limited to I-84 then, yeah, it’s pretty boring scablands and sagebrush. However, get next to some mountains and you’ll get some spectacular vistas burned into your cerebral cortex.

FOOD ***
Decent road food on our trip, but Idaho’s greatest culinary export are the fried Burbank Russets stuffed into McDonald’s red boxes. Sampled some fine microbrews in Salmon.

PEOPLE ****
Ran into a couple crusty heavies riding for the Bar & Shield brand who seemed upset at others having a good time, but overall Idaho is full of friendly folks.

ACCOMMODATIONS ***
We didn’t stay in any flea bags, but if you’re traveling on a busy weekend or during a local event, better to book ahead as hotel rooms in the small towns can fill up fast. Most towns have some high-end getaways, if you want to splurge.

BIKES *****
Grave Robber rides get five stars all the way – easily the most original stable of mounts we’ve had on one of our travel adventures. The modern classic Bonneville and Ducati GT1000 also got a lot of compliments during stops and fit in well with the real vintage rides. 
 
Grave Robbers Run Travel Info
AIRPORTS
Boise Airport (BOI)
Boise is the best starting point to retrace our journey, with flights from Delta, United and Southwest, as well as smaller regional carriers. If you want to run the loop from the top, Missoula, Montana also services numerous flights.
www.cityofboise.org/Departments/Airport  

LODGING
Salmon
We booked clean, comfortable rooms at the Salmon River Hotel out of expediency, but we heard the Sacajawea Inn was biker friendly, with a quirky atmosphere and includes a free home-cooked breakfast, fire pit and camping spaces. Another attractive option is the Syringa Lodge, located on the outskirts of town with a more scenic, low key atmosphere available for under $100.
www.syringalodge.com  
www.hotelsalmon.com  
www.salmonmotel.com  

Three Rivers Resort
The best stay of our trip. Unmatched views from nearby rivers: Lochsa, Selway and Clearwater. Great food and drinks at the onsite Lodge restaurant. Also, the cabins sleep four or more, ideal for a rowdy group of motorcycle riders!
www.threeriversresort.com  

Wilkinson Estate
Good luck getting into this palatial estate bordering the Eastern foothills of Boise, with prime off-road riding literally across the street. Seriously though, special thanks to Steve Wilkinson for putting us up not once, but twice during our travels.

DINING
Bertram’s Brewery – Salmon, Idaho
Asking around town for the best eats, Bertram’s was a universal mention. The pub fare is good. The in-house microbrews served on tap are better. www.bertramsbrewery.com  

Lochsa Louie’s Bar – Three Rivers Resort
Tasty steaks and burgers are exceptional after a long day in the saddle. Even better are the pitchers of beer and prime real estate on the deck, with clear view of the Lochsa River. www.threeriversresort.com  

Calamity Jane’s Café
Coffee will dismay raised-pinkie Americano drinkers (ashamedly me) but the biscuits and gravy stick to your ribs. Cheap, hearty road food.

RENTALS
High Desert Harley-Davidson
www.highdeserthd.com  

Eagle Rider
www.eaglerider.com  

AdMO-Tours
www.rental-motorcycle.com  

GEARBAG
Shoei Multitec Helmet $495
Joe Rocket Alter Ego Jacket $275
Joe Rocket Steel Pants $90 
Shift Stryker Gloves $50 
Shift Fuel Street Shoes $100 
 
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Comments
William Billings -True Grit  March 9, 2010 03:11 PM
An enthusiastic "Amen!" to the Grave Robbers' ride! My first ride was a Honda Super 90, or as Milwaukee Mike claims, "a girlie bike". That kind of attitude - and the whole I'm a badass, dress-in-black with a $40 hankie on my head, but I can't change the oil in my bike - is what made me reluctant to buy a Harley. I've ridden my Road Glide cross country a dozen times, including solo rides from my home in the Florida Keys to Sturgis and back, and will be riding my 600 cc sport bike ("jap bike" to Milwaukee Mike)to Salt Lake City this June. My self respect doesn't depend on what brand I ride, but what I do, or don't with the bike. Congratulations to The Robbers and best wishes to those who choose to make the next ride.
Sid Kerr -Next Ride  March 3, 2010 09:30 PM
I would like to go on your next vintage ride this year. If you could send me some information, and dates, I would appreciate it. Sid mca3mp@yahoo.com
kaptin america -king kong  February 19, 2010 03:05 AM
As the fella that rode the 360, I gotta say it was a blast of a time. I challenge anybody who wants to come along on the next ride. 79 and older, Frankenstein bike. Which means parting together a bike from scrap. I will have a side hack. Beat that bitches.....
mkruk2 -Love these bikes!  January 26, 2010 10:07 AM
I have a CB360 right now that I am cafe-ing out. This article was a pleasure to read and I could see the rider with the 360 having horrible problems from a mile away haha! I also have a 2006 Suzuki cruiser and I get a bigger grin from riding this little Honda any day! I am also surprised at the cold comments these guys got from HD riders. I usually get compliments and stories of "I had one of those in my college days" from other riders. Too bad I don't qualify for this, I put in a lot more than a grand already into the bike!
mkruk2 -Love these bikes!  January 26, 2010 10:07 AM
I have a CB360 right now that I am cafe-ing out. This article was a pleasure to read and I could see the rider with the 360 having horrible problems from a mile away haha! I also have a 2006 Suzuki cruiser and I get a bigger grin from riding this little Honda any day! I am also surprised at the cold comments these guys got from HD riders. I usually get compliments and stories of "I had one of those in my college days" from other riders. Too bad I don't qualify for this, I put in a lot more than a grand already into the bike!
Moore -Thanks a lot of trashing the road!  January 20, 2010 05:19 PM
I enjoyed the article except for the part where the rider left oil on the road for the rest of us top find as we are leaned over. Also that was a great picture of an oil slick in the parking lot! It is 2010 does anyone get it yet? I too have ridden 12 from Lolo, following the Lewis and Clark trail all the way to the coast. Frankly, it is frustrating to see someone laugh about something that is a true hazard to other riders, especially on that section of highway. We have all seen this hazard on the road- now we know where it comes from and we are the enemy! The decent thing to have done would have been to pull off the road and get help.
Grumbler -Lolo Pass Loop - blogs  January 7, 2010 10:44 AM
Have done the Lolo Pass Loop several times from/to Boise albeit always as an overnighter while going clockwise. We did do a Northwest Loop which had us riding west from Missoula to Clarkston which was killer. See http://grumbleronwheels.blogspot.com/ for that loop and a bunch of others.
The Burg -Grave Robbers ride  December 27, 2009 02:52 AM
I'll be on it next year! Sounds like a blast. I've been looking on Craigslist every day. Red woods next year right?
bradleymaynar -don't tarnish your badge  December 10, 2009 04:14 PM
"Just how much fun is it riding little girlie bikes that barely run?
Those dudes must not have much in the way of "self-respect".
And it just goes to show that jap bikes aren't worth spit if you can't ride them without breaking down or paying next to nothing (but thats all they're really worth)."

Are you serious?!? These guys did something on bikes that were dirt cheap because they were destined for the scrap heap or part outs on ebay. Ride your ride and have fun doing it. These folks did!
Sick Mick -great article...  December 9, 2009 05:56 AM
as someone that rides a '78 GS750E almost everyday... it's great to see anything about the old stuff, this sounds like alot of fun... unfortunately my ride doesn't qualify as she's being fully resto-rodded and has way more than a grand in her... but I'd NEVER ride anything else... had more than my fill of H-D's when I was young and stupid {I'm old and stupid now...}.
yodude -Ive found my callin  December 8, 2009 03:45 PM
Ive got a Honda 70 that is screaming for me to take it on the road. Its a tight fit,Im 6'6" and looking to tow a trailer for my stuff. Does anyone have a trailer for about $50?
javajoe -awesome fun!!  December 8, 2009 03:19 PM
now this is the spirit of riding 2 wheels...all i've read lately on these blogs is a bunch of malcontents who like to bash harley riders...i have harleys but would love to buy a clunker to do this on..i know this stretch of highway well...i wish i had my '79 kawasaki kz 650sr...i actually rode this kz from sacto. calif., to banff, alberta and back in 7 days with only 1 ticket..and then i didn't have to pay it..long story..
Woodman -Hmmmm  December 6, 2009 04:58 AM
There is a nonrunning XS400 on craigslist for $500 or best offer...Hmmm.
Woodman -Great story, here is one.  December 6, 2009 04:34 AM
When I live in South Jersey in the early 80s none of our group could ever afford to go to bikeweek in March so we would do a long camping weekend in early March to get the winter out of our bones and into the season ridng spirit.

We would pick a campground, ski resort or hunting cabin several hours away, and do a long late winter ride. Oten there was still traces of snow. Run whatcha brung and do the first test ride of the winter rebuild. I was strictly an XS Yamaha rider back then.

Young, poor crazy kids who loved and lived to ride. We were so happy just to ride we did not know how miserable we were supposed to be without heated clothes or GPS.

Ever been cold, wet and lost as the sun sets hours from home on a motorcycle? Oh the Humanity!
Huhtchy -George82  December 4, 2009 04:37 PM
We will do the ride next year on clunkers for sure. We had the classic redux Triumph & Ducati so we thought it would be a good back drop to that review too. We actually planned on bring one editor & one photographer on the new bikes and then have another guy on a jalopy and focus the artcile on him - but I had a last minute change of plans and it was easier to just run the new bikes so we could test them on an epic ride and check out what the guys did at Grave Robbbers. The whole time they talked smack to us for not having a true Grave Digger bike so next year we promise to play by the rules.


George82 -Am I the only one that noticed?  December 3, 2009 03:54 PM
Why was Motorcycle USA allowed to participate on their new Triumph Bonneville SE and Ducati GT1000, I guess they will never know how much fun they rest of the group had. Come on guys get in the spirit of things.

This article was great because I'm already planning a long camping trip on my 71 CB450.

And milwaukee mike probably doesn't even have a bike he rides a scooter!!! Hahahahahahaha He just want some attention so here it is.
Sumanster -Great Article!  December 3, 2009 12:43 PM
Now that's what a ride is supposed to be: fun no matter what you're riding - or perhaps *in spite of* what you're riding! :)

Reminds me of a cross-country ride I took with a couple of friends a few years ago. At one point, one of the bikes started sucking gas like crazy in one cylinder, contaminating the oil to the point where it was more gasoline than oil. The owner did a roadside oil change, and was able to identify which cylinder it was, but we only later thought of loosening the spark plug to let the gas escape out the plug hole instead of past the rings. The bike was still rideable, so we were able to complete the ride, but had to stop about every 30 miles to refill his tank. Definitely made the trip more memorable, though I don't think he was too happy at the time! Much later he told me the problem was due to his vacuum-assisted petcock, which was supposed to draw vacuum from that cylinder, but due to a poor seal the line was drawing fuel straight from the tank into that cylinder.

In any case, thanks for the great article as well as the stunning photos in the gallery! I'll have to keep that part of Idaho in mind for a future ride.
Steve781 -Fun Article  December 3, 2009 09:40 AM
Thank you to the authors for showing us that there is hope for American motor journalism. That was a fun read.
EAB -One more thing  December 3, 2009 08:55 AM
To Milwaukee Mike. If you can't have fun on a small motorcycle, then the only thing you are doing on a bigger bike is stroking your own ego. Don't kid yourself if you think it's anything else.
EAB -Not that impressive  December 3, 2009 08:45 AM
Umm, this event is not all that impressive. Now if you really want to challenge yourself on some less than optimal equipment give this ago. http://www.lakeerieloop.com. Also view the associated videos on YOUTUBE. Really guys, one cyl out? We had a guy change his whole engine mid race. Another guy almost lost his whole swingarm. Now that's a trip.
Jerry -Milwaukee trying hard again  December 3, 2009 12:30 AM
Milwaukee, why don't a bring a vibrator from you big American-Vibrator company, and watch its rear end getting kicked by the japs especially. I guess YOUR type have never heard of the word "technology".
Cold -I have to laugh.  December 2, 2009 08:02 PM
Does this milwaukee mike tosser try to crap in every single article on this site? I mean, it's kinda funny in a lame internet-troll kind of way, but talk about a one-trick pony! I get a kick out of "self-respect" apparently materializing after one buys a Harley-Davidson. Brilliant! I didn't know it could be purchased nowadays! I dig the article, though. Sounds like a hoot!
Ray Fulton -Vintage  December 2, 2009 04:52 PM
I bought a brand new 1975 RD 350 when I got out of the Navy and used it for every type of riding you could think of, but I made the mistake of modifying it with different coils and headers and some rudimentary porting which turned into one wild, unpredictable, entertaining ride. Got tired of explaining to cops that I had to go 100 to keep from fouling the plugs, and even getting a warning after
giving that excuse to one, sold to my little brother and got myself a Yamaha 750 Seca in 81. Went together to the Smoky Mountains in 84 and he put the hurt on me with my former machine. Like your story, there was 6 of us in the group as we checked out the Parkway,and alot of backroads after amassing 2 speeding tickets on I-40. Good story
Maybe some more info on mechanical advice like tools-besides the monster wrench and a little more visual record, I know thats hard to do but it creates a better dream for me, Thanks!
backroads after amassing 2 speeding tickets on I-40 . Good story but I would be interested in the particular troubls on the bikes and what to bring in the toolbag in addition to the monster wrench. Thanks
irksome -Wish I still had my old Bultaco.  December 2, 2009 04:45 PM
This sounds remarkably similar to riding around with guys on their new Harleys, minus the pirate costumes.
milwaukee mike -robbers run  December 2, 2009 04:32 PM
Just how much fun is it riding little girlie bikes that barely run?
Those dudes must not have much in the way of "self-respect".
And it just goes to show that jap bikes aren't worth spit if you can't ride them without breaking down or paying next to nothing (but thats all they're really worth).
houser222@hotmail.com -Grave Robbers ride  December 2, 2009 03:29 PM
Sounds like a great time. This should become an annual event!
jermtzu@gmail.com -sounds like lots of fun  December 2, 2009 11:06 AM
i would've loved to participated but didn't hear about it.
cap'n -Excellent  December 2, 2009 09:23 AM
Wonderful article, guys.