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  1. #1

    sunmmat wot i wrote [and goit paid for as well!]

    Oranges and Lemons

    Amongst the biking cognoscenti there is a well used term to describe less than satisfactory examples of our chosen form of transport .These are known as Lemons
    I have heard other descriptions of these unfortunate machines but we’ll keep it clean.

    To qualify as a lemon a bike has to be, through design or lack of it, unable to perform adequately amongst its peers .Or be aimed at a faction of the market that just doesn’t exist or indeed be just an unreliable piece of crap.

    Throughout the last 3 or 4 decades there has been plenty of these and in this column well be looking at some of the worst ones.

    Now before I go any further and incur the wrath of the combined membership of the “I own one of those bikes and it’s alright “owners club .this is my opinion that just happens to be shared with a fair few others with more years experience than me.

    I reckon there will be a few bikes that will surprise you in the list and maybe a few that you would consider to be worthwhile owning ?

    Well that’s a personal decision and as long as you know the pitfalls and limitation s of your choice I say more power to yer arm and good luck .After all yours truly has spent too much time and money on a few of them myself ….some manufacturers whole product list falls into this category but to be fair most of those are designed for the territory in which their built… I cite Voskhod as one, great in Russia as a cheap get arounds but as far as exporting them to the West they’d have been kinder if they’d sent us a ballistic missile.
    Fantic an Italian manufacturer that’s given us some great little 2 strokes but to unload the awful Fantic chopper on an unsuspecting public ?? An 8foot chop powered by your grannies lawnmower motor !
    The worst thing about it was you couldn’t even outrun the people throwing things at you…..and believe me they would !

    Its said that you get what you pay for and in the history of motorcycling cheap doesn’t always mean good value.
    Come in CZ your time is up, some where back in the dark recess’s of time these bikes were modern…. yup that’d be about 1933 and its not because their from behind the iron curtain !! Because in contrast MZ managed to chuck out some fine bikes maybe not stylish but good performers in their own right

    The Japs don’t get off lightly either …..
    Honda’s CB500T with its one down five up and over the handlebars gearbox [it had a habit of seizing]and had naff styling. I mean, brown is for living rooms !.
    Yamaha’s ill fated over complicated XS500 how can they market such a bike alongside a legend like the XS650 is beyond me ..
    Kawasaki s horrific Z750 twin like the Honda mentioned before but even worse its almost like the two factories designers are one and the same bloke ..
    Oh yeah and then there’s Suzuki…. hard to find lemons from their factory but releasing a rotary bike that’s heavier, more expensive and performs worse that its nearest stable mate in almost every area is some feat …
    Enter the Brits, pioneers of so many motorcycling innovations yet doomed to failure because of short-sighted management and lack of development .I cite the deplorable build quality of anything British during the 70’s and the last minute dropping of BSA/Triumphs wonderful little 350ohc twins in 1970
    And of course not forgetting good old Harley Davidson .. In my humble opinion the Americans backed the wrong horse on that one,my father had an Indian and there’s no comparison in my books.
    The whole point here is that every one of these companies have given us some amazing machines but every now and then a true lemon slips through and that’s what I’ll be uncovering.. feel free to chuck in yer two bobs worth ..we never stop learning.

  2. #2
    Bloke with the stick Gix11's Avatar
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    Good to have these back mate! Cheers Jim.

  3. #3
    ASF Gold Full Member LKC73's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Sydney, NSW, Australia.
    Nice work Jimmy, I do believe though there are 2 types of Lemons.
    1, The poor design and manufacture you have high lighted in your post.

    2, The Friday built lemons, You'd know these things, the good bikes that seemed to be rushed through on the factory floors on a Friday afternoon before knock off. No matter how many times you took it either back to a dealer of fixed it yourself, the fucking thing would always break down on you.
    When everyone else that had the same model had no issues and raved about it. Maybe that's just another story you can bring up.

    I look forward to your next instalment mate.
    Monster GSXR 7/11 RIP!
    Raven R1 Demon.
    K7 750 German Style (under construction)

  4. #4
    Bloke with a smaller stick rod185651's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by LKC73 View Post
    Nice work Jimmy, I do believe though there are 2 types of Lemons.
    1, The poor design and manufacture you have high lighted in your post.

    2, The Friday built lemons, You'd know these things, the good bikes that seemed to be rushed through on the factory floors on a Friday afternoon before knock off. No matter how many times you took it either back to a dealer of fixed it yourself, the fucking thing would always break down on you.
    When everyone else that had the same model had no issues and raved about it. Maybe that's just another story you can bring up.

    I look forward to your next installment mate.
    This should be good Jim, I agree though, never buy a machine built on a Friday or a Monday.

  5. #5
    Automatic for the people?

    I had always thought that automatic cars were for people who had no interest in driving, and thus an automatic motorcycle would be aimed at the same sort of people.
    Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here but the thrill of snicking through the gears and conquering corners on a sunny day is it for me..Dont get me wrong, I've ridden my fair share of twist and go scooters. But this bike from Honda was in my mind a complete waste of time as was its bigger brother the CB750A.
    Take a reasonable 400 four stroke twin and lumber it with a weird fluid clutch and 250 performance..I mean what’s the point? If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m referring to the Honda CB400A or the Hawk as it was marketed in some regions.

    My personal experience with this bike was late 1984 so the bike was already about 6 years old. I was working for a dude[this guy was a purveyor of Columbia’s “other” export] , cash in hand, doing up his caravans with my younger brother
    Anyway we found ourselves devoid of transport and as such he said he’d sort a motorbike out for us. He had no idea about bikes so we feared the worst.
    When he said hed found us a bike we could borrow for a bit and that it was a 400 I thought ok at least it’s not a moped.

    Let me tell you the 50mile trip to and from the south of Kent two up on this thing was about as frustrating as listening to War and Peace recited by a stuttering Russian .
    The bike had a two speed ‘box the 1st ratio was high, the change speed being about 50 mph [80kph] at which speed the engine screamed its tits off …the 2nd ratio took you up to the eventual top speed of a bout 85mph [136kph]..
    You can pull away in 2nd but you’d be out dragged by grannies on nana mobiles, the bike had no clutch, obviously .And the left hand lever was indeed a hand brake??? The one on our example had a fault with the lock out peg that kept the lever from being pulled in while you were riding. This resulted in at least one bike drifting episode when the back wheel locked up as I’d forgotten it was an auto, wrecked my new Calvin’s I can tell you.

    In America no doubt this bike had a following but anywhere that riders appreciated the essence of motorcycling in its full complexity it was inevitably the wall flower in the Honda showrooms……. the bike that wasn’t going to the ball and so ended up in the bargain bin …

    Want one? Well in all honesty its reliable and basically the same as its manual cousin
    Personally if I was looking for a 400 Honda from that era Id peg the CB400N as a viable bike... much quicker without the sluggish power delivery. By now being the wrong side of 40 I guess, if you find an Auto Hawk they’ll be either a basket case or mint. The former being a heap of work and the auto bits being rare and the latter being a mite expensive... the main question would be …why? Ok my times up till next time take it easy, stay upright

    Little chuckle before I go… a vertically challenged cop came up to me the other day and said “I m not happy “so I replied “which one are you then?” See ya

  6. #6
    Missile from behind the Iron curtain

    The Voskhod 175 Cossack …..the only way youd get this particular motorcycle to perform like a missile would be to launch it from a Mig-21 at 30000 feet!
    Before I go any further I think a short history lesson is in order , the aforementioned bike is Russian and was distributed by a weird company called Satra [an acronym for Soviet American trade association ] Voskhod is a Russian spaceship from the 60's, a Mig-21 is a Russian fighter jet from the same era and a Cossack is a mental sword weilding horseman from the Ruskies chequered past.

    The only thing the bike has in common with any of these is the country of origin it is certainly not spaceship like in technology ,jet like in acceleration,and to be honest the Cossacks horse would probably out run it .
    During my college days as an impoverished apprentice I stupidly parted with 30 quid for a 1977 version ...i started the ancient looking 2 stroke .. after much swearing and grinding of teeth putted off down the road hoping none of my mates saw me [thank god for full face helmets ].

    I bought the machine in 1984 and it already looked 40yrs old ,to be fair it was built like the proverbial tank ,weighed a ton and if you buried it it would probably start and run 3000 yrs from now . But to a 24yr old it was unbearably naff , top speed was about 45 mph[74kph] and you could read War and Peace in the time it took to get there … so all in all not very good ..

    The 10 asthmatic cart horses it produced would never get to the advertised 59mph[95kph] unless you went down a 1:5 hill ,its styling was straight from World War 2, and my little brothers pushie had better brakes , its only redeeming feature was its reliability it ran and ran and believe me I tried really hard to kill it. When i finally decided to give it some maintenance I found it had a destroyed small end bush [yes you read that right ..no fancy roller bearing ..a phosphur bronze bush was its small end ]and the carb s needle had so much play in it you could use it to conduct the 1812 overture , the carb itself made Amal carbs look modern .

    Seriously though the bike was an eastern copy of a BSA Bantam and if compared to that it doesnt suffer so badly ..if it d been sold in 1961!!
    But in the company of late 70's 2 strokes it really didnt make much sense , yes it was cheapo ,yes it would get you to work and back but it handled and braked like the Titanic so much so many buyers just sold it or burnt it and got the bus ..even CZ road bikes performed better .
    To quote a contemporary road test “ the worst bike we've ever tested “ my theory is that the Russians hoped we buy them en masse and be late for WW3 or so despondant that we'd give up the will to live altogether.

    Well to round up I guess ...if you really want the Voskhod experience and your not in a hurry to get anywhere you can still find them around, they were imported to Australia by Capitol motors until about 1976 just dont spend more than the obligatory slab on it .
    Till next time then, when ill be looking at a legendary bike from my homeland ,that, in its last days should've been left to die peacefully but was dragged out like a punch drunk boxer for one last fight !
    Last edited by Jockney Rebel; 26-12-2018 at 04:11 PM.

  7. #7

    A long time ago ,in a galaxy not too far away the evil empire lent some money to a faltering motorcycle company .This rebel company founded a workers co operative in order to survive but was thwarted by the evil empress Darth Thatcher when she foreclosed on their loan .

    At the time the top of their model range was a revamped Bonneville and whilst this old girl [at the time well into her forties ] had been a good bike no amount of after thoughts could stem the inevitable tide of Japanese bikes coming on to the market.

    So like a staggering Rocky the veritable Bonnie entered the ring for one more bout only to be outclassed, out run and embarrassingly beaten. Even the die hard fans had their doubts …the bike in question is of course the last incarnation ..the Triumph T140V.
    I feel at this stage I should pay homage to the 100 or so employees of the Meriden factory that ,in its last days during the early eighties , worked endlessly to realise their dream but alas failing. Due more to financial constraints than lack of ideas and the skill to turn those ideas into reality .
    Anyway to the bike , not much had really changed in the 10 yrs from 1973 the motor was still the 747cc parallel 360 degree twin with a 5 speed box . Although a good number of sensible upgrades had been made it was always a case of too little too late.
    The bike in itself was fast becoming an shadow of its former self, one article of the time reads ..
    ” In some ways, Triumph had been its own worst enemy . An entrenched, misplaced belief within the British motorcycle industry in its own superiority had resulted in an outdated product, just as new rivals were launching the most technologically exciting motorcycles ever seen”.

    True there were 8 valve heads in development but no ohc ,there is an inline 4 cylinder 1000 cc prototype that never saw the light of day ,a neat little 350 twin that was axed at the last moment and the Trident which was plagued with reliability problems.

    Its not the that the bike is essentially bad just that the outdated design couldn’t hope to compete and that’s why it finds itself here in these pages ..do I have personal, experience of this? I hear you ask ..yes is the answer.
    Apart from living through this period I have ridden both the T 120 from 1970 and the 1977 silver jubilee model T140 and at the same time ridden their respective contemporaries
    The ’70 T120 held its own both in handling and outright performance with its peers of the day 110 MPH top speed and light flickable handling were its strengths up against a Yamaha XS2 of similar vintage it matched it in performance and beat it in handling.

    Fast forward then to 1977 the T140 up against the Suzuki Gs750 [ my own bike at the time ]and it seems like time had stood still for the Meriden bike. It was soundly beaten in almost all respects, except in handling the Suzuki was its better and the handling edge was marginal at best.
    I am and always will be a Triumph fan [I own a 2007 speed triple] and lust after a decent Trident I am proud that the company still exists and is flourishing with world class products …
    Now is the T140 a viable classic purchase ? yes it is ,is the short answer but don’t forget this is a bike with 1950s technology and as such should be treated as just that .

    As always buy the best example you can find ..and watch out for the US market 650 engined T140s they may be worth a bit less ..there are a lot of models from the late seventies and early eighties ..and a limited run of 1300 bikes built under licence at Les Harris’s Newton Abbot factory these are rare these days and highly collectable..

    So till next time when ill be regaling one of the worst riding experiences of my life from a diminutive Italian offering.
    Last edited by Jockney Rebel; 26-12-2018 at 04:16 PM.

  8. #8
    Awesome reads. Can't wait for the next one

  9. #9
    Bloke with the stick Gix11's Avatar
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    You must have a heap lying around hey Jim?

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