DOUG’S 1977 SUZUKI, AND YAMAHA 1100
The first bike I was aware of Doug owning was this beautifully restored 1977 Suzuki GS750. Being an admirer of classic bikes, that caught my attention. And the bike made it onto the Feedback page of the site. But in talking (okay, “emailing”) to Doug, he revealed he had another, quite different bike; a Yamaha XVS1100. So, two very different bikes; and an interesting story behind them. So, as Carolyn Jones says, “This is Doug’s story.” I am 56 years old and have been riding since I was 19. At last count, I’ve owned 17 different motorcycles; not including a vast range of motorcycles whilst riding as a police motorcyclist. In early 2001 we moved from Sydney to the beautiful Northern Rivers area of NSW near Ballina, with my last Harley, a 1992 Electraglide Ultra Classic that we bought in 1994. We did not ride the Harley that much and as we did not really fit in with the local HOG crowd so we decided to sell the bike in 2005. We lasted about two years without a bike and started to go through motorcycle-withdrawal symptoms; and began thinking about a new purchase. In September 2007, we saw a part of the annual rally of the Northern Rivers Classic Motorcycle Club and were amazed by the number of bikes and the range. There was anything from machines with girder forks to early Japanese Classics. I made some enquiries and decided that the club would be worth joining as the bikes and riding suited us. The only hurdle we had was that I didn’t have a bike! So I started looking around for 30-year-old motorbikes that would allow me to enter in club events; although I later found out after joining that anyone on any bike can join. I had a preference for BMW R series, Honda 750 fours or maybe an old Triumph, but at the time I only had a limited budget which made it very, very difficult to find anything that wasn’t listed as “restorers project” or “basket case etc” in my price range. There was nothing locally available so I started looking around the Gold Coast and came across the old 1977 GS750 Suzuki. While it was not in my immediate choice list, it satisfied most of my selection criteria. It was not totally original or anywhere near concourse but quite presentable considering its age. The modifications it came with were sensible and could and would have been made in the seventies and early eighties; for example, electronic ignition, alloy fork brace, extra disc brake on the front, air pods, box swing arm, bikini fairing, etc. Plus receipts for about $3500.00 worth of work. The bike also came with a spare reconditioned motor plus other miscellaneous spares. The price I paid for it was very reasonable and I was happy with this. The Suzuki GS750 was Two Wheels 1977 bike of the year and had some very good write-ups, plus the model was also featured in Old Bike Australia magazine as a restoration project. While I did have some teething problems with the bike, they were relatively minor; the first being how to start the wretched thing! Being used to giving bikes a couple of handfuls of accelerator with full choke when cold, I soon found out that this wasn’t ‘the go’ with VM Mikuni carbies. Leaving the fuel tap in the ‘On’ position took some getting used to, and using the ‘Prime’ position (sometimes….) also took some getting used to. The only position I was comfortable with was ‘Res’! I then learned to start it by keeping my right hand in my pocket away from the throttle and only using the choke. If I touched the throttle it would flood and that was it. But having gotten used to it, its now not a problem. I also had some teething problems with what grade of fuel to use, but this too has now also been sorted out. I have also had to replace the coils and electronic ignition with a new set but now it always starts first go every time. Unfortunately it has a very slight oil leak around the barrels but I have been repeatedly told that they don’t seal well after a strip down so I don’t worry about it – just wear black jeans and park it next to old Triumphs and Nortons and no one notices! The only other thing I have done to it is put the stripes etc on it and have just re-padded and replaced the seat cover, as the previous seat had been modified to suit a shorter rider. As I have said before, it is great to ride and well and truly out handles and out accelerates my capabilities. I particularly like it now because there is simply not a lot of them around as I have only seen one other at our annual rally and only another GS850 in the club. It is only an old 750 but it goes quite well for its age without blowing smoke. I am quite well set up for spares if I ever need them, and what I can’t get locally I can get overseas. The spare motor has heaps of compression and is being stored right with oil and the motor and gearbox turned over every week. If I had gone the BMW way, while they are a good bike, they’re everywhere (a bit like opinions..!). I still like the old Honda 750s but I never saw a decent one (photo only) under about $6000 and every time I saw one I liked, it was in Perth or Darwin or somewhere far away or sold. The bike is now on Club rego but that allows me a minimum of 3-4 club rides a month which is ample. It fits the Classic genre, is reliable, not too shabby in the performance and handling area and I think it looks good. My Yamaha XVS1100 Custom was certainly not an intentional buy as it came after the Suzuki and certainly is at the other end of the spectrum. My wife and I innocently started looking in the few bike shops in the area and took a shine to Yamaha’s XVS1100 Custom. Having had our fair share of Harleys we like the cruiser look and style of riding. We know cruisers aren’t the best cornering, quickest, fastest etc bike available, but it always came down to what we liked aesthetically and felt comfortable with within our budget. It was only by chance I was looking on eBay where a chap was selling one with only 600km on and with about $6500 worth of accessories and work fitted. It came with a Vance and Hines exhaust, Hypercharger (re jetted and tuned carbies), saddlebags, backrest with saddlebag, sheepskin seat cover, flame grips, chrome air horns, front and rear Yamaha running boards, crash bars plus other bits and pieces of leather and ‘bling’. My wife liked it so we started negotiations. The bike ended up costing about the same as a new one unregistered off the showroom floor so we were quite happy with that. We got the bike we wanted with all the accessories we would have put on a new one plus just about everything you can possibly fit on it. The only hurdle was that I had to fly down to Sydney and ride it back – a very very small hurdle! I’m very happy with it as it fits perfectly within our riding parameters. There is a huge choice of bikes nowadays in every category and style of riding and while what we have does not suit everyone (nor do other certain bike styles suit us) we’re happy with what we have and are enjoying them both. I ride with four different biking groups and clubs during the week and on weekends and you never see two bikes the same. It truly is an individual pass-time! Both bikes get a reasonable number of runs every month, and with about 9-10 runs to choose from every month – life’s good! In the northern rivers area of New South Wales, we are blessed with the opportunity of hitting some great scenic rides within a few kilometres from home. We were originally from Sydney and usually had about an hour’s ride before we saw anything resembling country after fighting traffic all the way. Up here we call it peak hour when we see three cars in a row. PS: Both bikes are black – black is beautiful when you can buy gloss touch up paint in Mitre 10. (I can relate to that, having gone from a black bike to a metallic blue that the manufacturer doesn't supply touch-up paint for! Elwyn). What a great story! And sounds like a great place to live and ride as well! Thanks Doug, and keep on enjoying the riding.
Click here to return to the front page. Click your BACK button to return to previous page.