Category Archives: Project

It’s a Girl!


I would like to introduce the newest member of my family: Gertrude.

This post is probably a month too late, but better late than never…especially when bragging.

The bike was basically done, but I had a massive leak coming from the second carb. It was just pouring out when I tried starting the bike up, but I couldn’t take the carb rack off myself to check it out, because I would never get it back on.

The steps I took to get the rack on the first time:

  1. Slide rack in at an angle and align with boots from engine.
  2. Try to turn and snap carbs into intakes from the airbox. 
  3. Pull rack back out.
  4. Try to condition rubber intakes.
  5. Slide rack in at an angle and align with boots from engine.
  6. Apply vaseline to intakes.
  7. Try to turn and snap carbs into intakes from the airbox. 
  8. Pull rack back out.
  9. Switch out airbox.
  10. Get neighbor to help.
  11. Take air intakes out from inside.
  12. Boil water.
  13. Drop one intake in boiling water while going back to bike.
  14. Have neighbor hold carb rack.
  15. Vaseline carb three.
  16. Pull out boiling intake (with tongs) and apply vaseline.
  17. Push intake through the inbox.
  18. Push even harder to get the intake to wrap around the carb opening.
  19. Use a screwdriver from the inside to get the rubber to fit right (there’s a joke in there somewhere).
  20. Thank neighbor and give a beer.
  21. Repeat steps 12 to 19 for the remainder of the carbs.

Since I had moved, I couldn’t reliably get the hot water down to the bike in time to make the rubber pliable. I resigned myself to failure on this one, and took the bike to the salvage yard.

No, not to sell. I don’t give up THAT easily.

The guys there build a bunch of KZs, and could put new tires on for me. I wanted them to go over her, put on new shoes, and give me an idea of common problems my bike will have.

I called them one day to check in:
Dean: She works great! Working perfectly. You wanna know what the problem was?
Me: …No.

That ate away at me, of course. So when I went to pick her up, I said, “Okay…I need to know. What was the problem?” Dean told me, “You put in the float for carb two upside down…which is funny, because usually when people put floats in wrong, they put all four in wrong.”

SONOFABITCH! I could have been the one to kick her over first!

We did an exchange of my left over parts for labor and the tires, and I was on my merry way.

Putting her away, she whispered her name to me. She will henceforth be known as Gertrude. Trudy when she’s cooperating.

Here’s a blurry picture of me and my baby girl the night I brought her home:




Good Samaritan

My relationship almost ended today.

Finally, Charlie and I found a garage for our motorcycles. It is a mile from our house, has power, and very easily houses both of our bikes. Three if you count my donor bike. In the name of starting to make real progress on my bike, we decided this was the weekend to move it.

This blistering hot day.

I suppose it needed to happen regardless. Some dillhole repeated decides he needs to park a mere four inches away from my bike…which has potential to cause a domino effect with the other three bikes parked next to me that would be much more expensive and less cool than this.

We took the cover off my bike, and decided who was going to push and who was going to steer. We thought it would be a good idea for me to steer, because I don’t have nearly the amount of strength that he has. We were so, so wrong. We barely got it across the street and onto the sidewalk before we realized that the bike was dragging to the right.

Him:  “Don’t pull on the handlebars. Just keep the bars straight–the bike will want to stay up on its own if we get it to go fast enough.”
Me: “I can’t keep up with you and keep the bars straight. It keeps pulling to the right!”

The struggle was real as we tried to advance across the intersection. He would push, and I would hit my heels on the peg. It didn’t hurt so much, as I was afraid of it getting caught over my heel, and then I’d end up on the ground…probably with a motorcylce frame on top of me. My first accident would happen before the damn thing was even operational. That thought process may seem ridiculous, but that’s because you don’t know me. Charlie at least knows I’m prone to having this sort of thing happen to me.

Once we got it onto the next block, I had to stop. Flip flops would not do. I marched on back to our house and put on my gardening tennis shoes with much chagrin after Charlie pleaded with me to change my shoes. It was was time to get serious. As much as I was already unhappy with how insistent he was on “just keeping the bars straight,” I knew he was right about my footware.

By this time, we could not have made it 100 feet even. We were firmly on the struggle bus, and it only continued as we attempted to continue to push it. We would never make it a mile. Between the sweat, my lack of arm strength, and my fear of an embarrassing fall, we were never going to make it. I found myself increasingly frustrated with the situation and him for thinking that it should be so easy. After another stop at the end of the first block (out of 14), we decided to switch jobs.

He decided to steer…thankfully. Thankfully, because he realized, too that the bike was pulling to the right. At least I was absolved of any feelings of inferiority. Vindication is a sweet, sweet thing. This set up was infinitely better for us. We successfully made it two blocks with much less blood and tears (there was plenty of sweat to be had, though).

Charlie: “You know what would be tits right now?”
Me: “What?”
Charlie: “If a good samaritan pulled up with a truck, a ramp, and an offer to help.”
Me: “We should just take this damned thing back. We’re never going to make it.”

We persisted, though.

Literally, the next block, we were stopped by a man asking, “do you need help?”

Should be obvious, bro.

He offered to put the bike in the back of his pick-up truck and take us to the garage.

Praise be to the Motorcycle Gods, who took mercy on our souls.

The catch: There was no ramp.

Given our incredible fortune–and the perfect-ness of what just transpired, we were determined to make it happen. I played cheerleader as I watched Charlie and this large Jamaican hero named Chris lift the bike and push it into the bed of the truck. I could not believe what I just saw, or our incredible fortune.

Charlie sat in the back to keep the bike stable, and I sat up front with Chris, who told me how he had come to be at that exact spot that day. He also reminisced riding his Suzuki in Jamaica when he was younger until his friend died in a motorcycle accident and his mom implored him to give up riding.

We got to the garage (much quicker than Charlie and I covered a block), and they “caught” the bike as I helped make sure the front end was stable coming out.

So with that, I want to give a big shout-out to Chris, who saved my relationship. Charlie and I could not have done it without him.



After not all that much searching, we found a garage that will be ideal for working on our bikes. Before, we were working on it in the street, and only during daylight hours.

This move will be pivotal for the following reasons:

  • No more cars parking right next to where we’re working. That four inches of space was not conducive to squatting.
  • No more kids playing with our rides.
  • No more packing up all the tools and parts to test-ride.
  • No more packing up all the tools and parts to go inside.
  • No more quitting because of the dark.

Time to get the hell outta the “motorcycle room” upstairs, and time to move to our garage…like big kids!


Double Vision

So…I decided that I needed to out-badass my boyfriend by owning two times as many motorcycles as he does.

We have forsaken the World Cup game in favor of going to McLean to check out another motorcycle. Charlie found a 1977 KZ650 on craigslist that was going for a decent price. I inquired on Friday, but fretted all weekend that I would not get it and my hopes would be DASHED!

But HARK! My gmail brought me good news when the owner reached out to me, confirming that the bike was still for sale and there was also a title in it for me! What’s more, he was available to show me the bike the next day.

The stars were aligning for me…something like this:


As it turns out, “the next day” was today. Charlie and I ventured out to McLean (poor Tim Howard), and met up with the owner.

The bike is in really great condition, and I was thoroughly impressed with it. I was even more pleased to know that the seller was NOT a total dill-hole like the first guy who sold us a KZ. Some inspection ensued, a little negotiating, and an exchange!

I am now a happy owner of a second KZ, that will invariably become my primary bike, and I will be cannibalizing my basket case to make this new bike run.

Anyway. It looks like I will have a fully operational motorcycle much sooner than I thought. Stay tuned for rapid progress! (ESPECIALLY BECAUSE WE HAVE A GARAGE NOW!)

The Pine Sol Method

Did you know: Pine Sol can be used for nearly any task you can think of?

  1. DIY pregnancy test
  2. Bear deterrent 
  3. Carburetor cleaner

I was looking for an effective and cheap way to clean all the gunk off my carbs. During my quest for more knowledge, I repeatedly ran across the Pine Sol method. There were many posts praising the method, and many others lamenting that the Pine Sol ate their carbs out. Probably shouldn’t let those bad boys soak for four days without checking on them, though.

I‘ve been taking my carbs apart and soaking them in Pine Sol for an hour or two at a time before brushing them off with toothbrushes and resubmerging. They’re looking beautiful. Side-by-side pictures will be up soon.

Now to find more applications for Pine Sol.

Seat Inspriations

Was just checking out some of my seat-replacement options and came across a lot of people building their own seats on the cheap! I certainly don’t want to drop $200+ on a seat, but it might be worth it to save my bum.

I am not really looking to do a cafe racer with my bike. But I love the idea of being able to build my own seat. And now that he’s put it in my mind, I’d like to avoid what Charlie likes to call “poop butt” (that protruding back fairing).

Commenters on the video have a great point in that the battery won’t be hidden, which somewhat defeats the purpose of that particular design.

Any good ideas on where to get cheap, classic-looking seats? I’m looking for something brown that is good for urban riding AND can be used on longer 3-hour rides.

Under the Sea

Yesterday, Charlie and I spent a few quality hours with my boxes, frame, and the factory service manual for the KZ650. That shit was so dirty that I kept the bandage on my semi-healed second-degree burn (it looks way better today when I took this picture than it did yesterday). I have been kayaking in a ship graveyard, which is a tetanus paradise, but I was having NONE of this dust and grime.


At the end of the day, we were left with a sea of parts, but it seems that mostly everything is there. I am going to need new sprockets, a new front disk, a new break cylinder and lever, and new exhaust pipes.

The guy said everything was there, but clearly that was a farce! God knows what you have done, sir, and I will be avenged!!!! Have fun in hell, jerk:


That’s alright. I know a guy in Baltimore who has some exhaust pipes he can sell me for $60. It’s nice to have no degrees of separation.

That all being said, here’s a completely underwhelming picture of the insanity I will be enduring for the next several months. I’m sure we could turn this into a cute I SPY  book, but there are lights, a wiring harness, seat, break/clutch things, wheels, pegs, forks, shocks. Not pictured are my neat jars of ball bearings and my hell-tins of random bolts and washers.

The thing that gets us is the unopened air filter that is already wrecked simply from being too old. People are full of shit: age is defined by time and not state of mind…my air filter proves it!