Jump to content

LT - Year one


Recommended Posts


My story actually begins more than a year ago. I started riding when I was twelve. I didn't have a dirt bike. I didn't have a scooter. I was a little guy weighing about 78 pounds and I was riding a XS650 from the 70's. It was a "for real and true" barn bike.


My family had bought the farm and the bike came with it. Actually it was tucked away in a shed rotting away. I dragged it out and began to tear it down, not knowing what in the heck I was doing. I took parts off, labeled the screws and bolts and began to clean up the bike. My father watched me at it for a couple of days and then began to help.


We actually got the bike running. I rode it for the next several years as a dirt bike on the farms old dirt roads and trails.


I took a hiatus from biking during college. A bike was just out of reach since I had to pay for college myself. My hard work paid off though, I came out of four years of a private college owing just over 2K. Working as a plumber really helped.


I got married and still went without a bike - but after our first year of marriage we bought/built our first house.


Then it came - my next bike. It was cheap. A 1982 CB750C with under 15,000 miles on it. In the next 8-9 years I proceeded to put about 150,000 more miles on it, the bike was practically indestructible.


Then came my first brand spanking new bike. It was 2003. I had finally gotten around to taking the MSF course - a good thing - to encourage my wife. We took it together. I think having kids must have encouraged her adventurous side as she had never expressed an interest in riding by herself before.


I went looking for a bike. At this point I had never ridden a cruiser. I test rode a Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic. It felt right, was big enough for comfortable touring, low enough for the wife to handle, and cheap. I have to admit the cheap part worked the strongest in its favor.


It was not long before I realized I had made a mistake. Cruisers were not for me. However, I did set it up for touring with lockable hard bags, backrest for the wife, front shield and lowers. I also took the bike across country solo. I loved the trip, and the bike is as bullet proof as they come. It just did not fit me right.


So began a quest for more what I wanted. I tried Honda first - after so many good miles on the CB750C I owed them that. The Honda dealer near me had barely heard of the ST1300 - much less had one on the floor. But they did get one in on trade and called me up. It was a dream, but a very expensive dream. I looked at the V-Strom, I looked at a used RT, and an old K1100RS. Nothing called out to me.


Then I discovered Cycles Recycled. A BMW salvage yard in the next county over. I watched his online ad like a hawk. I talked with him and checked out a couple of bikes that he got in over time (I must stop here and tell you that this search was over a year long).


Nothing seemed a match. Then he got in a wrecked 1999 K12LT. I called him up and talked to him. I then went over and looked at the bike. There was something about this windshield crunched, tupperware hanging, oil spewing beast that called out to me.


Except for maintenance I really had not done anything to a bike since the old SECA. But I decided to undertake this project.


I bought the K12LT. That was back in April of 2006 so it has been a little over a year that I have had the bike. The repair and rebuilding took 72 days. I meticulously removed almost every nut, bolt and torx screw from the bike. Cleaned, repaired, junked, and bought replacements. The back end is from another LT, the engine I just rebuilt, the fairing frame - needed some work, and a myriad of other details had to be seen to before the bike was ready.


Finally it was done and I rolled the bike out of the basement for the first time. Man was it ugly/beautiful. A five color 800+ pound monstrosity. I started it up and took it to the gas station where I filled it up.


Then I rode it - slowly at first. I was both getting a feel for the bike, and listening carefully to every sound it made. Despite my care in reassembly, I half expected parts to start dropping off by the roadside.


Nothing bad happened. The engine purred with nary a miss, the bike responded well to every command.


It has been a year now and the bike has been great. It is a comfortable commuter, a decent twisty bike, and of course an excellent tourer. I have only ridden it about 8K in the last year, but surgery interferred with 3+ months of ridng and made me cautious about getting back into distances (anterior cervical fusion).


We did take a 600 mile round trip to the beach in November - it never got higher than the high 40's but we were nice and comfortable on our heated seats.


It surprises me how well the bike performs in the twisties. I take it to 181 every chance I get and zoom up and down the road. Make no mistake, it is NOT a 400 pound sportbike. But it gets me up the mountain with a bit of panache.


Is it the perfect bike (for me)? I don't know, maybe not. But it does a little bit of everything I ask - with a stereo to boot. If, okay, when - I get another bike it will be an addition, not a replacement.


That Sprint ST looks nice.

Link to comment

I needed a story like that today. Sometimes I complain that I don't have enough when I need to realize I haven't worked half as hard as others for what I do have.

Your bike has more spirit than 100 others I've seen.

Link to comment

Very nice. You should be extremely pleased and proud of your efforts. It always means more when you've earned something - especially when you create something that others discarded thumbsup.gif

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...