1977 Suzuki RM125 Vintage Restoration
Friday, April 06, 2012
The old girl is back on her feet!
Ever since I participated at the 2011 Nor Cal Classic Vintage Motocross
I’ve had the bug to get into vintage dirt bike racing. I opted to start with a 1977 Suzuki RM125B. This model Suzuki is not rare which means it sucks as a collectible. It’s at the very back of the post-vintage era, which means it sucks as a racer. When one vintage machine is definitely not as good as another, why, then, do I invest my scarce resources? Because it was my first real dirt bike.
I’ve been lugging the RM around since I was 15 when I used to ride it on my parents farm in jeans, muck boots and a second-hand Bell Moto-5. As far as I was concerned, this bike made me the coolest kid around. Now I’m staring 30 in the face and well aware of the unfortunate truth regarding my cool status. But, the Suzuki’s nostalgia factor has earned it a permanent place in my heart and the (dis)honor of being my first restoration project.
This is not a MotoUSA project taking place under the bright lights of our spacious shop and getting free parts support. I’m doing this in my own poorly lit garage, with my own tiny budget on an even smaller amount of free time. Along the way I photo-document with my cell phone, chop up old T-shirts for rags and try to teach my dog to fetch me another beer. So far blundering along has been more fun than working on any new bike.
The tax refund is burning a hole in my pocket, so yesterday I ordered new clutch components and reed petals for the motor, and a set of tires to at least get it rolling around the shop. There’s a ton of work left to do, but hopefully I’ll get everything scraped together so I can give myself a cool present on the big three-oh. Here are a few thoughts so far:
The Suzuki is slowly coming back off the shelf.
- First purchase – repair manual. Good move…
- It’s the first time I’ve removed tires that have been on a bike for roughly 20 years. The front was a major bitch.
- Someone told me to take a lot of pictures to uses as reference. I don’t even remember who said this, but thank you!
- Ziploc baggies and a Sharpie. Use them, love them, stay organized.
- Someone else told me to build a raised bike stand. My back says I should have listened.
- WD40 is the greatest stuff on the planet. What doesn’t it do?
- I coated the frame with truck bed-liner just for S&G. Not a horrible idea, but proving to not be great either. I refuse to strip it now because I’m stubborn. We'll let this one play out.
- New tires give me a tingly feeling. Old bikes make the sensation even stronger. Like!
- You cannot have enough rags or steel wool on hand during a restoration.
- French bulldogs do not fetch beer.