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My bikes

My introduction to the madness came when I was 12 or 13. Every summer I would take a month to visit my relatives in Washington. Most of the time was spent pestering my uncle as he fixed up the neighborhood cars, motorcycles, etc. That summer brought a friend of his by with a bike he had bought at a garage sale for $20. It was a 1978 Honda Express, and it needed someone like my uncle to fix it.

I was surprised when I first saw it. It was this silly looking green blob, not anything like the motorcycle I was expecting. But over the next few days it started to grow on me. My uncle went through all the usual things, carb, battery, ignition, etc while I watched over his shoulder and asked dumb questions. By the time it was running I had gone from laughing at it to wanting a ride.

At that time, my grandmother and uncle lived on a 5 acre piece of land. When the owner of the Express didn't come by to pick it up. I took to riding it around the property.

The owner of the bike came back for it a few years later, but when he realized it couldn't move his massive frame around at a reasonable speed, he sold it to me for $50.

By this time I was getting pretty good at keeping the carb cleaned out and the bike running. That's the Express for you - turning men into mechanics since 1977...
This meant when a neighbor said he had a wrecked '81 Express to get rid of, I started having ideas. I dragged it home for $20 and set about stripping off the turn signals. As you can see in the picture above, I had no trouble grafting them onto my '78. I also transfered the less worn piston, cylinder and head for a small power boost.

I can tell the bike was still leaking a bit of gas in this shot, as I'm wearing a bunch of too-small clothes I wouldn't mind throwing out.

As fun as all this was, there were a few problems. One of the reasons the bike was sold for $20 was the lack of a title. That meant I couldn't register it, insure it or import it into Canada. So for several years I only got to ride it when I visited my relatives in the summer.
But that soon changed. After a few years I no longer had the chance to visit my relatives. So then I didn't get to ride at all.

In ~2005 I decided I'd had enough and bought another Express. This time it had the title, it was already in Canada and it was delivered to my house.

Only one problem. It didn't work. And the more I tore into it, the more it became obvious it would never work again. The engine was a rusted out mess inside.
But that just meant I had to get creative!

For those that don't recognize it, that is a taken apart Honda Urban Express engine. As detailed elsewhere on this site, the Urban Express is far superior to the ordinary Express. And though it's far from a straight across swap, I'm the kind of person crazy enough to attempt it.