Author Topic: My First Bike - a $350 1993 GS500  (Read 7011 times)

Offline floatingLomas

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My First Bike - a $350 1993 GS500
« on: October 07, 2014, 02:55:26 PM »
Well, I've been working on her for about two months now, and she's brought me safely to work so I figured it was finally time to write a post about her.  I currently have my Learners' license, but I'm finishing up the Motorcycle Safety Course this next weekend and have my road test scheduled for October 16.  Super excited. :)

I let my buddy talk me into (actually following through on my lifelong dream of) buying a motorcycle, and he sent me 'So You Wanna Get A Sportbike' to read, which I did, and I immediately started searching Craigslist et al for - and researching the hell out of each of the 'Ninja 250, Ninja 500, GS500, Ninja 650, SV650.'

I came upon a UsedEverywhere ad in mid-July:

Quote
$350 - 1993 GS500:



93 GS500. Engine needs work. Would be a good parts/project bike. Needs some TLC. Has sat for 2 years under a roof no weather on it. Ran fine before I stopped riding it. Needs new battery. Will start but smokes a lot and doesn't run well.

Has almost new tires, good brakes. Paint is fine with exception of a paint bubble that burst on the gas tank. Little bit of rust on there, but gas tank integrity is fine.

Price is fair and firm.

Checked with my buddy, he said "let's go look at it," so we did.  It had been sitting for about two and a half years. The shop it was at said it was only running on one cylinder and smoking really badly (remember this for later...), but my buddy said it looked like it was doable, so I pulled the trigger.  Turns out it was manufactured in 05/92, so I guess that makes it a 92.  Buddy helped me picked her up from the shop to take her to her new home.

EDIT: it's a P, so it's a 93 after all.  Oops.



As expected, the fork seals were in bad shape, the brakes were soft, and the cables were shot - but at least the electrical all worked.  We tried firing her up but she wouldn't start, so we pulled the plugs: the right side was wet, but the left one was dry, so we opened up the float bowl drains to see what was in there.  The right bowl dripped away, but the left bowl was bone dry too, so the carbs needed some love.

Carb Rebuild
I tore the carbs completely down - and separated them, which I guess I really didn't need to do - and ordered the rebuild kits.  I'm definitely not too organized... :icon_rolleyes:  After a bunch of research, I decided to try soaking them in vinegar overnight - with a li'l wiggling from an aquarium pump - to get them nice and shiny.  Worked wonderfully, except for the part where it de-galvanized all the brackets.  Oops.  Anyways, they came out real shiny.



Unfortunately, one of the enrichment circuit tubes - not surprisingly the right side one - was busted off, so I needed to figure out how to deal with that.  I found some brass fuel tubing at a hobby shop - super-flexible stuff - and formed up a new one.  As there was still a chunk of the old one left up top - where it flares for the needle - I pulled that piece of tube out and superglued it :icon_eek: to the new tube.  I tried brazing it, but I suck at that, apparently.  Anyways, it went back together, it doesn't leak, and it doesn't look (too much) like turd, so now we'll just see how the superglue holds up, I guess.



There were some magnificent 'repairs' done to this bike over the years, and one of my favorites so far was the 'replacement carb vent fitting-from-some-crap-hose-I-had-laying-around'.  Part of me feels bad about replacing it with the OEM piece (just kidding).



Fork Rebuild
I also tore down, cleaned and rebuilt the forks; I knew that at least one of the seals was leaking, and I doubted the oil had been changed in a long, long time.  Given its color when it came out, I'm pretty sure I was right.  At some point, one of the previous owners added some 'Super Awesome Assymetrical Copper Pipe Spacers', which obviously went into the bin.  How someone thought having your preloads differ by like a quarter inch wouldn't be a problem is way beyond me.  I replaced them with some Sched 40 PVC couplers that fit beautifully.  As I was sorely lacking in tools and space, I had to rig up the most ghetto rope-vice in history to allow me to break the damper bolt free.  I also built the 'super awesome threaded rod damper tool,' which worked wonders, but I needed a bit of extra grab to get the bolt started.  Rope to the rescue.



I did learn a few things while putting the forks back together:
  • Use PVC pipe for your seal banging tool, because ABS is nasty, flaky, yucky stuff
  • Use fork oil (or assembly grease) on your fork seals or you will spend inordinate amounts of time banging but not moving the seals, and it will make you very mad when you then put some fork oil on them and they slide in like magic
  • Slide the old oil seals on top of the new ones so your crappy seal banging tool doesn't hurt your pretty new seals (I didn't do this, but a buddy pointed it out afterwards, so I wanted to share)

Painting Junk and a GS500 Tach
When I bought the bike, the tach side of the 'dash cover' (the black plastic behind the gauges) was gone - torn off, blown off, eaten, who knows.  It wasn't long before I realized that the tach on the bike didn't really look right, and after some research, I realized that was because it wasn't from a GS500.  That also explained why the tach cable was coming up through a hole the headlight bucket.  WHAT.

I don't want to know who put it there, why they put it there, WTF they were thinking/drinking/smoking, but they did it.  My brain just said 'NO NO NO' so I found an eBay tach and ordered a replacement 'dash cover'.  I also managed to tear one of the bulb holders off the dash lights while removing them from the old one, so I also ordered a new dash harness while I was at it.



The dash also looked like turd, and so did all the black metal (headlight bucket, brackets, fork brace), so I decided to paint all the things.  Everything looked much prettier afterwards.  Actually, it no longer looked like it belonged on the bike.  It almost made me want to paint the frame and body.  Almost.



Getting Ready to Ride, Attempt #1
Since I wanted to RIDE THE DAMN THING, it was now time to start the 'gotta dos,' like an oil change, cable replacements, etc.  As my shop is sorely underprovisioned, I used what I had.  It was the most terrifying oil change I've ever done.  That oil comes out fast right until the end, so I was certain I was going to be cleaning up oil for the rest of my life.



The throttle tube was toast - pretty sure because the bike was dropped - so I replaced that with OEM as well, and grabbed a new left hand OEM grip to match (but didn't install it yet - see 'Stupid Drag Bar' below).  The choke and throttle cables were easy-peasy, but when I pulled the sprocket cover off to replace the clutch cable, I was presented with a world of immeasurable wonder: the fully-anticipated layer of goo, and the surprising BROKEN SCREW ASSEMBLY CABLE MOUNT.  Oh, and a two-piece clutch pushrod, bent version (I guess I forgot to take a picture of that).  As well, at some point, the chain let go, which took out the rear middle cover mount point, which also managed to damage the swingarm, and probably some other stuff I haven't noticed yet...  :icon_eek:



This obviously necessitated another (the 4th at this point, I believe) parts order before I could move forward.  But this was also the time to roll the bike down to my buddy's house and take advantage of his rich experience and amazing shop.



STOP - Pajama Time!  I mean, Brake Rebuild
I tried using vinegar to clean the front brake lever, and it, with malice aforethought, disintegrated the knob that adjusts lever distance, so I had to order a replacement.  It sure did clean it, though.

Rather than a 'replace, bleed and hope' strategy, we decided to tear down, inspect and rebuild the brakes.  And by 'we,' I acutally mean 'mostly my awesome buddy.'  I disassembled, ordered the rebuild kit for, and reassembled the front master cylinder, and helped with dis- and reassembly of the front caliper, but my buddy basically rebuilt, reassembled and bled the rear system for me.  Because he's awesome, if I didn't already mention that.  He took some photos for me as he went.  When I received them, I asked him why he took my brakes to the beach and threw them in the sand.  So gross.  But they turned our real purdy.





Leaky What?
Somehow, all our monkeying around caused the tank to develop a pinhole leak at the right rear of the tank near the seam.  This made the paint bubble, and obviously made everything kinda explody, so I peeled off the paint, and of course superglued it :icon_eek: (with some coloidal silica as filler), which seemed to seal it up.  I then unceremoniously slapped some bondo on it.  All the blue will eventually be repainted, but ridable > pretty, so for now the tank will have to make due being blue with bondo-colored spots.



Stupid Drag Bar
The bike came with a drag bar that had seen better days.  It also caused a seriously evil fitment problem: the front master cylinder banjo bolt and the triple tree handlebar bracket plate thingymadoo were interfering such that the brake lever had to sit ABOVE the level of the bar.  I think that the right seating position for this lever angle would have my butt somewhere just under the carbs, and lowering the seat that much was just more work than I wanted to do, so I replaced the bar with some Clubmans from my local bike shop.  I'm still not sure of the brand - though I will find out - but they fit perfectly.  Great bar angle, wide enough center section to clear the triple tree, well made, look awesome, shiny, etc, etc, and most importantly, allowed the brake lever (and master cylinder) to mount in the right plane for my hand position.

While doing this, we also changed out the clutch perch to a spare GSX-R 750 perch my buddy had.  I don't honestly remember why we did this, but I feel like there was a good reason.  Probably.  Anyways, it fit great too.  I also ordered some funky bar end mirrors from Hong Kong, which we installed at this point.  I don't have photos of the mirrors, apparently.



[ To Be Continued... ]
« Last Edit: January 25, 2015, 12:06:27 AM by floatingLomas »
I know a little bit about a lot of things - usually just enough to be dangerous.

My 93 GS500E

Offline floatingLomas

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2014, 02:56:26 PM »
[ Oh, look, here it is, Continued... ]

Getting Ready to Ride, Attempt #2
When we FINALLY fired the bike up, we discovered it was running on one cylinder.  Which sucked.  And was smoking (white) like a chimney full of smoke grenades.  Which also sucked.  So we started investigating.  The left cylinder wasn't firing.  The plug was wet, so it was getting fuel.  The plug was sparking, so it was getting spark.  The compression was decent (114 I believe, but I forgot-to/didn't-know-to open the throttle while checking), so it had squish and air.  So...  WHAT.

I'm not sure what inspired me to check the petcock, but I had torn it down at some point (that I forgot to mention above), and I wanted to make sure I didn't bugger something up, so I pulled off the vaccuum line, and ... got flicked with fuel.  Which just didn't seem right.  So we re-tore down the petcock, and discovered a tear in the diaphragm.  So the vaccuum line was sucking fuel in to the left carb, and on into the left cylinder, and drowning the plug, and spraying craptons of fuel out the exhaust.  So we capped the carb vaccuum port and the petcock vaccuum port, switched it to prime, and it fired right up.  On two cylinders.  And ran like a champ.  So a torn diaphragm made this a $350 bike.  Stupid petcock.  But, seriously, thanks, stupid petcock.  I love you.  I have a replacement on the way, but prime-as-on/on-as-off is working fine for the time being.

Even though she ran well, she was still smoking, and my buddy was concerned that it was leaky valve seals or ring blowby, but my gut told me it was not.  It didn't smoke at startup, only after it had been running for awhile.  Something buddha said in one of his many posts while I was researching it twigged - white smoke can mean too rich.  I stuck some paper at the exhaust outlet to see if it picked up any oil particles, and it came out totally white, so I was pretty sure it wasn't oil.

When I rebuilt the carbs, I used some of the o-rings in the kit to replace the idle mixture screw o-rings.  In hindsight this was a bad idea, because I think they're thicker and are causing 'gently seated' to be way further out in terms of turns than it should be.  So I cranked the idle mixture screws all the way in, and backed them out a turn, and tried again.  I think that's about where they're sitting now.  But it's definitely more than 1 normal turn out.

Actually Riding!   :woohoo:
After all this mucking, from a cold start, she ran for 10 or 15 minutes without a puff of smoke, but then it started.  At this point, I was pretty sure it was a combination of my oil-change-oil-all-over-the-exhaust-wrap and leftover fuel sitting in the exhaust system, so last night I took her out for our first ride - about 6 km around the area I live in - to try to burn it off.  And it burned off.  And she ran beautifully.  I think I still need to muck with the idle mixture screws a bit - and maybe replace those o-rings with some properly dimensioned ones - but she seems to be doing great nonetheless.

So I rode her to work today.  And again, she ran beautifully.  Here she is last night before our first ride, then sitting at the spot I stopped to reattach the speedometer cable to the speedo (don't ask... :icon_rolleyes:), and finally, this morning in her parking spot.



She still needs a lot of love so there'll be lots of work ahead, but I'm looking forward to it.  And getting this far would have been near-impossible without the information I found on this board, so thanks for that.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 02:57:34 PM by floatingLomas »
I know a little bit about a lot of things - usually just enough to be dangerous.

My 93 GS500E

Offline ShowBizWolf

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2014, 03:27:09 PM »
 :icon_eek: at those copper spacers!!!  Haha this was an awesome read... very cool thread and pics!  I laughed hard at the part about the tach cable coming up through the headlight bucket  :cookoo: 

I am getting ready to do my fork seals hopefully this weekend and I like your tip about using the old ones on top of the new ones temporarily when putting the new ones on.  :thumb: 

$350 was a killer price and it is so cool to see yet another GS rescued.  I love that blue color and can't wait to see more!  :bstar:
Superbike bars, '04 GSXR headlight & cowl, DRZ signals, 1/2" fork brace, 'Busa fender, stainless exhaust & brake lines, belly pan, LED dash & brake bulbs, 140/80 rear hoop, F tail lens, SV650 shock, Bandit400 hugger, aluminum heel guards & pegs, fork preload adjusters, .75 SonicSprings, heated grips

Offline tntmo

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2014, 04:23:49 PM »
Sorry about the mistake on the first petcock shipment, hopefully the second time will be a charm.  Looks like you got a great deal on the bike, congrats! 

Offline Joolstacho

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 05:21:38 PM »
Well done mate. You've had a baptism of fire, but coped really well, congrats.
Once you've got everything else sorted out, see if you can beg/borrow/steal a carb balancer to get those carbs dead right.
Beam me up Scottie....

Offline floatingLomas

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2014, 09:15:08 PM »
:icon_eek: at those copper spacers!!!  Haha this was an awesome read... very cool thread and pics!  I laughed hard at the part about the tach cable coming up through the headlight bucket  :cookoo: 

I am getting ready to do my fork seals hopefully this weekend and I like your tip about using the old ones on top of the new ones temporarily when putting the new ones on.  :thumb: 

$350 was a killer price and it is so cool to see yet another GS rescued.  I love that blue color and can't wait to see more!  :bstar:

Thanks.  Ya, I chuckled hard when those stupid hacksawed pieces of pipe fell out, then I facepalmed when I put them side by side.  Ugh.  And that blue is growing on me, but it still might get swapped out for something else.  We'll see. :)

Good luck, you'll do fine, and don't forget to lube the seals. :P

Sorry about the mistake on the first petcock shipment, hopefully the second time will be a charm.  Looks like you got a great deal on the bike, congrats! 

Seriously, no worries; thanks for sending it!  And thanks!

Well done mate. You've had a baptism of fire, but coped really well, congrats.
Once you've got everything else sorted out, see if you can beg/borrow/steal a carb balancer to get those carbs dead right.

Thanks.  Most of my hobbies and projects try to burn me, it seems. :)  Previous Owners' misguided repairs and improvements are always a part of owning used hobbyesque things; I lived on a 30+ year old sailboat for 2 1/2 years (two different boats, actually, though both at least as old as I) so I've got plenty of experience with solutions that caused more problems than they solved.  Just need to work through them - which is part of the fun. :D

My buddy has a balancer, so we'll throw it on eventually and make sure they're well synced.  She seems to be running fine though, so I guess my half-assed bench sync worked well enough. :cool:
I know a little bit about a lot of things - usually just enough to be dangerous.

My 93 GS500E

Offline Tekime

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2014, 12:22:16 PM »
$350 of hell yes!

Great read, thanks for sharing. And congrats on the bike I hope she takes care of you, you definitely saved her life! :cheers:
2005 Suzuki GS500F 1990 Suzuki DR350 1989 Yamaha FJ1200
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Offline floatingLomas

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2014, 12:54:52 PM »
$350 of hell yes!

Great read, thanks for sharing. And congrats on the bike I hope she takes care of you, you definitely saved her life! :cheers:

Thanks, I also hope that.  And I suspect my wife and daughters also hope that, at least until I up my life insurance coverage.  :icon_rolleyes:

On the ride home yesterday - which somehow covered 24 kilometres of road to go the 8 kilometres home :icon_rolleyes: - I discovered that the tachometer was jumping/bouncing; found some posts on here that recommended lubing it, so I did that, and it looks like it stopped.
I know a little bit about a lot of things - usually just enough to be dangerous.

My 93 GS500E

Offline cbrfxr67

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2014, 01:15:44 PM »
Nice!  :thumb:  Love the bike. 
"Its something you take apart in 2-3 days and takes 10 years to go back together."
-buddha

Offline BockinBboy

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2014, 04:40:55 PM »
Great read, love this stuff! 
Never know what you find in deals like this. That price for a complete bike (Though janky in a few areas) - it's hard to go wrong with some hard work an time to give it.

:cheers:

- Bboy


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Offline Tekime

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2014, 02:18:23 AM »

Thanks, I also hope that.  And I suspect my wife and daughters also hope that, at least until I up my life insurance coverage.  :icon_rolleyes:

On the ride home yesterday - which somehow covered 24 kilometres of road to go the 8 kilometres home :icon_rolleyes: - I discovered that the tachometer was jumping/bouncing; found some posts on here that recommended lubing it, so I did that, and it looks like it stopped.

Haha - I hear ya. Both on the wife & daughter worries and the mysteriously lengthy rides home  :cheers: Somehow I manage to put 100 miles in on a given day when my office is 10 miles away  :thumb: :icon_mrgreen:
2005 Suzuki GS500F 1990 Suzuki DR350 1989 Yamaha FJ1200
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Offline floatingLomas

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2014, 10:15:06 AM »
Soooooooooooo...  I put her down in the rain today.  Low speed - maybe 5 or 10 km/h - and the car in front of me stopped sooner than I anticipated, so I grabbed to much brake, and the bike went down on the left side.  Ugh.  Rode slowly the rest of the way to work with a bent bar, which sucked.

Bar is bent, mirror is scratched, signal isn't working - I would guess the bulb is broken - but otherwise the bike seems fine.  I'm going back to stock-esque bars until I have more experience, though.

As for me, my elbow has some road rash - I guess the elbow pad didn't stay on my elbow? - and it scared the poop out of me, but I'm ok.

It has kind of inspired me to go extra slow on my road test tomorrow...

It'll all buff out, but still - dammit. :(

I know a little bit about a lot of things - usually just enough to be dangerous.

My 93 GS500E

Offline ShowBizWolf

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2014, 12:25:43 PM »
Damn that really sucks  :icon_sad:  But of course, I am glad YOU are ok!!! 

It frustrated me more than anything when I was fixing my bike up, putting on perfect new parts and something would happen to scratch them/ruin them.  I keep a spare clutch lever and spare Suzuki engine side emblem in my garage because I've gone through a couple of them while learning LOL  :icon_rolleyes:

I have only been riding for about 3 years and I probably still go a bit TOO slow in the rain.  The couple times I have been down have been because of gravel (at slow speed, thankfully) and one time was because I turned too sharp, too slow (was probably only my third time on the bike though!)  I can't believe how fast gravel throws ya down... felt like Hulk Hogan kicked my back tire from the side as hard as he could!

Someone once told me, "There are two kinds of bikers... the ones that have gone down and the ones that will."  Now that you got that out of the way, remember it and ride on :thumb:
« Last Edit: October 15, 2014, 12:28:23 PM by ShowBizWolf »
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Offline floatingLomas

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2014, 12:44:09 PM »
Someone once told me, "There are two kinds of bikers... the ones that have gone down and the ones that will."  Now that you got that out of the way, remember it and ride on :thumb:

Thanks - I like that quote.  :thumb:
I know a little bit about a lot of things - usually just enough to be dangerous.

My 93 GS500E

Offline Joolstacho

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2014, 12:27:52 AM »
Ah Floater, baptism of fire alright! Bad luck mate, don't let it get to you too much. Just make sure you keep at it and ENJOY!!!
Yep... leave MUCH more distance between you and what's in front of you in the wet... and just caress those brakes don't grab 'em. (And the Wolf is right, gravel is just as deadly as wet roads.)
Try to remember to position yourself on the road in such a way that you have a 'safe' exit if the unexpected happens. E.g not behind the centre of the car in front but off to one side of it... if he slams on the anchors you'll slip to the side of him with minimum change of line. 
Mate, I've been riding for almost 50 years, the dangers never change, but you do learn to anticipate trouble. It does help to get out riding with some more experienced riders because you'll pick up little tips as you go (As long as they're not total ratbags!)
If ever you get the chance to do a trackday, grab it. I learned as much in 3x 20 minute sessions on my RZ and GSXR than I had in the preceding 10 years!
-Jools
Beam me up Scottie....

Offline yamahonkawazuki

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2014, 04:39:25 PM »
Ive owned 5 gs' one of them twice, sold it for 5p 0, bought back for 50 lol. Addictive little buggers. Once you master riding it you can outcorner a litre bike. Out run? No, but outcorner yes
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Offline floatingLomas

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2014, 11:50:43 PM »
Definitely enjoying it, but I'm still trying to apprentice riding it - mastery is a long way off. :)
I know a little bit about a lot of things - usually just enough to be dangerous.

My 93 GS500E

Offline cs coupe

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2014, 06:48:37 PM »
Good read.
Great progress.

Offline jar75

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Re: My First Bike - a $350 1992 GS500
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2014, 08:41:20 AM »
For $350 you took a chance. Those engine problems could have been anything. But in the end you made out like a bandit! Great build. I loved reading( and occasionally laughing at ) your colorful commentary. I was happy to hear you got her running, then DOH! Sorry to hear about your minor crash. The blue looks great! Can't wait to see what's next.

 

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