Well its been a few months since I last posted in the newbies section so I thought I’d write a mini review of my experience with getting back on two wheels and commuting in London.
I’m Phil, I’m 44, fat, bald n old. Been riding since 17 and now riding a CB750 F2N after a few years off.
After moving to London 8 years ago I quickly spent my savings, maxxed my credit cards, hit my overdraft limit and sold the GSX600F for a quick cash fix. Out of all the stupid things I did selling the bike was the stupidest!
I had a 2 year blast of London nightlife fun and then 5 grim poverty years paying it all back.
Anyway come December this year my debts were finally paid off and I started seriously thinking about ceasing my whining about missing having a bike and start doing something about it.
Tube fairs and time wasted on public transport spurred me on to researching scooters. I even test rode a Yamaha Vity and nearly bought a 250cc maxi scoot thing. But really…I got a full licence, why am I looking a scoots when I know I’ll end up needing to do some miles. So I phoned my old Harley riding mate, told him I was about to buy a scooter for commuting round London and sat back while he laughed and reminded me of the thousands of miles we rode together and how I’d be bored within days on a scoot. Just what I needed to hear really .
So the search was on for a new bike. The budget was small; £1500 max. Gumtree.co.uk was my main source.
My first “post test” bike was a Kawasaki KLE500 followed by an old cafe/streetfighter modded Suzuki GSX750ET then a US import Yam XJ650 Maxim then the Suzi GSX600F. My instincts and history point me to naked bikes rather than sports models. I hated the GSX600F…
Kwak ER500 or Honda CB500 were top of my list for the usual reasons, good MPG, ok performance etc. Ended up looking at some truly woeful examples and walked away from them.
Then Gumtree turned up a 1996 42000 mile Japanese import Honda CB750 F2N, known over here as the CB Seven Fifty aka a RC42 and the Nighthawk in the US.
Originally sold in the 90’s retro revival as competition for the Kwak 750 Zephyr. the Zephyr sold loads and the Honda sold way less.
Engine is a 80’s CBX750 tuned for torque and has a claimed 74bhp (at the wheel) compared to the CBX’s 90ish bhp (at the crank). A mate in Leicestershire had one from new and I always liked it’s retro looks.
Anyway, bloke wanted £1200 for it but took £900 after I pointed out worn tyres and chain/sprockets.
Shame I missed the thin front discs and epoxied gummed exhaust. Still… it did have a lot of service history, crash bars, heated grips, Givi rack and a auto chain lube thingie (that don’t work).
So I bought it on June 12th.
5000 miles later and I just love my bike. She’s a big heavy old girl but wide bars and low centre of gravity mean its just fine for town work.
It’s not fast, 120ish mph (on private land) but the old thing can lift its skirts and run if you’re willing to rev it.
56 mpg is the best I got out of it when I the chain was so knackered I kept the speed down. 34mpg round town and 48mpg average running steady out of town. 43mpg with more spirited throttle.
New tyres fitted, chain/sprockets and front disks and pads done, (thanks Scootabike for the bargain new discs) exhaust replaced with Stainless 4-1 for the same price as a Motad mild steel one, (thanks to Scootabikes boys for getting the seized exhaust clamps off), screen fitted for some winter protection.
Thanks to Matt at OMC for balancing the carbs and advice on how to get a seized spark plug out.
Couple of jobs still to do. Rocker box gasket has a slight leak meaning the oil level need watching and the head race bearings will need doing before it’s next MOT.
I’ve spent more on it than I should have but I don’t care. I’m keeping it.
Commuting in London has been an eye opener. I’m a country boy, originally from the South Leicestershire, and used to deserted country lanes. Had one major scare in London so far.
The clocks changed and the next night a car changing lanes on Vauxhall Bridge Road without looking had me panic braking and locking the front end up…but I stayed on, didn’t hit the car and got home ok so result! Now have a Phillips +80 headlight bulb and more reflective kit plus just taking extra care with speed and observation.
I leave the fast riders to thrash through the traffic on my commute, I usually end up sat next to them at the lights anyway. I’m not scared to filter but I pick my moments… I’m old and it hurts coming off.
Anyway…this was supposed to be a mini review and I’ve gone on a bit.
Must try to get out and do the social thing at some point.
Meanwhile…If you see a Burgundy CB750 bimbling round town give us a toot.
I’ll see if I can post a pic or two.