Yamaha XJ550 (1981)

Now this was a pretty good motorcycle, even if only of mid-range capacity. I bought this thing for $1400 in 1988 with only about 40,000 kms on the clock, and sold it clapped-out in 1993 with 190,000 kms on the clock. (That's the reward for changing the oil regularly.) In the end it became a courier hack, and suffered a couple of decent spills. The most memorable of which was when the ex-Lord Mayor of Perth [name omitted to protect the guilty] pulled out in front of me, and bent the front wheel back into the engine. The frame was always a little shorter after that, and the tank was definitely harder to get on and off...

Over the next year or so of merciless courier work, the poor thing started burning copious quantities oil, so I sold it for $650. Although if only the two fellas had been willing to haggle a bit more, they could have had the old girl for $50, no sweat — let that be a lesson to us all. Still, you can't really blame them for thinking the Yamaha was mechanically A1; it always started easily in spite of the flagging compression, and ran smooth as silk.

These machines are just about extinct now; although to my utter joy I did see one in the summer of 2004, flogging down the Kwinana Freeway south of Perth, ratty but reliable as ever. And then, in Sept. 2005 I caught sight of a pristine example (complete with the dog-ugly bikini fairing they were originally supplied with) taking off from the traffic lights just along from our street. Unbelievable!

Anyway, after the Yamaha went the way of all metal, I went and got a Suzuki GS1000S...

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