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Yamaha 175 1971

We actually had two of these motorcycles: a 125cc and a 175cc. I am combining these two bikes because they both influenced me in the same way. The 175 was a modified version of the 125. It had been modified to accommodate growing kids and the quest for more power. We identified them by color because they were otherwise the exact same motorcycle. The 125 was my mother’s motorcycle. I remember when dad painted it. It was gold with light brown highlights around all the edges; the paint was ahead of its time, mom really loved it. Her bike was off-limits to us boys, when routine riding caused wear it was repaired immediately. One weekend, the unthinkable occurred and the bike was never the same.

Transporting so many bikes to a campground was always a difficult process. It involved moving seven motorcycles with Dad’s 1971 Chevy camper special pickup. We carried five in the back and one attached to the front with a special bumper rack. The only possible space for mom’s bike, logically, was the rear bumper. Traveling by dirt washboard-rut road caused vibrations which made our makeshift mount fall apart, resulting in dragging mom’s bike a short while before finally losing it behind the truck. We didn’t realize it had fallen off until we arrived at the campsite.

We backtracked to find the bike in the middle of the road, picked up the pieces along the way, and headed back to camp. The bike was heavily damaged; blinkers and fenders were broken and dented. Dad kicked it over and it fired right up- running like a champ. We probably shouldn’t have been riding it, but it was the beginning of the weekend and we wanted to ride. My brother, Barry, was riding it when he had an accident. His left ass cheek caught on the jagged remains of the rear blinker as he fell. Once again, grandma Kesler was there to make the repair. She sewed him up right there in camp! I remember him crying and screaming and to this day he has a hole in his ass where the meat was removed. Today, it’s hard to think back and not laugh.

The 175 ended up with blue paint and raised fenders; the stuff that boys liked. It suffered mechanical problems as well. The bike seemed to be plagued with piston problems. I’m not sure if it was because of the accident, or that we rode it so hard, or because of our engine modifications. We challenged this bike with constant competition, racing, and the consistent tinkering of young boys learning mechanics.

On two separate occasions I remember disassembling the upper end of the engine to replace the piston. Constant tinkering always results in expense. Dad always managed to handle this well with, “If you are going to use it, expect to spend money on repairs,” as his response to the expense. I have adopted this attitude today and expect things to require maintenance and wear out costs.

Yamaha 175

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