My first motorcycle was this little red Jawa. It's a 175 cc from 1957. There's supposed to be a 125 cc engine in this one but when I bought it it had a 150 cc... I got it from Gefra in Halle, they'd imported it along with other stuff. The bike was completely covered with a thin coat of grey spraypaint dust, and it did not have an ignition. I paid for it by trading - a nice big Jawa sign for Gefra. A good trade for both parties. I had this bike already while I was still taking lessons, which was quite motivating, but I sometimes got funny looks from other bikers- to-be when they were discussing "which custom bike" they would buy after getting their license. My enthousiasm for the little twostroker from the Chzech Republic found little appreciation.
The first: the Jawa
At that time the Pav-trailer was not yet in sight. I got that from Prague a few years later, in the back of a Citroen Acadyane. A nice trip and an adventure in itself. I've allways enjoyed doing longer distances on the Jawa even though it's not fast. (If it's in good shape it can do a hundred tops) I took it to the Chzech republic three times, once to England, once to Danmark and once all the way through Northern France. Never any serious trouble on the way.
I'm very glad that I still own my brave little Jawa and I hope to keep it forever!
The second : the Jupiter
This is, or in fact it was, my second bike. I felt like going faster than a hundred for a change, but I was definitely going to get another twostroke and if possible something a bit exotic. That's when I saw an ad for a Jupiter. I had been thinking of getting a Voskhod or Minsk but this sounded as much fun... I got it, in a decent shape, for 750 guilders.
It's not really a Jupiter, but still that's what it says on the registration. In fact it's a Planeta Sport 3 of the marque IZH or ISH (uncertain, has to do with fonetic writing of Cyrillic letters) from the former Sovjet Union. The bike has 350 cc in that big fat cylinder and a raw two stroke sound. 32 horsepowers and that's really a bit too many...
That explains the problems it gave me. During the first weeks, kickstarting it was a hassle. It tends to kick back if you don't know what you're doing. Aftrer a while we got to know each other so I had no further problems with that. But technically it's been a lot of trouble.
For example the second gear that died on me. It was repaired but don't ask how. Next, it was the big-end. It got a seizure so severe all the bearing needles were pressed into the flesh of the piston-rod. There was only one repair shop in the Netherlands willing to fix it and promise me it would stay in one piece afterwards. That crank is probably still the best Planeta crank anywhere. They just enlarged the hole in the piston-rod and put in another type of bearing. Very well done and no free play at all.
The small-end was more difficult and that's what tore me and the Jupiter apart in the end. Gefra put a nice bronze bearing in it twice, after the original needle bearing had given up the ghost, but all too soon the piston started making a howling sound against the cylinder head again, in high revs.
Finally the Jupiter (accompanied by a great heap of parts) found another loving master in the north of the country. I would have liked to keep it but it gave me more troubles than fun.
The third : the Suzuki
Bang the drums, blow the horns: here's my Suzuki. In my not so humble opinion one of the most gorgeous bikes ever made. Long, slim, a blue silvery fish.
I wanted something faster than the Jawa and more reliable than the Juup, but it needed to be something I liked the looks of. So I went to look for a Titan and this one was advertised in a local paper. For that amount it was running and looking decent, but not perfect of course.
The Suuz hasn't given me much trouble so far. Just a broken oil seal which made it burn its gear oil. Which makes it smoke and smell a lot worse than it's supposed to. (The Suuz is a twostroke with an oil pump. You can see the oil tank on the right hand side.)
The Titan is not a very easy bike to ride. It does have (for a twostroke) very nice engine caracteristics. The 48 horsepowers kick in in a beautifully gradual way. Off course it's long which make it prefer to go straight ahead. You really have to lean it into a curve or it simply won't go. And the frame is not exactly rigid.
Compared to modern bikes that doesn't make it a sports model. But in its days it definitely was. And it's still quite fast enough to keep up with modern traffic.
I think the Suuz is a lovely bike to have and to ride and it's reliable. I've ridden it into the Chzechian republic once but other than that no long trips so far.
For those who know their Titans: This is a '73 model but yes, you're right, the side panels and rear light are '72. I like these better and I don't feel every nut and bolt needs to be original.
I have scanned the schematics for the electrical system of this bike. Those who are in need may mail me (through the index page) in order to get it by email.
Update august 2005: Even the best relationships end sometimes. The Suuz and I have separated. My old friend could not have ended up with a better new owner. Look here.
Roel, you are making me happy!
And then there was the Honda... My bikes usually cost me almost exactly twice the amount of the one before that and the Honda is no exception. I never especially dreamt of getting an off road bike and I used to think they were ugly. To be quite honest this motorcycle is to me still not really a pretty sight. But sometimes there are other reasons to want something. And it's a helluva good ride.
The Honda is my first four stroke and I had to get used to that. There's a lot of stuff on it that was all new to me. I've learned to adjust the valve play and I'm going to learn a lot more about it. I have a service manual which is a good help.
I bought this bike in spring '99 from someone who wanted to get rid of it because he couldn't kick it over. It had been sitting there for a long time which gave it some specific problems, like dried- out oil seals. The front fork oil seals had to be replaced almost instantly, among other things.
But it's definitely reliable. I use it quite a lot. And many things , like adjusting the chain, are just very little work on an off road bike.
This motorcycle was made suitable for traveling long distances by spring 2000 so a lot has changed since I bought it: Oil cooler added, steel luggage rack, stainless steel panniers, chain greaser, bigger fuel tank.
I ride my Honda not just on road but also on unpaved roads and where possible off road. It's an enduro bike which means it was in principle built for terrain, while it's still suitable for road use. It's very lightweight and easy to ride. Kicking it over takes a bit of practice though. Top speed is about 150 and fuel consumption (average use) is about 1:23 !
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