Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mini Bikes and Other Nonsense.

One of the nice things about growing up out in the middle of nowhere back in the day was being able to get a motor under you at a very early age with no parental supervision for days (weeks) on end during summer vacation. I remember vividly my dad bringing home various mini bikes or building 3 wheeled go-karts (motorcycle engines?) for my older brothers. First a Rupp for my oldest brother and soon after some no-name brand for my sister, who quickly realized that mini-bikes weren't for her by wrecking in the front yard on her first ride.

The Rupp was a cut above with shocks and all, but the other was your typical Briggs and Stratton motor strapped to a frame and wheels. Ownership of my sister's bike was soon transferred to my second brother. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time and my old Rollfast 20" bike was starting to look awfully slow next to those. Oh how I longed for the day I'd have my own. Over the years, those bikes were upgraded to faster and faster bikes, one of those was an Arctic Cat, then a Hodaka and on to a killer CZ 250 complete with coffin gas tank. Perfect, since that bike was neck snapping fast and could put you in the grave at any moment. Those were the bikes I ended up learning to ride on when I got big enough to touch the pegs from the seat.

Finally the day arrived one summer where I had worn my mom down enough, and saved enough cash working on the farm ($5 a 12 Hour Day!) to buy my own bike. I ended up with a Honda QA50 like the one you see above, only it was Red. Strange thing about that bike; it ran when I test rode it at the kid's house where I bought it, but when I got it home it wouldn't start. I worked on the damn thing for days after that. It was a complete piece of junk, extremely slow and barely ran, but it looked a little like a Harley and was mine. All Mine! It was a definite step back in performance (understatement) from some of the other bikes we had but I didn't care. I spent all summer working on it, and even riding it a bit when it wasn't broken down. Like now, I wasn't much of an off-road type of guy so it was roads for me. On any given day I could be seen riding this thing who knows where. Sometimes as far as 10-15 miles from home. It had the nasty habit of throwing parts off the motor when it got really hot after a good 30 minute full throttle run to the store with my $1 weekly allowance or some of the cash I earned on the farm. I'd sit along the road and wait for the motor to cool down enough so I could put the parts back on and continue. Gas? I syphoned that out of mom or dad's car with a garden hose. Eventually I upgraded the front wheel with a larger spoked unit I found off an old Harley we had laying around. It bolted right up as long as I took the brakes and front fender off. Who needs brakes anyway? Now it had that cool chopper look I was after.

I loved that little Honda when I wasn't cursing it for being so lame. Finally one day I saw my brother pushing it home with a broken kick-start and a few other problems. He'd "borrowed" stolen it to take to work on the farm and when it wouldn't start he kicked it to death. I pushed it over to the Barn where it sat for years. I'd see it in there and think maybe I'd restore it someday but never did. Finally a freak snow-storm left so much snow on the roof of the barn one winter it collapsed, crushing everything inside, including my Honda. That was the end of that, but my love of two wheeled transportation continued.

Today's Ride: 40 miles, a little over 2 hours (easy, no big hills) Tomorrow I'm planning to go a bit longer, early.


Chrispy said...

John, that QA 50 was one sweet ride! They don't make them like that anymore.

John P. said...

Yeah, that little bike had alot going for it despite it being so slow. Good styling especially.

Chrispy said...

You know if you still had it you could put a 90 cc head and piston on it and then the thing would really scream. Honda makes a 90 cc version of that engine.

Chrispy said...

That engine is basically the same engine that is in that 70 cc Honda Passport I have in the garage.