Friday, October 10, 2014

Throw-Back Thursday: My First Motorcycle


Santa somehow managed to get  a brand spankin' new Yamaha TY80 down the chimney on Christmas Eve, 1974.  The TY80 was essentially a shrunk-down version of the TY250 and so was a competition-ready trials bike: very low gearing (with neutral at bottom), super-slim, high ground clearance, super-light weight, soft and springy suspension, and massive steering lock.  The engine was capable of chugging along in first with no throttle without stalling, and could loft the front wheel at will over obstacles. It came with plastic fenders, which were just starting to show up on pure dirt bikes, but the fuel tank was still steel.  Though most kids my age (13) were zipping around on 70-80cc MXers or "enduro" bikes, a trials bike offered a great platform to learn some of the finer points of motorcycle control that I still use today, such as traction and momentum preservation, body positioning and "English," and smoothness.  I also cut my mechanical chops (such as they are) on the little two-smoker, though it was so tough and reliable I don't remember having to do much other than normal maintenance.  I did learn how to unclog a carb jet while out in the woods, but that wasn't so rare 40 years ago.  This scan of a textured print (remember those?), likely shot with my trusty Kodak 110 Instamatic, hides a lot of detail, but I see some patchy ice in the foreground -- yup, even back then I didn't have the good sense to quit riding when it got real cold. #TBT

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