Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Introduction to self powered 2 wheeled machines

In response to Gary, that guy with Flies in his Throat was wondering how some of us got into riding motorcycles I can only say that I was introduced to bikes by accident. My experience should be divided into 3 defined periods, the first of which was purely accidental.

I have always liked mechanized power . My first experience was with a wagon, you know, they were metal and had a tiller like steering handle and you would put one leg inside the wagon to support your weight and then you would push with your other leg. It was easier than walking and you seemed to go faster. In my early years I also had a tricycle and a two small-wheeled push scooter. You stood on a platform and pushed with your leg to attain the speed you wanted. Then I graduated to my first 3 speed bicycle.

It was a safer world back “in those days”. I was around 10 years old. I changed schools and I met a friend who was also an explorer. We lived over a mile away from each other but on the weekends, and during the summer we would go exploring, which meant we would ride our bikes downtown, through Stanley Park and over the Lion’s Gate Bridge over to West Vancouver. No one knew where we were, or what we were up to. All they knew was that we were riding our bikes or playing somewhere and we always made it back in time for dinner. Now that I think about it, we had no money and I don’t know what we would do if we had an emergency. There were only pay phones but I think back then you could knock on someone’s door and they would help you.

Now fast forward a few years to around 1960-61 when I was in grade 8 or 9. I was in the back yard trying to get the lawn mower started and someone in our neighbourhood was selling a mini bike. It had a briggs & Stratton engine on a tubular frame and a pulley system which tightend as you stepped on a friction pedal. It only had a single speed but I was very happy that I didn’t have to pedal anymore. I knew nothing about licences, permits or even how to handle a machine faster than a pedal bike but I rode it for miles to the other side of town and back. I knew it wasn’t right to ride on the main roads so I took backstreets and lanes. Come to think of it I don’t think it even had brakes.

Things are a little foggy about what happened to it but I think I sold it or traded it for an actual Moped. It was a 2 speed 2 stroke affair and I cannot remember the make or model but I believe it to have been a Puch. I had fun riding around the local area close to home. One day I finished my ride and put the moped in the back yard and I notice a police cruiser drive by very slowly and looking directly at me as they drove by. I wasn’t sure what they were doing but in retrospect some one must have complained to the police and they were trying to catch me. I knew the gig was up so I got rid of it and that was that until I graduated from high school.

I came from a home with modest means. I hardly every got to borrow the family car, but my dad did let me use it for my graduation ceremony. During the time I was going to school I had a part time job developing film for a local professional photo lab, hand developing B&W subminiature films. ( I did not get an allowance, I always had to earn my own spending money and buy most of my own clothes. ) This is what got me into photography and my first camera back in 1959, it was a Minolta SR-1. I call it my first real camera, not the Kodak 127 Brownie I received as a birthday present when I was 8. In order to save money, I listed to the radio a lot and knew every hit parade song by only hearing the first couple of notes. Of course I couldn`t afford a collection of 45`s, or 33 rpm albums so I bought a reel to reel tape recorder and I started to tape the music using a microphone in front of the speaker. You had to be quiet otherwise you got your voice mixed into the music. Of course you also got to hear the DJ at the beginning and end of every song. I started to buy better tape recorders and a year later I decided to sell the one I was using to upgrade.

I advertised the tape recorder and I received a call from someone who wanted to make a trade. So we got together to see what each other had. This was around 1964 or 65. We got together and he got to inspect my tape recorder, and I got to look at my new used Yamaha 80cc 2-stroke 4 speed motorcycle. I valued my tape recorder at $60. and this was the amount that I used when I took the papers to the Insurance Agent to do the vehicle transfer.

Now what do now that I have a motorcycle and no motorcycle license. I rode anyway. That`s what everyone did ``back then`` . Hardly anyone had a proper license but I decided to get one. It was easy back then. I practiced figure 8`s, stopping and starting and after a short parking lot test in a huge parking lot, I was legal. It was 1965 and I was on top of the world. I had a motorcycle and an MGB sports car.

Most of you know that I prefer to ride solo. I wouldn`t know how to carry a passenger nor do I wish to be responsible for one, BUT I have only carried a pillion twice in my life. And once I got my motorcycle license, Mrs FutureSkoot hopped on the back and we rode this Yamaha 80cc from downtown Vancouver up to the top of Burnaby Mountain, home of the new SFU University

Back in those early days of motorcycling, Honda had a promotion whereby they used the line . . . ``you meet the nicest people on a Honda`` . Downtown near Stanley Park there was a place where you could rent those semi-automatic Honda 90 step-thru scooters. For a 2 hour min we had a blast riding around Stanley Park.

It would also surprise you to know that during the time I owned the Yamaha 80cc motorcycle, we also purchased a used Honda 65 SuperSport motorcycle for Mrs FutureSkoot

yamaha 80

I'm having a hard time trying to come up with a photo, so here is one from the same period but this is 100cc. Mine was a Yamaha 80cc 2-stroke, 4 speed, with Posi-lube. I have no photos of it and can barely remember what it looked like. Wouldn't mind having it back


  1. Great story, and most entertaining.

  2. "No one knew where we were, or what we were up to. It was a safer world back “in those days”."
    Bob, I believe I can even say that for the time that I was young(er). The late 70's or 80' still was an area where people seemed to care.

    I very much like that Mrs Skoot is one of the few privileged pillion riders in your solo career.

  3. Bob,
    That's absolutely wonderful mate. Yamahas of that era were so reliable that you still see them in Vietnam and a friend in the south island has 2 of the 100cc twins that he's restoring.

  4. Bob, a small correction to your excellent bit of reminiscing: The little bike at the bottom is a Yamaha Campus 60, at least that's what the US version was called. I know this because the little 60cc monster was my first bike and the one with which I got my very first speeding ticket, not easy to do with a 50 mph top speed. The 80cc version was a bit chunkier bike with a more bulbous gas tank.

  5. Bob

    What a great story! It's so interesting to hear how people started riding.

  6. Great story Bob! And yes, things seemed safer "back in the day". My siblings and I surely roamed the local neighborhoods without a hint of our location to our parents.


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  7. Dear Bobskoot:

    A very entertaining tale of trading up, then looking up... And see wehere it ended. Nicely told. By the way, I did not get an "M" endorsement on my license until 2006.

    Fondest regasrds,

  8. Sounds like you knew Mrs. Skoot was a keeper from the start since she rode on the back with you.

    I would have liked to see your face after trading the recorder for the bike. Somehow I think you were smiling, big time.

  9. Great tale of two wheels and when and how and why.

  10. Roger:

    I liked your story too and nearly cried when you lost your 636 after only 2 weeks


    when we were youngsters our parents always told us if we had any problems just knock on any door and the adult would help us. Not necessary safe these days


    Yamahas were very reliable. we even had a Yamaha BWS & Vino


    amazing what we find out about each other, thanks to Gary. Somehow I just can't imagine seeing your image on a 60cc


    Maybe that's why we are following your introduction so closely, we can relate . . . When you are ready just say the word and I can keep an eye out for Bonnevilles over here. If this should be a Santa surprise, then just have Motorcycle man send me an email


    What ! were you a rebel too ? disappearing all day and just come home for dinner. That's one thing they told me, "make sure you get home for dinner" . . . and so I did


    I re-started my Third (riding) Phase in 2003, so I am not that far ahead of you. Good luck on your search for the k1300GT . Hope you can make it out West next year


    I didn't believe that I was getting the better deal. I even went to the Motorcycle dealer and they couldn't believe it either.

    I don't know what came over me and why I took a passenger on that bike. I had never ridden with a passenger before and I was riding up to the top of Burnaby mountain. In the end we made it back to town safely. There is much more to the story . . . you will have to ask Mrs Skoot when you see her in a couple of weeks

    V* Lady:

    Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up with you in Oregon. I thought about riding down but timing wasn't right. We all have to start somewhere and it is lucky that we are all still here

  11. I think it is the way that you were able to have so much freedom back in those days that really stands out here, be that on your wagon, the mini bike or the moped. Being able to do just about what you liked, out of direct sight of your parents was a great way to live and I enjoyed that sort of experience as well. Would that happen today? Probably not in a large city and unlikely even in a small town. Would it be great to get back to those old ways?

  12. Great story Bob. I was on the other side of the continent having some of those same kinds of experiences. My friends and when we were 10-12 years old spend seemingly endless summers exploring our neighborhoods and farmers' fields on our bikes. We would get our hands on our fathers' tools and strips our coaster brake bikes down to the bare essentials. We used clothes-pegs and baseball cards to make make-believe motorcycle motor sounds from the cards being strummed by the spokes. And it's amazing, no one knew where we were, miles from home, completely unsupervised, suntanned and happy, all summer long.

  13. You and Mrs Scoot have a wonderful history! Very nice.

  14. Fun to hear how you got your start. Glad you're all legal now. I think a few of us remember the days of running all over the neighborhood, miles from home, til dinner time. Them was the days. I bet a number of riders wish they had that first bike back again.

  15. Gary:

    when we were young we were always told to ask any adult for help and we terrorised the neighbourhood. During the summer holidays, we were gone all day and no one worried . . . I don't even think we locked the doors. I even remember riding my bike to school and I don't remember locking it either


    I think what we were doing was universal to young people all over the world. Not a care in the world doing what we wanted to do, and without much parental guidance


    we were young and thinking back you would never have expected us to get this far. Time stops for no one and while we think young thoughts, we aren't.


    I think that is part of the reason we ride, to capture the feeling of being free, and no one to tell us what to do, for even if you ride in a group, you are alone. If you are a driver, you have a backseat driver. There is someone else ther to tell you where to turn, to slow down, to speed up, to pass that car ahead. (I'm winking at Ron)