It couldn’t have been more than six months ago I was fawning over single cylinder bikes. With the exception of the one bike I had owned, all of my bikes were twin cylinder machines. I had always preferred them. The single cylinder bike I did own was a KLR 650, and in complete honesty, the reason I got rid of it was because it brought out the hooligan side of me. There wasn't a lawn I didn't want to run over, or a sidewalk I didn't want to get on, and I really enjoyed it…but realized I would end up with too many tickets, and possible jail time, due to my lack of self control.
So back to my beautiful twins I went, but we constantly had singles coming through our shop. Then there was a Moto Guzzi Aryone. It was followed by a Triumph. And then, of all things, it was a Bennelli that took me to a place I didn’t know existed–a love for single engine bikes, just small functional engines with minimal maintenance and straightforward mechanics. Yes…backlit by the sun, I saw my future working with single cylinder bikes…maybe I’d cut my teeth on a Ducati, I thought.
Then fate did what it does best. It laughed at me, and finally four months later, just like Big Anthony in “Strega Nona,” I lifted my hand to the sky and thought “Aha, my chance has come!”
And the proverbial record skipped, crickets chirped, and I was faced with a single cylinder that hasn’t run in 6 years. It’s not a vintage bike. It’s not attractive. I do know however it’s a workhorse. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a family of 6 piled on one of these. Yes – one of these. I don’t even know what it is. I don’t think it’s a TVS…not a Honda…or any Euro or Japanese manufacturer. (I later realized it's an LML Freedom).
Faced with the daunting task of fixing a bike that I had no clue about or even who manufactured it, I summoned, no channeled, the knowledge of my mentor and business partner, Bradley.
I’d like to think it was ritual performed ceremoniously around a cauldron of wrenches but it wasn’t. That’s just where they kept their tools. So armed with bowls of tools so scant that the most used instrument was a pair of pliers, I went to work.
The first issue was obvious. The fuel line was disconnected and it was schmutzed up. The tank was full of debris and was rusted out or had been poorly repaired. So we removed that. Unfortunately there were no keys, so I had to work around the seat being attached. The good news was that the heat index was only 110 deg. So while sweat burned my eyes, I finagled the ignition switch to on. I pulled the plug, but in the sunlight couldn’t see if there was spark so I just grabbed it, and yes, shockingly (pun intended) it did have spark.
We went ahead and got a bowl of fuel and jammed it in the carb with some kind of syringe that reminded my of the fogger spayer from the late 50’s cartoons. With spark and fuel and an engine that turned over, I kicked that son-of-a-gun over…and kicked…and kicked…choke on…choke off…full throttle…half throttle…no throttle. FINALLY the strangest thing happened. The throttle cable broke! Just kidding, it wasn’t strange – just really annoying.
Then I pulled off the air filter cover to discover it was completely disintegrated and covering any air to the carb. I cleaned it out, and it was soaked with fuel. I grabbed the pliers and pulled the throttle wide open, said a prayer, and kicked again…it fired.
Now to get a new tank, a new throttle cable and get a new air filter. Then riding lessons for my young pit crew. Stay tuned.