Thinking About Buying

mgecaAugust 27, 2006

I'm thinking about buying a Vespa type scooter or a small bike, probably a Harley.

I'm mid-60s, haven't ridden in years. I want to cruise around town, maybe get out on some country roads once in a while. Not sure if I would want a passenger or not.

What would you all recommend I think about (used)--something with a little speed, ease of handling (I'm in pretty good shape but older), possibility of wife riding with me once in a while? Makes, models, good points and bad?



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A small Harley would probably not be very comfortable for the Mrs. to ride on. I'm thinking Sportster here. Quite a small seat to perch on.

I see that a scooter is also up for consideration. I would recommend looking at a new Honda Reflex 250. If you are thinking used, a Honda Elite 250.

Low seat height makes it easy to get on and off. No need to worry about shifting. Big comfy seats for two people. Built in storage under the seat. Great on gas, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Honda Reflex

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 7:22PM
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Don't start small...and PLEASE do NOT buy a Sportster...just my humble opinion...but get a bike with everything you think you MIGHT want down the line.
Once you purchase a bike, the resale value, like everything else, drops drastically once you drive it off the lot. You'll be back-pedaling should you decide to "upgrade".
(The voice of experience)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 8:55PM
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Guess it all depends on what you are comparing, but a Vespa and a Harley are sort of at opposite ends of the 2-wheeled spectrum. Without more specific engine size or speed expectation information, you're pointless "shaking the tree" on this one. Might peruse the craigslist motorcycle listings for your area . . and, if you have a current motorcycle drivers license endorsement, possibly test drive a few of those. Kymco offers several scooter models with the larger 16" wheels . . the smaller 10" scooter wheels feel awkward to most experienced motorcycle riders.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 11:46PM
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I recently had a chance to put about 4000 miles on a new 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 (V-Twin Cruiser) and it is one of the best affordable bikes I've ever ridden. Looks big, but handles like a smaller bike and gets like 52+ mpg hwy/city combined. Looks really nice with lots of chrome. EFI engine and belt driven, costs less than $6500. Check it out. If I'm in a market to buy a mid-range cruiser, this one is on top of my list for sure.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 12:32AM
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It's true I am "shaking the tree" but some fruit has fallen already, given me food for thought.

I have pretty much decided a scooter will do the job for me. New or used--who knows until I get out and look.

So here are more specific details. Mostly I will drive the scooter around town, visit people, do a little shopping, just explore. At the same time, once in a while I would like to take my wife for some rides around town. Basic use.

At times I think it would be fun to get out in the country, alone or together, look around, enjoy the air. This is more a dream, but if it is a possibility, that would be great. My ride is a big Bronco--couldn't I put a scooter (light enough to lift) into the back and take it to other locales to cruise together?

Engine size? Have no idea what cc translates into. The Kymco looks interesting and thanks for the suggestion. Anything else out there beside Vespa and Honda and Kymco?

So, what thoughts do you have on used scooters? Given my main use, what does anyone think about different models, engines, etc?

Kind of long post but I hope it will help in getting some more information to research and to get out and look.

Thanks -- Mike

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 9:46AM
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Just a note...if you're thinking about a scooter that's "light enough to lift" point in worrying about engine size. You'd do better buying a set of decent ramps.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 10:35AM
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Hey Mike:
You're decision favoring a scooter is a good one. There's lots of good ones on the market these days, and I know a few guys who have given up their Harleys for the relatively laid-back world of scooters. And there's plent of models out now that will do everything you want. The Honda Silver Wing sounds perfect for you, as would the Yamaha TMax 500. Both can travel on the freeway, and still get great mileage and functionality.

But I have to take exception about someone saying not to buy a Sportster. Quite frankly, they are the only Harley I have ever been interested in. So many people have said that "once you ride a Big Twin, you'll never go back."

Well, I've ridden practically every model Harley has made in the last 40 years, and for me the Sportster is by far the best bike they have ever made. Given equal amounts of money to spend, the Sportster will always outperform any Big Twin, and the new ones have rubber mounts so they don't vibrate (but unfortuneately weigh about 50 pounds more than the older ones).

As we say in our Bay Area Sportster club, "I like fast Harleys, not fat Harleys."

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 1:20PM
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I get calls every day "do you fix scooters" and do you know someone who does. Food for thought...I'd buy a name brand and not an import that no one has ever heard of. Alot of the imports you can't find parts for.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 5:06PM
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I appreciate all the help and suggestions. I looked at a nice Sportster, really liked it and that started me thinking. I've had my "go-fast" days and do think the more laid back life of scooters is where I want to be.

I sure made at least one dumb comment--the one about lifting the scooter. I went back to where I saw what seemed liftable and noticed the weight was in kilograms, not pounds. Oops. I don't know a cc for an engine but kilos I do.

msmarion, you make a great point about service with a known scooter. I'm sure I will end up with what is available through a dealer near-by, for service etc, and that will no doubt be how I decide.

I'll be checking out some of your suggestions on-line. Freeway on a scooter? Serious?

I'll try craigslist too--heard of it but never seen it.

Any more thoughts or ideas are really welcome--this is helping when I don't have much time right now to shop around.

Thanks all - Mike

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 5:27PM
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craigslist is great. I have bought and sold lots of stuff, including my last car.

If they are available in your area, see if you can find a Stella scooter. They look like a dead ringer for a 1960's Vespa, but a new one costs less than a 30 year old Vespa.

Kymco is a good brand, but they don't have much dealer network developed, yet, so finding one might be tough, too.

If I were looking for a smallish new bike today, I would be seriously considering the Honda Shadow Aero 750.

But, in all, I will probably go back to buying used motorcycles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stella Scooters

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 6:06PM
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I own a Honda SilverWing and can't say enough about this amazing will get out and run when you need it to, and is always in the right gear on the hills...a 125MPH Scooter!!!! I started out with the Reflex but wasn't happy with the speeds out on the would run 70 MPH but took awhile after that to get much above that. The SilverWing would be very comfortable for two, has great storage under the seat, and is really an amazing machine. There is also the Suzuki Bergman, a little bit bigger, but I was more comfortable with the feel of the Silverwing for me.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 6:41PM
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Yep, scooter on a freeway.

My 85-year-old uncle rides his Silver Wing everyday, and loves it. He rode Harleys and Gold Wings for years, but says the S Wing is the best of the bunch.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 1:07PM
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We have a customer who bought his wife a SilverWing for Christmas. She's not crazy about bikes but he thought it might encourage her to ride. Well on a Sunday he was out with the sport bike guys (they are all over 40) in Central Florida and he got stopped for speeding. He told the officer he must be mistaken that he was only riding a scooter!! He didn't get a ticket!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 1:16PM
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Turns out the major makes (Honda, Yamaha,etc) are available locally so that gives me choice and hopefully good service near-by.

Showed a picture of the Silverwing to my wife and she said that isn't a scooter, its a motorcycle with that engine size. I asked if she would ride on it and she said she loves to ride on motorcycles. In fact, she said she would ride it to work everyday (11 miles on a country road) and I could drive her car!

Does it sound like I might be on to something here? Less powerful (cheaper) might be OK too--doubt I would want to ride on the freeway. But like lellie said, now is the time to think as big as I might want.

What are the pros and cons of new vs used scooters?

Is there any way to make a scooter sound like a Harley--lol

With an interested wife, I'm going looking in a couple of weeks when work lets up.

Wow, thanks again, any new ideas appreciated.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 8:42AM
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If you want a Honda Silverwing scooter to sound like a might as well forget that right now!!! It's quiet and smooth. A smaller version is the Honda Reflex...if you are considering riding on the freeway, go with the Silverwing. Reflex would be perfect for country roads, and again, lots of storage under the seat.
I have had both of these, prefer the Silverwing just because of the bigger engine and "get up and go" ...quietly, efficiently and smoothly!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 2:25PM
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The pros and cons of new vs used scooters are like the pros and cons of new vs used anything... cars, toasters, motorcycles, telephones, lawnmowers, clothes...

Used is going to be cheaper, but you don't know what someone else has done to/with the scooter. The good news is that people who buy scooters usually don't thrash them so they tend to remain in better condition than, say a Ninja or a Ducati would.

In fact, what I'd be more worried about is the decay a motor vehicle experiences when it sits for a long time. Old gas turns to varnish in the carbs. Critters chew on wiring. Tires may have sat underinflated and developed flat spots, or they just dry out and crack up. Batteries lose their ability to hold a charge. While these last two seem easily remedied (replace 'em!), occasionally finding a new tire or a new battery in the right size at a reasonable price becomes a challenge. Honda used a T-shaped battery (to squeeze in beside the airbox) in one model for two or three years back in the early '80's I think it was. A new one today probably costs $150.

So, I would be a little leery of the 15-year-old scooter with only 1,000 miles on it. I may have gotten most of those miles in the first year or two someone owned it, then it sat for a decade or more. Low miles is good. Almost zero miles is a warning. You may be shelling out big bucks to get a barn-fresh bike back on the road.

I have owned like 17 mikes. Frankly, after the experience I went through with my current bike -- my first NEW bike ever -- I think I will stick with used bikes for the rest of my life. I just don't feel it was worth a whole lot more money to get something brand spankin' new. But I will be very picky about what I buy and very careful evaluating a potential purchase.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 7:19PM
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I've made a couple of phone calls to local dealers. Their initial phone quotes to me were several hundred dollars over the MSRPs on the internet.

Is buying a scooter like buying a car--no known price and you have to haggle? I know sometimes when things are scarce dealers charge a premium. What's going on?

I appreciate the thoughts on used scooters. I'm not looking for a "classic" for scooter cruises--I was thinking of something maybe in the 4-5 plus years range, maybe newer depending on price. I suppose like any vehicle a good mechanic should check it out.

I think I would go for a Silverwing in a heartbeat except the price for right now. The reflex looks nice and might be OK. I can't imagine going on the freeway with a scooter but certainly the basic 55 mph road as well as back roads and around town, often with a passenger. Reflex seems to meet that need?

Everybody is really helpful on this board. Still a lot to sort out. Most likely I will wait until spring - can't imagine riding one of these in the snow.

As far as sounding like a Harley, well, if I am having a second adolescence why not a little fantasy. Maybe playing cards in the spokes?

Please chip in if you have more ideas to share.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 3:13PM
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What about eBay? That's where I found my bike. She was only two towns away.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 2:05AM
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I finally got some time to look around. The Honda SilverWing is quite a scooter but maybe a bit too much price-wise. I took a quick spin on a Reflex and liked it--has some energy, easy to handle, probably fits my needs and budget--or will I soon wish I had the SilverWing?

Saw a picture of, but no floor model at the time, of a model called Big Ruckus--has a motorcycle look, carry two people, 250cc (about same as Reflex-same price).

Any experience with the Ruckus? I am getting closer to finding out what will work for me I hope. All the advice you have given me is what has made it happen. Thanks.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 8:45AM
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Hi Mike:
The Ruckus is cool, but I don't think it is designed for what you have in mind. The first Ruckus, the 125cc model, was meant rather as a play bike -- something to strap to the bumper and take to the campground or racetrack or whatever. It's sort of an off-road scooter. The 250cc model is more suited for the street than the 125, but still is more towards the play bike category than the every day, around-town category.

The Reflex is a good scoot. I've ridden a couple and they are a lot of fun. I think you would be happy with it judging by your comments, though you may want a little more power for cruising country roads two-up. But you can always sell it and get the S-Wing if you eventually find the Reflex a little too small.

I say, go for it. Life is too short for overthinking.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 2:13PM
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Hi Mike: I had a Reflex, learned to ride on it...loved it for just "tooling" around on back roads etc. Never tried riding 2, guess it would depend on the size/weight of the two people. Never had a chance to ride it on the hills (we live in Florida...pretty flat) so don't know how the power on the hills would be (if you are in a hilly/mountain area) We did some interstate riding occasionally and I just didn't feel comfortable with the would go the speed limit (70MPH) but you'd better pack a sandwich if you need to go much above that.
We trailer our scooter and MC to Pennsylvania in the summer and do a lot of riding in the mountains and in New York State (Adirondack area) and I wanted something I knew would get me up the mountains with no problem so I sold the Reflex and got the Silverwing...which I absolutely LOVE !!! For flat , back road riding the Reflex was great, but I was ready after a few months to move into the Silverwing. Guess it all depends on the type of riding you are going to do with it. they are both amazing machines! Good luck with your decision! (the Reflex I got was a used machine and the Silverwing was a new one.)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 5:23PM
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I am in hilly western PA so I need to think hard about that. I can't imagine ever going on the interstate on a scooter, but I suppose anything can happen.

Judging from all the good comments, it sounds like I could enjoy the Reflex but with two full sized adults and hills the SilverWing is what I should consider now instead of 6 months down the road.

I want to overthink one last time and ask about the Yamaha Majesty--looks like a Reflex, a little bigger and heavier, 395 cc engine instead of 249cc Reflex. And the price is about the same as the Reflex.

Same dealer here carries Honda and Yamaha but I would like to get thoughts from you guys and your experiences, not try to sort out a dealer's story.

Thanks again for the input--it is a big help and I will make a decision soon. Last thought--does anyone ride a scooter in the winter/snow?


    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 7:43PM
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I just wanted to say something that no one else seems to have touched on. I live in AZ and our insurance premiums are double that of the national average because apparently we are the worst drivers in the nation (No. 1 in poor driving and teen pregnancy, what a state). As a result staying safe on two wheels isn't always the easiest thing. That being said, please keep in mind that the ability to accelerate out of the way of trouble is something to consider when making a purchase. It isn't often that acceleration plays into safety, but when it does, it's nice to have. For that reason I would recommend the S-wing. I also know someone who rides an Aprilla 500cc scooter, and he says it's pretty quick. Unfortunately if price is an issue, the exotics are probably out of the question. I would also discurage taking anything on the freeway that can't jump from 60mph to 90mph in a few seconds...but that's just me, there really isn't anything other than my own paranoia to back that up.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 11:15AM
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A little late in response, but I think the reason that you are seeing the dealers asking more than MSRP for scooters is the MPG and the price of gas. Fuel-efficient vehicles, regardless of the number of wheels are commanding a premium these days.

Yes, the prices are negotiable.

If memory serves, Cycle World, Rider, and Motorcycle Consumer News all had good, thorough comparisons of the SilverWing vs the Burgmann about two years ago when they first hit the market. Neither was the clear winner over the other, but there were some differences in mileage, carrying capacity, and projected maintenance costs. You might want to find these and read them before plunking down the cash.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 1:10PM
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Hadn't seen the Majesty, but went to a site and looked at it...does look a lot like the Relfex and Silverwing, doesn't it! I still think for riding 2-up and in the hills or mountains, the bigger Silverwing is going to serve you well. The Bergman is even a little bit bigger CC. By the way, mgca....whereabouts in Pa. are you located? I went to school in Edinboro...grew up near Bradford...still go up there in the summer time to enjoy the nice riding and great summertime weather (as opposed to riding in Florida in the summertime...not fun...too hot for me!!However, November through April riding in Florida is about perfect!) anyway..back to the original question, I agree with banditboy, I felt safer on the Silverwing than on the Reflex just for the reason that it would go faster if I needed it to. It has great acceleration...and is always in the right gear on those Pa. hills!!!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 1:30PM
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craftyc - I am in Butler, not all that far from your old stomping grounds. Hard to be anywhere in Pa without hills. I had a 30mph Vespa too many years ago that I drove on dead-flat country roads with no traffic and I guess that mentality is still with me in this time and place.

Seems everyone pretty much agrees the SilverWing is the scooter for me. I do wonder how often my wife will ride with me, but I have to say she really likes riding, loves speed and thrills. Says I can get something as long as her cash isn't involved.

I'd still like to hear from anyone with direct knowledge of that Yamaha Majesty, or Yamaha in general. The engine is between the Reflex and the SilverWing altho one cylinder. The price is good.

I have had the thought that maybe two smaller scooters would solve some of the problem but then I am back to way less power. I can't imagine being on the interstate on any scooter--bad enough in my big truck when the semis show up.

I read a couple of the posts about safety and winter. Sounds like everyone would recommend full safety gear even on a scooter, even around town? I'll wear a helmet for sure even tho optional in Pa (most deaths involve riders without them around here) but being on a scooter in full leathers around town seems funny.

Being self-employed, I'm a cash guy. Looks like the cold winter will be time to save up for the SilverWing but still wonder about the Yamaha.

What is the real difference between a SilverWing and a small motorcycle other than style? Just easier to ride? Cheaper for some reason? Dumb question but with people talking 125 on the freeway, big acceleration - seems reasonable to ask.

So decision to buy or wait, what to buy all coming together. This forum has been a real help. Hope someone can take the time to answer these related questions. Thanks.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 3:07PM
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mgeca...I guess what appealed to me about a scooter vs a motorcycle was the ease of getting on (arthritic knees) and the fact that it was an automatic transmission...I didn't have to worry about clutching, shifting up/down, what gear I was in etc. I can just sit there and enjoy the scenery whiz by!!! Again, on hills, there was no shifting, just twist the throttle and up it goes!!! Besides I loved the look of it!
I wouldn't say it is more economical...get about 45-55 mpg depending on how I am riding, I know a lot of motorcylces get that too. I would also say it is more manueverable in traffic than a MC. Also, there is a ton of storage (well..maybe not quite THAT much) under the seat without having saddle bags strapped on the sides. Also, the Silverwing has the faring effect in inclement weather. Will be anxious to see if someone responds to your question about the Yamaha "scoot". Don't know of anyone who has one so can't offer any opinions on that one!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 8:31PM
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Hey Mike:
I've not ridden the Majesty but I have had several Yamaha's over the years, including my current main ride, an '03 FJR1300, and they've always been reliable and pretty easy to work on.

I did manage to scam a ride on a Bergman just this morning and I must say I was impressed. It handles extremely well in the twisties. The S-Wing ride was a little "cushier" in that the suspension was considerably softer, and the ride considerably smoother. The Bergman was much closer to a sport bike than any scooter I ever rode in performance, including acceleration, handling and braking, yet still very comfortable. I can see why people are even touring on them. Either would be fine for relaxed cruising around, with plenty of power to pass and get up hills, but the Bergman gets the nod if you want to twist the wick.

So, again, it depends on what you want to do, and of course what you can afford. Growing up I had a blast riding all around Western Montana on my Honda Trail 90, including several trips over the famed Idaho Pass on Hwy 93, and it could get up to only about 55, and take about a week to get there. On the other hand, the power and handling of my FJR is just awesome for a 600-pound sport-tourer, yet I hardly ever really tap all that power. Power is nice when you want to get out of the way, but I bet the Magesty is still quicker than 90 percent of the cars on the road, and lighter is better when it comes to braking.

So, ride what you like, and like what you ride.

good luck,

p.s., I spent about a week one night in Scranton. That's my only experience in PA!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 9:05PM
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Oh Matt...! you missed the best parts of Pa. ...there really are some beautiful areas to ride in... a lot of great national forests and state parks and rural areas (look out for the deer!!)...some great hills and swooping curves and meandering rivers and streams and scenic vistas and on and on!!! Hope you can get back there sometime and enjoy THAT part of it!!!! I can recommend a lot of good rides in the north central and north western parts!!!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2006 at 10:18AM
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I am a middle aged woman and bought an Aprilia Scarabeo. Sort of 1/2 way to a motorcycle with larger wheels, better shocks,etc.

1) I LOVE the scooter ease and no changing of gears, it is a "twist and go", but at 150 cc I can go FAST if I need to.

2) BUT, by buying a snazzy Itian job, there in only one place in San Diego County that will sevice it :(

3) We've bought the ramp thing that goes on the back of the truck or RV to take it places. Too light to really go on the freeway.

4) Bought used for a little over half the new price, no problems. It's been with me 2 years.

Good Luck and have fun.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 3:10PM
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Hey craftyc:
If I ever get back that way, I'll surely give a holler. I haven't been east of Denver since 1990! Born and raised in the West, and will probably die here too.

Lived and rode in New England back in the early 80s. Lots of great riding around there too. So many roads, so little time....


    Bookmark   September 14, 2006 at 11:34PM
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I suppose it depends on your abilities and inclination to wrench on a bike, you can find a used Royal Enfield Bullet fairly reasonably priced and it would be perfectly suited to riding in town or 2 up on country roads. As a bonus, they draw a lot of attention wherever you go. My wife and I tour on a Harley Dresser and I have a Sportster too, but I ride the Enfield every day.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 5:28AM
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Yo Grantic,I posted on Mustang Rides,I looked at the Enfield pretty hard but the way the motor is strangled for air and fule I am thinking I have to break the thing down and install new carb,new pipe,things like that,did you modifie your bike to get on the road with it? John

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 5:59PM
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