August 09, 2006

Monkeying around San Francisco.

What kind of motorcycle really makes a MotoGP mechanic drool? For some, like Wally from Camel Yamaha, and Mark from Marlboro Ducati, old-school Harley Davidsons really fit the bill. These guys ride 1970's shovelheads - one's a chopper, and another is a wicked bobber style. For me? Honda Z50's are just about the coolest motorcycles on the planet, and I happen to own one of the nicer ones in the United States. When I sold everything I owned to move to Europe, the only two things I held on to were my work toolbox (filled with Snap-On) and my Honda Monkey. It's the kind of bike I would never sell, and it lives in Excelsior with my good friend and fellow Monkey fanatic, Brad. After spending the morning with my mom in San Francisco, I made my way to Brad's place to check up on my old bike - and go for a spin!

This is my Honda Z50J, and although it looks fairly stock, there are a host of modifications strewn throughout the bike. I wanted to keep the look and the size relatively "normal", so after building a strong 88cc engine, I concentrated on blinging out the rest of the bike. I chromed the wheels, fenders, controls, engine covers, just about everything I could, and the results are amazing. It is truly a beautiful machine. People are constantly asking me where they can buy one, who makes it, etc, etc. You can't put a price on love, I say, and then I take off! Capable of 71 MPH (confirmed on the 101), it hauls ass, too.

This Z50 is Brad's, and while the frame and fuel tank are the same as mine (without the signatures of several MotoGP racers, haha), there have been some big changes. . . . .
Check out the larger hydraulic forks, the triple trees, the extra wide 10" wheels and tires, the Ducati Brembo brake caliper (yes, yes, hydraulic brakes), extended mono-shock swingarm, rear-set controls, the list goes on and on. Not to mention the engine collection that Brad has. Currently, there is an obscenely large fourstroke being built up for this bike.

I was sooo happy to be reunited with my treasured motorcycle (yes, it says it's a real motorcycle on the registration, and the manual clutch and four speed transmission help complete the illusion). Anyway, enough about the bikes. There's virtually nothing on either of them that hasn't been modified or changed, and they both show a ton of love, devotion, and time. I remember spending hours hand polishing stainless steel hardware . . . .until I managed to source some titanium!

I also wanted to spend some time checking out Brad's latest modifications, namely the ultra cool 130 x 10" rear tire. That thing is HUGE!

I guess compared to Brad's bike, mine is something of a "low-rider", but I like it and Brad likes his, and we're the founding members of the "Grandmother's Worry" Motorcycle Gang. It's a gang of two, so watch out! We motored out from Excelsior (South, South San Francisco) and headed up through Twin Peaks to see if my bike still ran right. It just would't do for a MotoGP wrench to be riding something that wasn't tuned juuuuuuuuuussssst right.
This city is soooo gorgeous. From the cityscape, the hills, everything adds up to a magnificent place that is one of a kind in this world.

And there's Monkey's in them thar hills!

We started tailing a young thing from the Creatures of the Loin and she led us to Scuderia West, a very cool little shop that has awesome bikes for sale, like the Bimota Tesi!

From there, we headed into downtown San Francisco and had a snack at MotoJava, the multi-purpose bike shop. On one side, a full service and repair shop that sells quality used motorcycles, and on the other, a great coffeeshop with a warm ambience and great homemade food. Check it out - it's on 9th and Harrison!

The Ferry building on the Embarcadero is a landmark!

So naturalll, we dropped by! Brad called his wife on the phone (who works across the street at One Embarcadero) so she could look out her office window and see us waving our arms around. Yeah, we're cool like that :)

The obligatory Golden Gate Bridge shot, from the Marina area.

The obligatory Alcatraz photo, too.

From the Marina, we rolled straight up into the Presidio, to visit with a member of the MotoLiam team.

Evan, Brad, and myself.

At this point, we'd been riding around for hours bombing through the city, and Brad was missing his wife, so we started heading back towards Excelsior.

We stopped in the Golden Gate Park near the conservatory to check it out on the way.

Brad even braved running across a busy street to take a photo or two!

And then we ripped home, safe and sound. Talk about your awesome day in the city, with good friends, good bikes, and great weather. I can't wait to do it again!


Are you crazy? What kind of exaust sistem do you have in your Monkey?
And what kind of brakes!

wow! My cousin got a monkey from japan that he asked me to fix. Those bikes are awesome. Where do you get aftermarket parts for it?

Hi! I heard there is a MotoGP mechanic living in Indianapolis. Is this true? i also hear, he visits Gatsby (a bar) in Indianapolis. Tell him Chuck would love to discuss motorcyles some time! Or forward him my email address. Thanks!! (ps. I have a 1982 Z50R mini-bike also!)

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