No, not for us- that’s pretty simple, when we get to the point we can’t ride just put us on Amtrak with an All Aboard America Pass and we’ll die happy, provided the lounge car doesn’t run outa beer. The bikes, that’s another manner… Against the best principles of fleet management, back in the winter of 2012 I undertook the rebuild of my 110,000 mile R80ST. Sent the heads off to Tom Cutter for a much needed overhaul, took the tranny to tranny tech day for rebuild, and popped in new rings and a few other odds and ends too. Total damages: $1400 without even adding in every last washer and bit part.

The cold and wintry test ride was a disaster- either I’d drained the oil from the driveshaft and final drive and forgotten to refill it or it’d drained itself, but I did 50 miles with those pricey bits near bone dry. That was just the half of it- had a miniature Exxon Valdez coming from the lower rear of the engine too and massive clutch slip. Decided I’d better rely on another bike to pull the hack through the 2012 campaign season and put the R100GS back together.

The GS limped along the campaign trail OK, with a top-up of the tranny oil level every couple hundred miles to make up for what leaked out the back and occasional blasts of degreaser at the clutch at idle to keep the slip at bay.  “Twas good motivation to acquire a low mileage Guzzi Quota to pull the hack, and the hack’n was just completed a few weeks back.

Bored, and with the errant ST staring at me in the living room, I tore it back down. Rechecked my rear main seal install, OK. Replaced the tranny input shaft bearing I’d missed at tranny tech day. Put on a new oil pan gasket and added the couple missing bolts at the rear of the pan. Filled and drained the final drive, came out clean, probably survived- no unusual noises and barely (.3 mm at the brake drum interface) noticeable play. Put it all together and it don’t leak except for the now usual neutral switch.

So I kluge on a sidestand (the hack was on duty elsewhere) and strap the big old car battery on the rack and start ‘er up… Runs fine, and no leaks but the usual suspect neutral switch. Now pumped, and thanks to the insurance company with the cute reptile that runs trains on the side letting me insure three old bikes for the same price as two, I make a test ride. Confirmed my suspicions that a standard ST is too high for me without a ‘hack, but rides OK. But get on the highway and give it more than half throttle and the clutch slip is back. And did I mention that the hole in the muffler is growing and it’s gettin’ near Harley loud?

So let’s do the numbers… Bought the ST over 40k miles ago with bags for $2200. In those 40k miles it required a $200 tranny bearing replacement at 100k, a $500 shock at $90k, and a $200 valve regrind at 88k. I shoulda just  retired the ST for the occasional ride around the ‘hood… But Nooo! I went in $1500 deeper! 

Now the going price for an early 80s airhead is around $2-3k, and for that money you see a lot of bikes with maybe 30-60k miles that need no major work. That’s about the same price as an engine, tranny, and everything else that’s going to need rebuilding on a 100k mile airhead will cost, even if you assemble it yourself. Send the bike to a qualified shop and that bill will likely rise into 5 digits… For that kind of money your friendly and hopefully local Guzzi dealer will be happy to supply a 750 cc. airhead that weights about the same and rides like the old airhead you’ve come to know and love/hate, ‘cept the cylinders are a bit closer together and it has a two year warranty. And if you’re cheap like most airheads, the Guzzi dealer in the South Dakota has a left over demo with 2k easy miles largely accrued by the mature female part owner of the dealership, asking price $6600.

Maybe I should try a bit of degreaser sprayed through the inspection hole on that clutch…

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