Jul 11, 2011

Second Chances

Last night, I sold my 2000 KL250 Kawasaki Super Sherpa. The buyer was an older guy who showed up to check out the bike on a big Kawasaki cruiser of some sort. (Sorry, they all look alike to me. He told me what it was, but I just don't care.) He took the bike for a long test ride, both on the street in in my backyard "test range," we haggled a bit, he put down some money and said he'd be back the next day with the cash.

The next morning, he called and wanted me to put all of the LD stuff on the bike for him so he could see that it all fit. I didn't express a lot of motivation. It felt like he just wanted to jerk me around. Later that day, he called and said he was having second thoughts and didn't want the bike after all. I had three other buyers who I'd already told the bike was sold. I've already deposited the deposit check, so giving him his money back is out of the question, at least until the check clears. He seemed to think that was unfair. Not having been in this position before, I don't know what to think.

Oddly, other than the hassle and wasted time, I'm sort of relieved. I had some alternative plans for the Sherpa that I wasn't all that happy about canceling. On the wild chance that my grandson gets over teenage angst and decides he wants to ride a motorcycle, the Sherpa would be hard to beat. I sort of thought about keeping it around as a backup bike for when friends need a temporary ride. It is an insanely fun motorcycle around town and sometimes gets nearly 100mpg.

Like most carbureted motorcycles, it's a pain in the ass to start in the winter and starting is not all that reliable anytime the temperature gets below 40F. I think that's fixable, but so far the fix has eluded me. So, for the time being it's still a project bike. I might put it right back up on Craig's List, but I'm in no hurry at the moment.

I've heard of this kind of funky transaction, but this is my first experience with a sale that turned into no sale. What do you do with the deposit? I've been on the other end of this sort of transaction before, but it never occurred to me to renege on the transaction once I have said "I'll take it." Must be a cowboy thing.


  1. Sounds like a carburetion problem. Try cleaning out the low-speed jet in that carb. The hole in there is so tiny that the eensiest weensiest bit of crud can partially block flow, leading to inadequate fueling at low speed, and making it hard to start. Make sure to use a fuel filter between the tank and the carbs to help prevent this problem.

  2. I suspect you're right. I've cleaned the carb several times, each time with a moderately different result. All jets pass cleaner easily and there is no varnish in the carb at all. Unfortunately, the Kawasaki geniuses were so intent on keeping the seat height low while clinging to the long travel suspension, the fuel petcock outlet is almost exactly parallel with the carb inlet, which means there isn't enough pressure to push fuel through much of a filter.

  3. I would give back the deposit, not worth the hastle to keep it

  4. Hmmm. Makes me wonder if the strainer inside your fuel tank is somewhat plugged with crud, which is common.

  5. Paul Compton7/13/11, 9:58 AM

    What sort of enrichment arrangement does the carb have?

    Modern fuel tends to have quite a high volatiles content, which is why it can go off in storage quite easily. Combine that with low temperatures and you can end up quite lean. A richer starter jet (if that's how it works) or even summer/winter jetting might be the answer.

    I have the opposite problem with my Morinis, they need leaner idle jets for modern fuel or you can get quite a bad stumble comming off idle. I use almost exclusively Shell V-Power becuase the Morinis run crisper on the 99 Octane and it has minimal or no Ethanol content that is wreaking havock on many vehicles over 10 years old. I've heard of several cases of problems after fitting a fuel filter because the Ethanol is disolving the adhesive holding the filter element together and gumming up the carb.

  6. Paul Streeter7/13/11, 2:56 PM

    That's what the deposit is all about. He gives you a deposit so you won't sell it to someone else, in turn, if he doesn't pay you the rest, you keep the deposit to defray extra advertising and turning others away. The deposit is yours to keep.

  7. Paul, I always called it "good faith money," because it is exactly how you called it. I've not accepted that money for years, because it's not worth the hassle. I won't do it again, either.

    Since the buyer was a guy our age, I sort assumed he was aware of what the payment was for. Assuming is, as always, a dumb thing to do.

  8. I would have asked the idiot what he thought the deposit was for. Sometimes it is an act of mercy to tweak an idiot.

    Just found your website, amazing how similar our opinions are on a lot of this stuff.

    I had my run-in with the adventure-tourer genre, a Guzzi Quota. Way, way too tall and heavy for me to be comfortable, although I liked the bike mechanically. Just tried my first real sport-bike, a YZF600R (the "sport bike for adults") but I can't figure out how to shift the thing smoothly, the throttle is insane. I guess at 61 I just don't need 100hp any more! I'm now thinking about that TU250x you reviewed, reminds me a bit of my brit bike days. Or maybe the little KLX250 whatzit (supermoto style) that came out recently. Had my eye out for a Sherpa for a while but never ran into one. Have a beater Honda XR250L for knock-around and good mileage.

    Here's an article I wrote about motorcycles:

    Keep up the grumping!

  9. Paul B,

    Nice work. I enjoyed your article. "Zen" was a turning point in my life, way back in the very early 70's. I used to carry that book with me on backpacking trips, to rejuvenate my DIY jones. I should probably read it again.

    While the Brits didn't make particularly dependable motorcycles, they did make some dependably beautiful girls (as shown on your Norton ad). I think my old Rickman was the best of the old world; Brit frame, German engine, Spanish suspension.

    I'm finding that speed and my failing body don't mix well, either. The same goes for weight. I turned 63 today and between arthritic hips and back and the constant struggle to keep my own weight under control, added pounds on the bike just means I don't ride as much.


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