The Money Pit Bike - Dirt Rider Magazine

Meet the bike I call Gomer. Gomer is a pile. I used to think it was funny, but I've lost my sense of humor over this bike.Project Gomer is an offshoot of the well-received Buck 25 Challenge (March '07), for which we modified four used 125s into custom-tailored moto weapons. The idea behind Gomer was to transform a bike from roach into desert coach and create a low-budget specialty machine for bombing the California high desert. Instead, this project turned into a cautionary tale about sinking money into a lost cause.Before the futility of my effort was realized, I managed to rope in Karel Kramer. Karel knows all and has seen even more (thanks to Baja- and gasoline-induced hallucinations). He shared my enthusiasm and optimism-right up until he saw the bike.The '94 Kawasaki KX250 had been ridden for years without a touch of routine maintenance; not even the air filter had been cleaned. I won some respect from the DR crew by taking the clapped-out disaster three laps around the Glen Helen motocross track. My lap times were yes, yes and yes, which was better than anyone had predicted. The brakes barely worked; they gave new meaning to rolling through the pits. The rear dropped down, the front lifted on even the smallest jumps and the thing turned as well as it looked. But flight test one was in the books, and it was time to let the rebuild love begin.After a couple of cans of degreaser and a roll of quarters at the car wash, the bike began falling apart. Gomer revealed more and more problems that would need to be fixed. The idea of customizing this bike and prettying it up went out the window as the parts list grew. There aren't enough negative adjectives to describe every little problem, but the biggies were a snapped rear brake hanger, clapped-out rear wheel bearings, a broken rear hub, a hooked sprocket, seized spokes, beat reeds, a sacked-out shock, drooped pegs with busted return springs, a rusted flywheel, dented power-valve gearing, Frisbee'd brake discs, a gunk-coated airboot, a scratched piston, corroded axle adjuster bolts, an errant fork guard, petrified overflow tubes, bald tires, a bent frame and a silencer that had rattled every rivet hole into a gas-emitting slot.We had to decide what was a must-fix and what we could let slide. We had to let a lot slide. That included the sun-faded and brittle plastic, the torn seat cover and the crow-pecked bar pad (really!). So going in we knew we were still going to end up with a piece of junk, just a smaller piece.Karel had one shining moment when he drilled out the backs of the rusted-shut spoke nipples so the spokes would be able to thread through again. Pathetic. All told, we put in 68 man-hours and dropped $1000 in parts and fluids on a bike that rolled out of the garage looking exactly like the one that rolled in, only cleaner.I took the "fixed" bike to Adelanto Motor Plex, a mix of sand and technical jumps. Flight test two happened in the California high desert, but not as I'd dreamed. The bike ran a little better, started a bit easier, and its suspension and brakes worked. I got Chris Denison, a fearless freestyle jumper and solid MX pilot, to test it, and even he was rolling every jump. He did manage to bust out a few 4-foot doubles when he saw me laughing. His comment was that the bike felt loose and clapped out but would be a decent starting point for a project bike.This project failed to be the bike that might inspire you to breathe new life into an old ride. Please let the time and money Karel and I poured into this pit be a warning to anyone thinking of getting into the sport as cheaply as possible. The Buck 25 Challenge went over great, because three of the four bikes were solid from the beginning. Used bikes can be a great way to save money, but there are hundreds of parts on a bike you never see or think of until they fail. If you're in the used-bike market, look over the machine closely, consider the current owner, imagine the worst about any previous owners, then look at your money one last time, and remember Gomer.Gomer's Only Friends
A lot of two-stroke die-hards swear they will keep their smokers long after the manufacturers stop offering them. That means routine maintenance to keep your ride fresh and working great.Acerbis:
Fork guards, because one rock can undo that fork redo.Amsoil:
Fluids and lubricants to keep today's work working tomorrow.Boyesen:
If you knew how hard reeds worked, you'd understand why they get tired.BrakePlanet:
Hit the brakes without hitting the bank.Bridgestone:
Heavy-duty tubes so you remove a tire only when it's replacement time.Fast 3 Filter:
Put your bike on a no-dust diet. Clean that air filter every ride, not every decade.IRC Tire:, see your local dealerRogaine for your aging bike.Pivot Works:
Pivot Works makes pivots work.Primary Drive:
A low-cost kit to save money now, an O-ring chain to save money down the line.Scott USA:
New grips for fewer blisters when you're holding on for your life.TerryCable:
Footpeg rebuild kit. Raise your sag-of your footpegs.Tusk:
Bolt kit for replacing rusted, worn, broken and missing bolts.Wiseco:
Top-end-in-a-box: One trip to the parts counter, how novel.