Go West Young Man!

32 Days and 5,536 Miles On My Vintage Motorcycle

My name is Trevor Ware and this is my 1974 Honda CB550K. I built this bike from the frame up and lived on it for 32 days and 5,536 miles across the American South-West.


I bought this bike in Iowa for 965$ in March of 2009. I spent 6 months completely rebuilding it, esentially in two stages. I did a piston rering and carb rebuild just to get it running and tooled around Little Rock for a few months popping wheelies and doing burn outs in grave yards. Then I had my first puff off a marijuana cigarette and was spiritually connected to thousands of dead hippies. They told me to see the great American South-West, and also to bring some shrooms.

Seriously, my buddy Justin and I had talked about motorcycle adventures for years. The more I worked on the bike the more road worthy it became and the farther I could ride it. Then in July I got shit-canned from my job and found myself with idle hands. If I was ever going to blow my mind on a motorcycle this was the time to do it. I rolled the bike back in my bedroom for the second time and rebuilt it bolt by bolt, nut by nut.

The top end rebuild shortly after I got the bike


Marking my work (below the primary chain hanging out of the right side engine case).

Coming together, about 2 months after I started the second rebuild and less than a week before leaving for California, the wrinkled raisin state.


Gordy and I hadn't been talking about motorcycle adventures for years. So I was surprised when, after weeks of hounding, I was able to convince him to come with me. We found a 1981 Honda CX500 on Craigslist that seemed like a good candidate. Turned out to be about as good a candidate as Walter Mondale. This thing required some serious surgery to get ready and limited time to do it in. Here we are 2 days before the scheduled leave date putting his motor back in the bike. The stator was bad and required a replacement being overnighted, engine coming out and being opened up, and several huge handfuls of chewing tobacco. The chewing tobacco kept Gordy calm and girls away while we worked.


September 17th

I get up around 9:30 and change my oil. Finish packing and Gord shows up. Neither of us can believe we are doing this. I wonder if I'm better at building motorcycles than riding them and hope I am not. It's overcast and threatening rain, but we drag ass anyways. The bikes are fully loaded, top heavy and unruly. We roll out of my front yard tepidly, relearning how to ride our now underpowered and overweight machines. I look back at my house and know I'll see it differently when I'm coming up the opposite end of the street nearly a month from now.

The ride out reveals something is amiss with Gord's bike. He's averaging around 30 miles per gallon. Considering he'd put only a handful of miles on it after we took out the motor I chalk it up to tuning. We agree to ride on and that we'll fix it in Tulsa, our day one destination.

Interstate 40 revolutionized the way people travel in this country. How many ghost towns did this soulless stretch of road leave in it's wake though? No road trip can involve riding this piece of crap. If anyone has had an adventure on a major interstate highway I'd like to hear about it. Riding i-40 to Tulsa from Little Rock was a necessary evil and none of it is worth remembering.

Finally in Oklahoma we hit the Muskogee Turnpike, pay our toll and ride into Tulsa. We meet my girlfriend in a bar. She's visiting a friend and has arranged for us to stay the night. Gord, me and Felicia share the front room. Out of respect for Gord I don't make sweet, sweet love to her in his presence.


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