a Boy and his CB500T

…smoking nude in a beach chair chugging an ice cold Coors 24 oz can, my tiny rented room in Flatbush filling up with acrid cigar smoke making its way into every nook and cranny. The heat is oppressive and the blinds shut. The Cuban hails from Buenos Aires, an archaeological remnant of the last great ride…

First apartment in NYC. My 81 year old Chinese roommate.

First apartment in NYC. My 81 year old Chinese roommate and kitchen shower.

Look, fielding the voluminous amount of fan mail that we receive here at Silveryboy on a daily, even hourly, basis is a full-time job. One boy, or even a boy and his bike, cannot do it alone. We already have jobs, bad ones, and we can’t afford to hire someone or cobble together the infrastructure needed to care for an intern. Regardless, it seems that people need closure. What happened to the CB500T? How did you get back to New York?

The book is definitively shut on the South American exodus wrought and wrung out on the legendary CB500T. But less simply, yea the CB and me spent an inordinate amount of time together. Time and miles. We did something like 40,000 miles from New York to the Arctic Circle and then to Tierra del Fuego. The CB500T is an alright bike I guess, but it is a bike and not a horse; a machine meant to be used and bought and sold and traded and given away. Eventually it will return to the earth from whence it came, a loose conglomeration of metals and minerals and vitamins and oil. But does it have a soul?

Watching Richard with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Cb500T, would never stop. It would never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die, to protect him. Of all the would-be bikes who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice…

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Indeed the CB500T was a finicky little beast, requiring constant attention, but its most pleasing trait, above all and everything, was it’s reliability. It was unbearably heavy and ill-equipped for the mud roads of Latin America. Kick start only. Well, that’s about it I guess and a body can’t really complain too hard. There were only a few places it just could not go. But it never stopped. 40,000 miles and it never broke theatrically in the middle of the desert or downtown Tegucigalpa, shedding a piston or cracking a case. I hope that if it stands for something it would be a symbolic fuck you to anyone riding a brand new BMW adventure motorcycle in a plastic suit.

CB500T highlights:

  • 40,000 miles and nary a flat tire
  • 7 tires used
  • 6 chains
  • in the end it became a total loss oiling system. this was due to a leaking seal and buying oil was cheaper and easier than sourcing the seal in south america
  • i used to oil the chain with used motor oil and everything from my legs back was covered with it
  • only ever serious problem was a stripped spark plug hole. it still made it to the machinist on one cylinder at 6,000 feet.
  • the clutch cable setup was horrible and the cheap bicycle grade cables would snap every few thousand miles. This happened in the middle of the desert, the middle of Patagonia, and on the windswept wastes of Tierra del Fugeo. To fix is a complicated process
  • I had 4 people on the back in the Amazon
  • the rear frame cracked because of that a couple weeks later, then cracked again in Peru
  • epic Fail on Ruta 40. 2 hours of troubleshooting led to shorted wire behind the broken speedo

P1050184The truth was that I planned on blowing it up. In Potosi, Bolivia they sell dynamite at the miner’s market. It only costs a few dollars for a stick of dynamite, fuse, and detonator. I smuggled some out of Bolivia and into Chile by hiding it in a bunch of clothes but when I went to check into Argentina they had these scanning machines. Like, in the middle of the Atacama desert at 14,000 feet at this total outpost. I got nervous…pretended that I had to go back to the bike to get something, dug a little trench with my boot, put the dynamite into it, and covered it up with gravel. Some truck will probably run over it someday, killing someone. Anyway, I had no idea what to expect but..nothing. I just got waved through. No search, nothing. The x-ray machines probably weren’t even plugged in. It’s Argentina man…I didn’t know any better.

Regardless, I was going to light it on fire. Yet, a body tends to get more pragmatic towards the end of things. Patagonia had been breached, conquered. I had supped with seals and dined with penguins. While rich indeed in experience, I realized that I am not a rich man. Maybe people think that but there was no trust fund. There was no rich Dad. There was only…the road. And gas, and food, and oil and beer. I wore the same clothes for 2 years and carried the same tent 40,000 miles. The CB was sold in Chilean Patagonia, the only one of its ilk to be delivered thusly, via tarmac all the way from the Arctic Circle.

2 days later I was back in NYC and things have been weird ever since, Bro.

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2 responses to “a Boy and his CB500T

  1. We that the bike, Richard knows.

    It’s being restored.

    Cheers,

    Nico

  2. May it ride again, hermano.

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