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New Member from Fort Collins, Colorado

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Steve Swan:
Hello Folks,

I’ve posted a couple times and perhaps you may remember I purchased a 1968 GTR from Richard Hapke, back in March….. 

Well, 81 days later, the bike arrived and I could not be more thrilled!  I am 66 years old; motorcycles have owned me since I was 14, I grew up in rural NE Nebraska.  My third bike was a BS175, I remember it as a great bike, I quickly out grew it, and when we went down to the implement dealer Dad bought he 175 from to trade it in on a 350 GTR, the dealer had quit handling Bridgestones.  Needless to say, we were both disappointed, definitely me more than Dad, and the short version is I never saw a GTR until this morning when the bike was rolled out of the semi-trailer.  Wow, is all I can say, what a fantastic moment I have been waiting for, for 50 years……  Sheesh, how time flies! 

I could not be any more happier with the bike than I am right now!  Although the bike left Richard’s on April, 20, and I didn’t get it until today, it started the 1st kick!  After being out or Richard's hands for 81 days and in warehouse terminals and semi-trailers, I was definitely pleased and pleasantly surprised!  It is an absolutely lovely unmolested original machine.  Thank you, Richard!   Rode it a little over 30 miles, had to turn the idle up a hair, I am at 5,000 feet altitude, and Richard is in New Hampshire so I will guess the bike has lived its life at around 500 feet altitude.  I think it will need some rejetting, as the acceleration really slows down at 5,000 rpm and has to work hard to get above 5,000 rpm, so I am guessing is getting more gas than it needs.  I have a buddy who has been around 2 strokes for over 50 years, I’m going to have him ride it and get his opinion. 

Anyway, really happy to finally have a GTR!  A big thank you to Richard Clark for selling me a nice LH side cover!  I am going to enjoy the bike as is, and this winter begin giving it a major service, i.e., disassemble, deep clean, new grease in steering head/swing arm and all other pivot joints such as brake fulcrum pins, etc.  I do not see myself ever restoring the bike, it would take the fun out of riding it, were it a restoration. 

I do think I will start saving up nos parts though, as whoever has the bike after I do, may want to restore it, and the old fellow definitely deserves the best.  Will look forward to hearing from you, I have been following this site for several months, and there is a lot of very knowledgeable passionate Bridgestone owners here!  I do intend to continue following the threads and contribute some.  Anyway, take care and safe riding this Summer!


Steve Swan

Jeff Bar:

I enjoyed reading your story,  neat that you finally got your GTR  banana

Jeff Bar

Steve Swan:
Thanks Jeff!  we got a used 1965 YDS-3 Catalina instead, it damn near killed me.  Since you liked my story of waiting 50 years to get a GTR, you will probably appreciate the story of the Yamaha that almost killed me.  enjoy or suffer your way through.... :o

My most harrowing ride was when I was 15.  I grew up on the farm, 8 miles NE of Hartington, Nebraska.  When I was 14, this was back in 1966, you could get a permit to operate a vehicle if you had to drive to school and we had no bus.  I had a 1965 Yamaha YDS-3 Catalina 250, the year of this incident would have been 1967, it seems like it was November, but I can’t tell you how I know that.  What I do know, the weather was cold and I was completely bundled up, as many layers of clothes as I could wear and still be able to walk, swing my leg over, and straddle a motorcycle.  Going north out of Hartington, highway 57 continues uphill until you get to what used to be Tip Top School, where there was a one room country school house and then it’s all downhill from there.  And in my case, that was literally and figuratively.  It’s f’n cold.  I’m sure the temps were in the 10’s or teens.  Ok, so maybe not THAT cold….  So, I decide when I get to the top of Tip Top hill, I will see how fast the Yamaha will go and I twist the throttle wide open. Half way down the hill I’m going 87 mph.  All this I’m writing now is as clear as if this were happening now.  The entire bike starts a wobble.  Not the front end or the front wheel.  The entire bike starts a side to side wobble.  Actually, it’s like an oscillating sort of freakish wobble.  The bike is going perfectly in a straight line, while the entire bike is moving from side to side in a sickening sort of slow motion.  The bike literally feels like it is possessed, like the wobble is in the top of the motorcycle, or inside the motorcycle, definitely not a wobble in the handlebars or front wheel.  I remember tightening in fear and keeping my cool at the same time.  I let off the gas and the wobble got immediately WORSE, more exaggerated than before.  Still going in a perfectly straight line, but literally oscillating from side to side and with every oscillation the lean angles got greater and greater and greater.  I tried very lightly letting off the throttle again and the bike was oscillating into even greater lean angles.  I tried with all my might to keep the bike upright as I tried the brakes and at that point I KNEW I was going down.  FINALLY, what seemed like an eternity, the bike gently laid on to its left side and I separated from the bike.  I VIIDLY remember the bike moving forward and away from me, SLOWLY turning ccw and I DISTINCTLY remember brining my arms down to my side as I was sliding headfirst behind the motorcycle watching a shower of sparks stream from the bike as it continued its sickening pirouette in front of me.  I distinctly remember watching the bike slide to a stop as I slid to a stop.  I jumped up, ran to the bike, it was still running and in my excitement, forgot to pull the clutch and the bike killed.  I remember thinking, “Shit.”  This no more than happened when a guy got out of his car and he was as excited as I was.  He had watched the entire episode.  He asked me if I wanted a ride home, I looked at the bike, the only damage was a ground off portion of the toe gear shift lever.  So I said, “No, I’m okay.”  Got home, told my dad, he did not believe me as he knew I was a little hell-raiser on motorcycles.  The next Spring, that would have been 1968, the same thing happened to him at about 50 mph on level ground and he was BARELY able to get the bike stopped in time to not hit the ground.  He came all excited and told me he believed me.  I thought to myself, “Yeah, no shit, thanks Dad!”  I remember he partially dismantled the bike, chained it up against the yard light pole and got a long large diameter steel pipe and straightened the frame.  Type of nut my Dad was, he took the bike up to Hartington, turned around, heading to Tip Top Hill and when he got to the top of the hill he opened the throttle wide open.  He said he got the bike up to just over 90 mph, shut the throttle, and by that time he was down to the bottom of the hill.  No wobble and he was mighty proud of that.  Traded the bike for a ’67 BSA Lightning , that would have still been Summer 1967.  Moving from that rice-grinder to the Lightning, I thought I was now a man. 

              Thanks for two great reads, brought back a lot of memories for me. 
      Through a number of lucky coincidences, I was fortunate enough to have a GTR for 3 years back in late 60s, never forgot that bike and returned to the fold 4 years ago. Very pleased you have achieved your dream, lovely example of a GTR.
    Also remember, in vivid detail, low siding my Aermacchi 250 on a hairpin bend, sliding feet first in a crouched position, clawing at the tarmac to stop myself - that hurt !!  Broke off the right side clip-on , 50miles from home, hammered a tubular plug spanner on to remaining stub to get back.
   Funny how these moments are welded in our memories, unlike the time me and a mate baled off his Velocette Thruxton. Got a knock on the head and a broken jaw from that one, to this day I have no memory whatsoever of what happened.
       Happy days, eh, and hopefully many more to come for both of us (without the offs  :o)

That is a very nice original GTR!


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