Sonic's Workshop

YAMAHA PW 50 & 80

It's now half way through June and it seems that summer has at last arrived, but what about spring? I mean one minute I'm freezing out there and the next day it's summer! Oh well, best make the most of it.

With the coming of spring/summer many of you with youngsters (Eh? Where you getting these phrases from grandad? - Ed) may be considering the possibility of picking up a small dirt bike for the lad or lass to get

Small bikes come two in a crate

their feet wet on. I too found myself pondering the pros and cons of such a purchase since early last fall sometime, so by March of this year I had given it quite some thought. Now of course, being Sonic, I figured (like most other invincible handy types) that buying a used one would be as easy as buying a new one - and at great savings to me! However, if you think buying a used street bike is stressful, and a used dirt bike is a quick trip to the poor house, then trying to find a child's dirt bike in good shape is like mission impossible. Don't believe me? How's your kids room lately? Neat, spic and span? Well taken care of? There you go. Now I'm not saying that every kids bike is a total wreck, it's simply difficult to find a good one. I spent many days, weeks, ... months scouring the bike rags and local hymy papers in search of that gem in a pile of rocks.

I viewed many rocks, very expensive rocks to boot. Most of the machines, though they were still fairly new (two to four year old) were mostly in rough shape. The most common of the problems were bent and or leaking forks, bent handle bars, broken levers, worn chains and sprockets, and poor cosmetics. Some of the more severe problems ranged from a bent steering head, to a cracked engine case. Now for the right price any one of these problem machines can be saved, unfortunately the price wasn't right. You have to keep in mind when looking for a tots cruiser that it's the old

folks that flip the bill for it, (as you'll soon find out) they're also the ones shelling out for the repairs in most cases. Big bike or small, fork tubes are expensive and trees are hard. The usual scenario is Bobby or Janet smacking their new bike up giving the loving parents no option but a trip to the local dealer to purchase one front rim, front fender, two fork tubes, and a clutch lever - at a price something like $380 plus labour and taxes. The bike is usually fixed up like that once, the next time, "it's ride it the way it is!". And they do. Most of the machines I looked at hadn't seen soap & water, much less a can of chain lube.

After looking at all these many machines of woe, factoring in the cost of fixing it up to the point where I felt safe putting my kid on it, I was, in most cases, at or beyond the cost of a new one! So if you're going to shell out as much, why not just buy a new one? Oh, and if you're planning something like this, don't tell your child or they're likely to harp your ears off - thus clouding your already foolish mind.

I feel that buying a bike for yourself or someone you love is a personal thing, so I won't get into why I picked the Yamaha PW80, all right, it was the color, I like blue, OK! Plus, Willie at Yamaha Sports Pickering gave me a great deal and let me watch it being put together. I didn't know this, but Yamaha ships the PW80 two to a box so the dealer has to buy two. That's why you may not find one ready to go on the dealerships showroom floor. The smaller 50's come three to box! Just thought you'd like to know.

I received a call in April from Willie to let me know my new bike was in and I buzzed on over to take some pics and watch the whole thing go together. Getting the damn thing out of the crate was the hardest part. Bolt on the front wheel, attach the handle bars, fill with gas and oil ... first kick and it fired right up. New stuff, you gotta love it. Being the caring parent that I am, I felt a test ride was in order. You know, just to make sure everything is all right and as it should be. What a blast! Far too much fun, er ... I mean, I think I heard a noise, better take another pass. Yee ha! Hey Marj take this for a rip, its a hoot. Err... I'm sure I heard something, would you mind having a listen? That's it, go, go!! Wuh hoo! What a total blast (You're a sad man. A very sad man - Ed).

Once at home with the new purchase I quickly hid it in the garage amongst all the broken hulks for up coming Sonic's and proceeded to read the owners manual (they give them out for a reason). Along with the owners manual, the bike came with a 'how to' booklet on teaching your child to ride safely. This was really a good read, full of good tips and safe common sense practices. Not only that, but I got a cool hat too. I mean my kid did, damn thing didn't fit me.

I'd bought the bike as a birthday present, so on his eighth birthday I let him open the garage. He didn't even notice it at first, the whole garage is packed with bikes all the time - should have stuck it in the washroom, then he'd have seen it all right ... unless spiderman was on, then he may have missed it.

Part of the deal of him getting a dirt bike is that he has to help maintain it. That includes buying gas and oil, as well as using tools (with my help - Uh oh, the kids a goner - Ed) to take care of his new bike. A purchase like this can be a great learning tool for both you and your child if managed correctly from day one. Equally it can cause family turmoil if it's misused. If you are considering a dirt bike for your kid, be sure to spend as much time with them after the purchase as you did considering the purchase, because it's a blast!!


Thanks to all who have written in with E-mails and letters. I've been considering doing a workshop tips thing for some time now, so here are a few to be going on with for now;


  • Don't keep a bare coil wire in your mouth while trying to start your bike (You didn't - Ed).
  • Don't press your face against the engine or exhaust pipes when hot (Okay, okay, as if my pride wasn't as burnt as me cheek already - Ed).
  • And finally, don't eat wieners and beans before setting off on a long tour with a passenger (Me thinks you don't need wiener or bean assistance - Ed).

Some real tips will be coming next issue. Speaking of next issue, bent frame on a '95 Kawasaki ZX7? Noooo problem ... Oh god.

© 1997 Canadian Motorcycle Guide