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Bill the pony

The motorcycle is merely a tool. The destination and the events along the way are what create the memories.

This story begins March 16th 2020… so many others.

Mosko Moto was finally hosting a bike night in Salt Lake City. On Saint Patricks day. An event I had waited 2 years for. There was some talk of this weird sickness going around and schools shutting down all over the country, but that wouldn’t stop a motorcycle event, right? Around noon on March 16th I was told my workplace was going to shut down….we would all be required to stay home. With pay, fortunately. Well that’s weird…but there’s no way it’ll stop the Mosko meetup tomorrow, right? GUESS WHAT IDIOT! NO MOTO MEETUP FOR YOU…..also the whole world is totally nuts now….I hope you stocked up on toilet paper.

Then the same thing happened to me that happened to everyone else. Chaos.

I ended up in California working for my cousin Jason, who knows literally everyone. One of the people he knows happened to have a few little gems for sale. One of which was destined to become my most favorite motorcycle that I have owned to date. A 1978 Kawasaki KZ200. In VERY rough condition. I bought two other bikes from the lady but this one is the star of the story today. Oddly though, at the time I had no idea what I was going to do with it. Not a clue. And it actually spent the next 2 years under a tarp, permanently strapped to a trailer.

Then, the idea for Budgetmoto Adventures slithered its way into my head around Christmas time 2022. And it was all downhill from there. I spent the winter getting this monstrosity of a bike not only running, but drivable! And even a little bit safe. Then I took it on a trip that I’m beginning to regard as my second most favorite trip of all time. Enrique and I took our stupid shitboxes on a 3 day adventure and saw more of my local terrain than my KTM has seen still. Amazingly the trip only had one malfunction and it was fixed with actual garbage (you’ll have to check out the YouTube series for more details). The fact that this poor little beat up and overloaded bike took me for a ride it had ZERO business doing and it maintained a fierce loyalty the entire time earned it the name Bill The Pony. Its namesake, of course, being Sam Wise’s trusty pony from The Lord of the Rings. I drug that poor pony through hell and asked it to do the work of two oxen. Now, unfortunately, the real Bill was left outside the mines of Moria to fend for himself. But my Bill the Pony? Well……My Bill The Pony would have jumped the gap over Khazad-Dum and then followed me to Mount Doom to drop the Ring into the fires with me……and then would have refused rescue from the eagles. Bill just went everywhere. He didn’t do anything quickly but he did do anything I asked him to.

I was prepared to keep Bill running all summer and then let him retire to a comfy spot hanging in the rafters in the shop that winter. I let a my friend, Brandon, borrow the little blue bike for the remainder of the summer so we could ride together and he could save on fuel. I told Brandon to keep in mind that the bike was older than me and incapable of speeds over 55. Brandon didn’t care, he was just happy to be on two wheels. Bill even took Brandon on a couple adventures of his own. AND Bill The Pony was the on the original scouting trip for the 2 The Border poker run….completing the entire off road poker run course just like all the other bikes at the rally!

Just like any other tragedy, Bills was swift and unexpected. On a rather optimistic highway trip Bill quit running and left Brandon stranded. Nothing he did would get Bill back on the road and we had to rescue them both. Once Bill was home we put him up on the lift and started inspecting. Sadly, it was found that Bills engine had severely low compression and was blown up…..Poor old Bill…. Now I can’t say that I was surprised. I warned Brandon that it was likely to happen and I fully expected Bill to die before summer was over. But, when it actually happened I was kind of shocked. I let him sit on the lift for quite a while, avoiding having to make the decision of what to do with him.

Then another crazy idea slithered its way into my brain. Bill wanted nothing more than to serve. Shouldn’t I reciprocate a little of the fierce loyalty? Yes, he was broken, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be fixed. Parts for that bike were just plain impossible to find, the repair process was really difficult the first time and that didn’t even require many parts, a complete engine was just out of the question. Even engine parts were unattainable. But the little idea slithering its way around my brain kept whispering to me……”you know where another engine is”.

It is not a stock engine. It’s a Chinese engine from a cheap Chinese dirt bike. But….there it sat……a perfectly functional 250cc engine that looked like a very close match. I could not leave poor old Bill in that forsaken place. He needed my help.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, my afternoon was spent pulling Bills lifeless engine and stuffing the donor engine in his frame. UNBELIEVABLY the donor engine was almost a drop in replacement. I was fully prepared to do lots of custom work to get this engine to fit. It seriously looked like this Chinese engine was a clone of the original from Kawasaki. It was so close that I didn’t have to do a single thing to align the sprockets. All I had to do was weld one bracket…..everything else bolted right up like it was supposed to be there.

This is where Bill sits right now. Mid conversion, awaiting what I’m hoping will be many more years of service. I have absolutely zero concern for how he looks, I just refuse to ever let Bill the Pony die. I have more stories and amazing memories with Bill than any other motorcycle. I would ride that idiot to the ends of the earth if I had to. He doesn’t do anything well, but he does everything well enough. I simply cannot let him die. He will live out the rest of his days in the garden at Bag End, grazing to his hearts content under the shade of the old oak tree.

SO, here I am…..contradicting the words I started this post with, words I have been preaching for a few years. The motorcycle is a tool…….until it isn’t. Until you find that one that creates memories so powerful that you can’t wait to share them with the grandkids you don’t have yet, memories that outperform those from your “epic” trips.

2 thoughts on “Bill the pony”

  1. Very enjoyable read! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you and Bill; and hopefully Brandon won’t feel too bad after Bill is life functioning again.
    Keep us updated on the new adventures.

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