Project Dub-Yew: What should she do with this bike?


Building a custom motorcycle was Justin’s idea. 

He thought it would be good for me – I enjoy working with my hands, being creative and love a healthy challenge. The suggestion came out casually: He explained that we could find a cheap bike in decent condition (running, preferably) and utilize a local community motorcycle garage for the tools, space and knowledge that we’d almost certainly need. Enticing. A “yes” blurted out before I could really think, "I've never done that before."


Reality set in after I had already reached out to Lance asking if he’d let me write about our scheme, dubbed Project Dub-Yew, for Common Tread. After the fun bits of picking out a bike (Yamaha’s TW200) and inspiration (Art Deco is my running theme), I tackled the more thoughtful questions one must consider before devoting unforeseen amounts of time, energy, money and even more blood, sweat and tears. Because when you must selflessly give that much or more to one thing, be it a job, an activity, a project or another being, ultimately, you will end up either loving it or hating it, or maybe a little of both. So I asked myself if I even wanted to go through with it. Absolutely.

When and how: The easy part

As soon as we could find a TW with at minimum a running engine, straight frame and wheels that were still round, we’d pick it up and start trimming the fat in Justin’s mom’s garage. Our schedule is jam-packed in 2016, so we could only afford a few weeks in a row later in the year. Roast Moto is doing us a solid by setting aside a corner for me to wrench and Justin to document and advise, and we didn’t want to burden them with our mess while we were out of town. So once we’re ready to begin, it’s off to the community shop we go! With the help of RM’s crew and garage, our pin-striping pal Asher, my eager hands and Justin’s colorful wrenching comprehension, the aptly named Deco Dub actually has a chance of being cool! And it just might not break me — physically or figuratively — before we’re done.

Yamaha TW200

Why a Yamaha TW200?

While exploring the outskirts of Mt. Fuji last year, we stopped at one of the Japan’s famed truck stops, this one tucked away deep in the mountains. In it was a sizable display with posters and plaques hung on flimsy looking poles spilling columns of information that I couldn’t read. But between the uprights atop a faux glacier with artifacts strewn around it was an old Yamaha TW200 with a two-stroke transplant and studded snow tires and massive handlebar mitts. It was the first time I’d made contact with a fat tire motorbike, and this one was decked out for an icy adventure. What we gleaned from the display, and later filled in with research, was that this bike was captained by the virtual unknown (to Westerners) thrill-seeker Shinji Kazama, who rode it to the North Pole.

Shinji Kazama's modified TW200

Kazama also rode to the South Pole, was the first Japanese rider to finish the Paris-Dakar rally in 1982 and did some other seemingly impossible things.

According to Wikipedia, as of 2010 Kazama is the only person to have reached both poles on a motorcycle. An accident during the Dakar Rally in 2004 left his leg mangled and he has since walked with a cane. But that did not stop him from again reaching both poles this time traversing from end to end using motorcycles, bicycles, dog sleds, and boats. In honor of my unwitting mentor, and his passion, I chose a Yamaha TW200 for my project.

As one person commented on ADVRider, "The TW200 may be slow, but the Earth is patient."

Pumped up

Too many of us are satisfied with comfort, not reaching over the wall to see what fruit hangs behind the brick. Fear of failure, of commitment, of falling in love and having something meaningful to lose — all the responsibilities involved with investment — prevent people from developing the passion that waits dormant within them because it’s inconvenient and scary. That’s not the life I want. I want to have cracks in my hands from hard work and endless curiosity. Sore soles from walking around the world. Tired eyes and heavy lids from years of viewing every detail of my surroundings.

Passion feeds on your ability to fail and then pick yourself back up. If that’s true, then I’m in luck because I might just be terrible at everything in this build beyond sketching a pattern. More so, having objectives and plans, like customizing a clapped-out TW, gives us purpose. Success or failure, passion will find me aboard my custom TW200.

mood board

What do you think I should do?

I’m pretty damn committed to my theme, and we have a few ideas I won’t budge on — don’t we all? But what's the point of having access to a large group of listeners if I can’t once in a while gather their opinions? See my ideas on my mood board and then send me yours. I may hate them, I may love them, but I also might use them. What should I do with this TW200?

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