I’ve read a lot of motorcycle writings, fiction and non fiction, from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to Hell’s Angels. I’ve read many memorable reviews of motorcycles — my favorites are by John P. Burns — but this humble (okay, maybe not so humble) Craigslist ad I saw on the Portland, Oregon Craigslist got my attention.
Enthusiast Alex Hagmüller says he “grew up in a small town in Cordova, Alaska riding motorcycles that were too big for me from a young age, most notably a1981 Suzuki RM465 at the age of 15. I now live in Portland, Oregon with my lovely wife and a poodle named Pirate, with a stable of too many motorcycles for my small garage. Ride Hard, Die Free!”
Hagmüller is, judging by the description of his bike, a rider’s rider. He will do anything, anywhere, anytime on a motorcycle. Frankly, I can’t believe the poor thing isn’t being sold at an estate sale.
Breathless bluster and crazed description aside, what this ad conveys is one man’s love of his motorcycle, and a clear-eyed, if manic, love of the sport. And it makes me want to use my rent money to buy a 14-year-old WR400 and beat the crap out of it. Just because I can.
We’ve reposted the ad here (with Hagmüller’s permission) so it won’t get lost down the Craigslist memory hole, as epic ads like this need preservation.
I’ve left Hagmüller’s spelling and syntax in place (except for obscuring the potty-mouth words, as MD is a family publication) in interest of historical preservation.
For sale is a 2000 Yamaha WR400F.
One owner. Ridden all over the place. No title. It’s a dirtbike.
It has participated in Ice Racing, Motocross, Super Moto,, TT’s, Flat Track, and GNCC’s. It has been ridden in Glamis, Pismo, Ocotillio Wells, Coos Bay, Florence, Sand Lakes, Single Track of Blue Ridge in Vancouver BC Canada, all over Alaska’s outback, through rivers, on top of glaciers and frozen lakes and rivers, up and down mountain sides, through city streets, golf courses, and gravel pits, has had multiple impacts at high speed (one at 95mph) resulting in rider concussions and general mayhem, jumped off steel ramps, natural dirt doubles, Dirt Hips, Sand of all types, boulders, concrete drops, and generally ridden quite hard for the last 13 years.
Estimated to have done over 10,000 fifth gear wheelies on pavement. The type that result in the front wheel slowly rolling to a stop, then going backwards from the wind. Then leaving 747 style marks on the pavement while white smoking the tire to glory from touching down at 80+mph. Apparently you can wear out 5th gear on a motorcycle. A few times. In fact, art has been created in it’s wheelying honor because it has spent most of it’s life on the back wheel. It has spent thousands of hours attempting to recreate the abilities of Chris Carr, Ty Davis, Seth Enslow, and Geoff Aaron. Possibly 2 minutes of this entire time could be said to have achieved a fraction of those abilities. Most notably Seth Enslow. Of those abilities, the eating shit part tends to stick out.
The engine has been rebuilt 4 times, the center cases replaced once due to a crack resulting from the chain snapping off on a landing off a steel ramp on a 60 foot gap, radiators replaced twice due to frontal impacts during a bout with another racer during one of the above mentioned races, multiple fender and side panel replacements, some due to being run over by other racers, most notably during ice racing which is exceedingly scary by the way, some due to wheelying over backwards, or cat scratching and high siding whilst sideways at high speed on numerous surfaces, multiple handgaurd replacements, a few piston and ring replacements, one crankshaft replacement, multiple timing chain replacements,fifth gear replaced 3 times with new shifting forks, 2 clutch replacements, one was due to fragmentation of the aluminum plates, resulting in an engine rebuild, one valve set replacement with re-cutt valve seats, tons and tons of oil filter and oil changes and air cleaner changes, always using high quality oils, either Bel Ray or Maxima.
In it’s current configuration it has a 2001 YZ426 connecting rod, piston and cylinder. It now displaces 426 CC’s.
It is running the stock exhaust with the baffle removed, but available if you need stealth mode by replacing the spark arrestor.
Front tire is in really good shape, back tire can work for a while.
IMS high capacity gas tank with a YZ 426 seat.
YZ 450 Radiators.
Stock cams in stock WR configuration, as I have found this to be the best setup for really really smooth long predictable showstopping wheelies.
Change it to the YZ timing and remove the grey wire from the CDI box and get more peak power and more snap at the loss of the most brilliantly delivered power known to man.
The original throttle stop was removed in the five minutes it took to get from the showroom floor to the pickup.
Suspension is setup to chew 3 foot whoops at 90 mph with a 190 lb or so rider.
Headlight works still, running a 100 watt halogen H4, although a little scary for use in technical terrain at high speeds at night.
Runs and starts always. ALWAYS.
This is about the most reliable machine on planet earth that I have ever come across.
Throughout my 13 year campaign of trying to destroy the Mighty Yamaha WR400F, and while succeeding in some ways, I am still baffled that I have done only a SINGLE valve adjustment in it’s whole history. I believe this to be in part by Yamaha’s solid original design, and in part due to religiously keeping clean oil and air in the beast. Try and say that about a modern Honda CRF 450 variety motorcycle.
So why would you want this? Honestly, I have no idea. But here are some thoughts on it.
Some say it is old, outdated, outclassed. I believe the same of the people who say that about this motorcycle. It has great, predictable, never ending power, incredibly tunable suspension, unbelievable reliability, fantastic range, and weighs as much as 12 Portland grade hipsters.
It requires a starting drill. It is part of the religion you receive when purchasing this motorcycle. It goes something like this:
This is an excerpt from book one of four hundred and fifty two of “Owning this Damn Motorcycle”.
I hope you like to read.
1) When it is cold, you twist the throttle 3 times. EXACTLY THREE TIMES. NO F$%K AROUND!!!
2) Pull out the choke knob. The hidden black one. NOT The red one.
3) Roll the engine over with the kickstarter slowly till it’s at top dead center. You will know because it will take 17 portland hipsters to move it further.
3) Pull in the decompressor. The little anodized blue lever. NEXT to the clutch. Now that we are on the subject of decompressors, use this thing only when it is NOT running. Some people think it is a good kill switch. That to me is my switch to kill someone who is that incompetent.
4) Let the kickstarter rise all the way back up, move the lever an inch. ONE INCH. NO F*** ROUND.
5) Release the decompressor. Say a little prayer. Let the kickstarter come all the way back up again. Set your foot on the mother. Say two more prayers. Maybe three for good measure.
6) Clinch Your teeth.
7) Are you wearing sandals or motorcycle boots?
8) Kick with vengence. Like you f&*kin mean it. Like you were giving a curbie to a zombie on the walking dead. Like THAT.
9) TA DA! The beast is now alive. Warm it up. Remove the choke. Let her come back to an idle. Don’t rev it wildly. Just let it settle. Turn it off. Check the oil. Adjust as required. Do the whole thing again.
11) If it is hot, flooded from stupidity, either from a fall or raping the throttle while it isn’t running (can you say, accelerator pump?), pull the hot start button. the red one. the Accessible one. Then do the drill again. Make sure you say at least 12 prayers and think of 15 Portland hipsters jumping on a kickstarter all at the same time.
What it comes with:
The manual. Very used.
A nice aluminum YZ 426 exhaust, should you like that sort of thing, and the headpipe.
A box of miscellaneous engine parts. Gaskets, pistons, cylinders, crankshaft, engine case parts, wheel bearings, sprockets, inner tubes, some plastic.
The stock gas tank. Not sure why but I still have it.
A ramp. It’s kind of lame, but it is a ramp.
Various lubricants for maintenance.
An flag mount for the dunes. (sorry, no more paddle, 9 of the 10 paddles were gone anyways)
A certificate of manliness/womanliness/unicliness/humanliness/whateverliness floats your boat.If you can start this motorcycle one, and if you can ride this motorcycle two, your deserve some kind of damn certificate.
A printed copy of this craigslist ad.
A bill of sale on parchment written in the best calligraphy.
Basically, this bike has truthfully had the snot beaten out of it, but has also had a lot of love, time and money poured into it. This bike will do it all, it’s real limitation is the rider.
Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of City Bike magazine, and a frequent freelance contributor to MotorcycleDaily.com