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Lessons Learnt From An Air Filter

The MotoXcross Museum has purchased almost all of the motorcycles in the collection via the Internet. Bikes have been bought from EBay and Yahoo auctions, as well as a number of the classified sites. While looking at picture of the Motocross bike in the ad or emailed from the seller gives you an idea of the bikes condition, We here at the MotoXcross Museum have learnt to ask questions and request specific photos. After all it only makes sense that if you are the seller, you are going to post or send photos that show the best of the bike.

So what question or specific photo have I learnt to ask for. "Can you send a picture of the air filter?

Why the air filter. Well we all know it is the primary preventive maintenance item on the bike and as such it tells volumes about how the bike has been treated. To help demonstrate this let’s look at several of the museum’s purchases.

The first bike the museum purchased was a 1978 Honda CR250. Listed on EBay it was actually located close enough to request the opportunity to inspect the bike in person. However this seem to be difficult for the seller to find time to do. You see Internet selling takes up time. So much time that little time is available to have somebody actually kick the tires in real. The bike was bought despite the inability to see the item before putting hard cash on the line. Besides it look clean, started right up according to the seller and had a pair of Fox Shox.

The bike did in fact start right up. And was quickly shut off. Piston slap so loud it was scary to let it run. A quick review of the bike revealed the cause. Image 1 shows the air filter. Ladies nylons are suitable for a variety of uses but not as an air filter on a dirt bike. And even worst was the fact that it only covered part of the air filter cage. The saving grace was that all the parts required to actually have an air filter were still there.

Fortunately Big Bore kits are in vogue and I really don’t like being in the back of the pack by the first corner. Lesson learnt? "Ask questions about the air filter."

Life for me is sometimes traveled in extremes. The next purchase was located on EBay as well. However it was in Omaha, Nebraska. This was probably the reason that nobody bid on the bike. A quick phone call to the seller to negotiate a deal revealed the seller also had a 1981 Maico 490. Having always dreamt about owning a Maico, the logistics of bring a bike back from Nebraska disappeared. And so did anything learnt about asking about the condition of the air filter. Suddenly buying the Husky became only a way of buying the Maico.

Well the CR125 fired right up. A couple of quick blips on the throttle brought a stream of oil out the filler cap. It turns out the bike was missing that all important vent hose on the oil filler cap to keep oil off your boots. Might as well check out the rest of the items. Image 2 shows the air filter on the CR125. Yes it is missing the air filter. However there was one there. Only it turned into dust when the cover was removed. Not a big problem, at least it was there at one time. However just before the filter disintegrated it was observed that the air filter had a hole in it the size of a fist. Current theory is that that part of the filter went into the engine. And hopefully straight out the exhaust.

Okay another lesson or lessons learnt. "Don’t get two exited when buying a Maico and always check the air filter etc before starting up that new find."

Okay by now I should have learnt enough to be a knowledgeable buyer. The third purchase was a 1979 KTM 420. And yes the owner had put in a new air filter just last year. WOW, preventative maintenance. Surely this was enough. No need to actually see a picture of the air filter. An initial inspection of the KTM did show that it was in excellent shape. This bike had never been raced and was still very clean. Image 3 shows the air filter. While the air filter had been replaced, somewhere along the way the parts to hold it in place had taken a holiday. Yes a picture says a thousand words.

And what of the other bikes purchased by the museum. The great thing about buying basket cases or true beaters is all you really have to do is ask if the air box is there. Lesson Learnt!