Well, it looks like I "finished" this build just in time to share before the site is retired.
The story begins in August of 2018, in my birth state of Virginia. I was a broke college student and had just finished my first decently paying internship, so I had just barely enough money to try to squeeze my way into the motorcycle world. After soaking up motorcycle content on YouTube all summer, I was willing to buy nearly anything with two wheels and more than 400cc of displacement... under $1,200. At the time that left two main candidates that I was finding on marketplace... some Ninja 500's and, you guessed it, a 1994 XJ600SFC-L (that's right, California model!) Seca II.
Like any running/riding motorcycle listed for $1,000 it had several people interested, so I made myself competitive by promising to be there bright and early the next day. That morning, my friend whose truck I had planned to borrow was still asleep, so I snuck into their apartment, swapped the keys with mine and left a note "borrowing the truck will return full! ".
Four hours later I arrive at the meeting spot. We unload it, and, unbeknownst to the seller, I swing my leg over a street bike for the first time... for the test drive. Growing up, I'd ridden the neighbors' CRF150 dirt bike a handful of times, but nothing even remotely this heavy lol. Bike seemingly rides fine, and with several other people interested and myself being barely able to contain my excitement, I was in no position to negotiate. So I give him the full $1k and he throws in a crappy helmet from the 2000s and an equally old Joe Rocket jacket in a XXL... mind you I'm 5'10" and at the time probably 160lbs wet.
I have no ramps so we use his trailer gate to load the bike in the truck and I get my first lesson in strapping down a motorcycle from a stranger I met ~15 minutes ago. Looking back, there's no way he didn't realize I was a complete greenhorn. Oh well, haha.
Here it is loaded on the truck headed back to my college apartment:
You'll notice it's already been converted to a very ghetto XJ600N. The first thing I did after getting it home was buy new tires.
Installed them myself using a log as a center-stand, some tire levers and dish soap. Working with what I had, I did a few cosmetic things to make it a bit less hideous. While the wheels were off they got some black paint along with the tail plastics, repositioned the headlight and brackets, and heat wrapped the headers. That brings us to phase 1:
I rode the wheels off this thing for the next year or two. Rode it to class since motorcycle parking was convenient and parking pass enforcement for bikes was virtually nonexistent (never did buy one hehe). Rode it on many great roads in the mountains of southwestern VA. Here it is parked in front of the cabin at Mountain Lake, where Dirty Dancing was filmed!
As school got more strenuous I found myself riding it less… it fell into disrepair as I left it outside and uncovered over the next few years, graduating by the skin of my teeth and moving a few times (for work) before I finally was able to rent a place with a garage. It's now February of 2023 and the bike looks pretty sad and runs/rides worse:
At this point in time I finally have some disposable income but I already bought a car (to replace my well-loved 2004 Jetta) and in the back of my mind I know I need to be saving so I can (hopefully ) buy a home in the near future. I’d been threatening to sell the bike but even after sitting outside for nearly two years, I put some juice in the battery, pulled the choke out, and it started right up. It was as if she was telling me she wanted to live.
The stage was set for Sally's rebirth. The theme? Resto-mod commuter machine on a budget!
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