By Scott Noga
VJMC member Scott Noga sent us the following article and photos of two of his Bridgestones. The following is Scott's own words as to how they came to be.
Picture My '68 was purchased in Arizona in 1978 while I was stationed in Nevada living the military life with the Air Force. I've made a few minor modifications to it, as you can tell. The picture was taken in 1978 prior to the installation of expansion chambers. I had installed transistorized ignition, which you can just see over the chromed oil tank clamped to the frame tubes, progressive shocks, low bars and café fairing, Michelin tires, slightly lower GTO final gearing and halogen headlamp. It's a real blast. I tore up the Nevada highways with it for the next couple years.
My riding buddy had a Yamaha R-5, and later a Norton Commando and of course we raced at every opportunity. The Bridgestone was the fastest, but the gas mileage wasn't so great running flat out everywhere. Long range was a definite advantage in Nevada and 21+ mpg left me with the indignity of getting towed by the R-5 a couple of times, despite my larger fuel tank (each time while riding two up, while the R-5 was solo).
This bike accompanied me to the Philippines in 1981, shipped from Bremerton to Subic Bay. When it arrived in it's open crate after it's world tour two months on the open deck of a Navy ship, it looked like something dredged up from the bottom of the sea. Everyone thought it was a real antique. It took a lot longer than I had planned to get it in shape for the 60 mile ride back to base from the port and nightfall was drawing near. It was supposed to be ready for pickup, but I found it still crated and buried in the warehouse. I was working 12hr grave shift and had worked the prior night, then rode the bus that morning to pick it up. (We're not talking Greyhound coach here, this is the Philippine "Rabbit". Austere school-bus style, "Parnelli paddi" driver, hot, crowded, e.g., people, chickens, bugs -- sleep is not an option.)
As I set out that evening for the return trip to Clark AB, running later than I wanted for reporting to duty (though thinking I could make it) things went from bad to worse. On a moonless night, hitting heavy traffic on the narrow two lane road, I was just beginning to pull into the oncoming lane to pass when one of those giant mining dump trucks with no lights sped by in the opposite direction. I narrowly missed it and was only a split second from dead. They make their own rules in the Philippines. At that point I decided I was just going to be late. If I had to follow an ox cart the entire 60 miles back, so be it.
Traffic eventually eased up and as I neared base was able to cruise at a fair clip. At around two o'clock in the morning and about ten miles from my destination, the road now deserted, the engine began making noise. Moments later it seized up completely with a failed main bearing. Knowing that if I temporarily abandoned the bike there it would be the last I ever saw it, I pushed it the rest of the way.
I arrived at sunrise and had already been reported AWOL (away without leave, for you non-military types).
With over three days of being awake, 95 degrees w/95% humidity, after pushing the bike up and down countless hills (I swear it was mostly up,) "detained" at gunpoint along the way by a local resident, now shirtless, arriving with pants ripped from bottom to top, severely dehydrated (both from a lack of water and being sucked dry by mosquitoes), I was presented in a semi-comatose state to Air Force NCO's and officers only to be interrogated for about an hour in a small room (I kid you not) to explain why I was AWOL. Of course they were sure I had spent a wild and wooly night at the local bars, got drunk and had bedded down with the "comfort girls". They were not about to believe my story until one of my supervisors finally vouched for me: "He's not normal". Gee, thanks.
Following a lengthy wait for parts, I rebuilt the lower end and had it back on the road. A significant problem in the Philippines was gas. Poor quality / low octane and high prices. With that bike, in those conditions, I was in constant worry of meltdown. It survived two and a half years there and another shipment back to the states. Back home it was much happier and I could resume my high speed antics.
Picture My 70 Bridgestone was purchased just prior to my leaving for the Air Force in 1977, but was left behind with a friend. I found it languishing in back of a Portland motorcycle shop. It was partially disassembled but all there and supposedly had been brought in because one cylinder would not run. The previous owner was befuddled and abandoned it at the shop. The odometer showed a whole 650 miles on it. I bought it, and following a cleaning, reassembling and minor electrical repairs to undo the previous owners efforts at troubleshooting, it ran great!
I've made some small modifications to it as well, with the low bars, cafe fairing, and Rockford saddle bags. It's my Sport Touring, which is what the 350GTR was supposedly marketed as in the first place. With taller gearing and essentially all stock, it's good for cruising longer distances. (Gas mileage is more like 42+ at a brisk pace).