Nuts About Bikes

Meet George Lesho

“Wired” George Lesho of the Texas hill country in Medina County is a certified bike nut.

Wired George George's passion is old Japanese iron - particularly vintage Z-series Kawasakis. And in our book, he's attained the status of übernut: he's figured out how to make a living from two-wheelers. George has become a motorcycle carburetor expert and has built a business - WG Carbs - rebuilding carbs for other riders, especially those keeping antique wheels roadworthy.

Origins: George, 55 (“My mental age is 14”) grew up in Tennessee and Ohio. He's been riding over four decades. "I got my endorsement 40 years ago but I started riding a few years earlier," he says. The bike that got him hooked: a Rupp Indian mini-bike, fate unknown.

“I don't know how I got bitten by the bike bug. Seems like I have always been on two wheels. I really got hooked hard in the service which was the first time I was able to own multiple bikes at the same time,” he says.

Bike Barn: His current rides are a 1988 Voyager XII for two-up riding and a 1979 KZ1000E1 ST, solo. He also keeps a few carburetor test bikes, including a 1976 KZ900A4 which is about 75 percent '76 parts and a quasi-'76 KZ900A4. “It's a 1976 in frame only. The rest of the bike is a mish-mash of model years,” George explains.

That's not the end of the motorcycle collection. “I have a project 1980 KZ1000E2 ST I haven't gotten to and a 1981 CB900C 10-speed that has been sitting for a few years waiting to be redone. I have about a half dozen spare Kawi 903/1015 engines and many spare heads and cylinders/pistons and the like.”

Dream Wheels : When asked what he would ride if money were no object, he said the motorcycles he rides are the one he wants to ride. The rare rider not lusting for something bigger, better and more expensive.

Great Ride: His favorite trip was in 2001. “The Mrs. and I did three 1,000-mile days in about three months. We left our home near Austin and traveled west across the Texas Panhandle to New Mexico. We were riding a 2000 Venture and put the bike on cruise control and just headed into the setting sun at 85 mph which is the fastest the cruise could be set.

“We got to Roswell that evening after dark. The sky over Roswell was spooky as I recall a huge black cloud right over the city with lightning. I had never been there but thoughts of UFOs crossed my mind. We hooked up with a good friend named Lloyd and his missus and spent a day in Roswell. Lloyd got on his Vulcan and we took back roads up to Durango, Colorado going through the four corners area where you can stand on the corner of four states at once.

“Once in Durango, it was higher and cool. Driving at night was kind of scary as there were lots of deer there and the deer were much larger than in Texas. We were there for the initial Vulcan Riders and Owners Club yearly reunion. The first year it was in Durango but subsequent years has been held in Eureka Springs Arkansas. Anyway, we enjoyed the company of many good friends from around the country.

“Coming home, we made it to New Mexico and then rode straight home from there; about 1,100 miles in one day. The heat was incredible coming across West Texas. Some of the bank signs showed over 110 degrees. I remember Claudia remarking on feeling the difference between light colored paved roads and dark. We were slightly dehydrated but otherwise OK when we stopped for a late supper that evening near our house in a local Mexican restaurant. The sightseeing in New Mexico was incredible. Not many gas stations out that way.”

Scary Story: His scariest day on two wheels? “I think it was in 1988. I was riding a very souped up GS1100 from Ohio to Maryland in the very early spring. I had gone up there to help someone move and rode the bike up.

“The weather turned from the mid-60s to nearly freezing during the ride back home. When I was coming home, the temps were in the upper 40s but the temps dropped. It was 425 miles and I covered it in under six hours and that includes being stopped in upstate Maryland and given a ticket - 82 mph.

“I was getting really cold and had stopped several times to buy newspapers to stuff under my rain suit as it rained the whole way and when I got home, the temp was barely above freezing. I was scared because I was numb and knew my reactions were not the best and I was afraid the roads were icing.

“The image of that Maryland trouper standing next to the bike and laughing at my radar detector in the rain with the rain bouncing off his plastic on his trouper hat and his mirrored sun glasses still sticks in my head. But mostly I remember him laughing and saying 'VASCAR' - when he saw the radar detector,” George recalls.

Favorite Roads: George names a bunch of favorite rides & roads. “The Texas hill country boasts some of the best riding in the world. My favorite is RR335 going north out of Camp Wood up towards SR41.

“This road meanders along the Nueces River and is extremely scenic. If you ride it fast, it can be challenging as well but you miss the scenery. Part of the fun of riding this road is that it only has a few large ranches along the way and the folks who own the ranches keep exotics. You can see camels, kangaroos, giraffes and most any animal you would normally see in a zoo.

“The road to get over there to Camp Wood is RR337 and it is the top rated road in the state and possibly one of the best in the country. It goes from Medina, located just north of where I live, over to Camp Wood and has a zillion curves through many canyons.

“You don't have to look hard to see broken plastic from the many sport bikes who have lost it on the curves. The scenery is dramatic with some healthy drop offs through the canyons.

“If you don't want to go up north on RR335 from Camp Wood, you can travel south a bit on US55 out of Camp Wood and hook up with RR338 and head over to Brackettville which is the home of Fort Clark, a famous Indian fighter fort, now turned into a guest resort.

“The town is also home to the Alamo Village where there is a movie set. This is just north of town on the road that goes between Brackettville and Rock Springs. Alamo Village is open to the public and is where they shot Lonesome Dove and the John Wayne version of the Alamo as well as many other westerns. It is on a working ranch.

“Going north on the road out front, the road is twisty and turns through some canyons taking you up and down, for about 75 miles without a house in sight. Only a few hunting leases out in that area. If you ride this road alone, and glance at your cell phone, you will notice there is no service and start thinking of the last time you maintained your bike. I have done that road a bunch of times and seldom have seen another vehicle. I guess I like to ride in the Hill Country,” he says.

Texas sounds just dandy to us.

George is a frequent (and helpful) contributor at KZRider, the website forum devoted to old Kawasakis and their riders - vintage and otherwise.

Ed. note: VASCAR is a non-radar speed detection system that some police departments use to elude motorists with radar detectors.

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