~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Friday, June 25, 2004

It all started when I was 12

Outside of Fresno, CA, my cousin Ron gave me a ride on the back of his brand new Honda 50 across Uncle Harold and Aunt Alice's farm and I was hooked. The thrill and fun of that erratic ride across the furrows of a cotton field are still as clear today as they were nearly forty years ago. That Honda was way better than any bike I had ever peddled! I let it be known to Mom & Dad that as soon as I was old enough I wanted a motorcycle. Dad was less than thrilled when my enthusiasm didn't fade.

Between the ages of 12 and 16 I snagged rides on borrowed bikes and when I had my license, told dealers I was shopping so I could get free test rides.  For my first bike I finagled a slightly used Yamaha 60.   Not exactly the Triumph or Harley that I dreamed of but it was a start and it was even faster than that old Honda 50.   I saw a nice used 60 for sale recently for $800 and was tempted to buy it for old times sake but for once resisted the urge to buy a bike.

Nearly forty years of riding later I've owned bunches bikes including Yamahas, Hondas, Suzukis, Kawasakis, BMWs, Bultacos and one Harley-Davidson. I'm pleased to say that I bought my Harley before Harley's became the disgusting baby boomer fad that they are these days.  Frankly, I think people buy Harley's because they want to go to work and brag to their friends that they bought a Harley.

I put 11,000 miles on my Harley in 10 months before I found out that I was going to be a dad for the first time. It was clear that certain toys would have to go. Good bye 1986 Harley FLST-C, hello baby... It's ok though, the baby turned into a really cool kid and now I won't be stereotyped as a baby boomer having a mid-life crisis when I go out for a ride, I've had my Harley.

When I had the '86 Softail I was comfortable hanging out with people like Animal, Big Mike, Crash, and Crazy Lady even though I don't consider myself a biker. But hanging around with the polish & pose crowd with their squeaky clean H.O.G. patched jackets and low mileage bar hopper bikes is more than I want to have to explain to my aged mother. I have some standards.

So my current bike is a 2003 Kawasaki 1600 Classic, no. 38 on my list of bikes owned. I purchased from Kelly's Kawasaki in Mesa, AZ and it's got to be one of my favorite bikes of all time although I say that about most every bike I buy. Never the less, this one is so pleasant to ride that it may actually be around more than the usual 9-12 months my bikes last. The 1600 has a nice balance to it, comfortable, and with adequate power for reasonable cruising. I miss the zipper speed of my 2001 Kawasaki Concours but the 1600cc v-twin sound makes up for it almost. I may have to buy a second bike.

In my younger years I was a SoCal crazy on a variety of bikes including my all time favorite, a 1974 BMW R90S bought new in late 1973. I was living in Thousand Oaks, Calif at the time and the gorgeous Beemer was the ultimate bike in those days. Yeah, I know, '74 was also the year for the Ducati SS, the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, and MV Agusta 750 but none had the all around capability of looks, handling, and long distance comfort of the 90S. Anyway, imagine being 23 years old, having one of the great motorcycles in the world, and living only 10 miles or so from the famed Mullholland Drive in the Santa Monica mountains. Life was good. I do envy a little the younger fellows who live in that same area these days and have weapons like the FZ's, GSXR's, and Kaw ZX-10. Ah to be young again.

It's really kind of a wonder I survived those early days as I took conspicuous chances bombing around the highways and byways of California but I made it. I still like to ride briskly but not so much that I need a modern sport bike which would be largely wasted on the mostly straight roads around Arizona. So the Kaw cruiser does me just fine these days as I am in my 50s and don't heal as fast as I used to. Still, when I visit the dealer and see the Kaw sport bikes sitting there I'm prone to thinking "One more time, one outrageously fast bike before I'm really am too old to go fast."


Anonymous said...

Cool. I remember that first ride on a Honda 500 too, though mine was in a small Pennsylvania mountain town.

Doug Klassen said...

Robert, Seems like everybody's first time is memorable.



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