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

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Cryin' Shame

2001. Riding Highway 1 in California.
This is by God America and everyone is entitled to use their motorcycle as they wish, wash it or not, ride it hard, stick decals on it, paint it with a rattle can, or just ride it until it's a proud old worn out warhorse.  But even in America, land of the free, home of the disposable everything,  I still believe there is no excuse for being neglectful of good motorcycles.  It's just wrong.

A few weeks ago when I pulled into the parking lot at the local Safeway grocery store here in our little town, there sat a ratty old 2001 Kawasaki Concours.  The electric blue paint was faded, black parts were gray, the clear windscreen was hazy and the surface crazed from sun.  The bike was a beater.  Clearly the owner had no interest in covering the bike when parked and the Arizona sun had taken it's toll on the machine.  I thought to myself "I had one just like that, heck, in this little town that might even be my old bike."

A closer inspection revealed that in fact it was my old bike, my 2001 Concours that I'd carefully ridden, polished, looked after, and enjoyed on a long trip through California back in 2001 and ridden on an awesome ride that covered most of southern Arizona in just one day.   Some cretin had the blue Connie now, didn't care about it, and instead of it being a sharp bike worth maybe $3000, it was just an old beater worth maybe $2000 tops.   $1000 drop in value just because the owner or owners just didn't care.  Worse to me than the damaged value, because money isn't everything, was the sheer lack of respect shown for a good bike.   But wait!  Maybe it was just worn out from eight years of hard use?  I checked the odometer.  No, the machine had only gained about 2500 miles since I sold it in 2002.  2500 miles use but 100,000 miles of sun exposure and neglect.  What a waste of a nice machine.


Farmer Jim said...

I'm with you on this one, and it doesn't just apply to motorcycles. I've been in the market for a good used truck lately and I'm amazed at how neglected and clearly uncared for most of them are. Even the ones that are only 5-6 years old look like they've been around for 30.

Just goes to show that there are a good number of people out there who take no pride of ownership in their possessions. Of course, they're usually the same ones who turn around and complain about never having anything nice.

Jac Brown said...

Doug. I feel your pain. It is so hard to see something that you took such care and interest in, abused and neglected. It would have been better if you hadn't looked closer and determined it was your old bike.

On the other hand, we have a security guard, named Sam, at work who rides more than 250 days a year. He is a true biker in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a lot of money, so he buys bikes that are old, sound, but not pretty. He is currently putting about 15,000 miles a year on a 20 year old, 4 cylinder Gold Wing. It was old when he got it and he has ridden it for 5 years. He takes better care of it than it's previous owner, but it still suffers visually from age and use.

Here is to the hope that your old Connie has been sitting and neglected all these years but now belongs to a guy like Sam who is going to get full value of a great, but inexpensive motorcycle.

Lucky said...

Doug - I feel your pain, brother. That's gotta hurt.

I had a reverse of the situation last year. After I bought the old 1982 Seca, I immediately took the thing apart and started fixin' and rebuildin'. Sanded the tank an panels, primed and painted, re-upholstered the seat. I polished the old chrome so much it looked like new.

Earlier this year I was out for a ride when I saw the previous owner's widow who had sold me the bike (he died of natural causes - nothing to do with motorcycling). She cried when she saw what I had done to the bike - but I assure you they were tears of joy!


Gary France said...

Ouch. That must have hurt. Seeing something that you once cherished fading badly is a shame. A bit like divorce really!

Rhonda said...

McGyver and I always say if you take care of something it will last nearly forever. It's a shame other people don't care...you always hope that your old items go to a loving home!

FLHX_Dave said...

Guilty! Yeah, this would have pissed me off just a bit. I take really good mechanical care of my machine, and try to keep it clean but I ride it every day, and it gets left out in the sun all day, every day,....so I'm a moto-turd...or cretin as you so well put it. (love that word for some reason.)

And to boot I have already crashed my 08 four times now. I think I am the only guy who can make a bike age before it's time. I don't think I'll be spending that kind of money again. I'm going used bikes from here on out. I have 65k on my 08. Hoping to get 100k before rebuild...I think I can do it with this one.

You know what?....thanks Doug. Seriously...I'm going outside on this fine Saturday and I'm going to give my bike a good once over. If my wife calls you just don't answer the phone...(I'm gonna tell here it's your fault as to why the honey do's are not done yet. Can you hear it? "Doug said I should take care of my bike." You da' man and thanks for the motivation!)

mq01 said...

:( i just cant imagine running into my bikes... wow...

Geoff James said...

Just like everyone else Doug - gutted for you. I feel just the same when I see anything which once belonged to me not taken care of.

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Yeah, that sucks. I've never run into one of my old bikes, cars, etc., but I have seen some of the custome paint jobs, on bikes and trucks that have been neglected. I also only live about 6 miles from my old house which I remodeled nights and weekends for 7.5 years. That house was a peach when I sold it. Now it's the same turd fixer upper it was when bought it. What a crying shame.

Doug Klassen said...

Thanks for the comments, gang. Just to reiterate, I've got no beef with guys (or women) who ride their bike hard, put the miles on it, and USE it up (thinking of you, Dave. I should probably be more like you and less like me). It's the ignorant neglect of good machinery that gets me. My work used to take me into the shops of some premium car dealers and I have to tell you, people with $50-$100k cars are not much better with their vehicles than that Connie owner.

Unknown said...


most of the time I purchase something, it is used and it is an uphill battle trying to get it back into good condition. Then when you try and sell it no one will pay more for a better vehicle. They'd rather go for a cheaper one for less money, then have problems later when mine would run like new with nothing to do. I am not so good with my commuter car which I keep impeccably in good repair but don't bother to wash it, so grungy it looks, but mechanically perfect and always will be.

Riding the Wet Coast

Unknown said...


In my mind (before the end of the story) I was already chastising you for NOT checking the odometer. Once I found out you did I felt a whole lot better. I can't say my care routine is perfect, I've only washed my '09 Connie (new off the showroom floor this March) every 4,000 miles. Which already puts me up to three washes this yeah. I had 2,500 miles on it in the first month. Well, you can't win em all, Doug.

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