Having ridden more different motorcycles over the past one-half century than can be remembered, some remain in my thoughts, most forgotten. Those which are remembered, do so for various reasons. Going thru the 60s, my first, a very used $400.00 Honda 350 with shorty exhaust pipe muffler. Transported in the back of the family’s 1960 Ford Country Squire, the smell of gasoline that leaked out of the horizontally transported motorcycle remained for months. After a few weeks, and a half-dozen coats of wax on the faded, re-painted tank, it was time to set up some jumps in the back yard. One airborne landing introduced the meaning of “suspension” and was painfully dented into the side of the glossy re-painted fuel tank, as well as my ego. This bike, my first, still in memory.
Time and experienced gained, along with better-paying jobs, different models, brands and size motorcycles were ridden, enjoyed and traded for the next years newer model. The ultimate being a Honda CBX. Wishing I had kept this one but like many of my bike buddies of the times; growing family took priority over my motorcycle obsession. That’s right, it is an obsession. My Dad thought that it was missing brain cells, but then I reminded him that my only photograph of his Dad was, his and my son’s and my namesake, and was taken with him riding a 1920s vintage Harley or Indian. This picture hangs in my and my son’s den, and office. It’s genetics, I’m convinced. Moving on, family growing, unlike my upbringing, it was my duty to properly introduce my children to the back of a motorcycle. Sport bikes, V-Max, and other assorted pride joy two-wheeled rockets and later came a Gold Wing. Back on Hondas again until the Yamaha Venture Royale. Unlike the tuber ware plastic laden interstate barge, this top-heavy behemoth lasted long enough to fully understand driveway tip over. Lessons learned, there were some great times on the Wing and Venture. Longer rides thru the countryside were only interrupted by a familiar bump in the center of my back by one of my children’s helmets, telling me that someone was sleeping. I will always fondly remember this bike, not so much for the bike just the times. Back to the Venture Royale, which was replaced by an ice blue and silver Harley Davidson Springer. A centerfold ad in a Sports Illustrated picturing the very same just happened to be on the floor at the Harley Davidson Dealership, then on Shenandoah Ave. in Roanoke. Good by Venture, on to a new one, and my Harley Davidson era.
This was probably the best looking worst handling motorcycle ever; “wow” this bike was spectacular. Sounded almost as good as it looked. My son perched behind, we both proudly grinned as I gunned the engine with Bub mufflers bellowing. My clutch hand throbbing and the cutch straining as we rode in the Christmas parade in Pulaski, VA. I remember this bike. Back to the title of this keyboard finger work. Comfort, handling and the correct amount of torque and top end are now my criteria for a bike I will now remember. The stuff written in bike magazines, ridden by pros and paid staff magazine writers are great reads, but for the average rider, nothing beats seat time. Most of us that ride motorcycles have similar reasons for ownership. It’s our big boy or big girl toy. It’s escape, freedom, excitement, everything that is missing in our lives that nothing else can satisfy. Beyond that everything mentioned regardless of your skill level is relevant. This in mind, considering the numerous bikes owned in the past fifty or so years, occasionally I ride one that comes close to what I consider my ideal and I rode it today.
If this short exercise of mine brought on by winter boredom, rain, and TV reruns interests, resembles or sparks your past thoughts, give it a thumb up or a comment, and I will finish this story. At least this one.