My first five bikes
I really don’t mean for this post to sound like I am bragging about how fast I acquired my first five motorcycles, but more of an indication of how hungry I was at that point in my life to have the MOMD (motorcycle of my dreams). Since I was 21 when I threw my leg over MY first bike, I guess I was just trying to make up for some lost time. One excuse is as good as another, right?
Not being able to part with my first bike (Aermacchi/HD 250 Sprint), even though it was pretty ragged from being “rode hard and put up wet”, I set about finding a way to get it from Neah Bay, WA to Charleston, SC. At that lowly point in my short-lived military career, the Air Force wouldn’t pay to ship very much of my stuff, so I convinced (begged and pleaded is more like it), a ranking Sergeant, who was being transferred to Florida, to put it in his household goods shipment. Then all I had to do was find a trailer and drive to South Florida and pick it up. That sounded easy enough, even though I had no idea how I was going to pull that off, since all I had to tow with was a VERY small sports car. It was a Datsun 2000 two-seat roadster, to be more precise. Needless to say, the nearly 2000 mile trip with my mother-in-law as co-driver is a story all by itself. NEVER underestimate a motorcycle crazy, young rider who is separated from his motorcycle! There is a deviant, psychological term for it, I’m sure.
At any rate, I got the bike back to Charleston, in the crate. I had to hustle off to work at the radar site, so there was no time to do anything with the bike other than set the crate on the patio to await my return. I was pretty busy getting oriented at my new duty-station for the next few days, and before I could get around to putting the bike back together, some low-life stole it. I came home one day and it was GONE! After my wife revived me and got me breathing, more or less normally, I descended into shock from NMS (No Motorcycle Syndrome). After all I went through to bring my beloved first bike with me, this just couldn’t happen! I had to do something quick. Motorcycle #2 was in the cross-hairs.
Since I was new in town, I started asking about for a bike shop. I found a fledgling Honda dealer in Charleston, and drove over to see what he had. I finally found the shop in a dilapidated building over on the “Dual Lane” in Charleston Heights. Two brothers owned the place and the older of the two had somehow convinced his wife to run the shop while they were out doing their “Day Jobs”. On the weekends, both guys were racing flat-track on Triumphs, so the only time they were actually at the shop was in the evenings. To this day, I wonder what he had to promise her to get her to do that.
When I was in Washington, my riding buddy Joe, had a Honda CL160, which I rode a number of times. It had quite a bit more power than my Sprint, but did not handle quite as well. I liked it though, and as I walked into the showroom, I spotted a black CB160, which also came with the complete CL conversion package, tank, pipes, seat and bars. All I needed was something to ride back and forth the 3 or 4 miles to work. I bought it on the spot.
I must add at this point that what happened in the coming weeks was something that, in the boating world, was known as two-foot ‘it is. The “perfect” boat is always two feet longer than the one you have. I don’t know what it is called in the motorcycle world (stupidity?), but in about two weeks I spotted a Honda CB350. I found a buyer for the 160 and the 350 had a new home. Stay with me, because things kinda’ get out of control from here. Somewhere along the way, I discovered another Honda dealer on the West side of town and rode by to get acquainted. He had a screamin’ metallic red CL450 on the floor, and 28 days after I had bought the CB350……..it was history.
In the late 60’s Honda was bringing new products to the market at a pretty good clip, and although the 450 was not a new model, the 1969’s had been re-styled and were one of the most powerful bikes on the road. That brand new red CL450 looked really good on my patio (yeah, the same one) with a chain through the spokes and a big Master lock on it for good measure. Well, I thought I was pretty much done buying motorcycles for a while, because I had enough bike to do about anything I needed to do. I also felt like I was kind of pushing the limit with my wife’s good nature, if you know what I mean. I had not started to fear for my life just yet, but I was getting to be a light sleeper.
I was about two months in with the new CL450, and things had settled down a bit. I was actually getting used to riding the same motorcycle for more than a month, the hostile fires in the back of my sweet wife’s eves had dimmed a bit (you know the fire I’m talking about), and she was starting to speak to me again. Life was good!
Then……..it happened. Honda brought out their new game-changer, the CB750K. I rolled up to the West-side Honda shop one day after owning the 450 for a grand total of about two and a half months, and when I went in, the dealer (Al) said, “Come here, I’ve got something to show you”. “Oh no…….she’ll kill me sure”. After agonizing for two more weeks, the red CL450 was gone and a shiny new green CB750 took the place of the CL450 on the patio, chain, padlock and all.
To this day, I have owned close to thirty motorcycles, and none come close to that 1969 CB750. I took trips on that bike, rode two-up with my wife all over the place, and drag-raced it. It took it all without a whimper. I wish I had it today.
As much as I like motorcycles, the greatest success in my life is that I am still married to the same patient, enduring and wonderful lady that I started with. I only wish I had been smart enough to hang onto the CB750K.
Now…..let’s go RIDE some more!