gold wingStuck In Time
Where are you “stuck in time”? In what era did “your” motorcycles happen? As far as Japanese motorcycles go, I believe that I am stuck in the 70’s and 80’s, and not quite all of the eighties. When it comes to European two-wheelers, I am fascinated with the ones built from the post-war (WWII) through the seventies.
Progress is something that we human “beans” have a love/hate relationship with. You would likely be hard pressed to find someone who would give up their in-door plumbing in favor of an outhouse, but it isn’t hard at all to find motorcycle riders, myself included, who just cannot relate to the new offerings from most of the manufacturers these days. I just returned from a new motorcycle show where many of the current models were on display. For the most part, for me it was a “Yawner”. Much like the “Big Three” auto manufacturers have modern iterations of their 60’s and 70’s muscle cars, some motorcycle companies are starting to go retro as well. The new/old style Triumph Bonneville and the CB1100 from Honda are good examples of the genre.
In my opinion, someone who is new to riding, but likes the idea of riding a bike that “looks” like they did back in “the good ol’ days”, may be perfectly happy with one of these new “Retro’s”. But, I suspect that a lot of riders who were actually there back then can’t warm up to these new, sterile, cookie-cutter bikes that anyone with the price of admission can own. I certainly can’t.
I believe it took a different kind of person to ride a motorcycle in the early days of the sport, from the dawn of two-wheeled motorized conveyances up through the 60’s or so. Many of us have read stories about riders making solo, cross-country journeys in the early 1900’s and having to change tires and make repairs on the side of the road. In my mind, those people were god-like creatures with mythical powers. Today, if I have a problem on the road, I just call the handy toll-free number for my AMA road-side assistance and wait for the tow truck.
When Japanese motorcycles came to the American market, mostly in the 60’s, everything changed. You could buy one of those new imported motorcycles on the East Coast and ride it to the West Coast and most likely do nothing more than put gas in it and maybe adjust the drive chain, and just enjoy the trip. That was the beginning of what I like to call the “TurnKey” era. The “rugged individualist” began to be relegated to a minority role in the rider ranks. Can you say, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”?
I began riding in what could be called the transition period of the late 60’s. Motorcycles were becoming very reliable, but at the same time were still quite simple, technologically. If one was mechanically inclined and handy with tools, they might well do their own maintenance and possibly the repairs, as well. In those days, some very fast bikes rolled out of back-yard shops and garages. Like most people, I am more comfortable with what I am familiar with, but at the same time, I am a gear-head and I like doing my own work on my bikes.
Mostly, I just love being around the old bikes and the people who ride and appreciated them and their history. I like to just touch the handlebar of a classic old ride and close my eyes and let my imagination run wild. Yeah…….I’m stuck in time and I love every minute of it.

Mel Raymond

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