Monday, March 16, 2020

The Women In My Life

I Yam What I Yam
We all have addictions. Mine just happens to be motorcycles. Don't ask me what constitutes a biker. I couldn't tell you and I really couldn't care. I just want to ride. I just want to be free. Riding is to a biker what wings are to a bird. Our motorcycles don't define us. They are simply a part of what makes us who we are, regardless of brand. Here is a list of all the past and present motorcycles in my life! Whilst I was happy to see some of them go, admittedly, there are a few that I regret having let go! Suffice it to say, treat every bike in your life like it will be your last and respect them. You never know what the future holds, only that each bike will complete your life for that period they are with you.

Ms. Lemon

(Total Usage: 0 miles)
My first bike was a complete lemon. It barely ran and kept cutting out. It was rusted, had an oil leak and the tank was dented. The Yamaha badge on the side was partially broken on one side. On the other it was missing altogether. It had a '70s sissy bar extension that extended as high as my head. I was 16, maybe 17 when I bought it. It was my mother in fact who introduced me to her friend's husband who had it for sell. Unbeknownst to me, it was a planned surprise. She paid a $100.00 deposit on the bike and I paid the balance of $800.00. The fact that my mother was involved at all made me love the bike completely. Unfortunately, the bike turned out to be hot. As a result, my father had it sent to the scrap yard (without telling me). He still owes me a bike! 


1987 Yamaha Virago 700cc
(Total Usage: 42, 000 miles) 
Baby was the first motorcycle I ever owned that actually ran on its own power. ;-) She and I explored the west of Ireland together. She was also my daily commuter to and from work. Baby was also the bike that my wife and I courted on when we first met. Despite blowing a gasket, needing a new starter and having a faulty wire via battery she was a brilliant motorcycle and we miss her very much. I sold her when I moved to South Korea. When I returned a year later I did try to contact the person who had purchased her. However, I never found him or her again. Perhaps that's why I have had commitment issues ever since when it comes to finding another bike?

The WidowMaker

1997 Moto Guzzi Nevada 750cc
(Total Usage: 14, 920 miles) 
Since Baby was nowhere to be found I found myself a Moto Guzzi Nevada on eBay for 900 Euros. To add to the existing story of this bike, I had never experienced so many people coming up to me to reminice about a motorcycle the way folks did with the Nevada. People either love or hate Moto Guzzis. Add to the fact that our first encounter together saw us riding across the whole of England and Wales and later, a ferry trip over to Dublin and a commute back home to Carlow and suffice it to say the bike was less than impressed with me and fought tooth and gear to prevent me from taking it from its beloved former owner. Despite the headaches I had with this bike, it still holds a special place in my heart and I am a Guzzi fan.


2003 Kawasaki Drifter 800cc
(Total Usage: 19, 760 miles)
Dusty was pretty on the outside but fairly tempermental on the inside. Don't let her silky smooth lines fool you either. I purchased her off of a lad in Wales. However, this time I had her transported over via Ferry by way of delivery. I collected her from where I worked at the time in Dublin and admittedly it was love at first sight, despite the slug like seat. Kawasaki has come out with some extraordinary vintage copy-cat bikes over the years (i.e. W650 & W800) and at the time a real Indian Motorcycle would cost you over $50 grand. So this was my compromise. The bike had its gremlins though and truthfully, I wish I had gotten the shaft drive version instead of the chain. The latter is a pain in the ass to get to on the 800 making adjusting and cleaning less than ideal at regular intervals.  


2009 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic EFI 500cc
(Total Usage: 6, 260 miles)
Betty-Ann was in fact my very first new bike! I loved her and she was everything that I could have wanted of a bike if I had not been in need of a daily commuter. She struggled with the Irish weather as well. The attention I received was overwhelming at times as people loved its classic looks and styling. Many thought the bike was in fact a restoration. The break in period is very long and yes, compared to modern Japanese motorcycles the quality is obviously not going to be the same. However, Sabya Sachi Ghosh and Blazing Trails prove, these bikes are mighty and deserve respect. Poor dealer support and unfortunately a lack of top end for freeway speeds made me feel like I was being unkind to the little bike. However, I would happily own one again and may in fact go to India to pick one up and ride with my buddies some day.


2008 Harley-Davidson Sportster Nightster (N) 1200cc
(Total Usage: 14, 300 miles)
I am not a Harley-Davidson kinda guy but I have to admit, I absolutely LOVED my Harley-Davidson Nightster. I purchased her from Harley-Davidson Dublin with only 2000 miles on the clock. She already had 50/50 Vance and Hines on her and was otherwise a blank slate. This is the kind of bike that begs to be spoiled though and sure enough by the time I sold her (reluctantly) I had already customized the bike extensively. Both she and Betty-Ann were used intermittently as my daily commuters until finally I sold the Royal Enfield and Harley was my only ride. My only complaint with the bike was the stock seat and Badlander seat. They should be illegal they are so bad. Luckily though a Mustang Seat did the trick perfectly and she was a great commuter. Sadly, I was forced to sell her because Canada wouldn't allow her into the country. Don't ask... 


1996 Suzuki Intruder GLP 1400cc
(Total Usage: 9133 miles) 
When I finally settled back into Canadian life (and its craptastic winters) I found myself once again searching for something special. The Suzuki Intruder 1400 is admittedly the only Suzuki that has ever appealed to me. It was the first bike that I owned in Canada since Ms. Lemon though Serenity would turn out to be every bit as stubborn about actually running at times. I spent most of the summer of 2012 re-exploring parts of Quebec that I had frankly forgotten about. However, like Dusty, there were too many gremlins, particularly where the electrics were concerned. I was spending more time wrenching just to keep her going than I was riding. Nevertheless, Serenity had her moments. When my oldest son came of age Serenity was the first bike he would ever ride with me.

Mr. T

1990 Yamaha TW200cc
(Total Usage: 310 miles)  
Admittedly, Mr. T was an impulse purchase. I blame the Noisy TWBastards actually. They have done some pretty amazing customizations with these bikes. On the day that I collected the bike from Motos Illimitées I remember how the sales guy looked at me strangely when I said I was riding the bike back home. "Non, monsieur, vous ne pouvez pas faire ça!" he exclaimed! I smiled. If I could survive The Widowmaker, how much trouble could the little TW200 be? What was supposed to take two hours via autoroute 10 inevitably turned into just under four hours. Apparently anything more than a gentle breeze will prevent the bike from reaching any speed above 60 kilometers (37 miles) an hour. Don't get me started on crosswinds and hills. To this day I never actually got the bike up to 100 km/per hour (60 mph) even going down hill. Suffice it to say it was a very short lived romance.


1976 Honda CT70
(Total Mileage: 10 miles LOL)
I came across Darwin by happenstance. I was teaching a course called Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Studies and one of my students had raised his hand when I asked if anyone owned a bike. I was immediately intrigued, not least of all because these little CT's are hard to come by in running order in my neck of the woods. Though I had broached the topic of buying Darwin from my student last October, inevitably the deal was never realized. That is until today! I had been thinking on and off about the little Monkey Bike and despite myself I decided that I had to have it! If you own a Honda CT70, share your experience and ride reports with us! Unfortunately, my experience with the little CT was lacklustre at best and hence, it went the same way as it did with Mr. T. :(


(Total Usage: 10,000)
Had you asked me after selling The WidowMaker if I would ever own a Moto Guzzi again I would have said probably not. However, Piaggio has helped Moto Guzzi come a long way and the V7 range is no exception. It shares the bullet proof 750 transverse V-Twin as my former Nevada. However, it has been upgraded with over 70% new components since 2013. Thus, Moto Guzzi has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the last decade. Add to the fact that thanks to Moto Guzzi's new lineup of V7II's to hit dealerships in the next few months, they discounted their present lineup and voila, I managed to buy a bike that was otherwise out of reach. That is right; you are now looking at the very excited and very proud owner of a Moto Guzzi V7 Racer whom I believe I shall aptly name Bella. Read more about Bella here...


2013 SYM Wolf Classic 150cc
(Total Usage: 3,210km)
I really love motorcycles... so much so that motorcycle fever hit me particularly hard this year. As my children dreamed of sugar plums and prayed for snow days I sit here in my darkened little corner of our home looking fondly at pictures of my Bella, my Moto Guzzi V7 Racer. It was all that I could do this winter not to lose myself in thoughts of moving to warmer pastures. Whilst the latter is out of the question, at least for now, and having purchased most of what I wanted in terms of accessories for Bella last year I needed to think outside the box. After all, what do you get a bike that has everything including charm, good looks and a heart of steel? Why, another motorcycle of course! Cue Bambina, my Sym Wolf Classic 150cc...

Inevitably, this list will grow! I'd like to pick up a Royal Enfield and re-create an Indian Fire-Arrow. Don't get me started on the Moto Guzzi Stornello or a Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight. So many bikes, so little time (and money). Ah well. More to come!

Total Miles To Date: 125, 210 Miles and Counting...

1 comment:

  1. The 1st bike we purchased for my wife (since she did not want to look @ the back of my helmet any more) was a Yamaha XJ650 Maxim ( I believe it was an '80) This was a 4 cylinder and it was a very nice bike, she rode many miles on. We sold it to buy her a new XJ700 Maxim which was a bit sportier. Rode many great miles on it , Until we moved to NC and she was then riding on the VS1400 which she loves!! Well written article and a nice little peak into your life.

    Lawrence Banks aka WearySoldier