Further Motorcycle Column IIEvery motorcycle enthusiast I know has, and often talks about, memories they have of favorite bikes, best rides, and most memorable events. I reckon we all cling to the past with hope for the future, no matter our interests.
But how does this all work and why? What triggers memories and, when awakened, which bubble to the surface? What purpose do they serve when we strive to be in the moment?It’s odd that a ride on a warm and sunny California winter day might bring back a string of interesting remembrances, and stranger yet is how current events can trigger the lizard brain, sending us reeling back through the time and space continuum.Just this week my friend Daniel, who happens to have an immense garage, asked me to ride one of his many bikes, along with a few of our pals. For me, he chose a completely original 1975 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV.It brought back so many memories and, is a much better bike than any of us— except Daniel who has never been without one—remembered. Distant recollections of this model, like its H1 sibling, were that it didn’t handle, had a light-switch powerband, and no brakes to speak of.Riding that same bike in 2014 eradicated those recollections, and we three who rode H2s this day agreed that it’s a pretty good bike and much better than primordial memories dredge up.The only complication was when I dropped the bike at the Rock Store, in front of many friends no less. How long, I wondered, has it been since I kickstarted a bike? I can only guess, but probably during the Ford or Carter administrations.Much to my horror, my kick, while the bike was in gear, nudged it off the kickstand. Many hands quickly helped raise the capsized Kawasaki and, after the shock wore off, we found only a mangled mirror, a replacement for which was ordered Monday morning. For the remainder of the day I experienced flash- backs of other wrecks in my past, and there were quite a few.There was the time I borrowed Mitchell’s 1971 Suzuki Titan to take a summer ride from Southampton into New York City. I wasn’t far out of town when a kid in a Mustang turned into my lane and his bumper touched the crash bars on the bike. I swerved back and forth a couple of times in the lane trying to regain control, only to have the bike highside and slam me onto my left shoulder, breaking my clavicle.Yet, one can be lucky, even in the face of adversity. This happened directly in front of a large house and a garden party filled with cheerful attendees who ran off the lawn, righted the wreck, and carried me into a shady spot. I was handed two-fingers of what I remember to be Four Roses Bourbon and, I thought, “This isn’t too bad.” If one must crash, then why not crash a party in the Hamptons?Further reminiscences reminded me of the fact that I was a middle-class kid who attended an expensive school. Many friends owned various motorized toys that they were more than willing to loan to poor me. And even back in those days, I felt the need to do product reviews, which often included speed testing. Unfortunately, things often turned out badly.The mists of time have eradicated many of the details and names, but I can remember riding Dean’s Triumph Bonneville on North Sea Road with my hair on fire and, probably, without a helmet. On that day, we only suffered a lowside crash that bent the swingarm when the slide was stopped by a tree.Now, I am more respectful of borrowed equipment, especially in this line of work. My tipover last weekend brought back many memories that are more interesting and funnier now than they were back when these borrowed machines had to be repaired. There are more stories to tell on this subject but the word limit in this column, and my lawyer, keep me from saying more.Column from Ultimate MotorCycling magazine. For subscription services, click here.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.