Lieback’s Lounge | Motorcycle Commentary

Ron Lieback Ultimate MotorcyclingAs a teenager of the ’90s, I had some rough role models. Most were musicians that totally tore themselves apart from drugs, including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, and Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots.

Tore apart is an understatement; these musicians are already dead. Their art is what influenced me most, and I was equally as fascinated with their personal lifestyles.

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The drugs. The poor relationships. Their exit strategies, though Kurt’s was a bit more harsh than Scott’s and Layne’s. Playing music and hanging with some unique friends, I could have followed in a similar fashion.

But I had a savior, and it wasn’t the Lord. Nope. My savior was made of metal, oil and rubber—a Kawasaki ZR-7S, my first-ever street bike that I bought when I was 21. Money those days arrived after spending the days in brown uniforms while encaged in an aluminum truck that was either super hot or super cold.

The ZR-7S wasn’t my dream bike at the time—either a Ducati 996 or Honda CBR929RR—but it did what was necessary, and with serious comfort. Besides the Kawasaki’s annoying carburetors, which I ripped apart numerous times—mostly on the side of the road—the bike provided upright comfort for the many 800+ mile days of riding that followed.

My rock star influences were quickly replaced by the most addictive high that continues to control my soul 15+ years later—destination-less travel. Since then there were different bikes and multiple statewide and international destinations, but the “burn” began with that wrench-happy ZR-7S.

This is the platform that first took me to Tennessee, a ride my friends took every year for the now defunct Honda Hoot. I feel in love with that state, mostly due to the laid-back attitudes and amazing back roads. And at 21-years old, I also fell in love with a blonde.

That relationship never happened, and the idea of Tennessee romance continues to remain strong. But with a wife and kid at home, my Tennessee romance is now with Gentlemen Jack and good ole No. 7.

Besides those longer trips, the ZR-7S also took me on endless b-road rides in Northeast Pennsylvania—roads that were teenage favorites for, um, “mountain rides.”

Miles added up quickly, along with my knowledge of carbs; that first season of riding I had clocked around 15,000 miles. That ZR-7S helped develop my “Interstate Love Song,” one that was much cleaner than the troubling images Scott Weiland sang about. The bike created energy where energy was needed during a time when some friends and family members followed the ways of my teenage grunge heroes.

Since that first ride, I knew there was no turning back. Nothing could possible get me any higher than cranking on a throttle—not sex, drugs, or rock ’n’ roll. My moto addiction is stronger than ever, and it compounds every year.

And it all started with that slow ZR-7S that was plagued by carb issues. Regardless of all the troubles it gave me, the rewards far outweighed the mechanical negatives. Though that bike presented loads of issues, if I ever find one in good shape, it’d be hard to pass up.

Riding a ZR-7S again would ignite the ultimate renewed romance for riding—though I’m sure there will be some roadside-rebuilding carb arguments along the way. Is there ever such a thing as the perfect relationship?