Riding A Dinosaur

I have a perfectly good motorcycle in the garage, a four-year-old, good-running motorcycle with less than six thousand miles on it.

And yet, and yet, this morning I chose to take The Other Bike, a 1983 Honda Sabre VF750S. As the standard age anecdote, I'll point out that if this machine were human it would be graduating college about now.

But I like it, and I like riding it, in spite of all its "issues," which range from surging throttle to general dirtiness.

For one thing, it's fast. There are all sorts of religious stipulations regarding motorcycles; I've heard someone say there only two proper colors for a bike, and they're both black; I read someone else's edict that you should never trust a motorcycle you can't see through.

For me, in my case, bikes should be fast. When I got my first bike, a little Honda Rebel 250 that looked like a Harley and that was about it, I assumed it would be fast - faster than any car, at least. It was not.

But the Sabre is. I believe its top speed to be somewhere above 120mph, or so, though I haven't checked personally. It kind of wobbles at certain speeds and that's a little alarming. The carburetors need to be cleaned again, and probably synchronized, so what happens now when you twist the throttle isn't precisely what you might have expected to happen, unless you expected a momentary stumbling followed by a warp-speed blast of power resulting in sudden suspension jiggling and the next stoplight being much closer than it seemed before.

I like it because it runs - because I made it run. This bike was one of your standard basket cases: leaning against a garage, missing a muffler, torn seat, rust in the gas tank, neglected for years. And now it runs. There's a wonderful feeling associated with fixing things, a feeling I hope all people have the chance to understand. It's empowerment and possibility and richness all at once. Once it works, everything seems easy. That's a rare sensation for me these days.

Now I will go and blast off again, roaring and clattering and shooting abruptly toward home for lunch.

1 comment:

amanda jane said...

I once owned an xr100r, and I am small and it was fast for me and I loved it. I rode that thing like no one's business, and I miss it. I just gave my helmet away to a friend who just bought a new quad a honda 450r something or other. I am sad, but I will live out my riding through you and my old helmet on my old friends old head. Hope your days are good, and thanks for reading.