As I stood in my garage looking at the empty space that was filled by my Honda XR600R a few minutes earlier, I wondered if he would live up to his promise. The sale went smoothly as usual, he handed me a wad of cash, shook my hand, loaded my bike into his truck, and drove off. And just like that, my bike was gone. It was a rough day for me. At least I sold it to him with the caveat that he gives me first right of refusal should he decide to sell it.
Selling a bike for me has never been easy, watching someone as they drive off with your baby in the back of their truck or trailer simply sucks. If you have been riding bikes for a while, it’s likely you have bought and sold one or two so you know the feeling. For me owning a motorcycle is more like having a really good friend and parting ways is extremely difficult. I go through a period of mourning when I sell a bike, even when I have another bike lined up to purchase with proceeds from the sale, it still stings. As a shop owner, I often get calls from customers looking to sell their bike and I usually reply with don’t do it! It is much harder to get another bike when you don’t have one.
I get the impression there are two types of bike owners and several subsets within these two groups. You have the guy who has just one motorcycle and is content to have this one bike. These bikes are usually very clean and well maintained. And the other guy who owns multiple bikes. He will likely have one very clean bike and one or more “projects” he is working on. These will be in various states of restoration, modification, or disrepair. I fall into the latter. At the shop, project bikes present themselves quite regularly and often are too good a deal to pass up.
My wife has a thing for stray animals, I have a thing for neglected motorcycles and we can spot them from a mile away. Here’s an example: We can be in the car together with her driving and she will see a kitten hanging from a tree 50 yards away through a tiny break in a fence and will say look a kitten! That poor thing, I wonder what it’s doing there? We should go back and help it. I tell her it’s fine. Meanwhile I am thinking, great just what we need, another cat to feed, look after, and take to the vet. Don’t ask me what goes on if she sees a dog tied up outside.
I, on the other hand, can spot a motorcycle even while driving, buried under years of piled up junk with it’s tires peaking out asking me, pleading with me to be saved from this wretched life of neglect it is slowly dying from to be brought back to its former glory. For me, this goes deeper than accumulating more motorcycles. There is something about resurrecting a machine that gives my life meaning and a sense of purpose. I suppose my wife feels the same about helping animals.
It pains me to the core when I go to a motorcycle junkyard. Each carcass of twisted, rusted metal, rubber, and plastic seems to speak to me, trying to tell me of all the great times it shared with its owner(s). All the first dates, the washes, the hours in the garage being maintained and polished, the road trips to visit friends or relatives or just get away. I see the bikes leaned against one another in a sad row of broken dreams and it rips my guts out.
A funny thing happens when we own a motorcycle, we create memories with them. They become our partners in life. We share experiences with them, they become our “babies” and they form a tapestry that weaves its way into our bones. And people who don’t ride don’t get it.
Once it takes hold there is no turning back.