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Motorcycle Withdrawal

August 6, 2011

Shifting gears (pun intended)…

I’ve been riding since I was a kid.  Started with a 5 HP minibike, and never looked back.

I’m on an island perfect for two-wheeled exploration, and by dint of distance and restrictions, I’ve no motorcycle.  Scooters, yes – but nothing with a gearbox.  There’s something about a gearbox – you’re in charge of the process of forward motion, coordinating the dance of speed/throttle opening/engine revolutions.

Between the controls dance, keeping the shiny side up  and contained between the white lines, motorcycling consumes a large part of one’s faculties – affording a clearing of the mind like very few activities save skiing an avalanche chute.

So…being cog-deprived and all, I’ve been looking at some of the bikes I’ve had over the years.  These are just the more recent ones, mind you – I’d have to dig through the pre-digital archives to find the older stuff.

My 1998 Ural.  The backstory on this one had to do with a pair of mid 60’s Hondas I had – I’d take the girls out for rides when they were small, and Alicia decided one day to stick her foot in the rear wheel spokes just to see what would happen.  The Pheebs forbade me to take the girls riding ever again – unless there was some way to contain them in a box.

That would be a sidecar – and this was the solution.  10,000 miles worth of riding with up to 4 people – the girls side-by-side, and the Pheebs out back.  They’d sleep in the hack.

One of my ‘free’ bikes – the ever-lovin’ RatZook, a ‘1978 GS 850G.  Paid $50 for it, then sold the trunk bag for $50, making it effectively a free bike.  Gutted the mufflers, blacked out the chrome, dropped the front end and hung a small headlight along with a rear fender bob.  I can honestly say one rides a bike differently if one’s not worried about what happens to it – a hooligan bike.

My 2nd hack outfit – a 2000 Dnepr, made in Ukraine.  Much more robust than the Ural with the best transmission I ever shifted.  The shift linkage had 26 discrete components, a Rube Goldberg-esque device which allowed for clutchless shifting.  Great for coffee in the morning – one-handed takeoffs from a traffic light.

Still – a sedate ride.

The opposite end of the spectrum – a 1973 Kawasaki H1 – the Scary Bike.  Race-ported with short gears and clipons, this was faster than modern sportbikes to 80 MPH.  Sounded like a weedwhacker, smoked like a furnace, but when it came on the pipe, the back end would break loose as if the motor had taken a big hit of nitrous.  It’s in Germany somewhere.

Whoo…need something a bit more staid after that.

Everyone should have an Italian bike once – this was mine, a 1974 Moto Guzzi Eldorado.  I’d like to say it was nice, but if felt rather staid and clunky after the widowmaker.

There was a BMW in the mix – but I can’t locate the pic, sorry.

Moving to Key West?  Gotta get a small displacement ride…

This is a 1956 Puch MS 50.  Yes it qualifies as a motorcycle under my shifting gears criteria, with two speeds via a hand shift.  Cool looking, but woefully underpowered with my 220# butt on board.

Need more displacement…

A pristine original 1968 Puch SGS 250.  Marketed by Sears, this is about perfect for Key West.  Light, nimble and torquey enough to putt around town in 4th gear.  Great little bike – still have it.

But – not so good for the Overseas Highway.  The solution?

Ol’ Blue – a 1985 Harley-Davidson Sportster.  Nearly stock, it’s as faithful a steed as one may own.  With the plethora of repair parts available, there’s a very good chance this will be the first bike I keep for 30 years.

But – one needs a proper hooligan bike to make waves…

And nothing says hooligan like a 1969 BSA Thunderbolt slimmed and trimmed to a cafe standard.  this bike gets compliments from people who simply heard it go by.

I need a ride – any ride, as long as it’s got a gearbox.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2011 2:41 am

    some slick bikes there. my ride that I beat on & love is a gs1000. same deal as your 850, free bike, no worries just ride it. best riding bike Ive ever had.

    I love the lil puch & the kama too.

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      August 6, 2011 3:28 am

      You come on down to KW and we can work out a deal on the MS 50. It needs to go away.

      All fun bikes – all different personalities, and I find I like the freebies the best!

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