Ok, so what bikes have I owned and why don't I have them anymore?
What bikes do I still have?
Seems like a simple question, so here we go!
The bike above, was my first attempt to own a motorcycle. I had a friend that I used to play with, and in his shed, was this red bike.
It was 1974-5 and I was pretty young. I knew nothing about motorcycles. The bike had "Honda" on it, so I knew it was a "Honda", but that was the extent of my knowledge. The Honda didn't run, had no chain, and looked like it had been sitting for several years. There were spider webs in the spokes and mildew on the seat and plastics. I remember the smell it had and it was obvious that it was worthless to my friend and his family. It was just another discarded object, relegated to the wood shed to rot away. To me, I saw something fascinating. I saw a bicycle that I didn't have to pedal. I thought how cool it would be to be able to get the feeling of two wheels, without the effort of pedaling. I was hooked. I asked if I could have it. Kids; they ask for what they want without thinking through everything a request entails. Kids; they give freely. My friend gave me the Honda on the spot without hesitation. I knew I had to get the Honda home to try and fix it. My friend's house was at the bottom of a hill about 5 miles from my house. It took everything I could to wheel the Honda up the hill to a road that was level, and then to another road that was down hill and to my house. I will never forget how cool it was to coast down the hill sitting on the Honda. I imagined what it would be like if I could actually twist the throttle and it would run. I realized, that I had the "CyclePathic" gene.
Once home, in the garage, I immediately started to go over the bike and try and understand what was wrong. Nowhere were my parents. I was focused on getting the Honda running. I did not know about Standard and Metric tools. I used a plier and a screw driver to get at the bolts and screws I could see. I knew nothing about motorcycles, but I had done some work on my bicycles. I also toyed with our Lawnmower Looking over the Honda, with my limited technical understanding, figured I needed a new spark plug, and a chain and it'd be good to go.
How naive I was then. My parents, when they found out about the Honda, must have called my friend's parents and discussed what to do. I guess they must had said to leave me alone and I'd get over it. I was a child without a job. I begged my parents for money for a chain and a spark plug. I managed to save up enough money for a spark plug. I figured all spark plugs were the same and all I needed was a new one. I bought a new spark plug for our lawnmower and thought I could screw it into the Honda. I then realized that spark plugs were different. I was over my head since I had no idea where I could get Honda parts. The only place I could go was the local lawn-mower repair store and they knew nothing about Hondas. They managed to get a spark plug for me, after I showed them the one I took out. It took weeks for them to get the correct plug. I also needed a chain. However, having learned my lesson that spark plugs were not alike, I also found out that bicycle chains were not universal either. Without a chain to show the lawnmower folks, I decided to get the Honda running first. Getting the Honda running became my first priority.
With the spark plug in, and kicking it repeatedly, I managed to get it to "pop", but that was about it. I remember the ultra rich fuel smell. I realized that nothing was happening inside the engine. I remember how overpowered I felt that I knew nothing about what I was doing. No one was around when I was working on the Honda. I had ZERO support from my parents over this project. Nothing I could do could get my father or mother involved in my project. Before too long, I realized that I didn't have the resources or knowledge to fix the Honda so my friend's father came and took the bike back.
I never saw the Honda again. The Honda was cut up and the wheels were used in a garden wheelbarrow.
I always thought I could have saved the Honda if I had just a little cash and the support of my parents.
Okay, technically I didn't own it - but really close. In Hawaii where I was stationed, I needed something to get me around Oahu. I saw this little two stroke Honda and fell in love. The Honda dealer even let me take it for a test ride. It was the first motorcycle I had ever ridden aside from a friend's Honda "Monkey Bike". I filled out everything I could, and was told everything would be fine. I was in the Navy, and the MB5 was going to be my first bike.
I told people I was going to pick it up and I had settled into the mentality of it being "mine". My imagination raced again. Unfortunately, being young (and naive) once again, played a part. I had no credit experience, and I was denied the loan. I was denied the loan even though I could easily make payments. It was my first denial as an adult that there were things like "Credit Ratings" I needed to establish.
No MB5, but I did end up getting a Piano. It was something I could buy that would establish my credit worthyness. My parents were happy to co-sign for the Piano as a way of getting me credit experience. The MB5? Not so much. No Motorcycle for me.
After the Navy, when I was in Radiology school, I needed to do clinical days in the summer and my Honda Accord was on it's last legs. I needed something to get me around that was new, cheap, and reliable.There was a guy in my radiology class named Rudy. He was a very mild mannered man who rode a Honda "CB-something" to class. He was always smiling when he rode into class. I'd talk about motorcycles with him and I began to understand that motorcycles might have a place in my life after all.
My motorcycle dream was re-awakened out of necessity.
After talking with Rudy and with my prior sunken dreams, I was looking for a Honda. I wanted a Honda. I was pretty set on a Nighthawk 400, but my Uncle said to look at Kawasaki's or Suzuki's. I had heard of "Kawasaki let the good times roll" but I had never heard of Suzuki outside of my Uncle and his ownership of them. Suzuki was a brand that he liked and because he rode one, was the reason I didn't want one. Out of respect for my Uncle I decided to check Suzuki and Kawasaki, but in my mind I knew I was going to get a Honda.I couldn't find a Suzuki dealer nearby, but Kawasaki was down the road from me. I walked into the Kawasaki dealer *knowing* it was a waster of time since I was going to get a NightHawk and fulfill my destiny of Honda ownership.
Oh, how wrong I was! One look at the Kawasaki 454LTD and I was convinced!
In 1985, the Kawi had liquid cooling, dual overhead 8 valves with a belt drive in a Parallel twin.
I was sold! I had enough credit by then, and I bought the 454LTD. Rudy came with me to pick up the bike and he followed me home. I don't think I have ever been as excited in my life. Ironically, as we got closer to my house, I turned onto the hill that I drove my non-working Honda Cub down many years before, and almost crashed because of some gravel in the road. I quickly saved it and went about getting home. Ironic that my reality check on the dangers of having a motorcycle happened so close to where I found my joy of motorcycles.
The 454LTD became my freedom machine. I rode it everywhere. I knew I was hooked for life. I had the bike until 1990 and something like 16,000 miles when I sold it to pay for either a down payment on a condo or a new car. I forget which. I think I sold it for around $1200.
One of the cool things about the 454LTD (EN500) is that as of 2008, it lives on in the EX500 Ninja and the Vulcan 500 which have pretty much the same engine.
As for the engine, it was originally half the 900 Ninja.
I had started to push the performance envelope of the 454. The parallel twin on long rides was a little buzzy.
I wanted something a little more sporty and with better performance.
The Interceptor came into my life because another radiology student that I knew, had a cousin, who had a bike that he dropped and was too scared to ride it. The price was very cheap and I decided that it might be my opportunity to own a "sport bike". After sorting about some bent forks from the little crash it was in, I was introduced to the world of sport bikes.
The Interceptor was something else, and gave me an understanding of what a Sport Bike could do. V4 smoothness. A fairing. Great brakes. The Interceptor was so different from my 454LTD. I had the Interceptor and the 454LTD at the same time and I rode the Interceptor more. I suppose I was destined to be a sport bike rider.
I had the Interceptor until 1989 when I sold it to move to North Carolina from school in Buffalo.
The Honda dealer gave me $900 for it.
It was one of the worst things I did selling it, as I immediately missed it.
To me, the Interceptor represents on of the best products Honda ever made.
Technically not my bike, but I pretty much took care of it. It was a Honda and the owner of it couldn't get it started and she wanted to ride with me. She didn't have any experience with motorcycles (neither did I at the time) so I did everything I could to get it running. Once running, I beat the tar out of it. I learned so many things on the CB125S. Since I was able to ride it while I still owned the 454LTD and Interceptor, it substituted for trying things out on it, versus getting hurt on a bigger bike.
The CB125 made me a better rider.
I'm not sure what happened to it as a mutual friend bought it and I have no idea what he did with it.
The 599 was the bike that took me back into Motorcycles.
Between the 454LTD and the 599, 16 years passed! Things come up in life that make you give up things that you love. I can't comment on why we do things like that, but we do. I had to sell my bikes because of life. Without a motorcycle, I would go to a dealer every couple of years and demo a bike. I kept my endorsement, so the dealer would have no issue letting me take a bike around the block. I'd ride a bike, and *get it out* of my system for a while. I never got rid of the dream of getting a bike again, but I was a long shot.
Around 2005, I was making good money, but I was traveling all the time. When home, I'd only have the weekend to spend with my husband. The best we could do was play golf before I'd have to get on a plane again. It was a greuling time. I was nearing my limit. I was feeling pulled in all directions, ready for a mental break down. Then, one day I was on the Golf course with my Husband. I was having a horrible round. I started to cry. I reached into my golf bag and grabbed a handful of balls. Again and again I reached into the bag. I put all the golf balls in my golf bag down on the fairway. There were the balls; strewn all over the fairway. I then proceeded to hit every last one of them into the water shouting and cursing. My husband just stood there. Watching this happen. Yep..Golf is a 4 letter word after all. I don't know what happened, but I snapped.
We immediately left the Golf course and my husband and I drove to the local Honda dealer and walked out with the 599. When I got the 599, I wanted a "standard" bike that I could ride occasionally to get my "bike fix" when I needed it. I needed something personal and something that would satisfy my need for an escape.
When I got the 599, my husband said he'd get a bike too! He ended up with a 2006 Yamaha FJR as his first bike, and that caused me to buy the Honda CM200T so he could learn how to ride a bike...like I did with the Honda CB125s
I had the 599 for about a year and I loved the way it looked and handled. It was very expensive for a 599cc bike and I paid FULL retail because I walked in and out with it the same day ...I guess they saw me coming.
Some of the issues that I had with the 599 was that is was poorly matched to my husband's FJR. As a "bike family" we started to realize that we needed bikes that were "compatible". After a few trips together, we decided I needed something in the same class as the FJR.
With that in mind, the 599's days were numbered as she sat in garage most of the time.
I wanted to ride it more and the addition of a Givi windshield made things better, but the high sided single muffler was the kiss of death as saddlebags were out of the question.
The 599 also started my divorce from Honda. I knew that the 599 was called the Hornet in Europe and elsewhere and I saw all the cool accessories that were available for it outside the US. I wrote to Honda USA asking about getting the chin fairing and some other parts and I got a HUGE blow-off. Honda gave me a line of bull as they said things like they couldn't get those parts etc. etc. The bike was made in Italy, so there was really no excuse for what they were telling me.
The 599 was ultimately traded in on the Honda VTX1300c; I was desperately trying to find a Honda that I liked.The 599 saved my sanity, and for that I am eternily grateful.
The little CM200T wasn't meant to stay in our stable long. We bought it so my husband could learn how to ride a motorcycle and not destroy his brand new 2006 Yamaha FJR and himself.
The CM200T was with us for about 6 months before we let it go for about what we paid for it.
In 2008, with gas prices soaring, maybe it should have stayed around a little longer.
Back in my Navy days I almost bought one of these, but after my MB5 fiasco, I gave up on it.
The VTX was a visually pretty bike that had too much plastic where metal should have been. I tried to like the VTX...I really did! It was buzzy, the instruments required that I look down, the high beam indicator was so bright I had to tape over it. The seat was uncomfortable. It was a cool looking bike, but like the 599, it was destined to sit in the garage.
I had it for about 6 months - another Honda not kept.
The Silver Wing was the last of the Hondas that I tried out to see what I could fit into.
The Silver Wing was GREAT in all aspects except for the flexy frame and the linked brakes.
The linked brakes almost made me crash once at low speed and the flexy frame is not up to the engine and transmission.
The Silver Wing was a stable mate to my Husband's Burgman 400. We thought maxi scooters might be good for short little trips around Florida, but that didn't work out.
Since the Silver Wing was so fast, it kept leaving the Burgman 400 in the dust. Since I was able to achieve near motorcycle acceleration, I had to wait on the Burgman whenever we rode together making riding with less capable maxi scooters a little dangerous in my book.
Since I felt the Burgman wasn't as safe, we didn't ride them. Another Honda was traded in.
We got into Dual Sports cold Turkey. Since Honda didn't have anything except the big 650 Dual Sport (at the time), I decided I wanted to get a Kawasaki KLX250s. We went to the Honda/Kawasaki dealer and tried to make a deal on TWO KLX250ses, but they never called us back.
We ended up getting two Suzuki DR650ses, and they became our first Dual Sports bikes.
Out of the box, the DR650 is terrible because it looks like an off-road bike, but it comes with too tall gearing and the wrong tires for off road.
We crashed in the deep sugar sand here in Florida many times before we got the message. We put on Pirellis and changed the gearing.
When we changed the gearing and put different tires on, the DR650s became different bikes!
I would still have my DR if we didn't live in Florida with the deep sugar sand and if the DR was lighter.
For me, picking up the DR when it went down was a difficult thing and I craved for my first choice - The Kawasaki KLX250s.
My DR650 lasted for about a year and I sold it outright.
This little guy, my last Honda, kept the flame burning.
It was my fun-flip-flop bike that I rode to my local downtown or to walk in the local park.
This little guy was the perfect "run about".
The "Ruck" was the last Honda I've owned.
The newest kid on the block, and L'enfant terrible! When I finally figure
out how to describe this bike, I will put it down here.
Never in all my years of riding a motorcycle have I ever experienced anything so thrilling. Simply amazing as a machine. It was an awesome motorcycle that I loved to own. Sadly, in Central Florida, it was relegated to the garage most of the time. Selling it was a tough decision.
I LOVE this bike. Lightweight, underpowered and FUN.
I love everything about this bike.
This bike reminds me of my first Sport bike; the Honda Interceptor 500, but better!
With a few mods (Helibars and Sport Touring Double Bubble Screen) this bike is great!
This was originally going to be my track bike, but the Candy Apple Red is too gorgeous to take to the track.
Most people don't realize that this is actually a 2000 ZX6R (ZX600j) that Kawasaki re-released.
One day this bike will win the "Most Underrated Bike of All Time" award.
Tracing it's lineage all the way back to the first "Big Ninja", the "Zed" is a Frak'n sledgehammer.
Remember my husband's FJR? I bought this bike to match the FJR and it has proven to be an amazing choice!
This bike is so powerful and behaved that it represents one of the best sport touring motorcycles of all time.
I put some quick disconnect racks on it and hard bags and she's my ultimate long distance machine.
I've ridden her to Denver, Nova Scotia, the Blue Ridge Parkway and many many more places.
Maintenance is a breeze!
When my life is over and I can no longer ride, I know that I will look upon the "Zed" as one of the greatest motorcycles I ever owned!
The Ruck didn't have enough speed or get up and go when I rode it next to my Husband's Zuma 125.
It was only a matter of time until I traded the Ruckus in on a Zuma for me.
This little guy is the perfect "run about".
I began life as a Honda fan. In every bike purchase, I looked to Honda first. I bought Hondas. I rode Hondas. I traded in my Hondas.
My first love was the Interceptor 500.
My last Honda was a 50cc run about.
What does that say about what Honda has done in the last 20 years?
Three Kawasaki's that I adore sit in my garage.
They could have been Hondas.
Other makes don't *do* it for me.
So here is the lineage of bikes that I have owned/possesed in order.