Jump to content

My Riding Life


Recommended Posts

Here's a topic I've always been interested in. How did you get started riding? I'll start with the first installment of mine; if you're of a mind, start yours.


I began my riding life at about 12 years old. Not actually

riding. I saw an ad in Popular Mechanics for a Triumph Bonneville and sent away for a Triumph catalog. I remember poring over it until it fell apart, imagining myself on one of those magical mechanical beasts. Even the names were cool; Bonneville, Speed Twin, Thunderbird!

Of course, I couldn’t actually get my hands on one. Even a mini bike was out of my league. None of my friends had one, either, but I never stopped wanting and I rode my Schwinn with as much panache and style as any wannabe Steve or Marlon.

I was in the U.S. Army before I actually threw a leg over. I had a good friend killed in ‘Nam, so when I was drafted, I declined Officer Candidate School, and to avoid humping a rifle through the jungle, I took the offer of marine engineer training. In 1969 I was sent to Thailand to serve on a U.S. Army tugboat at the Deep-Water port of Sattahip. While there I became friends with another GI who was a genuine rider. Chuck was from Michigan, and his whole family were riders, too, tooling around the back roads and forest trails of the Lower Peninsula. Oh, yeah, I said, I ride, too. We soon discovered there was a place where we could actually rent a motorcycle in Thailand. Only 30 klicks up the coast road from our home port was the little beach resort town of Pattaya. A local entrepreneur there had several Hondas, including two 350’s, and would rent them out from a kiosk on the beach. Chuck wanted to do it. I was all for it, because at this point it was still all conjecture, but the next payday, it came about. Here it was, time to walk the walk. Chuck was eager, so early one beautiful morning, we were on the bus to Pattaya. Chuck was excited and didn’t notice that I was mostly silent. I was soon to be chest deep in the bullshit I’d been slinging. I didn’t know how to ride at all. I make lame jokes about I hope I can remember how to do this shifting business. Chuck says, “Your left foot will remember!” So, that’s how you shift, with the left foot. Good to know.

We get to the place, check out the bikes. The guy warns us not to ride to Bangkok, about 150 klicks up the coast road. He provides helmets, and here we go. I’m sweating bullets, shaking and gasping for breath, wondering if I should fake a fit of some kind to get out of this. Chuck doesn’t notice. He whips the helmet on, jumps on the bike, starts it up. I watch him rev it a little, a few throttle blips to get the feel of it, and then he snicks it into first and tears off at a furious pace.

I manage to start the thing. I sort of knew the theory; throttle, front brake, rear brake, clutch, and now I knew that thing down there was the shift lever. The guy, watching over his asset, comes over. I look at him, he looks at me. “Pull the clutch in,” he says and points, “and push down for first gear, toe it up for the other four gears.” He waggles his left foot in a demonstration. Oh, OK. He shows me how to find neutral.

I get it into first, ease out the clutch, kill it, restart, ease it out again with a bit of throttle and manage to get rolling. I do that once or twice. After a bit, I got going enough to make an awkward shift to second, then another to third, and then, what do you know, I’m rolling right along. I am thrilled to my core. I am riding a motorcycle! I twist that grip to speed up, slow down and shift up and down several times. I’m really doing it!

Six klicks up the road, there’s Chuck, pulled over in the shade, drinking a Pepsi. I pull up and stop, and can feel the grin stretching my face.

“This is bitchin’! Let’s go!” Chuck hollers, and he’s off again. I’m after him, with more confidence now, and it wasn’t long before I was keeping up with him. We rode together many times in Thailand.


Link to comment

Welcome to the board SoCal and man did you start out BIG! My first bike was a pretty red Suzuki M12 50cc. I delivered newspapers for 2 years to get up the $ to buy it. I was on my way to a nearby high school parking lot for practice on my controls when I killed the motor in the middle of a steep hill. I was ignorantly really lugging the little motor under break-in RPM's. As I killed it I looked to my right and there are people sitting on a front porch laughing at me. It was all the start to my riding my 49th season this year and the rider I have become!



Link to comment

Like many, I began riding after watching “On Any Sunday”. Bought a Honda 250 the same weekend and just started riding. 46 years and 10 bikes later, I still think I’m McQueen. When riding.

Link to comment

Minibikes here and there but my first real motorcycle riding was on a clapped out 72 TS125. My brother beat the snot out of it and burned up the clutch.


I remember I had to stand on a milk crate to start out because I couldn't touch the ground. I'd rev it and jam it into first to get going. I was making loops through the woods out to a dead end side street and riding it down into a little sand pit area we had then back to the house.


This was all going great until the LAST lap of the day of course. A nice shiny police car was stopped at the end of the road where I was entering the sand pit. Along with the shiny police car was a very large police officer standing out in front with his hand up telling me to stop. Now remembering the previous paragraph "I couldn't touch the ground" I did stop and proceeded to fall on my ass in front of him!


I think he did all he could not to bust out laughing. He held it together long enough to give me a scolding before driving off.


Now a neighbor had to come out and help me right the bike which I then dropped again. :facepalm:





Link to comment

Honda XR80 first thing I ever rode. A long break, then some Harleys, then my RT. I have orange lust these days.

Link to comment

Mini Bikes leading to a Honda trail 50 at age 11

Rode a Yamaha DT 125 (not mine) at age 13, couldn't touch the ground, scared the hell outta me, but had a grin while it's owner saved me from crashing at the end of the ride.

My brother then bought a BSA 441 Victor - rode around on that with no headers - flame shooter, a bit loud I'd say, scared the hell outta me.

First legalized licensed riding was a Suzuki GS550E (brother's)

Then his Honda GL1000 - couldn't touch the ground but did not scare the hell outta me, just was heavy.

Then other brother's Yamaha XS Eleven Custom (1978?)- that was bad ass. Grinned.

Rode this bike while in the USAF - a beautiful Honda 500 Interceptor. That was 1986. (Inserting homage pic from the Barber museum.)

Then dormant until marriage, the Internet, leading to the '02 RT and all of you fine people.





Link to comment

My story...


First bike I rode was my cousin's Honda 50 when I was a freshman in high school, just rode it around the block a couple times. It was OK but I was pretty much ambivalent about bikes. My younger brother decided he wanted a bike and saved up for a couple years and bought a used Honda S90 in about 1965 or 66. I was a senior by then and rode it around some and decided it was pretty cool but had other things to spend my money on (college, mostly). A couple years later he bought a Honda 305 Scrambler that I rode quite a bit when I was home from college. He had several friends with bikes & we'd borrow them & ride around. We lived in San Jose, CA at the time (late 60s) and our favorite ride was up Mt Hamilton to the observatory. I was getting more interested but still didn't have the money to spend. I went into the Peace Corps and had a Peugeot moped for transportation. When I cam home I needed something to get to work so I bought a brand new Honda CB350. It was my main transportation for a few years, I put about 12k miles on it, many of those with my wife-to-be on the back. Then life got in the way and I didn't ride for a long time. Then about five years ago my brother (the one who started with the S90) decided to sell the 83 R100RS that he'd had for about 10 yrs and put about 3k miles on. I bought it from him mostly as a project to fix up (I had retired a couple years earlier). I wasn't planing to really ride it much. However, once I got it running better & rode it I was hooked. I put several thousand miles on it in a couple years and then decided I wanted something more suitable for longer distance touring. A friend raved about his R1150RT and a nice one just happened to pop up on Craigslist so I bought it & really like it. I sold the airhead to a local guy who had been looking for one. I had big plans about cross country touring on the RT but the haven't materialized...yet. Stay tuned, tho... ;)

Link to comment

Sat on a hardley when I was 59 and rode it a little bit till I saw and rode an RT at a friends house a few years later. Bought one the next day and have now enjoyed them for the last 16 years and quite a few miles. :thumbsup:

Link to comment

Friend a few years older had a Frankenzuki of some sort, probably 175-200 size that we took to the woods, sand pits to crash, a lot.

Pick it up, jump on the kick start and get another scar on your shin typabike.


Turned 17, graduated from high school, went to look at a Honda SL 350.

Guy asked if I knew how to ride, "sure...."

Well, it had been a few years and the clutch on that bike was a lot dif than the old woods bike I had ridden.

Got on the Honda, started, released clutch, and wheelied through the guys screened porch, yeehaw, "I'll take it" :P .

Managed to get it home, Dad, echoing Mom, "no way, not living here."

Got a job as a dishwasher, slept on floors.

Took a car trip to the Smokies and rode pillion on an R69.


Sold the Honda, bought a'68 R 50.

Nice bike. Black, of course.

Ran great until a drunk, driving a truck, ran over me.


Brief hiatus, flirtation with a Yamaha 650, and then a HD Sportshakester.

Got a '72 R 75 gold toaster tank model.

Followed up by a black, of course, '80 R 100 RT. Odometer broke at 189,000+ and kept riding it another 20 years.

Working part time at a BMW dealership as a 2nd job we got a '96 R 1100 RSL on consignment. Pampered, low mileage, black.

Bought it.

Put it in the garage along with the R100 and an orange and black BMW 3.0 CSL Coupe.

The oilhead began to get most of the saddle time.

Sold the RT to a collector.

Sold the Coupe to a dreaming drooler who had never seen one in person.

Kids older so Beth began riding on longer trips. We went to the mountains and did plenty of 1700 mile weekends as often as we could.

Life was good.

Then, friend brings his new GT back to the dealership. He hurt his back and wasn't comfortable w/the forward lean.

I took Beth for a short ride on it and she says, "I didn't know your bike (RSL) vibrated so much".


What? I've ridden hundreds of oilheads, it was one of the smoothest, and she had never complained.

Besides, I was a faster rider on that bike.


Reluctantly, the GT came home and sold the RSL.

Hmmm, first tank of gas averaged 26 mpg....

wow, faster than any boxer, stops on a dime and makes change, and like the RSL, one of the best looking designs ever.

More trips, more gear, 840W handled 2 sets of Gerbings.

Wilbers/Hyperpro/PIAA's/Motolights/LED brake/running lights and more, made it perfect for us.

13 years of memories from the Sierra Nevadas to Nova Scotia to the Appalachians.


All 2up with my best friend.


So, that's how I got in, and, now, how I'll go out.

GT still in garage, waiting for amac to pick it up.

I do sit on it and go "zoom zoom".


Riding BMW's brought me to this board.

It introduced us to many of our best friends.

We've had 5 board mambers at the same time staying with us.

Think we've had 30-40 times one or more have stayed with us.

Good people.


Laissez les bons temps rouler!" :wave:

Link to comment

Tallman, that is a moto life! I heartily salute you, sir! I, and everyone else, I think, love these stories, keep 'em coming! I will post Chapter 2 of my modest tale next week.

Link to comment

First ride in 1958 (I was 13 years old) on a neighbor's Wizzard Motorbike - road down the street through 2 stop signs before I could stop it!


Next ride in 1964 was when I bought a fraternity brother's Mustang motorcycle

I had this one for a month before the cover plate of the clutch housing vibrated off and blew out parts of the clutch all over the fraternity parking lot. :grin:


Bought my first real motorcycle in 1971 a Yamaha 360 Enduro had 3 fun years riding in the dirt and all over the island of Guam.


While stationed on the island of Okinawa, bought a new Yamaha 750 XS Special. My wife and I road that bike all over Okinawa during our 3 years there.


Next was a 1981 Yamaha 1100 XS Special that I had until buying my first BMW, a K1200RS, in late 2002 from Paul Mahalka.


I always liked motorcycles, however, after being introduced to the BMWST community by Paul, I became a motorcycle "enthusiast" and simply can not get enough of riding.



Edited by Endobobdds
Link to comment

Started in 1972 on a Honda CL350 while in college and bought it from my brother to ride it to and from work rain or shine until it was stolen. Then went through a Yamaha RD350 and RD400 before I got tired of replacing rings. Got a 1978 Suzuki GS550E, then jumped to a new 1982 Suzuki GS1100E for about 46,000 miles. Still mainly to and from work with longer weekend rides. Then went to my first BMW a 1987 K75S which I had for 10 years and 98,000 miles with rides to Laguna Seca, Blue Ridge Parkway and AMA headquarters, which on that trip the draft shaft splines gave up. Did all my own maintenance after that. Went on to have a Suzuki GSXR-600, Ducati 900SS/SP, and a Suzuki RF900R (48000 miles) before going back to a 2004 BMW R1100S Boxer Cup (46,000 miles) before moving to Panama and getting a F650GS. Then back to the states and my current ride a 04 R1100S ABS. This one has been to Indy and Texas from Florida for the MotoGP races and going back in April, 17, to Austin for GP. So, 12 bikes and an estimated 300,000 miles later I am still riding.

Link to comment

Here it is, as promised, or threatened, the second installment of My Riding Life!


Flash forward. I’m back in the U.S., at Ft. Eustis, VA, with about two months left in the army. I write to Chuck, who had got out a few months before. I tell him I have my car and am driving home to California. He writes back and says to stop in Michigan and come see him when I get out, which is exactly what I did.

He lived near a small town called Owasso, in the idyllic Michigan countryside. He had a brand-new 1971 Triumph Bonneville, which he let me ride while he rode his Dad’s older Bonny, and we tore up the countryside. His whole family took a motorcycle camping trip around Lake Superior, he and I two-up on his bike, taking turns driving. It took nine days to get around the lake, and we also did a three-day trip to the sand dunes in the Lower Peninsula. He and I went down to Ft. Hood, Texas, where his sister was staying with her husband, who was also in the army. I drove my car, he rode the Triumph. Leaving my car parked at the sister’s house, Chuck and I rode two up, with me driving, down to Corpus Christie to visit another army buddy of ours. Let me tell you, when they say it’s floodin’ down in Texas, they ain’t kiddin’! Water was hub-deep on the highway at times, and it took over 12 hours, some of it sitting in a little roadside cafe, to ride the 275 miles. After seeing our friend for a couple of days, we rode that Triumph back to Ft. Hood, me driving all the way. The return trip took 5 hours on state and county roads, no freeways back then.

Home from the army, I lusted for a bike of my own. In those days, any Triumph I could hope to get still shifted on the right, the way Chuck’s Bonny had. I didn’t like that. It made more sense for brakes on the right, clutch and shift on the left. I saw a Honda 450 Scrambler, and liked it. I managed to acquire one and rode the crap out of it. It was my only transportation for about two years. I owned a car, but it had quit running and I was in no hurry to fix it. The Honda was reliable and trouble-free for the most part, with some exceptions.

One day, it began to run erratically. I’m cursing it, damned bike. I’d been at it all afternoon and it was getting dark. Picking up my meager tools, I had the flashlight in hand and decided to have one more look, and down between the twin carbs, in the beam of the flashlight, there it was. The thin curved piece of metal that connected the two butterflies together had come off one side. I clicked it back in place, and started it up. Vroom-vroom!

Some time later, the bike developed a strange sound, like a handful of small fasteners in a can, rattling around, and it lacked power. It seemed to be synced to engine RPM. When I twisted the throttle, the engine seemed to gasp for breath and make a death rattle, especially on decel.

Turns out the muffler baffles are secured with small spot welds in the pipes, and they were all cracked, top and bottom. I was working for a company that manufactured commercial refrigeration units, and was friends with the tig welder. I took the whole set off pipes off at the heads, brought them into work, and for a six-pack of brews, he applied a tiny weld to every cracked spot weld.

It wasn’t all beer and skittles, as any rider will tell you. I crashed that bike more than once, twice due to stuff in the street, and once, in a decreasing radius hairpin on Turnbull Canyon Road, the bike just plopped itself down. I coasted all the way downhill home, and got a ticket for running a stop sign.

Then, there was that last one. On the freeway at rush hour, with traffic moving in fits and starts, I committed the sin of not keeping my eyes forward. Looking at a girl in a car next to me, I looked back in time to see the car in front of me slowing down. I grabbed all the drum brakes I had. I had time to think, “I’m going to make it. No, I’m not.”

I ran into the back of the car, not very fast, but enough to put me down with what turned out to be a compound fracture of the right forearm. I sold the bike cheap, but it was more than a year before I could straighten my arm all the way, and I can still feel it sometimes when it’s fixing to rain.


Link to comment

I am the newbie here in regards to riding. I was not able to afford my first bike until six years ago. Though my love for BMW machines goes back into the 80's. The first bike I ever saw was my dad's racing Triumph single cylinder from the 70's, no headlight nor tail light. He still has not told me how he rode it. When I was at a family reunion around the age of 8 (I am 41 now) I came across my Aunts Honda Silver Wing and asked her about it. She regaled me with tales from the road, the states she had traveled to, sights seen and the joy of the open road. That was the moment I decided that I would one day own a bike and do just that, travel. I was sold on the idea of a Goldwing. To travel the US in style and comfort like that...yeah.

One day in 2000 I was traveling through Wooster, OH ( I was born and raised in the Akron, OH area till I moved to NC in 2008) and saw this sign for a BMW Motorcycle dealership. I had "forgot" BMW made bikes. I stopped, walked in and fell in love with the R bikes. I did not have my endorsement, so no test rides for me but the salesman was very kind and gave me all the info I could sponge up. I was still no where close to being able to afford a bike, with two kids under 2 and working three jobs I barely had time to sleep, let alone ride. I kept in contact with the dealership and when the internet became a little easier to navigate I started stalking the BMW site frequently.

Fast forward eight years, I move to NC and started to put things into motion to being my first bike home. At the young age of 34 I took the MSF class and four months later my first bike came a home, a 2004 R1150RT-P. In the years I owned it I averaged 8k a year on the road, I rook it everywhere I could. To say I was ecstatic would be a gross understatement. I had yearned for one of these machines for so long and no I am finally able to be in the saddle.

A few years past and my kids wanted to join me on my journeys so I got rid of the RT-P and acquired my current bike, a Piedmont Red 2006 R1200RT and have not looked back. I have a bike I can make my own and put miles after miles one.

From a very young age I knew I wanted to tour and spend days/weeks on the road. It wasn't until that fateful day when I heard the words "sport-touring" that I found my calling. I still get a smile across my face when I saddle up on my red machine and hit the road, whether it be to work, pick up my daughters from school or the rare day off where I can tear up some pavement of my choosing.


That is my very short Riding Life.




"My apologies I got some things crossed. I first came into contact with BMW in the late 80's when I saw a couple at a local food stop. They were gearing up to hop back onto their bikes. What I found interesting was they were wearing head to toe gear and full face helmets. Most of my interactions had been with HD people due to my dads work (he was a mechanic), so seeing ATGATT was completely new to me (on as side note, OH is not a helmet state). They were so kind to talk to me, talk about their machines and so on. I cannot remember what they were on, I just know they made an impression (I am guessing an R bike)."

Edited by Medic Mike
Link to comment
Mike, I hope you enjoy riding for many years. :thumbsup:


+1 :thumbsup:


FWIW, I've got riding boots older than you are...


Link to comment

Thanks everyone, had to make a change to my initial posting. I really should not make long history laden posts at 0300 on my fourth overnight shift in a row.

It was a dream come true when i was able to bring that RT-P home. I learned a lot over those years, some the hard way (I bought a bike with crash bars for a reason and they got used....more than I care to admit). Rode the BRP three time, Cherohala Skyway twice, took it to OH and back and did a NC Lighthouse Tour on it.

Then that Piedmont Red RT showed up in Greensboro...well, as they say the rest is history. I am very much looking forward the next stages of my riding life and hopefully being able to put "screen name" to real faces soon.

Thank you all again for your kind words, patience (DirtRider) and mountains of knowledge and expertise all of you share here so willingly.


Link to comment

My Riding Life - Part 3

Some years go by. Married, a couple of kids. We were house-rich, but cash-poor, with only one car that I take to work in the morning but then have to hurry home so the wife can use it to do her stuff. My wife’s brother has a nice little Kawasaki 750 he never rode. I ask to borrow it, and rode it for nearly a year, then had to give it up when he sold it.

I had a friend who was into sand toys, riding at a place called Glamis, out in the SoCal desert . I acquired a Honda FourTrax, a 250cc bike with four wheels. That was fun in the sand, but I couldn’t ride it anywhere else, and at the time had no health insurance. With two small kids, I decided it was better to give up this foolishness.

Flash forward some years. With no riding, I had got into sailing, and had a series of sailboats, but I missed riding. My sister had remarried, and her new husband was a bike nut. He had several, mostly dirt machines. Listening to his tales, I got the bug again and mentioned to him that I was thinking of riding again. They invite us out to their place in the high desert for Thanksgiving weekend and he shows me this very nice 1979 Yamaha SR400. He says here’s a helmet, ride this Yami up the street, see what you think. I get on, ride it up the street, and it was like magic. The air is fresher, the sun is warmer, life is great on two wheels. He says let’s go for a ride. He hops on his BMW R1200GS, I on the Yamaha, and we take off. We’re gone for six hours, riding Angeles Crest Highway up the back side of the San Gabriel Mountains all the way up to Newcombs. Cup of coffee, we head back, and I feel great. On subsequent rides, we rode all over the backside of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, through Idyllwild and up to Mt. Palomar. Several times we would trade bikes so he could ride the smaller Yamaha down the mountain. “Don’t try to keep up with me,” he’d say. At the bottom of the mountain, there he’d be, waiting for me. I didn’t really like his BMW. A dual-purpose adventure bike, it felt too tall and top heavy.

I decided it was time I got my own bike again. The kids were grown, why not? I’d always liked Harley-Davidson Sportsters, and found a great 1998 Sportster Hugger 883, for a very reasonable price. I got my endorsement on it, rode it for several months, then decided I wanted something with a bit more power and flash. I found an H-D Sportster Roadster 1200. I rode that for two or three years, and did a few mods, the first one performance. It ran great at higher RPM, but was stumbly at low speeds. The pipe was not stock, and neither was the air cleaner. That’s when I learned about carb jetting. I have a good friend, a sailing buddy, who was a jet mechanic for a major airline and had actually worked as a motorcycle mechanic before, when he rode a Triumph. We rejetted the bike, and the difference was stunning. It ran great! Then I did a few comfort mods; risers under the bars, made out of 17mm deep sockets, added foam in the seat, and added a clutch assist to ease the lever pull. Better, but it was still uncomfortable, the ride too harsh on the washboard LA freeways, and it had no bags or windshield. I don’t like a backpack. I wanted a Harley Road King, but balked at the $15,000 price. The brother-in-law says check out a metric cruiser. I found a Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500 that had everything I wanted; it looked great, a dark metallic green, and with a windshield and hard bags it was comfortable, for one-third the price. Turns out I like a heel shifter a lot. This was my first fuel-injected bike, and it wasn’t long before I noticed the bike pinged badly, even on premium gas. On a bike forum, I discovered that that model bike is known for that, and the fix was simple. A 1k ohm resistor in the wire from the ambient temperature sensor to the ECU, to spoof the ECU into delivering more fuel. That worked somewhat, but it was untunable. The bike lacked low-end performance and had mushy throttle response. I added a four-pot fuel module, did the hole-saw exhaust mod for a little more sound, and opened up the restrictive air intake and blocked off the idle air injectors. It ran like a scalded cat. I rode that bike for six years or so. My used-to-ride-a-Triumph sailing buddy had bought an RV and then sold his boat, and soon after that got himself a Vespa scooter to take on RV trips. His grown son liked to rent a Harley sometimes, so we’d do four-day trips on rented bikes. I rode a rented Street Glide through the Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino wine country and down Highway 1 and up through the Russian River Valley. It was glorious.

My buddy with the Vespa wanted a real motorcycle again, and I wanted him to. The Vespa was OK, but it wasn’t up for a jaunt to Newcombs, or a ride to Julian. The wife wouldn’t budge; he could buy a Triumph, but had to sell the Vespa. He didn’t want to do that cause he liked to ride the easily portable Vespa when they camped in their RV. One day after a few whiskeys we came up with an idea; he’d get the Triumph, but keep it at my house. That didn’t work out. We talked about going partners on a Triumph T120. I advocated the just do it method. I believe it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, but he wanted to preserve the domestic tranquility. Tranquil, but bikeless.

One day if occurred to me that I was getting a little tired of wrestling that heavy Kawi Nomad around all the time and wanted something smaller, more nimble, something easier to ride around town. Trolling Google images, I soon discovered that Honda had built a very fine little bike in the early nineties called a Nighthawk 750. I would buy one, and my buddy could ride it, too. I found a black one in good shape, with a small Rifle windshield, and it was mine for only $1500. It is one of the sweetest little bikes I’ve ever ridden. Slim, light, simple, with plenty of power. Of course, I had to do an exhaust mod. Most guys simply remove the guts of the muffler, and run totally open. It sounds terrible. I removed the inner piece of the muffler, cut off a little of it, and refastened it back into place with sheet metal screws. It sounded good, but popped on decel, so I added a thumb screw in the center, to provide a bit of back-pressure. Now that little DOHC 750cc mill sounds like a mid-60’s Ferrari when it winds up through the gears, has plenty of power, and turns out that my buddy loves to ride it, too, when I ride the Kawi. We did a lot of local stuff, Mulholland Dr., Pacific Coast Highway, Ortega Highway, Angeles Crest Highway, State Route 38, Route 33.

One day, I decided the Kawi didn’t do it for me anymore. I hankered for something lighter, with better handling. I liked having a windshield and hard bags, so to get those with good handling and power for distance meant a sport-touring machine. I went onto Google, found a Yamaha FJR1300, and researched it. Couldn’t find a bad word about them, and there was one nearby, at a very reasonable price. This is one advantage of living in SoCal. There are thousands of cars, trucks, bikes and boats for sale locally.

Go look at it. The owner’s agent won’t allow test rides, but I’m sure all my research on these bikes is right. Money changes hands. On the ride home, I realize that it is a big, heavy, powerful, fast bike, not for beginners. I ride it for a year and a half, then, on one of our four-day jaunts in the local mountains, I had an unplanned get-off.

I don’t know what happened. No one saw it happen. The CHP says I came around a curve and hit something in the road. I woke up, I’m at Bakersfield Trauma Center. The FJR was declared a total loss.

Not hurt too bad. A couple of broken ribs, a cracked scapula, but no surgery. I get out of there and am instructed to just go home and take it easy. Things will heal in time. It took a few months, but I began to ride my Honda again, and was soon trolling craigslist, looking for another bike with a windshield and hard bags.

I find a local Triumph Trophy 1200, in British Racing Green. I go look at it. Several years old, but it’s in great condition, with low mileage. We come to terms. It’s raining and I don’t want to ride it home, so we put it off. The next week, it’s still raining but he tells me he has a trailer and will deliver it. Great!

Saturday comes. He gets to my house. Parks in the street, doesn’t want to back up into my driveway. He removes the tie-down straps, climbs aboard, starts it up, backs it off the trailer, gets it into the street, and drops it! Crunch! Scratches up the right lower fairing, cocks the mirror, and breaks off the turn signal stalk. The engine dies, and won’t restart. Thank the stars that the hard bags were in the truck. The deal is on hold until he can find the parts on eBay and fixes it. Over the course of the next two weeks, the deal dies. There’s another Triumph Trophy, a 900, not too far away. I go look. It has issues, and I pass on it.

Now I can’t find what I want. I’m torn. A Triumph Bonneville? No windshield or bags, and it won’t do anything my Honda 750 won’t. A Honda ST1300? Another Yamaha FJR? A Kawi Concours 14? Too much bike.

Trolling Google images for sport touring machines, I spot a BMW. Now, that’s a fine-looking piece of machinery! I’ve never had a German bike, or a German car, either. I had an Italian car once, a very nice Fiat 124 Sport Coupe. It liked to be driven con brio!

A little research tells me BMW bikes don’t seem to have any inherent flaws. My brother-in-law loves his. This bike has some miles on it, but it’s a single-owner machine that has had very good care, and at that price it’s a screamin’ deal. My buddy and I go look at it, with cash in my pocket. If I like it, I’m going to ride it home. At the end of the day, we came to terms and I now own a 2000 BMW R1100RT, a very good looking bike with a fairing, a windshield, hard bags, with shaft drive and enough power for me. I rode it home to Orange Co. from Hollywood and I think we’re going to get along very well.


Link to comment
Duane n Oregon



At least that's how it seemed for my first 36 years.


My first memory of motorcycle lust is a Christmas catalog with Honda dirt bikes. Beautiful red and white bikes, lined up from 50cc to much larger. I desperately wanted one, but i was 8 (?) and a bike was a long way off.


As I grew, my desire to ride never went away. Also, my father's refusal to allow me to have a bike never went away. Some mornings, I'd wake up and see that he left me a short column from the newspaper next to my breakfast seat. It was always the same thing, an article about a motorcycle accident. He was reminding me of his objection, and I got the message. But my obsession never waned! I often woke up from a dream where I finally owned a motorcycle, only to be crushed when I realized it was only a dream.


My first time riding was late in high school. A friend had a small Honda, possibly a Rebel. We went to a nearby parking lot and he let me ride it. Shifting was easy! Remember, I used the word "obsession" earlier. I'd never ridden, but I knew exactly how to do it! Those parking lot laps probably didn't add up to one mile. (Note about that neighbor...he lead the team that invented the original XBOX. He is very highly paid at Microsoft. He has an awesome collection of late model bikes. BMW, Harley, Triumph. Lucky man!)


Obviously I would need to buy a bike after I move out from under my parents' roof and rules. My parents put me through college, so I still couldn't buy a bike. Then I got married spring break of my senior year of college. WAIT! Where is that time I needed to be my own boss and buy a bike??? Wife says, "No bike!" Ugh. I didn't time this well at all!


My next time on a bike was a few years later. My first child was less than a year old, and we visited a cousin in rural Washington state. He had a 750 standard bike. He offered to give me a ride, and I said sure. It was fine, but not exciting like driving myself. He had a long country driveway, and he suggested I ride the bike back to the house. I did and I was smiling ear to ear! He went into the house, so I took that as permission to ride back down the driveway. Heck, why not go out on the country highway?


Thinking I "knew" how to ride, I head down the road. Uh oh! A slight turn is coming up, and I'm nervous. I sit up stiff and straight, and try to "turn" the handlebars. Ummm...problem. They don't turn! I realize I need to lean, but am very tentative. I grow more willing to lean into it as the corner approached! I got through that first corner and went on from there. I rode several minutes, going up to 75MPH. Yippee! I had managed to make a loop, and didn't need to come to a stop...until I neared his driveway. Hmmmmm...let me think this through. Well, I figured it out, but it was about 200 yards PASSED his driveway! I got turned about and made it back soon after.


I laid in bed that night staring at the ceiling, realizing I had been so foolish. 75MPH on a machine I didn't know how to stop. Not smart. Luckily, I suffered no consequences.


Fast forward a decade. My desire to have a motorcycle has never gone away. Desire isn't the best word. Ache is actually better. But my wife still didn't approve. Many of you might say I should've ignored that, but that isn't how we work, and in most circumstances, that is a great thing. On a Sunday at church, they announced a new mens' group, motorcycle riding, called Rev-Elation. I couldn't believe it! Now I'm going to have my lack of motorcycle ownership even rubbed in my face at church!


I began looking at motorcycles on craigslist. Why? I wasn't going to get one, so why bother? I'm not sure. But I kept looking. I found a used Honda Shadow 1100 that really drew my eye to it. It was just nice and clean, and to me, looked cool. $3400. Again, who cares what it costs, as I won't be buying it. I called my wife over to the computer and showed her the ad. Instead of dismissing it, she simply said, "That looks like a good deal." Hmmmm...that is a very interesting reply!


While at work, I called my credit union and asked how much the payment would be each month on a $3000 loan. Only $75? I can afford that out of my monthly "allowance." I told my wife that a payment would only be $75, and again her response surprised me. "That's really affordable." Wow! I now have gotten two non-NO responses from her. This is uncharted territory.


I still haven't asked outright if I can buy one, but I'm more actively looking. That Shadow was in Seattle, and I'm in Portland, and I want to find a bike locally. I'd been advised by another tall friend to find a bike with forward controls, so I kept looking at Shadow 1100s. Somehow in the passed days, we'd agreed that I was buying one. Was it 15 years in she's bored and OK if I crash? Is it that I have enough life insurance now? Not sure, but I'm not questioning it! I found a Shadow nearby, good price, and took a friend who knew about bikes with me to look at it. He rode it briefly, then I took a turn. I was pretty nervous, but I made it down the road and back, and with my friend's approval, I took it home!


Shortly after, I took Oregon's Motorcycle Safety Course, and was riding as often as I could. Every time I rode I was delighted that I actually owned a motorcycle. Truly felt unbelievable!


I bought an 1100 for my first bike for 2 reasons. First, I'm a big guy. Second, and more importantly, I didn't feel confident in my wife's "approval" of owning a motorcycle, so I didn't feel like I could get a starter bike and then move up to a larger one. The safety course was very important, as I learned riding is a combination of skill and art, not just shifting and braking.


That purchase was 12 years ago. Five years later I bought a used R1100RT and loved it! Spending nearly $1,000 to replace a clutch on a 15 year old bike, was only the beginning of spending money to keep it going. I sold it and got a Suzuki V-Strom. It's still going strong!



Link to comment

I now have gotten two non-NO responses from her. This is uncharted territory.



Thanks for the story. :grin:


Similarly, a non-No response in my house is a "Yes, but I'll be damned if I'll say yes. But, it's clearly something you want to do and you'll probably do it anyway. Don't come crying to me if you hurt yourself doing something stupid." :/

Link to comment

Sometimes, if you say I'm going to do X, and, if it isn't what I expected, I'll sell it, and don't give me grief if I sell, or, I'll keep it.


Link to comment

Duane what a long road to your final entry into owning a motorcycle, glad you made it! :thumbsup: Other than financially difficult, my first bike was almost too easy to get. Was my mom trying to get rid of me at age 16 and I didn't even realize it? :grin:

Link to comment

1952 – 1967 I bought my first bike with 2 other guys. We were always fighting over who would “drive” so I went and bought a Jawa 350cc from Mike Abt in Chicago. After riding that into the ground Mike sold me an R50 and later an R60. I eventually made a switch to BSAs. I owned Several 650 Rockets, a Super Rocket, a DB34 Gold Star, and an Alloy Clipper. I also owned an Ariel Square Four and a Huntsman twin. I didn’t own a car until 1963, so rode all year round to and from work. I can remember riding to Wilmot Wisconsin with skis strapped to my back. No one had heard of heated clothes so I wrapped newspaper under my jacket to keep warm.


1967 – 1974 I went overseas and had a triumph until I lucked out and found a new Honda 750CB in a warehouse in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Bought it on the spot. I rode it up to Scandinavia three times and back to Arabia twice. Did my first 1000 mile day. Epic rides all – I wouldn’t even attempt it now.


1974 – 2002 During these years I had two Yamaha XS1000’s and an old Triumph.


2003- Present I bought a 2003 K1200GT from Cary Little in California. A year latter I added a R100GS/PD and still have both bikes. I made a lot of overseas rides during this period either with a tour group or on a rental bike. I finally decided it made more sense to keep a bike in Europe so I bought an Africa Twin XRV750 that I kept for a few years before replacing it with a used 2003 R1200GS.


My overseas postings had generous R&Rs so I was able to ride in when I was younger. Most of my early ride adventures can be categorized as “dumb, but lucky”. One notable addition to my riding pleasure was what I learned (and unlearned) in a “Ride Smart” class in California. I can honestly say that riding has been the center of my life; it’s given me friends and companions from all walks of life. No other life endeavor gives such a great opportunity to bond with others regardless of religion, politics, heritage or social standing.


In the ‘70’s I was riding through Bulgaria (headed for Oslo) and met a Moto Guzzi rider returning from a ride to Afghanistan. He looked like something the cat dragged in (and I looked the same). I couldn’t speak Italian and he couldn’t speak English. I was worried he couldn’t afford a decent hotel room so we slept in haystacks etc.. We met up with his Italian girlfriend in Vienna - she spoke English. After listening us describe our ride she broke out laughing. Turned out he thought I couldn’t afford a hotel. He was a successful architect with his own vineyard, and a fabulous villa in Verona and could certainly afford a lot more than I.


Link to comment

My first motorcycle was a '42 Harley, as old as I was in about 1960. Indianapolis, IN. I walked up to a farmhouse, answering an ad in the paper. Lady in an apron comes to the door, says, My son isn't here - the motorcycle's out behind the barn.


I had never ridden a motorcycle but I had read a small book at the library which told me the essentials. Something like kick it over twice with throttle half open and key off, then key on, throttle about 1/3 and it should start. I wasn't sure which scared me most: that it wouldn't start or that it would.


It did and I managed to ride it up & down the road a bit before I paid the lady the asking price, $85. Her son & I had to go to a notary public to transfer the title (in those days). I parked it at Butler University because I couldn't take it home.


In those days a helmet was not required.


I don't think I ever checked the oil or tire pressure. I just rode it everywhere. Yes, I was young & stupid. And lucky beyond merit.

Link to comment
Sometimes, if you say I'm going to do X, and, if it isn't what I expected, I'll sell it, and don't give me grief if I sell, or, I'll keep it.





That's like crazy talk! :D



Link to comment






In the ‘70’s I was riding through Bulgaria (headed for Oslo) and met a Moto Guzzi rider returning from a ride to Afghanistan. He looked like something the cat dragged in (and I looked the same). I couldn’t speak Italian and he couldn’t speak English. I was worried he couldn’t afford a decent hotel room so we slept in haystacks etc.. We met up with his Italian girlfriend in Vienna - she spoke English. After listening us describe our ride she broke out laughing. Turned out he thought I couldn’t afford a hotel. He was a successful architect with his own vineyard, and a fabulous villa in Verona and could certainly afford a lot more than I.


Thor, that cracks me up! You have had some wonderful riding experiences. :thumbsup:

Link to comment

I started on a mini bike at 12 yo. I rode that thing over many abandoned rail tracks. I had a couple of friends that used to ride with me and the group riding wasn't my style then or now. But during those days a friend got one of those Honda 50 and it was the first time I felt envious. Damn, what a bike. Well as it turned out my older brother had a friend big time into hill climbs and used to ride to high school on a street bike. Well he needed cash to get a better hill climber and I bought his Yamaha 100 street bike. Two low pipes and a straight saddle, but it had a bigger engine than the 50. Shortly after riding on the trails I learned why bikes were for the street vs. the trails. The brake peddle looped under the foot peg and when depressed would go lower than the loop already was. It only took two or three of them to realize that you don't press that brake when ever there are rocks around - the peddle just breaks in two. Eventually I rode it hard enough to seize the engine. That's when I traded it on an AMF version of a Harley. I can't remember if it was a 450 or 750 but what a POS. It shook so badly that levers and other such things fell off. Well I sold it and went to college. Many years later I got a Honda 450 from my father and it brought back all of the memories of riding. So it went back to my father and I picked up a Nighthawk 750. Great bike - at that point in my riding career the Nighthawk had more skills than I did, but it was a joy with very very little maintenance. It quickly became nicknamed the Mud-duck as almost every time I rode it, it would rain. Eventually I purchased a Honda Spirit 1100, a Honda version of the HD Softtail. About a year to two later, my dear friend to whom I referred as my Godfather died. He had three Beemers and left his R1100R to me. I went to Pennsylvania to get the bike and rode it back to North Carolina. I clearly remember after riding the bike for about twenty minutes thinking, "I get it Mike - I understand why you loved these bikes so much." The bike was so much more in every respect than what I had been used to riding. A year later I awakened to the fact that I had put thousands of miles on the R and around 500 on the Shadow - the Shadow was sold. A number of years later I sold the R and picked up the RT I currently ride.

Edited by Sonor
Link to comment

1968: My younger brother and I somehow got a Lil' Indian Mini bike. 3hp Tecumseh. Of course the first things we did was shave down the cylinder head and take the Governor off. It always ran, but the centrifugal clutch controlled the braking and as the chain almost always snapped, we wore out a lot of shoes. But man, was it fun riding that thing in the trails. In the dirt field near our subdivision, we stationed lookouts for the Warren cops and invariably we would see a big '68 Belevedere coming for us, flying over the berms. We had as much fun gettin' out of there as they had chasing us.


1972: My same brother and I worked as Detroit News paperboys and saved up $200. My dad promised to match it so we could buy a new 1972 Suzuki TS90. The 5 speed. The TC90 was the dual four speed I think. Our first real motorcycle as it had headlights and a speedo. Unfortunately, the "sharing a bike with your little brother who's only 13 mos. younger and has a wicked left hook when ticked off", didn't last very long and we soon found another Suzuki 90 to separate us, and keep our jaws growing straight and true.


1975: A buddy from high school had a 1974 Honda Elsinore 125, whose parents didn't let him ride it. So it was basically brand new. WOW! Did that thing haul ass! Used to ride it down dirt roads by my cottage and could never quite figure out why the dad's stood out near the road trying to hit us with rocks as we rode by, flat out. I guess maybe it was a little loud?????


1977: Since my older brother had a '71 Sportster, that was the first choice for me too. A '71 XLCH Kicker. My first journey into what it meant to be stranded, over and over and over. When it did run, it sounded fantastic. I tried riding to my cottage one summer (about 90 miles) and it felt like a ride around the world.


1980: The Sportster gets stolen and I find a pristine 1974 R90s. I'm concerned because it has 28k miles and will it need a full rebuild? Does it blow oil?, Leak oil?

I quickly learn what Boxer's are all about and I take the S on my first big trip to Michigan's U.P. The next year, my buddy and I quit our jobs and girlfriend's to ride to the Florida Keys. Over the next 37 years, she takes me to 40 states, US and Mexico and only gives me a couple flats and a bad starter solenoid. Still sits in my garage where she's ridden mostly to vintage events and Track Days.


2002: R1150RT. Great bike, but always had some surging. I'm taken out by a big Buck in northern Idaho (2004), totaling the bike. I like the bike so much that I buy a new '04 version.


Dual spark heads solve the surging and I quickly put 90k on it, taking trips to southwest US, Florida, Blue Ridge Parkway a few times, Arkansas. It's my daily rider and after riding some newer bikes, I can't give it up. It's looks are stunning, and it still hits all my emotional buttons of comfort, perfect amount of torque, incredible brakes and suspension and the ability to travel for weeks at a time on the road with just enough room for everything.


Now if I can just find a R1200s for the track.........



Link to comment
.... I can honestly say that riding has been the center of my life; it’s given me friends and companions from all walks of life. No other life endeavor gives such a great opportunity to bond with others regardless of religion, politics, heritage or social standing.


Thor - you have in a few words described why I have found motorcycle riding to be the one activity that I have never wanted to stop doing over the past 50+ years! It's not just the pure enjoyment I have while riding a motorcycle but the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life that share in my passion for motorcycling!

Link to comment
Great stuff, RPG! Do you know where Owasso MI, is? My army buddy is from there.


Absolutely. Owosso is a beautiful little town just NE of Lansing. The Vintage Bike Festival is slowly gaining in popularity too. Last year was the inaugural event and local merchant's were pretty excited. My buddy and I rode our R90s's. Even in the pouring rain, it was a great event.



Link to comment
Shiny Side Up

Started at 15yrs old...


1st – 1966 Suzuki 150cc Twin Model S32

2nd – 1966 Gilera 124 (124cc)

3rd - 1968 Honda CB160 (160cc)

4th – 1967 250cc Suzuki T20 (X-6 Hustler) – Really wanted the Scrambler Model!!

5th – 1968 Triumph Daytona (500cc Single Carb)

6th – 2003 Yamaha FJR 1300

7th – 2008 Triumph Bonneville America (860cc)

Present – 2004 BMW R1150RT (The ultimate touring motorcycle)

Link to comment
Duane n Oregon
Duane what a long road to your final entry into owning a motorcycle, glad you made it! :thumbsup: Other than financially difficult, my first bike was almost too easy to get. Was my mom trying to get rid of me at age 16 and I didn't even realize it? :grin:


Likely not! But yes, I took the long road! I often say that I'm actually thankful I got a bike at 37, not 17 or 27. I am a LITTLE wiser now.

Link to comment

Started riding at 59 when I quit flying. Next best thing! Started with a Harley, had no idea there were other brands. Saw an RT at a friends house, rode it 1 block and ordered one the next day. Happened to be in baltimore on business when I saw a BMW store. Stopped in and met Paul who told me about this site. Switched to GS in '04 when the 12 first came out. Have enjoyed 12GS's since then.


Edited by Marty Hill
Link to comment

Still in shock on how I started. My brother was about 15, when Mom and Dad let him get a dirt bike, a 250 Yamaha, used of course, but it looked awesome to me! As the younger brother, of course I pestered mom and dad until they capitulated and i got my first bike. It was a 1972 Honda MT Elisnor 125. This was 1984 mind you, so this bike was far from new. I learned to ride on that thing, loved it to like crazy! It had plates on it, they came with it, but at 12 I'm pretty sure I was not legal!

I took the motorcycle safety course at 15, and the nice part of the course was at the end , I got my endorsement, so as soon as I hit 16, i got my bike license, and the same day wrote and failed my beginners car license, but rode my bike home!

Upgraded to a 1977 Honda CB400/4, love to have that bike back now!

Rode that till i moved away from home, then no bikes for about 10 years. Got back in the saddle in 2003 on a used 750 shadow, just to see if I would actually ride again. loved it, put lots of miles on it for 2 seasons.

The need was bad so i finally got my only (to date) bike. 2004 R1200c Montauk, and rode that all over the continent till i picked up a 2009 R1200Rt two seasons ago. Both Beemers live in my garage.



Edited by Fleetwood
Link to comment
Shiny Side Up

Anybody ever own an Odessa or a Matchless?

Always liked the 175cc Odessa Scrambler and the Matchless 500cc single cylinder.

Link to comment

I had a 500 cc Matchless twin. Road it to work rain or shine for a couple of years. Wasn't too great in the rain though. It always got the mag wet when it rained. May had something to do with the plastic cover I put on it when the factory one fell off.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...