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My First Motorcycle - 1983 Kawasaki KZ750

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California opera singer, Nikola Printz tells her story of how she got into motorcycling.
California opera singer, Nikola Printz tells her story of how she got into motorcycling. (Matheus Coura/)

Bike: 1983 Kawasaki KZ750
Rider: Nikola Printz
Age: 28
Home: San Francisco, California
Occupation: Opera singer

My dad’s been riding since before I was born. He stopped for a while when he had kids. This was before state helmet laws, so he was just out there, mullet to the wind, and my mom said, “Eh, maybe not anymore.” But he had an old bike when I was growing up, and I would sit on it and push all the buttons, you know, like kids do. Then he started riding again, and I went out with him on the back of his bike. I was like, “Yeah, this is where I need to be.”

I decided to take the California Highway Patrol class and get my license. I initially wanted a 1970s Honda, maybe a little CB350 in baby blue. I definitely had a certain picture in my head. Then I saw this '83 KZ750 on Craigslist. I loved the colors, and those triple-stripe graphics really got me. This was my first bike, and I bought the Kawasaki without knowing that much about it. I didn't even have my full license yet, just a lot of passion. That was four years ago. Lately, it's been giving me problems. It started leaking gas, then having electrical issues. I'm still getting it sorted out. But that's what you get with old bikes, right?

I don’t always have a lot of time, though. I’m a classic pianist and an aerialist. I went to school for singing, then just fell into the world of opera. It’s a perfect marriage of song and acting, and it requires a good ear for language. I’m a mezzo-soprano, literally meaning “the middle soprano.” They often get cast as the femmes fatales or in “trouser roles,” where you’re a woman in drag, playing a man on stage. There’s a saying that mezzos play witches, bitches, or boys. I consider myself all three.

Carmen was the first opera I really fell in love with, and I've done seven productions of that show. It's about a traveling woman who meets this guy and gets her hooks into him. She's very confident, very independent, and in control of her surroundings. The role just screams "biker babe." I have this dream of doing a production of Carmen that's got motorcycles—like a She-Devils on Wheels opera.

At the moment, my goal is to get the KZ running perfectly this summer. I'm pretty sure it's just the battery that needs to be replaced now. I had a scary close call riding in the city recently, which put me off a little, but I really want to do Babes Ride Out, the all-women motorcycle rally to Joshua Tree. It's an amazing event—hundreds of women, all on their bikes, riding, camping, hanging out, drinking beer, dancing topless in the moonlight. That's mezzo-soprano. That's my scene.

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