Over the years I have owned eight motorcycles. Each one contributed a great deal to my life - most contributions were positive, but a couple of them were pretty painful. I still bear their scars today. Here are the bikes in my life... so far:
Don't you just hate it when you have to rely on someone else to take a picture of you and they can't seem to get it centered? This is my first motorcycle, a 1969 Yamaha CT1, a 175 cc two stroke single cylinder dual purpose bike. It was produced to capitalize on the huge success of the DT1, its 250cc predecessor. I bought it because it was about 50 lbs lighter than the larger-engined DT1, and I intended to do some semi-serious woods riding where weight makes a big difference.
This picture was taken in Colorado, somewhere near the Royal Gorge, in August of '69. I had owned the bike about two months at the time three of my pals and I decided to go wander around in the mountains. What a trip!
If you want to relive that trip with me, you can do so by clicking here:
(CLICK to be inserted when those pages are ready)
After the trip to Colorado, the CT1 was stripped of its roadgoing equipment and turned into a strictly off-road bike. For the next several years it saw duty almost every winter weekend in the Mark Twain National Forest down around Chadwick, Missouri. While I had it stripped down, I got the bright idea to paint it as well. It was supposed to be a bright metallic red, but it came out more of a light purple; as you can see, I painted the helmet to match. The missing "Yamaha" badge is also conspicuous in this shot. The canteen came in very handy after a few hard hours on the trail.
The hitching posts, by the way, were installed for people who rode horses of the more traditional kind.
Snowmobile? I don't need no steenkin' snowmobile!!!
I never did get rid of this bike. A friend did it for me; I left it in storage in his garage, and after several months he gave it away. Oh well. My woods riding days were over by then.
This is my second bike, and my first streetbike, a 1972 Yamaha R5C, a 350cc two stroke parallel twin. I bought it largely because the motorcycle magazines said it was faster than the 350 Hondas. Maybe so, but not with me on it. I think their test riders weighed a tad less than I did...
A strikingly pretty bike in the Halloween orange and black (we wouldn't dare say "HD orange and black"), the bike taught me a lot. Countersteering, although I didn't know that's what I was doing at the time, leaning, leaning more, and leaning even more, even when you think you can't. Saved my bacon aboard this thing a time or two. It also demonstrated why you NEVER ride in the center of a lane in town - my first street crash came when I rode through a puddle of anti-freeze or ATF or something similar. I went down at about 30 mph, but damage to the bike and I was fairly minimal. Slightly bent handle bars were straightened by the dealer and the road rash on my left elbow healed quickly.
The achilles heel of this bike was its inadequate electrical system. It fouled plugs almost daily, and was a real chore to ride in damp weather. You really had to keep the revs up, much to the chagrin of the neighbors every morning.
In spite of that, the little R5 gave me one of my most memorable rides ever - a 225 mile trip from Springfield, MO to Little Rock, AR in February of '73. I caught a spot of warm decent weather and took off for the weekend. The bike ran flawlessly and everything was fine until the return trip, when I found myself riding through some of the densest fog I've ever seen. Mixed with a little light rain which made a lot of mud in the many construction areas, it made for a very trying ride home. Still the highlight of my short, one year ownership of this bike. I traded it in on...
1973 Yamaha TX 500. Parallel vertical twin with DOHC and 4 valves/cylinder. One of the first "modern" 4 valve heads, this bike was afflicted with development problems. In spite of that, I loved it. It hauled me about 12,000 miles that year.
In spite of it being my only mode of transportation for over a year, I managed to not get any really good pictures of this bike. I have some others, but they are so faded out they are almost unviewable. These pictures were taken by my then-roommate, Larry, when my daughter Sara was visiting me. Probably still the only bike she's ever been on. These pictures are more of her than the bike.
I sold the TX 500 in the summer of '74, to finance a car. Man, what a goof! I was then without a motorcycle for five years! Agony!
In '79 I finally got another bike. A used one this time, but a good used one. The '78 ES 750E shown here was a good bike, willing to plunk sedately about town or scream down the road - When the tach hit 7 grand, you had to hold on! Handled pretty good, too.
I actually didn't sell this bike until well after I acquired the next one. Sold it to a young fella who promptly went out and hit a left-turning van with it. Totaled the poor bike, and broke his back and some other stuff. Last I heard he was fully recovered. The bike was DRT.
My Dad was always totally against motorcycles; he wouldn't even consider me having one when I was young For a long time after I was grown and owned a bike, I kept it a secret from him. My mother was afraid he'd fly into a rage and have another heart attack. After a time, I revealed the truth; he took it fairly well, but I had to suffer through constant lectures and cautions about riding.
This picture was taken in the summer of 81, the year before Dad died. Mom asked us to go pick some little thing
up from the grocery store, and I suggested we go on the bike. To my great surprise, Dad agreed! We rode about 10 miles altogether;
to my knowledge, this is the only time he was ever on a bike in his life. He agreed that it was fun!
This is the '82 Suzuki GS850G I bought new in '84. Great running and handling bike. My WATT convinced me to sell it because it wasn't getting ridden much. Alas, I trusted a fella who wrote me a hot check... Should'a just kept it.
This is my '91 Suzuki VX 800. Unfortunately, I owned it only long enough to ride it about 1,250 miles before the Big D (and I don't mean "Dallas") took it from me. Call it unrequitted love, but I intend to acquire another one just like it... soon.
For most of 1993, this was my only form of transportation. Another trusty GS850G, this one an '80 model. It carried my son and I wherever we needed to go, and brought home the groceries as well. Just before Labor Day of '93 I hit a dog and spent nine days in the hospital. The bike wasn't hurt nearly as badly as I was.
My most recent bike and I stand at an overlook near Lake Roberts near the Gila Wilderness Area in southern New Mexico, in October 1995. This '92 750 Nighthawk carried me the 650 miles from San Antonio to Deming, NM in 11 hours - still the longest distance I've ridden in one day.
Who says you can't go