I had to conduct a comprehensive search. Pry open dust covered, long forgotten creepy basement boxes and sifted through old photo albums from waaaaay back around the time we invented the wheel and discover fire, when photographers had to use this crude stuff called film. I think however I have located at least one shot of every motorcycle I’ve owned.
The last one, the CM400T I located way down in the bottom of a small black treasure tin my grandmother gave me when I was very young. Well I could call it a treasure tin when I was young not sure what to call it now, a meager start to hoarding? It contains coins, marbles and the complete collection of the 1976-77 Toronto Maple Leafs. Ah yes when the Leafs had promise, Red Kelly behind the bench, Mike Palmateer working his magic between the pipes and my childhood hockey heros Sittler, Williams, McDonald and Salming.
Alright enough reminiscing about the by gone days of winning Leafs teams and childhood hockey heroes, I’ll get back on point, this is about motorcycles. The collection you see below spans 1974 to present. As you will immediately notice I am pretty brand loyal. The only deviation being the 86′ FJ1200 and …..well……read below to see where that got me.
Last year I even managed to pull my wife to the dark side when we got her a Honda VTX, which she absolutely loves.
My journey began right here……
Ah yes, my first bike. Look at that Christmas morning face. Colour me purple and call me a grape, I can almost remember the excitement if I think real hard. Actually I don’t have to think too hard because this young rascal is still roaming around somewhere deep inside of me every time I get on my motorcycle today.
My first street bike. This would be around 1980. I added the slick, aerodynamic fairing complete with the custom pin stripping job. If you look very closely you will see the thin plywood lower extensions cleverly painted black to disguise their plywoodedness. These were the platform for speakers………the business end of an incredible state of the art sound system, caaaause thats how I rolled. Mind you, the chink in the armour of this almost bullet proof technological masterpiece was that at speed there was only one cassette I could play that would actually allow me to understand the lyrics. Consequently at one time I had the lyrics seered into my brain.
“I never meant to be so bad to you
One thing I said that I would never do
One look from you and I would fall from grace
And that would wipe this smile right from my face……”
If you couldn’t guess it from that you’re young……good for you. Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” album. I can still pretty much sing along today because of that bike.
This was a great bike. A lot more get up and go than one might expect. Not that I have any first hand knowledge of this but it’s been suggested that you could jump on the throttle from a dead stop and bring the front wheel off the ground through the shift to second. Sort of like sasquatch, I have no evidence.
Always thought this would make a great cafe racer project bike. Even it’s 650E sister would be excellent.
Perhaps one day, who knows.
This is the bike I set out on June 14th 1984. By the time this trip was put on the shelf I’d gone a bit better than 10,000km. Watch posts for this trip. Need to dig out an old trip journal and refresh my memory a little.
This was an interesting motorcycle. For those that may be unfamiliar with this machine it had two shifters. High range for city and low range for the highway.
I dragged it a couple times at St. Thomas Dragway on amatuer night in the early 80’s. Much to the consternation of my buddy riding his CB900F I routinely beat him down the quarter mile. I used to rib him that it started with my lightning fast, off the line reaction time…..after that he never stood a chance. Unfair really. 😉
This was not long after I picked up this bike in late March of 1986. The first trip was to Chatham with my buddy Kevin, the FZ owner, to show off our new acquisitions to some of his friends. Who cold was it you ask, well I’ll tell you. We were wearing snowmobile suits and on the way back mother nature did not disappoint, it snowed starting around Thamesville on the way home. Thankfully it was not accumulating on the road.
This is the first year of the 1200 replacing the 1100cc version. A super stupid fast bike at that time. The only bike on the road possible fats was the GSXR 1100. This one would do 0-100km in 2.3 seconds. The front end would not lift so the power went right to the rear wheel and launched you. Top end seemed to govern out in the mid RPM with lots to give still at about 155mph. Ahhh, so I’m told. Really the stuff legends are made of. I’ll admit no first hand knowledge of such things that would be stupid and at 23 I was waaaay to mature for such nonsense. Maybe.
Unfortunately some lessons are learned the hard way and before this riding season ended I was bitten twice by the humble bug. The after picture of this beauty isn’t as nice.
Event #1 – CORNING NY. Curse you reducing radius curve!!!! I was on a trip to Washington D.C with a group of folks and because of one the friends I brought along not paying attention to the group refueling rules (one fills up we all fill up) we got out of sync and when he need to stop for gas I stopped with him and we fell behind. In an effort to catch up (never smart) we pushed it a bit. In Corning NY I went around a curve at a very unusual interchange and got a very quick lesson in physics as I carried too much speed into what started out as a nice 100km/h knee dragging curve and sudden reduced its radius to an uncomfortable “holy crap”. I applied the brakes and thought I would do OK until Murphy threw some grit on the road in front of me. Lesson two, debris and its interaction with adhesion. #@$%##&!!!! I came to a skidding halt against the curb only to realize I had come to rest on the outside apex of the curve which was also on a bridge over another highway. The reality was, a bit more speed and I could have impacted the curb and been catapulted over the adjacent railing and some 30′ down onto the other highway. I have to believe despite this mess someone was looking out for me.
The other sad news is that these things often have a ripple effect and in this case my friend with the FZ750 in the photo above was right on my tail. Fortunately he had a little more time to react and was able to avoid my fate. But as I slid along the ground (time slowed as it can because of course life wants to make sure your remember every little detail of this blessed event) and I saw Kevin and his machine wiz by me on a sidewalk along the railing of the bridge. He clipped his knee off a post which caused him some aggravation for a few days but the bike was, for the most part, unscathed.
Thanks to exceptional treatment in a local Yamaha shop I limped to they pulled apart a brand new bike in their showroom and pieced mine back together well enough that I could continue on the trip. After an evening in a motel and my buddies knee swelling up we opted to limp home instead. Always regretted this.
Event#2 – Adelaide St. Mishap I shall call it, was an experience relating to the acceleration and braking limitations of this motorcycle and as it turns out my own immature riding style at this juncture in my young life. I had gotten cocky and paid the price. It certainly could have been worse. I got a souvenir from the nice young police officer which immediately went and paid on my way home.
It was likely for the best my insurance company dropped me, suggesting I investigate modes of transportation with more than 2 wheels.
It was a very sad time indeed…..dark…..dark days lay ahead. Well that may be a tad dramatic but it sucked.
Sometimes to go forward you have to take a step back. I rode other peoples bikes on occasion over the next few years. I never rode far but I did ride and for a bit that was enough. Every spring when I’d hear that familiar sound of motorcycles again for the first time ……… well its sort of like hearing your first song bird in the spring. It pulls at your heart. If you don’t ride I won’t even begin attempt to explain it.
I jumped back into the mix with this retro CB900F, a bike I always had loved. The previous owner had done some work on it but his most recent customization came on an impatient spring morning on his wet front lawn as he rode it around and fell over denting the tank. I gave it the paint job you see here as well as the Vance Hines 4 into 1 pipe. Everyone who is familiar with this machine knows an aftermarket pipe on this bike is an absolute must.
I thought this bike was awesome. I rode it on some pretty good distance trips but eventually realized I needed to jump into this with both feet and go further and it wouldn’t be on this bike. Enter the Honda ST1100.
When I first rode this bike I fell in love with it. Of course what was I comparing it to, the 900F? This was like an jet fighter compared to a Cessna. The 900 was great in 1982….one of the best perhaps but technology changes.
I toured a lot on the 1100 putting 45, 000 km on it in 09’/10′ alone (see more in the tour posts). It was on the 2010 trip to Alaska that I took a friends for a ride in BC. I said before I got on it that taking for a ride was a mistake. Six weeks after returning home from this trip I found a deal on one I could not pass up.
I have been riding the 1300 since August 2010 and I really can’t imagine, at this point anyway, being without it.
I have been ask which I like better and that is very difficult because they are both excellent but 13 years in technology apart. The 1300 is hands down the superior machine as it should be as it is newer but yet there are a couple subtle things I miss about the 1100.
Maybe I’ll get into that another time.
Well, September of 2014 I found out what happens when a good size doe decides to conduct an acceleration experiment, launching itself at the last possible second from a grazing position at the side of the road. The physics were not on the side of the deer. The results of a 250 lb doe contacting a 700+ lb motorcycle and rider moving at road speed were predictable…ish. It did not end well for either of us. The coyotes of Pennsylvania will have found an easy meal stumbling through the woods and I had the pleasure of being towed away and got to shop for a new motorcycle….. dammit this wasn’t on the travel brochure.
It did not take long to find a replacement. The ink was still damp on the cheque from the insurance company and I found my next ride. Located in the St Catherines area from a gentleman too busy to ride…..?? is that real a thing?
2020 nuff said
Itching to ride I decided that it was time for a change. After about 13 years of riding ST’s I felt like it was time for something new. Having moved residences during the summer of 2020 and finding myself closer to more rural roads the notion of something capable of sport touring but getting off the beaten track onto some gravel now and again made sense. Sport touring with a splash of adventure capability…. a few bikes come to mind as capable of getting you comfortably from A to B and being good with a little off road once you get there and once you factor price point, there really is only one in my mind.
Picked up in the chill of March on a warmish day. 2016 Kawasaki Versys 1000. Added almost immediately, heated grips, hand guards, GPS and a skid plate. A month in and 1200 km later. Quite enjoying the different riding experience.
OTHER BIKES I’VE RIDDEN
Life has a way of presenting us with challenges from time to time which are meant to test us. Actually I recall a quote that went something like “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it”.
So here I was forced to test the suspension on someone elses bike and as it were, dealing with it. 😉