Talk Back #126
The lure of the new bike.
I turned fifty five this year. No big deal I guess, I can order from the senior menu at Denny’s now, my beard is almost totally white and catching a glimpse of my reflection in mirrors scares the shit out of me. As a child, I always had lung problems. Bronchitis was a constant companion and really didn’t improve a whole lot as I aged. I’m at the point now where it’s pretty much all downhill from here. Yeah, I could improve things with a better diet and more exercise and such, but that’s not going to help with the creaky joints, arthritic hands and the daily fight to get enough air into my lungs.
I’ll be honest here, I’ve always been a little derisive of people who ‘sell out’ their choppers and buy some stocker bagger later in life so they can keep riding in comfort. I suppose that makes me hypocritical because lately I have been considering a (gasp) new bike. I’ll admit there have been times, when I’ve had to kick the Shovel 100 times to get it going, that I sometimes think I’d be better off just having a modern bike that I could just hit the button and go. I know the Shovel only fails to start like that when there’s a problem somewhere, bad gas, fouled plug, dirty points etc. When I get it back to the house I can usually figure it out and get it back to one or two kick status. As most of you know, I do have a ‘stock’ bike that I can use for carrying a passenger when the need arises, my trusty 1982 Triumph T140ES. So my newest bike is thirty years old and naturally, the Lucas electrics on it are giving me the usual problems. The clutch has been finicky lately and it has a tendency to overheat if I keep it at 70 for longer than 15 minutes.All fixable stuff of course, it’s just a matter of finding the time. I had Brian of Manx Motors replace the alternator, so hopefully it’ll keep charging the Antigravity battery properly now.
When I test ride new bikes, I always take into account whether I could live with one of them in my garage. Usually, it’s easy to dismiss them because I always already had bikes to fill the role.
I think even the most ardent chopper jockey has times when they think maybe it would be nice to have a modern bike at their disposal, usually during a period when the other rides all have problems. Let’s face it, if you have multiple bikes, it’s really difficult to keep them all in tip-top condition. This one needs tires, this one needs bearings somewhere, this one needs a trip to the junkyard...
Back in the day, when i had one bike, it was simpler. You can concentrate on one and keep it up. You even get time to clean it once in a while, but I seem to have a problem in this respect... I can’t give up my project bikes.
I guess it all comes down to the “Bar Hopper” thing. The perception that choppers are only good from hopping from bar to bar on sunny weekends. This is the same as the old “Café Racer” tag, bikes that were race-styled but only good from racing from one transport café to another. If you accept this premise, then it’s perfectly OK to have a late model bagger sitting in the garage next to your chopper. One for fun and the other for ‘serious’ riding. Hammer and I have pretty much proven (as has many others) that you can use your chopper for long distance riding and still have a great time doing so.
Really, once you reach my age (or thereabouts) you start feeling like you don’t have to prove anything to anybody, so why not have have a new Harley-Davidson FLHAEIOU and sometimes Y to just jump on and run to the store in comfort? Passion, that’s why. It’ll be a cold day in hell that I buy a new bagger (or even slightly used) because I can’t handle riding my chopper any longer. The day that happens they will be real close to shoveling dirt on my face anyway.
But back to the point, I could see myself picking up a new bike, either a 1200 Sportster, a basic Dyna or a Triumph twin to have that element of über reliability at my disposal. If all the chops go down at once (and it’s happened) there would be a backup plan that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen on. Not that I really care what others think of me, but I put it in the same category as being seen with a “Sons of Anarchy” colors shirt.
You know what I mean!