By Cole Boehler
Editor and Publisher
Northern Rockies Rider
Editor’s note: I’ve often marveled at the tribalism that characterizes the motorcycle nation. We intend, however, to keep this periodical non-denominational. So, no brands specified here.
In my 34 years of riding, I have owned a couple of dozen bikes, but just seven that I’ve considered my “main ride.” Every time I’ve sold one of these, I’ve had regrets … well, with the possible exception of one of them.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I get very emotionally attached to my rides. They all represent some of the finest memories of my life; each of these sold bikes could tell a part of my life story.
In 2003 I found the bike that was and is nearly perfect for me. It does everything I need and does it well. I got it at a great price with 1,350 miles on the clock.
It is comfortable, provides reasonable weather and windblast protection, is good looking (in my opinion), is very powerful, has great brakes (non ABS), corners like it’s on rails, has multi-dimensional adjustable suspension front and rear, has integrated hard side cases and will haul a lot of stuff, gets good gas mileage (42-46 MPG), takes 87 octane, and is dead reliable (a blown fork seal in 75,000 miles).
One minor downside: It weighs 650 pounds fully fueled.
I wasn’t really planning on selling it but my brother-in-law and sister wanted to get back into riding – on a limited budget – so I made them a very nice deal, about $2,000 below book value. In addition, I know the maintenance history of this machine and its condition so can send them on their way with a high degree of confidence.
But, man, it hurt to see the tail light disappear down my driveway with someone else at the bars! I loved that motorcycle, the best one I’ve ever owned.
Of course, I’d like to still have my first bike. It wasn’t very practical and vibrated worse than a … well, vibrator. But it could pull a fine first gear wheelie and had this very cool “arrest me red” paint job. Puppy love to be sure, but love nevertheless.
The second one I owned … that’s the one I wouldn’t care to have back. It was a torture rack with the worst seat I’ve ever experienced – think proctologic exam.
I sold it to a friend and he sold it to another mutual friend who crashed it at 85 miles per hour. He lived to tell about it but the recovery was long and painful. I learned that bad road rash is treated just like third-degree burns.
The third bike, another one with dazzling red paint and custom gold pin-striping, served me well, but I sold it to my brother. I loved that bike, and especially remember the way it seemed to pull like a catapult in second gear.
So why did I sell it? I had the means to purchase the fastest production bike made. I really didn’t need more power and speed; I just thought I did.
I rode that fourth one three years and posted 25,000 miles. It went down the driveway without me after The Boy was born and there was no time (or money) to ride. That broke my heart. I was no longer whole without a two-wheeler handy.
Three years later I bought one almost identical to the one I’d sold (different paint) and rode it for the next 10 years. This was when our son was growing up so I only put 33,000 miles on that one since riding opportunities involving any distance were rare.
It was air-cooled and the old girl began using oil, about a quart every 500 miles. Then I could see a very small oil leak developing near the head gasket. Rebuild or replace?
Again with a heavy heart, I replaced it with a modern water-cooled beast that also was the fastest production bike made – but for only its first year of production. This was an awesome machine that took good care of me while delivering incredible fun. We toured extensively, yet only got one ticket – a minor miracle! Some of the high jinx could have landed me in the slam.
But because of the bike’s ergonomics and my aging body and arthritic vertebrae, even with bar risers, it had to go, too. Another lost love. A friend bought it, which was nice. He even let me ride it occasionally. Unfortunately, I did not know Ed was a manic-depressive basket case. He finished his own life at the end of a rope in his garage.
I bought it back from his estate (kind of like remarrying the spouse you had divorced), then eventually sold it to my nephew. I think several years later it was then traded on a new bike. I wish I still had it, if only to go out and do the occasional hooligan high-speed rip, to really get the adrenalin flowing.
That brings me to the bike my sister and her husband now own. Yup, another red one. I don’t name my motorcycles, but this one was an exception: Mahtowin Duta. That’s Lakota Sioux for “Red Bear Woman.”
I’d loosely estimate my wife and I spent 1,500 hours in Red Bear Woman’s saddle, maybe 200 days. Yes, a true and trusted friend who never let me down, just did exactly what I expected at all times. I loved that bike!
But, ahh, I found a blue one of the same model that is two years newer and has 54,000 fewer miles. I picked her up in early March. I think this may be the beginning of another love affair. Mahtowin Toh? Blue Bear Woman? I don’t think so.
As my late father reached his upper years, when he’d purchase an item of quality and durability, he would often lament, for example, “Well, that’s probably the last pair of boots I’ll need to buy.”
I’m thinking, “Well, this is probably the last motorcycle I’ll need to buy.” Maybe the last bike I’ll love?
– Ride hard, ride free, ride well, ride safe.