With the words of Hells Angel’s founder Sonny Barger playing in my head about the measure of a true biker being that his wife, couch, tv and even his dog might be gone but he’d still have his bike, I handed over the keys of my Harley to its new owner. Knowing there was now several thousand pounds swilling around in my bank account didn’t make it feel any better. “Shame on you!” snarled the voice in my head. “Not even a replacement lined up!” Had I just sold my soul and lost my identity as well?
For the first few days it felt as though the family dog had died (which, cruelly, ours actually did a week later). My motorcycle gear has hung accusingly from coat hooks almost daring me to enter into the charade of wearing them without the validation of actually owning a motorcycle. I feared I might soon turn into one of those freaks I’ve always crossed the road to try and avoid contact with. You know the ones: people who “used to ride motorcycles”. I knew that if I wasn’t careful, very soon I might end up owning a pair of pressed chinos and matching deck shoes or even worse, prefer the fruit of the grape to that of the hop.
There’s another very real danger that can affect men of my age and that is that you leave it so long to get back in the saddle that when you eventually mention to your loved ones that you’re thinking of buying another bike, they will all fear the worst and frantically club together to buy you therapy sessions!
Well a few weeks have past now and I’m a little more sanguine. I haven’t bought a pair of chinos and I make a point of regularly muttering “When I get my new bike.”This is just so they know it’s coming and doesn’t give them cause for alarm when the moment finally arrives.
The sale proceeds were put to good use and I’m now beginning to dream about what kind of bike I want next. I’m currently enjoying that self-delusional grace period when, like a new divorcee, I can harmlessly believe that I can have any type of bike imaginable. I don’t have to yet seriously consider whether it would be a suitable match for me. Nor whether I could confidently get on and ride the damn thing.
Right now I can give consideration to a BMW GS, even though deep down, I know I’d need a pair of step ladders to mount it and God knows what would happen if I stalled from a hill start!
BMW GS 1200 (step ladders not included)
There are also plenty of beautifully styled retro machines out there. They all beckon to me from an imagined past, a past that didn’t actually exist for me, since by the time I was old enough to buy and ride a bike, Triumph, Norton, BSA and Royal Enfield had long since shuffled off to antiques corner.
Triumph’s rather handsome looking Street Scrambler
Of course there’s always the sensible option: a Honda Anything!. “ You can’t go wrong with a Honda mate,” according to numerous bores I’ve encountered at bike meets. No disrespect to Honda, but I once owned one and it was so reliable, refined and hassle free that, until recently, I’d forgotten that I’d owned one at all!
Honda: the sensible choice
In the meantime my good friend Ghed has stepped in with the offer to loan me the “Love Machine”. Regular readers of our Newsletter will be familiar with this two wheeled “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” of a bike. My bike was always loud but the Love Machine sounds like a mobile fireworks display. Indeed someone recently posted a photo online of Ghed & I riding into Southend-on-Sea for the annual “Shakedown”. The snapper posted that he’d thought the “second world war had re-started”
.The Love Machine: a two wheeled Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
My current plan is to take custody of the Love Machine for a few months. This should result in my wife, and indeed the entire neighbourhood, pleading with me to think about buying a nice new “sensible” bike.
Flash forward to a few months from now:
Me: “ Oh hi, I’m calling to see if I can arrange a test ride on a Low Rider S.”
Voice in my head: “Welcome back to the fold son. We thought we’d lost you for a moment back there”
Me: “Not a chance!”