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Wild Motorcycle Tales

Here's a great story from revh. Got your own story? Send it to me.

Bike Buyer Bedlam

I'd had my first bike, a little red 1971 Honda CB175, for a good six years, setting a trend of hanging onto my rides for a long time. I had ridden it from the suburbs of Pittsburgh into school in the city every day the weather allowed, south to Tennessee via the Blue Ridge Parkway, around several of the Great Lakes, as well as to East Coast seashore locations. It had been dependable, economical and lots of fun, but eventually the desire to step up a bit in displacement and performance persuaded me to make a move.

Being on a rather restrictive budget, I was going to have to get a heck of a deal, and that is indeed what came about. The Shriners' motorcycle corps up in Erie was upgrading to something new so their fleet of 1975 Honda CB550s, in pristine condition and equipped with custom four-into-two exhaust, were up for sale. If I could sell the 175 and resort to my bank's "write-yourself-a-loan" program, I'd be in business.

But, who to sell it to? It turned out my brother-in-law, Kurtis, was in the market. I hadn't thought of asking him if he might be interested as he didn't seem the adventurous type and had no experience with motorcycles, but a sale is a sale, so we agreed on a reasonable price, which I recall was a hundred bucks less than I'd originally paid for it.

We got the tax, title and license plate legalities all cared for and then it was time to introduce him to his newly acquired machine. On went the helmet and the electric starter lit the little engine right up, so all was well to that point.

"Give it a LITTLE gas and EASE the clutch out," were the simplest, most concise instructions I could provide.

Well, straddling the bike with both feet on the pavement, he gave it the gas (more than a little) and dumped the clutch. The bike literally left without him! Kurt was left standing there, still on his feet, while the bike headed maybe fifty yards down the street before falling over.

One of us hit the kill switch and damages were assessed. The only real damage, other than to pride, was a broken off clutch lever, but it brought a tear to my eye as I thought to myself, "What have I done? Six years and hardly a scratch until now!"

We got a small vice grip and clamped it on to what was left of the handle. It would do for the present. The riding lesson would now continue in the back yard where there was soft grass and little to run into.

This time he got it going smoothly enough, but perhaps some more instruction on braking would have been in order. As speed picked up, panic set in and the bike and rider went into the side of the house leaving a dent in the aluminum siding that remains as a souvenir of the occasion all these many years later.

Kurt didn't stay with the bike for very long, hawking it for the cash needed for an engagement ring. It was probably the better choice. -- revh

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