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Classic Velocity Blog

Classic Winter Break

Classic Velocity

With the unrelenting miserable winter weather that has hit the northeast this year, it was looking like a decent day with decent roads was in the far off future. And then the rains came. While it was snow further to the north, our neck of the woods got 3 days straight of heavy rains. So much that it produced springlike flooding in the usual areas. What it did though was wash all of the salt and much of the gravel off the roads leaving them rideable. With Caution. Gravel remained in turns, so this was not the time to get leaned over in the corners. Probably best not to do that anyway if you have been off the bike for months. I was fortunate in that I was recently returned from a road trip with enough leaning to make upright feel unnatural. Another reason for caution was that the snow treatment and the plows and the temperature changes simply tear up the roads. Big potholes and misaligned expansion joints and broken surfaces abound. Sounds like a job for a trail bike or a GS, but not today.

Today was a classic bike show about 50 miles away at one of those dealerships that still respects and works on older machines, Martin Motorsports. They invited 100 bikes from the 60s, 70s, and 80s to be a part of their show. A few guys that I knew had bikes in the show, so I was looking forward to attending. Then the weather gods cooperated with a positively tropical 53 degree day and I had a good excuse to give the R90S some exercise (see separate post in the Garage). To make it even better, there is no highway route to the show, so it was all backroads. I could get there in an hour, but I meandered around and took about 2 hours to arrive. It probably did get to 53 degrees sometime that afternoon, but the cloudy morning said 37 on the bank thermometers and I agreed. It was chilly. A few dozen bikes were in the reserved parking lot for bikes, and many cars and trucks elsewhere.

Inside, the show was impressive. Right as you walked in, you were confronted with the Vincent Black Shadow of fellow Mac Pac member Eric Heilveil. Talk about setting the bar high ! The show took over the large showroom and there was eye candy everywhere. I took my ADD medication and decided on a clockwise circular plan of attack. Shows like this remind you of how many cool machines were churned out by the manufacturers during a period when cars seemed to have relatively few memorable products. I am talking about the late 1970s and the 1980s. Not all of these were great machines to own, but there were many innovative and good looking machines. The 83 Honda Interceptor for example still looks great today. How about a Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo from 1984, or a 1978 Ducati Darmah 900SD, or a 1982 Honda CX500 Turbo, or a 1977 Harley Davidson XLCR, or a Laverda Jota ? All great machines when you see them in pristine condition, and they provoke stories and reactions. “I remember those, I wanted one for the longest time but I never had the money..”, or “ I had one of those, it looked great, but it was a real piece of crap..”, or “ I have to have one of these now, where is the owner...”

Of course, the sixties and early 70s get romanticized a bit more because of the leaps in performance that were so prevalent, but there was probably the same variation in ownership experiences. And although I personally like this era a lot, the metal and chrome were probably no less trendy than the plastic bodywork that followed. That said, who among you can resist the original Ducati 750, or the Kawasaki Mach III 500, or a Norton 750 Commando, or BMW R90S, or a Rickman Metisse, or a Velocette Thruxton, or a BSA Rocket, or almost any Honda CB or Triumph from that era? What about a beautiful Honda 50 step-through (the first bike I ever rode – all of 100 yards). They were all on display. If there had been a dealership in say, 1974 with all of the late 1960s and early 1970s makes and models on a showroom floor like this, without the benefit of hindsight, it would have been impossible to make a decision.

The BMW clan was there in force as well, and represented the marque well in all three eras. Todd, Floyd, Mac, and the crew had some of their beauties on display including an R69S, a couple of /5 and /6 bikes, a beautiful smoke grey R90S, and a couple of R100 variants.

And those were the street bikes. The same could be said for the Hodaka, the Suzuki X6 Hustler, and any Honda or Triumph scrambler. There is just something about high pipes with chrome heat shields and trail tires. In any case, it just points out that a lot of good motorcycles have been produced over time. That is not to discount the fact that today's machines are superior in almost every way, it is just that character and variation added something to the experience. Not always something good, but if I had a chunk of money sitting around, I would rather shop in this showroom than the one that would normally be in place at this dealership. Judging by the size of the crowd, I am not alone.