Friday, May 07, 2010

Prettier With Age

I sold the Virago.  I know, I know.  How can you sell a bike you've had that long?

Same way you sell anything else.  You finally realize the time has come to sell it and then you act on that notion.

I rode that sweet little machine to Wisconsin for the last time.  An old friend who always liked her said he was ready to buy her.  So from central Minnesota to Wisconsin we went.  The old girl and I. 

I pulled on a sweater because the weather channel told me I would be crazy not to. In town it was forty three degrees. Out here? I try not to pay too much attention to that. You sort of induce an oversensitivity to what the weather feels like versus what it actually is if you convince yourself X degrees is too freakin cold instead of what you actually feel. But I was still shivering by the time I hit the east side of St Paul.

The winds that Saturday were anywhere from thirty five to forty five miles per hour.  Gusty.  That bike tracked straight though.  Just as she always has.  Through small towns and long stretches past lakes.  An overcast day in the northern midwest.

The Virago would be replaced by a new ride.  Well, ok, not a new ride.  Just one that's been waiting to be ridden for the last fifteen years.  An '83 Honda Nighthawk 650 I got for a song.  The Nighthawk and the Virago have been stablemates.

I've always been a fan of Honda.  Fit and finish.  Attention to detail.  Shaft drive.  Hydraulic clutch and lifters. An oil cooler.  Broad seat and amazingly well detailed instrumentation. (Clock?  We all wore watches back then.)  I'm definitely a shaft drive kinda guy.  But I'm too short for most Beemers.  And if I'm getting a Beemer it would be an opposed engine with the classic shaft final drive.  So what's a short guy to do?  Find a clean Honda Nighthawk and squirrel it away.

But as you can imagine, there are slight maladies percolating to the top each time I ride her.  Things to be sorted out.  Gremlins which creep into a well running machine stored away for far too long.  Things loosening from the simple onset of time. 

Yet each ride coaxes a deeper appreciation for this deep red machine.  Long and heavier than the 535 my old friend now has, I can see stretching her out on longer rides.   Time has been kind to this 1983 Honda Nighthawk.  It's an easy bike to get familiar with.  Something I can see myself looking forward to riding as much as the ride itself. 

Not every bike is this way, you know.  Some seem to work well enough until you find their replacements.  Others fit a time in your life better than others you've owned.  Some are dream machines you realize never really worked that well for you.

Is the Nighthawk one of the memoir-able bikes?  Or is it a stepping stone to a Beemer with a lowering kit?

Either way, time has been kind to this machine.  The Japanese standard in more ways than one.  What with all the retro-hype going on in the world it's hard to know if something is new or just old and immaculately kept.

Nostalgic?  Maybe.  Still, some old things just seem to gain appreciation against the backdrop of the present.



irondad said...

In my opinion the Nighthawks will always have a valuable place. Not sexy, per se, but forever useful.

By the way, did the weather guy actally say "Harv, you'd be crazy not to pull on a sweater"?

American Scooterist Blog said...

Haha I think maybe he did! It was a crisp ride because everything was still damp after the rain the night before.

The Nighthawk has been in storage for about fifteen years. I picked that sucker up for fifty dollars because it scared the previous owner after he dumped it and didn't let go of the throttle. In other words, he basically laid the bike upon himself and promptly found a way to send number three's rod through the back of the engine case. I picked up another engine out of Cali for $650. My wife to be wanted to give a go at rebuilding the bike and other than shoehorning the new engine into the frame she did it all. Including synching the carbs. I'll tell you something, that thing ran strong before we put it into storage. I'm sure that's why bring it back into use has been easier than I expected. She did a great job. You wouldn't think a nuclear medicine technologist would have such an interest. Then again when I presented the idea of taking a cruise for our honeymoon she put my hand in hers and said, "Dear? I appreciate you wanting to do something that I would enjoy but that's not you on any level."

We rode the Harley to Sturgis for the rally instead.