A rider on a motorcycle forum (Link to VRCC) recently posted he’d found the name and contact information for a previous owner of his bike, scribbled on the inside cover of the owner’s manual. His question to the group was, “Would you mind if the new owner of a bike you had sold contacted you?” There were 18 replies to the thread. Five of them didn’t really address the issue, three were flat-out no, and 10 thought it would be OK. The responses were interesting and give one a little insight about the people expressing those opinions.
Most of the folks who liked the idea had fond memories of something they had sold and wanted to know what happened to it. They still felt an attachment to the thing they’d sold and hoped it was still being used and well taken care of. One respondent mentioned a more pragmatic reason. He had contacted a previous owner and came into free parts the PO no longer needed.
The people who didn’t think it was a good idea mentioned some things I hadn’t thought of. One guy said that he’d bought his bike from an estate and was in no hurry to be able to talk with the previous owner. Another person said that his bike came from a man suffering hard times. He knew the guy didn’t want to sell but simply had no choice. He was afraid contacting this previous owner would only stir up bad memories.
The negative response that most resonated with me was from somebody who’d bought a bike that had been repossessed. My Victory had been a repo. It was an unusual enough brand in this area the previous owner would have recognized it immediately if he’d spotted me on it. I always found that a bit disconcerting, and felt a little uneasy when ever I caught somebody looking at the bike. But I did get attached to it. Even though I sold it in order to get my beloved Valkyrie, I still wanted to believe that it would be ridden and loved by the new owner. I wrote about the sale in a previous blog. (Big Vic is gone.) I was fortunate in that not only did I fully believe that the new owner would care for the bike as much as I had, but it turns out he goes to the bikers’ church just a few blocks from my house. (Link to blog – It ain’t a sin to be in the wind.) I get to see Big Vic almost every Sunday and know, despite a gender change, (They call it a her and named it Victoria.) he’s well taken care of.
I’ve sold two other bikes, both little 250 starter bikes. The NightHawk went to an elderly gentleman who was coming back to bikes for the first time in more than 30 years because of rising gas prices. I had fond memories of the NightHawk. I was able to ride a similar model when I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. I wouldn’t mind knowing what became of it. I hope it’s a good story.
The other little 250 was a Diamio we bough for my wife to learn to ride. It had a few issues that could, and should, have been quickly remedied by the dealer. But the dealer experience was so bad I eventually came to despise this little machine. Though I eventually gained enough wrenching experience to be able to take care of the problems myself, my wife gave up trying to learn before I was able to get it ridable. I sold the bike with full disclosure and encouraged the buyer to contact me if he had any trouble. I never heard from him and can only assume/hope that things went well for him. I wouldn’t mind knowing for sure how it turned out.
Reading the comments on the board and examining my feelings about the bikes I’ve sold, I’ve come to realize a little part of us goes with the bike as it passes on to the next owner. And I think I can detect at least a little of my Valkyrie’s previous owner. He and his wife rode a lot, putting more miles on it in their first few months than I have in the years I’ve owned it. This model is often referred to as a “Phat Lady.” I can promise you she does get pouty and temperamental when she’s been ignored for too long. But like a real lady, she can get your heart pounding when you give her the attention she deserves.
I don’t plan to ever sell the Valkyrie or the Magna, so contact from a future owner is never likely to be an issue. There is too much of my soul now living in those bikes for me to ever let them go.
－ Guy Wheatley