Feb 13
Bike and carts” width=

Discarded shopping carts surround my Valkyrie.

I was at Walmart the other day trying to find a parking spot. I have a pet peeve about shopping carts left in parking areas, especially when I come back and find my bike surrounded by empty carts. The extra space my motorcycle leaves in a spaced designed for a car seems to be an invitation for empty carts. I’ve watched this get worse over the years. I’m often amazed to see carts left in the parking spots just a few feet from the cart return. And one can often barely see the handicap signs on the pavement for the carts parked on top of them.
As a rule I will grab one and take it in with me, especially one blocking a handicap spot. Sometimes my purchase is small enough that I don’t need a cart on the return trip to my vehicle. If I do take the cart out to the lot, I will certainly take it to the cart return once I finish with it, occasionally snagging an additional cart or two if they are on my way. I try to leave the parking lot at least one cart cleaner than I found it.
I sometimes see other patrons grab carts on the way in. These are usually older gentlemen sporting the same salt and pepper hair and paunch I have. Not many, but a few. Why do we do it? To help the gazillionaires who own the business? No. We do it just for the public in general. It takes so little effort on my part to leave something a little better than I found it. It’s a concept I associate with civics. I see it as practicing my civic duty to benefit society.
But the efforts of me and my few like-minded fellow citizens is greatly overwhelmed by the growing mountain of thoughtlessly discarded carts blocking spaces that would have been useful to other patrons. I’m sure we’re considered quite strange by those who see no reason to waste the time and energy required to return a cart, making sure it doesn’t inconvenience another shopper. We may even be considered “suckers.”
I know it’s a little thing of no great consequence. Yet somehow I see in that disorderly ramble of selfishly abandoned metal, the end of our society. It is a refusal to participate in the improvement of the general welfare that will also inform the actions of greater consequence. I just don’t expect much in the way of effort toward improving or protecting our country from somebody who will shove an empty cart into a handicap parking spot. These are not people who will sacrifice for the greater good. The message I see those carts spell out is, “it doesn’t matter if it hurts you as long as it helps me.” Those folks used to be in the minority and the rest of us looked down on them. Now, I think they outnumber the “peculiar,’ folks like me. There seem be be fewer and fewer people imbued with a sense of community, people who demonstrate a concept of civic responsibility.
I’ll keep pushing carts back to the returns even when I’m the last one doing it. I keep hearing my mother from when I was young. I’d complain that nobody else had to do something. She would say, “I can’t control what those people do, but I can make sure you do the right thing.” I guess she still is.

- Guy Wheatley

Jan 21
Bike Banking” width=

Staff photo by Doug Strickland
Making a payment on freedom.

I often talk about “my” motorcycles. There are two sitting at my house. Well, actually only one today because the other is out in the Gazette’s parking lot, but you get what I mean. I have two motorcycles. Well sort of. I don’t actually own one of them outright. I share the ownership of one of them.
I’m not talking about my wife. She does actually own half of everything I own. Except closets. She owns a good bit more than half of those. And the bathrooms. And the bedroom. Come to think of it, maybe I should just say I own half of some of her stuff. But that’s another topic and not really the co-owner I was talking about.
I still share ownership of one of my bikes with a bank. Now I’m certainly glad the bank was willing to lend me the money to get my bike. And I must admit. as co-owners go, they’ve been pretty generous. I mean they’ve never insisted I bring it down and let them ride it. I’ve never had an argument with them about who’s turn it was to take it to a rally. In fact, they pretty well let me act like I own it. But in the back of my mind, I know it ain’t so. So as I’m out on the open road, wind in my face and fancy free, I know that I’ll still have to swing by the bank and drop off a payment once a month if I want to stay on the road.
Somehow, note payments just don’t fit into that image of wild, self-reliant and freedom two wheels on the highway brings to mind. I listened to some of the great classic biker songs. Born to be wild, Bad to the bone, Wanted dead or alive. Nope. Not a single mention of financing.
I suppose this comes to mind because just a few days ago the wife and I were sitting on her, I mean our, couch, going over the check book, and she happened to mention we only had a few payments left on the bike. I was surprised at how good that made me feel. Unencumbered and free. More like a biker than a typical drone with a bank note. I wasn’t born to be wild, I had to finance it. But I’ve almost got it paid off, so watch out world. Here I come.
Well, not this weekend. I promised the missus I’d cut up the dead tree limbs that fell into the back yard. But next weekend for sure. Or the one after.

- Guy Wheatley

Jan 14
Gun and bikes” width=

Some bikers arm themselves for those remote locations far away from
friends and family.

I haven’t been riding much lately, so I’m pressed for inspiration. The ride to and from work doesn’t offer much excitement or enlightenment. When this happens, I often turn to some of the biker boards I belong to hoping for a spark. But unfortunately, only a few of those guys have been on the road recently and I can’t find anything about riding that sets me off.
One thing I do notice though is that there are more political posts than riding posts on many of the boards. And the topic most represented is the current challenges to the 2nd Amendment. While not all members are pro 2A, the overwhelming majority is. In fact the board has a pretty conservative feel. In retrospect, that shouldn’t be surprising. The two things that drew me to these particular boards are that they are for cruisers, and that these people have a self-reliant, fix it yourself philosophy. Being to cheap …. uh frugal to pay a dealership for a repair that I can do myself, I sought out folks with the same mind set. Most of them are far more experienced than me, so these boards are a great source of information and inspiration. These are people who will take off on a 2,000 mile trip with no more than what they can load on a motorcycle. Except in extreme cases, they intend to handle any repairs on their own. So I suppose it shouldn’t have been surprising that this same independent philosophy informed their political stances.
But it was. I suppose that is because I am what I would consider a moderate. By their standards I probably look like a flaming liberal. In fact, I’m pretty sure I do. But this isn’t a political blog, and I don’t intend to spend most of it justifying my political positions. I do intend to pontificate on what I see as the inevitable correlation between this particular groups of bikers and the 2nd amendment.
One consistent characteristic of this group of people is self-reliance. When something goes wrong with their bikes their first though isn’t “Who do I call?” It’s “What do I need to do to fix this?” Maintenance on their equipment is their responsibility, and something they do with their own hands.
“If I do it myself, I’ll know it’s done right,” is a comment often heard among this bunch regarding repairs and maintenance. It is part of their makeup to rely on themselves to stay out of trouble, or to get out of trouble if it finds them.
It should be no surprise then that the same principle guides their attitudes about personal safety and self protection. If these folks get into trouble their first thought isn’t going to be, “Who do I call?” It’s going to be, “How do negate this threat?” And just as they prevent mechanical breakdowns with preparation, many of them will have prepared for other kinds of trouble by arming themselves with both weapons and training. They will not take lightly the suggestion that, miles from anybody they know on a lonely back road, their only recourse would be to call for help. Don’t expect much support for any kind of gun legislation from the biking world.

- Guy Wheatley

Oct 25
Lonely Roads” width=

Lonely little roads, far from civilization, can be beautiful. But they can
also be hazardous to the unwary rider.

My group of riding friends has always been small and intimate. It’s gotten even smaller recently as one of the two couples we routinely ride with sold their motorcycle. Health issues have caused the other couple to ride less, and rarely for great distances. Thus, my wife and I find ourselves most often alone on the bike.
We find we enjoy being on our own sometimes. There are no group decisions to make.We leave when we want, go where we want, stop for a rest when we feel like it and head for home at our own discretion. But this new-found freedom comes with a price. We’re on our own. In the event of trouble, there are no longer any friendly faces roaring along beside us.
We also prefer the smaller back roads to the more well-traveled highways and Interstates. Hopefully we can have help on the way, in case of a mechanical breakdown, with a simple cell phone call. But other forms of trouble are out there for which a cell phone my not be adequate. Taking those roads less traveled can lead you into some places that don’t often see, nor readily welcomes outsiders.
On more than one occasion, I’ve been awakened from complacently admiring beautiful scenery by angry dogs charging from somebody’s yard. I’ve also noticed suspicious glares at the two-wheeled apparition invading what is probably considered a private road.
Most of the little road-side quick stops and gas stations are friendly and welcome new customers. But not all of them are so accommodating. Even when the business owner is glad to see us, often the other clientele are not so friendly.
I don’t go out looking for trouble nor intentionally select a location where I’m not welcome. It doesn’t happen on most rides. But it only takes one time when things go really bad to change your life. I eventually came to the conclusion, if we were going to continue to ride, we would need some sort of backup. That is why I got a concealed handgun license.
This was not a decision I jumped to, nor made lightly. It is certainly not a macho or ego thing. I took this step only after much consideration. My surgery in September of last year may have also played a part in my decision. Though I am mostly recovered a year later, I still am not quite back to 100 percent of where I was before. Weak and alone is the perfect recipe for becoming a victim.
This decision comes with great responsibilities and potential burdens. Now that I’m armed, I must immediately attempt to de-escalate or escape confrontations. Letting my ego direct the course of events is no longer feasible as there is now deadly potential in the outcome. Instead of having to shoot somebody, I will apologize even though I know I’m right, or run away if I can. And if some ignorant redneck thinks I’m a coward, who cares? It doesn’t say much for my self-respect if I’m worried about his opinion. If you can’t take an insult, or your pride demands a response to any challenge, then leave the firearm at home. I’m not a police officer. It is not my intention to go into a situation, gun blazing, dispensing justice and righting wrongs. This is a resource of last resort, to avoid death or serious injury to me or my wife.
In the unfortunate event I am ever forced to use my weapon, it will not be without consequences. The use will have been justified. I won’t pull it out otherwise. But if the only witness are the perps’ friends, I may not come off so well. Even without hostile witnesses, once law enforcement arrives, I will undoubtably be cuffed and hauled off to jail until they can sort the situation out.
Once the authorities clear me, there is the strong possibility of litigation by the perps’ friends and family. I may well wind up spending ten of thousands of dollars in legal fees, even though my actions were perfectly justified.
But at the end of the day, an old cliché says it perfectly. “I’d rather be judged by 12 of my peers than carried by six of my friends. And I’d much rather my wife have to watch me put in a cell, than me to watch her put in a grave.
My plan is to never need this option. But just like helmets and seat belts, you can’t wait until you need them to get them. Having a gun you don’t need is far better than needing a gun you don’t have.

- Guy Wheatley

Oct 17
Safety in Numbers” width=

Photo curtesy Mike_tn flickr

We’ve all seen those nature films showing large schools of fish or flocks of birds while a narrator drones on about safety in numbers. As social creatures, we humans also tend to flock together for safety. When my wife and I started riding motorcycles again, I felt more comfortable in groups. There were certainly some advantages to having other bikes close at hand. There is a greater pool of knowledge for riding and eating locations. That same pool might come in handy in the event of a mechanical breakdown. At least you can probably get a ride back to civilization. And you are less likely to be targeted by a bad guy looking for a random victim.
But there are down sides as well. Riding and eating locations were selected by group consensus, and were rarely my top choice. With differing skill sets and levels of experience, the rides were never optimal for everybody. We were going to slow for the more adventurous riders, and too fast for the more cautious ones. More experienced, or less cautious, riders would often ride much closer to me than I felt comfortable with. We often made decisions as a group that I would not have made on my own. For almost every safety plus, there is a safety minus. Optimal safety requires a ride so structured it is almost impossible to relax and enjoy.
Even when we are in our car, there is often a tendency to clump up on the road. Especially if you’re exceeding the speed limit. In the nature videos, most of the fish in a ball are safe as the sharks eat a few of the unlucky swimmers at the edge. Just like in the nature videos, you are usually safer from the LEO sharks if you’re in the middle of the school. As a group, we’re willing to sacrifice a few of our members on the fringe so that the rest can speed along in safety. But occasionally one of the predators will dart through the center of the ball and grab a victim from the middle.
I was recently taking my wife to a doctor’s appointment in Shreveport when I experienced this phenomena. I was in the middle of a pack of cars. I’d been following the guy in front of me for more than 15 miles, and the guy behind me had been there for at least that long. There were several more cars, both in front of and and behind us.
As we met another long string of cars coming from the other direction, I spotted a state Trooper snugged in behind a tractor-trailer truck. As soon as we came even, I saw him hit his brakes. I was sure he was coming after me, and I was right. It took him long enough that I though I might luck out, but he eventually got turned around and caught back up to me.
To be absolutely clear, I was speeding. If fact, he only ticketed me for doing 70 mph when I suspect I may have actually been going a little faster. I believe that that 1 or 2 mph meant the difference in a road side ticket and a trip to jail so the guy was really giving me a break.
Even so, when he asked me, “Why were you going so fast?” I was a little put out. I couldn’t say, “Because everybody else was going that speed.” so I mumbled something about talking with my wife and not paying sufficient attention to my speed. But I had to wonder why he asked. He knew as well as I did why I was traveling at that speed. I was in the middle of a pack.
He was courteous and professional. Even through my feelings of being picked on, I knew that I was in fact guilty of the infraction he was citing me for. So I too was courteous and polite. Resuming my journey, I reflected that even though there is generally safety in numbers, on this particular day, I was the fish that got eaten.

- Guy Wheatley

Aug 29
Honda Nighthawk” width=

The 250cc Honda Nighthawk is a sporty little bike. It was a good starter bike
for my wife and me.

When my wife and I bought our first motorcycle, it was a 250 Nighthawk. I hadn’t ridden in decades and we decided to start out with a smaller bike that would, hopefully, be easier to ride. I rode it as much as possible, including to and from work. After a few weeks, we felt confident enough for my wife to start riding behind me. We buzzed around the block for a few days, then started riding it a little farther, going to some of the back roads just outside of town.
Eventually one Sunday, we decided to try our luck at a longer trip. One of the things we hoped to be able to do was go camping on it. We thought a small tent, sleeping bags, and a little cold food would fit into a couple of backpacks that we’d wear. The campground we’d most often use was just 90 miles north, and a couple of hours away. Finding ourselves with nothing to do one Sunday, we decided to just take a test run up there and back.
The local weather called for a 40 percent chance of rain. I felt pretty good about those odds. Unfortunately, I didn’t check the forecast for the campground. That would be the major lesson on this trip.
The trip up was fairly uneventful. I was worried about the strain we were putting on the little bike. We’ve both lost a lot of weight since then, but in those days our combined tonnage would have run right about 420 pounds. Getting out on the highway I found that I would run between 60 and 65 mph with the throttle wide open. The going was slower on upward grades, sometimes dropping to as slow as 45 mph.
The route we took was beautiful with small, but well kept, roads snaking through scenic hills. The weather was cool for late summer, with scattered clouds. As we crossed the last major east-west road on our way north, we were just 4 miles from the camp store as the first big droplets began to spatter against my face plate.
I asked Sharon what she wanted to do.
“We’re too close now to turn back,” she said. So we plowed onward.
The rain got worse with every mile. By the time we pulled into the store parking lot, it was an all out deluge. I pulled the bike  under an awning covering a walkway, and we went into the store to dry out. We bought some snacks and soft drinks. By the time we finished our impromptu lunch, the rain began to slack off. A short time later the precipitation stopped, giving way to overcast skies.
While the sky wasn’t blue, I couldn’t see any storm clouds. I figured the worst had come and gone, and we’d be fine on the trip back home. Though we were still wet, I was sure the wind blowing over us would dry us out by the time we got back to the main highway. But barely a mile down the road, it began to rain again. Every mile south took us into a harder and harder downpour.
The rain wasn’t cold, so the only discomfort was from being wet. Not really all that bad. Somebody had told me that if you ride motorcycles, you were going to get wet eventually. So this was our day. We both laughed about it, imagining what our kids would say when we told them the story. Then came the first great crack of thunder. It was close enough that the boom and the flash came at the same time. I was sure I felt the concussion in my chest. Now it wasn’t funny anymore. With deep, gravely ditches on both sides of the road, we were the highest thing in the area. I thought about getting off the bike and taking shelter in the woods, but I wasn’t sure that was any safer. Additionally, the storm was showing no signs of abating. For all I knew, we might wind up there after dark. That was a prospect I didn’t relish.
There was no place on this little road to take shelter. U.S. Highway 70 was just 10 miles south. If we could just get there, we’d be close to some inhabited areas where we could get out of the rain at a convenience store. We doggedly kept going while I tried to determine if each new clap of thunder was closer. I was trying to decide at what point I would abandon the bike for the woods.
We finally reached the bigger highway. This one would take us west-southwest for the next 30 miles. I was glad to reach it, but in some ways it was worse. It was much wider, with wide shoulders. The land here had been cleared on both sides, and the tree line was now 100 yards or more from the road leaving us much more exposed. I considered just staying there and hiding in the trees.
But looking to the south, I could see blue sky. Just a mile away, or less, was a bright sunny day. Too bad I was now heading west. I hadn’t heard thunder or seen lightning in the last few minutes, and with blue sky in sight and a small town just 10 miles up the road, I decided to make a run for it. But I had barely reached highway speed when the next clap of thunder threatened to knock us off the bike. The rain increased to the point that I couldn’t stand going more that 40 mph. The impact of those fat drops just hurt too bad to go any faster. It seemed that the lightening was getting worse, yet I could still see fleecy clouds and blue sky over my left shoulder.
We eventually reached the small town of Dierks, but to my dismay, there was nothing open on this rainy Sunday afternoon. The lightening was incessant by now. I spotted a little filling station with two pumps covered by a metal top. The store was closed, but there was shelter of sorts up next to the pumps. I wasn’t really sure if that was any safer, but my nerves were completely shattered by now. This was at least different than being out on the open road.
We stayed on the bike under our modest shelter. I watched the line of blue where the sky was clear still to the south and willed it to come our way. But it ignored my psychic urging. Just 15 miles further west, we’d hit U.S. Highway 71 and turn south, toward the peaceful land I could see from our current refuge. But at the moment, that intersection seem as far away as the Pacific Coast.
After 15 minutes, the rain and the thunder slacked off. I could still hear it in the distance, but it wasn’t the spine-jarring reports that had chased us for the last 30 miles. With little hope that the clear weather would move north, and fear that conditions might deteriorate, we hit the road again for that last 15 miles to relative safety.
About halfway there, we got the last close bolt. After that, it was just a moderate shower and distant lightening. With every clap of sound and drop of water, that stubborn line of blue mocked us with safety just out of reach.
In a fine drizzle, I made a left turn heading south now on 71. In less than a mile and barely a minute later, we were riding down a bight, sunlit road that was as dry as a bone. As the temperature climbed, our wet clothes kept us cool as they dried. An hour later, 46 miles to the south, we pulled into our driveway tired, but elated. This had been an adventure, scary but exciting. And we knew that the decision to buy the bike and been a good one.

- Guy Wheatley

May 13
Bikers and hobos
icon1 Guy | icon2 Small Talk | icon4 05 13th, 2012| icon32 Comments »
Valkyrie Motorcycle and old steam engine.” width=

My Valkyrie and an old steam engine at Queen Wilhelmina State park.

Texarkana was a rail town, and the past is still evident in the many railroad tracks passing through the old downtown area. As I sit here at my desk thinking about my bike, I can hear train whistles echoing through the ancient buildings. I can also hear the sound of the cars on the tracks. In this canyon of aged bricks and mortar, the sounds echo from the sides of empty buildings that stare with empty eyes of broken glass. While loud, it’s an ethereal sound, seeming to come from another world or time. Somehow the feelings those sounds stir in my soul resonate with the thoughts of my motorcycle.
Those sounds make me want to mount my bike with my wife behind me, and follow the ghostly clacks and whistles to some other place. Riding is far more than simply getting from point A to B. At its best, riding takes you to the place that lonely train whistle comes from. It could be a moonlit desert with the lights of a small town in the distance. It might be a high pass, mists rising from the ditches as it carves its way through a mountain forest. It may be a passage through rolling plains, swept with waving grass as the winds kiss the earth.
It’s not a place you’ll ever actually get to. It’s more like a place you’ll pass through on the way to a dream. It’s a place the stress and troubles of the day have a hard time following you. It’s a place you have to be willing to accept on its own terms.
I enjoy meeting and talking with other motorcyclists. I enjoy going to motorcycle-related events. I’ll even take a short ride with a large group. But the longer I sit in the saddle, the more I find my greatest joy to be those times when it’s just my wife and me. Just the two of us, slowly exploring a lonely winding road. I’ve heard of men who used to ride the rails, not out of financial necessity, but out of spiritual necessity. Men who would take time off from work, hang up the suit and tie, then jump a boxcar. I can understand how that whistle would call to them. It’s an invitation to step out of time and explore the world and yourself. The motorcycle whispers the same siren song. “Let’s go,” it says enticingly. “Leave all of this stuff behind and find freedom and adventure somewhere out there. Or maybe just peace.”

- Guy Wheatley

May 3
Corbin ridge-like seat” width=

Corbin ridge-like seat.

A California man is suing BMW and third-party seat maker Corbin-Pacific, claiming that he suffered a 20- month erection as result of the combined products. Henry Wolf of California claims his issue began after a four-hour ride on his 1993 BMW motorcycle with a ridge like seat. He is seeking compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and emotional distress.
Though I’m certainly not a urologist, I have heard of priapism. The condition is no laughing matter as it can results in the loss of the organ. WebMD lists several causes of the condition including trauma to the spinal cord or genital area. One supposes that is the basis of his claim, that the seat and motorcycle combination somehow caused the underlying trauma. Though there is apparently no other recorded case of this happening, it still would not give Mr. Wolf a winnable claim against the two companies named in his suit, if proven true. They would have to be proven negligent. As this condition seems to have never occurred before in recorded history, it’s hard to see how BMW and/or Corbin could be held negligent for not preventing it. Additionally, one might suppose that if an extensive amount of trauma was occurring over a four-hour period, Mr. Wolf might have decided to dismount the bike.
Many riders are familiar with the effects of long rides with uncomfortable or ill-fitting seats. Usually the problems make themselves known a little further back in the buttocks or lower back. But that much vibration in the crotch can have an effect. I have experienced, and heard other riders speak of, mild stimulation caused by the inevitable vibration of straddling a motorcycle. But the long-term result is usually numbness. I’m just not sure Mr. Wolf’s claim will stand up in court. As far as litigation goes, it won’t last very long if it goes to a jury of motorcycle riders. I’ve seen links to this posted on three different boards, and the reaction has been universally negative. I’ve yet to come across a rider who buys Mr. Wolf’s claim. Most of us don’t believe him, and would like to think our fellow riders are made of better ethical stuff. From what I’ve read, he’s going to have a hard time getting other bikers on his side. A lot of us have ridden a lot of miles, and nobody else has had this problem.
If it is somehow proven that BMW and/or Corbin are responsible for Mr Wolf’s condition, then I suggest dumping any stock you may have in the company that makes Viagra. And you can bet that BMW motorcycle you planned to buy with the Corbin seat will be on back-order for several years.

- Guy Wheatley

Apr 19
Texarkana Bike Night Forum” width=

Home page of the Texarkana Bike Night Forum.

I started a little Biker Board for a local group I used to hang out with. At its high point we had about 20 active members, and there would be several posts every day. Sometimes, we’d get into good discussions, and threads would get long or branch off into other topics. But as of this writing the most recent post, not counting my own, is 30 days old. The next most recent post is more than 30 days before that one. I show 23 members, but with no posts, I’m not sure I’d classify any of them as active.
But mine is not the only board fading. The first board I joined more than 10 years ago has a member list of more than 500. I joined it for the camaraderie of enthusiasts of a particular motorcycle, but also for information and help with maintenance. I’ve since joined other forums, usually focusing on a particular model of bike. I found them to be wellsprings of information and support. The format lends itself to the exchange of information. I can post a question on a maintenance thread, and get several responses. And as the thread is a specific question, the responses are usually on topic. The advice is vetted with an erroneous suggestion usually pointed out very quickly by other knowledgeable members. Social interests are also handled with separate threads for each topic. Every meeting, ride or annual gathering will have its own thread. Posts are easy to read and understand as they are threaded by topic and presented sequentially by date. It’s an efficient way to share information.
And, of course, there are those who believe it their purpose in life it to inform the rest of us about what our political or religious opinions should be, but they are relegated to other areas so members can easily avoid if they choose to do so. Moderators will maintain a level of decorum and environment appropriate to the venue. Occasionally a member who will not follow the rules will be removed.
I would find more posts each day than I could keep up with when I first joined. I usually selected only those topics that seemed to hold some interest for me. Now, I can go days at a time without seeing a new post. All of the boards I belong to have seen a decline in activity. So where have all the members gone?
Facebook must certainly account for some of them. I know several people who say they don’t use the boards much any more because they are on Facebook. And that is sad. Facebook has its place, but it did not bring the same ease of use to topics. If you have a lot of friends, topics will quickly scroll off the bottom before you see them. And there seem to be more chronic posters on Facebook than I ever saw on the boards. It seems no matter the topic, there will always be somebody posting every few minutes with some irrelevant or off topic reply. Facebook doesn’t lend itself to long posts on very specific subjects such as jetting the carbs on a third generation Honda Magna with associated photos, video and links to parts. Facebook may be free to join, but if its success comes at the expense of those wonderful old boards, then we’re paying a very high price indeed.

- Guy Wheatley

Mar 23
Finding the ex
icon1 Guy | icon2 Small Talk | icon4 03 23rd, 2012| icon3No Comments »
Sharon on the Victory” width=

My wife Sharon on the Victory.

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

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