Hal's Ride Along Motorcycling Memory Lane: Honda & Harley
All the motorcycle mania started with these three Little Hondas (First gear, it's alright. Second gear, lean right. Third gear, hang on tight... Fasterrrr... It's alright...). First the little Honda Z50A "monkey bike" which I ended up running into the side of a Buick... yeah... while I was riding on the sidewalk. Scrunched the side of the driver's side door but the bike was none the worse for the wear. Then the somewhat more grown up Honda CT70 "pit bike," which is another bike I've always had a warm spot in my heart for. That pressed steel backbone gas tank always made it unique in motorcycling history. And the silly step-thru Honda C90 which I was riding when I wiped out in front of my high school with the prom queen riding on the back! Hell hath no fury like a prom queen given gravel rash!
My first real street bike was the glorious Honda CB100. It was only scrawny little 100cc microthumper, but the K2 red and white version was one of Honda's most inspired styling jobs. Motorcycles these days don't look this good. It's now darn near four decades later, and I'm still scratching my head as to why Honda doesn't sell this model in North America, since it sells like hotcakes in Asia!
Honda CR250. Nothing short of a revolution. It was the first foray for Honda into two-strokes in its history, and although they took a while to catch up with the others, it was a fine MXer for its day.
Honda CBX550F. Indiscriminate handling, especially by modern standards, and a whiny engine. It was supposed to be a hot sports bike. The motorcycle press drowned it in honours. Overall, it didn't hold a candle to the smooth jewel the CB350Four was.
Honda CX650 Turbo. Finally Honda covered up that hideous air compressor engine, but did it with a fairing which is a dead ringer for the War Of The Worlds Martian spaceship eye.
Honda XR650. Not as bad as the Suzuki DR650 and not as good as the Yamaha XT500. A competent but fairly plain vanilla on/off roader.
Honda CB650 Nighthawk. The ultimate Universal Japanese Motorcycle. Nothing overly interesting at all, but very competent transportation. The grownup commuter special. The perfect replacement for the train, and about as thrilling.
Honda CB750 Nighthawk. If you thought the 650 Nighthawk put me to sleep, this one should have been called the Nightquil.
Honda Gold Wing Aspencade. A rolling entertainment factory with CB radio, passenger intercom and a digital stereo system I installed with 10 speakers. The perfect bike for coast to coast to coast to coast to coast...
Honda Gold Wing Interstate. Missing a couple of the doohickeys that the Aspencade had, but still one helluva supertourer.
Harley Davidson Electra Glide. I crammed 14 speakers into the fairing and had to install an extra battery just to feed the stereo! Can't say I missed it much. The bike had devilish mysterious problems (no not related to the outrageous stereo) that would let you sputter and stall by the side of the road every once in a while. I suspected phenolic block and kept taking it back to the dealer for warranty service and they never found a thing... until I would get stranded again! Ah, for the bad old years of AMF...
Harley Davidson Super Glide. This was the bike that was supposed to see me through my old age, but when the dual gasoline price shocks and global economic recession earthquakes hit, I started to develop a conscience for the planet and the people in it, so I couldn't justify owning a one and a half litre displacement motorcycle... especially when in Europe I was driving a one litre Fiat Panda. So, goodbye FXD... I'll miss you forever!
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