Some Bikes Just Come With a Close Bond Built In

7

June 13, 2012 | By: Jeff Maddox

Editor’s Note:What appears below is a guest blog post from veteran biker Jeff Maddox, who regularly holds court over at the JMAdog blog.

 
We ride motorcycles and we talk motorcycles. We tell stories and we listen to them as our friends tell them. Heck, sometimes we listen to stories from people we don’t even know, yet we can relate to every word. It’s almost as if we could stand around as a group of riders and just nod our heads in agreement without saying a word. We have that common thread that relates our experience of travel, breakdowns, close calls and group rides that can go without saying.

But some of us have a bond with our bikes that others don’t.

I’m thinking about trading my motorcycle in for another one. This is no easy decision. I’ve sat astride the same Heritage Softail for about eight years and 70,000 miles now, and it’s has been a damned good ride. We’ve gone many places and this bike has had the added burden of dragging me back and forth to work as well as on short and very long rides.

I love this motorcycle and I’ve never owned one that has “fit” me like this one. And by “fit” I mean both my stature and my personality. My bike’s comfortable and reliable, and I have never lost confidence in it. Some of my friends have this same close bond with their bikes, but I know a lot of other folks who think a bike is just a ride. A means of transportation. Maybe they haven’t had them long enough to build a relationship with them. Maybe they don’t plan on having such a relationship. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m thinking it’s just because they haven’t found “that one.”

I know this from personal experience. Actually, many personal experiences. Lots of bikes in all shapes and sizes, and none of them have been in my possession for longer than a couple of years. But my Heritage is different. When I’m gassing up, people will come over and comment on it, and of course it’s always nice to hear that. But even more important is how I feel when I’m on it.

We spend so much time making these bikes our own. We swap out seats, bars, bags and chrome to make the ride fit our personalities. It’s a little like those pet owners whose pets look like them? Have you ever spotted a rider and his bike and said to yourself, “Yep! It looks just like him!” (Or her, of course!) That’s how I feel. Because everybody who knows me well associates my Heritage with me. And that brings us back full circle to the struggle I’m have right now. I’ve made this bike “my own.” It is me.

Before you ask, the answer is no — I can’t afford to keep up two bikes. Besides, when you own more than one bike, it’s difficult to ride them all and even more difficult to maintain that bond that I so want to have with my bike. Not to mention the bother of listening to everybody in my small town whispering, “That Jeff was born with a chrome spoon in his mouth — he’s got two motorcycles.” Matter of fact, in my tiny municipality, such news would probably make the newspaper. Front page.

But the search is on. I’m at the purchase stage. All I need to know is what bike I should buy, what color, new versus old. A lot of questions and to date, I have no answers. And then there’s that pesky bond with my bike. It’s like my dog Scout. Every time I get ready to leave in my pickup, that dog looks at me with an expression that asks, “Well, are you taking me?”

What’s my Heritage going to think when I roll up with a new ride?

Comments (7)

I’ve got three bikes- a ’55, a ’65, and an ’05, and though I’m apeshit over the new one, I won’t part with the first. After 40 years or so, the ’55 and I have a lot of shared history.

It’s outlasted three wives, innumerable girlfriends, a whole bunch of cars, and a load of lifestyle changes.It’s been apart down to the last fastener more times than I can count, and never reassembled the same way twice.I’ve ridden it in good weather and bad,bucks-up and stoney broke,and I don’t think there are enough years left in me to spend the same amount of time with another piece of machinery.

The fact that I have three bikes just came about as a natural consquence of owning the ’55: I brought it home when my hitch in the service ended, and my dad and I restored a ’65 bagger we found in a hangar so we could ride together.When he died, he left the’65 to me. True to form, I have it in pieces all over the garage being “re-restored” at present.

The 2005 Softail was purchased as a substitute for yet another rebuild and reconfiguration of the ’55. After years of hardassing it on a rigid frame, I’m happy as hell with the rear suspension, the fuel injection, the electric start…..I can bang out a lot more miles at a time,now.

I enjoy riding all three of them, but for different reasons. The older ones are all about my own little piece of history on the road, and the softail is the present and the future. If I ever do get get rid of them,I’m pretty much admitting that it’s time to un-ass this whirling ball of dirt.

I liked your story, Jeff. I agree with you 99%. I have a 1978 (late) FXE that I bought in 88. I road it mostly stock for a few years. Then 12 years ago, I chopped the fram, put on a 88 dayna 39mm front end. massive amount of motor work, and put over 50k miles on it sence. I owen 3 other bikes also. Oldest is 1946 and the newest is a 1989. I used to buy, ride, and trade or sell bikes. NO MORE. I let one go, (for something better) it was this 78. I bought this bike and sold the other 4 months later. 3 years later I relized that I loved that other bike. I miss it to this day. (you never know what you have untill it is gone) My wife has a 04 Kow Nomad. That is 5 bikes total. I am looking for #6. When we first met, and for the first 2 years my wife would say, Trade that or those bikes in on a new dresser. I look at her and laugh, and say no thanks. I would sell a kidney first. They are like dogs or kids, you don’t just trade them in. My kids are grown and have kids of their own. Yeah, that 1978 I was talking about, I took my daughter for her first 350 mile trip on it when she was just 10. She is 27 today. I am afraid to let go of a bike today. I may decide years later that I realy did love her after all. I have a history with all of our bikes today. I do all of my own wrenching. I know every part on all the bikes. I have worked on them in the shop, and on the side of the road. (that is where the storys come from)
Some bikes come with a bond, others you have to build a bond with them. I too live in a small town. Let the town folk talk all they want to. I am happy, free, and riding one of our 5 bikes. I am to busy living life, to sit around and talk about living life.
There was a time I thought that I could never afford a harley, let alone 4. But there was a time that I thought I could not afford kids, let alone 3. Though that I could never afford a morgage, let alone have a paid for house. The point is this : If you realy want it, are passionate about it, you can afford anything you want. I ate bologna for a year, just so I could buy my first harley. I have road from coast to coast, and from border to border. I have a relationship and a understanding with all of my bikes. I have the best life that I could ever hope for. Keep the sun shinning on your face, and the rubber side down, and maye we shall meet on that hiway of life.

Thanks for reading! You can read more at jmadog.wordpress.com

Wow, great article. Have had a couple Harleys, but when I purchased my new 1995 Heritage, it was more like an adoption. Being Air Force, I deployed several times before I retired in 2008, so ‘Baby’ waited for me at times to come home, and we have just 66,000 miles together, but I will never sell her. She will go to my son one day…Geezer at 52 now and looking forward to a new Ultra in the next couple years, but my Heritage will always be my ‘Baby.’

I bought my 06 sportster new, and have ridden it to Mexico, Big Bend, along the Seawall in Galveston and lots of fun trips in between. It would be tough to let it go, I call it the adventure machine.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

I ride a 2009 Softail Custom, and she is the bike I always wanted. I have owned & ridden other bikes, but this one is my first Harley. There aren’t many things that can make me feel as good as when I’m on her, riding… anywhere.

I bought her brand spanking new because my first one HAD to be new. I got rid of my last bike when we started our family (what a mistake!), and I didn’t get my Harley until I had all the bills (mortgage etc.) paid first.

As long as I can afford it, she will never leave my side. I know I would like to get another one eventually, but my ’09′ stays with me… even if I have to park her in my living room! I even joke about taking her to my grave when the time comes, but I couldn’t do that to her. Maybe on of my boys will enjoy her as much as I did.

Take care fellow bikers, and I hope you enjoy your ride as much as I do.

this is so true I had the same bond with my last honda shadow but I had to let her go when she gave up the ghost it was very hard but i hope to have that kind of bond with my current shadow one day

Leave a comment