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?