THE OLDER I GET THE MORE I LIKE OLDER MOTORCYCLES. And I’m not only talking about the motorbikes that were prominent when I started riding back in the 1970’s. I’m talking about bikes that go back throughout the 20th century and even back into the 19th century.
BUT WHY? Beats me.
I’m not a mechanic, an engineer or a motorcycle builder. I just like to ride. My appreciation for machinery is very practical: How reliably can this bike get me to where I’m going with as little fuss as possible?
From my perspective modern bikes answer than concern rather well.
I used to think it’s just a matter of age. You know, getting older and getting “nostalgic.”
But I don’t consider myself nostalgic and I love modern motorcycles just as much as vintage ones. And why would I get nostalgic about bikes that were old before I was born, anyway?
Then a simple experience turned the age thing upside down.
I was walking downtown and I eyed one of the new “retro” motorcycles that I’ve been contemplating as a purchase: a Triumph Bonneville. While I was inspecting and admiring the parked bike, the owner walked over and I struck up a conversation. He was from the local Navy base. I told him that although I was thinking about buying one of these too, I couldn’t understand why a young guy, such as himself, would want one.
He just shrugged, smiled and said he liked it.
I laughed and said that made sense to me.
So, I’m not sure how much age has to do with appreciating old motorcycles.
Video: Vintage and Celebrity Motorcycles
I’ve been visiting motorcycle museums and exhibits for years and this weekend toured the “Born to be Wild: Vintage and Celebrity Motorcycles” exhibit in the Air Force One Pavilion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA. Kind of an odd place to view old motorcycles, but Reagan did have a connection to Harley Davidson when he imposed a 45% tariff on less expensive, quality Japanese motorcycles for 5 years until HD got its act together. Whether that was a good idea or not is a matter of debate (as it was back then in the ’80s), but the exhibit was well worth the visit.
The following video highlights a number of the bikes on display although there were many more. The main ones I did not feature included a number of motorbikes in the movies, although I’m sure they are fascinating to many people. Since a number of them were never operational or are currently impractical (flying motorcycles), they just didn’t inspire me. However, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Fat Boy from The Terminator is included in the video, which is very road-worthy, as well as many prominent, rare, unique, or important motorcycles that have been around a long time – the oldest from 1899. Others include a 1970 Harley-Davidson “Iron” XR750: Only 120 of these single-cylinder flat-track bikes were built (they weren’t reliable), exclusively for racers. Additional bikes include a 1903 Harley-Davidson replica, a 1913 Sears Auto-Cycle, a 1972 Yamaha XS1b 650, a 1979 6-cylinder Honda CBX 1000 (both of the last which I well recall from their heyday), a 1995 hand-fabricated custom bike with a Harley engine, a 2005 MV Agusta F4 1000 Agostini (only 60 imported into the U.S.A.) and others.
So what about you? Do you like older bikes?
And if you do, why?
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