(Beauty and Sadness....all at once-a slice of life, a look at a simpler time.)
Take a look at the above picture. Look at the twinkling chrome of a new motorcycle on a glorious late spring day. Look at a bike that has yet to see Reagan getting shot, Yuppies, or the fall of the Berlin Wall. Breathe deep and note the mind goes to fresh cut grass, the faint whiff of gasoline, the unmistakably fresh smell of May. Smile at styling trends like sissy bars and aftermarket fairings, that have yet to become passe' or ridiculous with the rolling of the years and fleeting and fickle tastes of the Human Race. Revel in the nostalgia of this literal snapshot of time each and every time you see an old Honda CB750. Like this one:(Reality-always more ugly, more painful to look at-the realization of One's Own Mortality in the form of a rusted hunk of metal and rubber and fiberglass.)
The same bike-the VERY same bike-just this month. The owner was nice enough to provide 'before' and 'after' pics to potential Craigslist buyers, and Jon was nice enough to provide them to me, for my endless contemplation and full range of emotions.
What stories could it now tell? How many miles? How many riders, how many passengers on how many of those countless spring and summer days? How many tires, fill ups, rest stops, toll booths, roadside hot dogs, wrong turns, speeding tickets, smiles? How many regretted and missed rides due to inclement weather, prior commitments, kids, soccer games, communions, graduations? How many times hearing oneself utter the phrase "I gotta get that thing running again"? How many things placed on the seat for storage, with the knowledge that the bike was not going anywhere any time soon? How many tears shed at the sight of this forgotten piece of Japanese, American and personal history? How many regrets?
I implore any and all with the notion, tools and means to restore an old bike. Resurrect it. Like Lazarus, make it live-Rise and Ride. Scrape knuckles. Make dirty Levi's. Stain driveways and garage floors. Connect or reconnect with your kids by working on it together-Leave it for a new generation, with new stories to tell. Relive your OWN childhood, or start a new one-screw the notion of Midlife Crisis. LIVE. RIDE.
These bikes are still plentiful, cheap and available, as are parts and advice. Restoration can be as cheap or expensive as you choose, with credit going to the riders, the Road Dogs, the Rats, the ones that are out there on Saturdays or getting you to work on time no matter how they look-the frowns go to the primadonnas who park them in concours condition on engineered wood living room floors, or suspended from ceilings, sneering to themselves and all who will listen for the sake of "The Cycle as Art".
The nods of approval from those in Mini vans and SUVs with LCD screens for the kids, and from those who have gone, singly tracking, down this road before you, are free. The knowledge gained from the guy who Had One of Those Way Back When, that you meet at the auto parts store or gas station cannot be put in terms of dollars and cents.
The Internet Age leaves us with myriad resources and scores of others who have gone before us. It was not until I realized I had legions of enthusiasts with the patience of saints behind me, incapable and above flaming me as a 'noob', that I would come to the conclusion that I too could restore a vintage bike. It was not until I would meet a guy two hours away with nothing else in common with me but a free Saturday afternoon and a similarly-equipped, thirty year-old hunk of steel (in better shape than mine), that I would know that Brotherhood could exist outside ones family. It was not until that guy would be willing to ride that same two hours to help me rebuild carbs for the first time, that my faith in humanity would be restored. Life has begun again, and hope springs as eternal as a singular May day that seems like a million years ago.