OTHER BIKES

A few poor quality shots of some other bikes I've owned.

1966 Honda CB160

One of Honda's less successful makes; a small, seriously underpowered vertical twin, though at that displacement one cylinder would have made more sense. I rebuilt it - the previous owner had all but destroyed the engine through sheer stupidity - and rode it around for a while, though I never went anywhere on it.

Peugeot 103 Moped

I guess this thing counts as a kind of motorcycle. I bought it on impulse (my wife was kind enough not to say "You silly son of a bitch") and used it to get around Little Rock for about a year, till somebody stole it. I even made a pretty long trip on it once, clear out to Colorado and New Mexico and back, just to prove something or other. There was an article about it in Road Rider magazine.

1969/70/75 Suzuki T500

This one was something of a Johnny Cash Cadillac. I happened to know where there were three T500s lying around junked with weeds growing through them, so I bought them all cheap ($25 apiece as I recall) and cannibalized them and with the parts, plus a few other salvage-yard odds and ends - horn off a Yamaha 250, brake levers off a Honda dirt bike - and a few hand-fabricated items, I built myself a bike.

It was a pretty good one, too. The T500 was something of a wonder in its day: a piston-ported two-stroke twin, heftier and more solidly constructed than most Japanese two-strokes, and remarkably stable thanks in part to that long swingarm. I never really went anywhere with it, barring one trip out to western Oklahoma, but I rode it to a good many powwows and other events; and with better tires, I wouldn't have been afraid to take it out to either coast. It did vibrate a lot, but the seat was surprisingly comfortable, and it would run on garbage gas. I finally sold it, though. I didn't much want to, but I got considerably more than I'd put into it.

1975 Kawasaki S-3

The S-3 was far and away the best of the old Kawasaki two-stroke triples - less powerful than the notorious Mach III and IV, but much better designed, with infinitely better handling - and I'd wanted one for a long time. I finally got a chance to pick one up fairly cheap; all it needed was a clutch rebuild and a general cleaning.

It was an utterly delightful little bike; going down the highway at speed - and it was amazingly fast for its size - wearing a full-face helmet and looking straight ahead, you couldn't see the bike at all, so you had the weird sensation of levitating down the road on your ass. It was at its best, though, on a twisty back road; you could play Steve McQueen for hours.

Though not many hours. Maybe make that an hour, singular. Maybe not even that. The tiny tank, combined with very modest gas mileage, made it a very short-ranged vehicle; it was doing well to break fifty highway miles on a tank of gas, even at legal speeds - and it was a bike that begged to be ridden with severe illegality.

So I sold it to a college boy. But I've always sort of regretted that. It wasn't a practical bike, God knows, but damn, it was fun.

Yes, that's me. Yes, that's a Harley. No, it wasn't mine. I was at a big rally and Harley-Davidson was offering free demo rides on their more popular models; and I've never been one to turn down a free ride. And I did get a kick out of riding it down the road - it handled better than the other Harleys I'd tried - but I wasn't seriously tempted to buy one.

I just threw this one in because as far as I know it's the only existing photo of me on a Hog.

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