As someone whose first bike was a WWII ex British Army Ariel 350 with a rigid frame, I should be soooo envious. On the other hand, as after 28 years, I still own it the score is 1:1. Still runs great BTW.
My first bike was a 1970 Kawasaki 500 Mach III. The powerband was divided into two segments: (1) no discernible power and (2) full power.
You rolled on the throttle and waited while the bike slowly crept forward, making a low WUUUUUUH sound. Then suddenly, without warning, the bike leaped forward violently, shrieking RAAAAAAAAAH!!!! as the front wheel lofted and you soiled your pants.
At least that's how it worked until you learned to slip the clutch and give it lots of revs to get underway. A lot of new owners became former owners because of the fear and loathing caused by the incredibly peaky nature of the beast.
The first owner of my particular bike died on it -- or to be more accurate, died after the throttle stuck wide open on the slide-needle carbs and the bike hit a utility pole.
The bike changed hands several times before I got it, and each owner experienced his share of mayhem. By the time I got it, it had been wrecked so many times that it was impossible to tell what the original color was -- the tank, front fender, rear fender, and side covers were all different. It had been through several sets of forks. It was known in the neighborhood as The Death Bike.
This was not a good bike to learn on.
My audition for the Barnum & Bailey Acrobatic Troupe took place late at night on a sweeping right turn on Kehrs Mill Road. I did a high-side dismount, several tumbles and rolls, and finished my routine with a Superman slide on my chest, reducing the front of my helmet and my fingers and knees to shreds.
There were no judges in the moonlit cornfields to hold up scorecards for my performance.
I eventually learned to work around the limitations of the on/off throttle, spaghetti frame, and drum brakes and even mastered wheelies for short distances. I kept The Death Bike Mach III for about six months before selling it to the next unwitting soul. I heard that he only kept it for three weeks.
Interesting timing. I'm just about to put my first bike, a '79 Honda CX500, up for sale. I like the way its design is very different, but in a way that still manages to make sense instead of a screwball sort of different. But it just doesn't seem to be holding together for long commutes.
I know very well that I might miss it later. In fact, I've still held onto my first car, ten years later, because I knew I'd kick myself for selling that. But this bike needs way more work than what I'm willing to put into it.
Maybe sometime years later, I'll get bitten by the nostalgia bug and go out and track down a CX500. But at least that time around, I'll take my time and pick out a pristine, well restored example, and save myself a lot of trouble.
1986 Honda V30 Magna. I bought her at an auction back in 1987 for $395. There was $400 cash in my pocket when I arrived that Saturday morning. She was black, had 3000 miles on the clock, and a salvage title. Some cretin had stolen her from the original owner and wrecked. Before she became mine, she was being parted out by the used parts business that held the auction. After spending roughly $400 more, and with the help of a friendly and sympathetic local motorcycle repair shop, that bike was running well. She was rough around the edges, but ran just fine. Still remember that V4 scream.
You see, at that time, I was a junior in college and earning about a $150 a week at a pizza joint. Money was a little tight back then. I really couldn't afford to own a car, but a motorcycle was relatively cheap to run. And way more cool. A tank of gas was $3. A set of Chin Shin tires was $80 mounted and balanced.
After three years, countless road trips both long and short, I sold her to my brother for $400. She had almost 30000 on the clock.
Last year, I almost bought an '85 Magna from a co-worker.
Great story, entertaining to the point that I almost want an old Jawa to tinker on..but, not qiute.
My dad crashed his panhead when I was twelve, and mom announced that "there would be no motorcycles in the house hold." Of course, I took this to mean that a bike could be purchased and, um, stored at another household. At sixteen, I was building up a Buick powered Ford coupe, but had a half interest in a little red Allstate..a 125, I think. I paid my half of the beat up little bike by getting her running. Back then you could ride up past Steven's Creek Dam, slide the bike under a cable `gate,' onto a number of fire roads, and no one cared.
One afternoon, I was rolling down a narrow muddy road at a fair clip, hit a tree root, and the handle bars rolled in the clamps, opening the throttle to the stop. I'd been bounced into the prone position on the seat and holding on came easier than loosening my grip. I lucked out to the max because I was only a hundred or so feet from rather deep creek crossing the road. Charging into a couple feet of water killed the engine and cushioned my landing after launching over the bars.
Yea, I just posted above about going from a CX500 to a ZL900. Nothing like the ninja 900 motor, 50% bigger than kps btw, with shaft drive. Any time I read about "throttle jack" on the new BMWs or Guzzis I just laugh.
You could "bunny hop" that bike by whacking on the gas.