Birth Of A Biker, The Early Years

Posted: April 17, 2012 in Early Years
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On Christmas morning, 1994, I got a present that should be the envy of any ten-year-old boy. In front of the fireplace stood a 1993 Honda XR80R. Just like the one pictured below.

I had that bike until 2000, and I spent many, many hours on it. In the rain, the snow, and even on nice days. I jumped it off every jump-able surface on the farm, laid it down a few times, and wrecked hard a couple of times.  The little Honda kept on thumping along through it all. Then one day I outgrew it, sold it, and forgot about riding for eleven years.

I got back from my second and final tour in Afghanistan in August of 2011, and a couple of weeks later I was visiting my in-laws for the weekend. My father-in-law has a couple of bikes–a 2004 V-Star 1100, and a 2008-ish Honda Rebel–and he happened to be doing their end of season service when he asked for my help. He needed to change the oil in the Rebel and asked if I could ride it around the block a couple of times to get the engine warm. I said I could, and proceeded to ride the little Honda for nearly an hour. I was hooked again and set about getting my bike license.

I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course at a local community college and loved every minute of it. After that class, I became consumed with finding a bike of my own. I looked at a number of metrics, but nothing really caught my eye until I was cruising Craigslist one fateful day last month. I found a 2007 Honda Shadow Spirit 750 C2 with 5100 miles for $3000. The best part is it was only about 25 miles from my dad’s place. With cash in hand, I bought it and rode it back to the farm during an awful wind storm, with sustained winds in the 40mph range, gusting into the mid 50s. I made it without incident over narrow Missouri two-lane roads, and knew this motorcycle thing wasn’t just a PTSD-induced phase or early mid-life crisis.

I bought a riding jacket, a full-face helmet, and riding gloves, and have since put nearly a thousand miles on my prized scooter. I’ve already ridden through a hail storm, in 30-something-degree weather, and over neglected Iowa backroads. My new little Honda has been just as endearing as my XR80R was. As I continue to evolve and develop my road-going skills, I will probably stick with Honda as my brand of choice. Though I’m not a Harley hater, I’m also not about to write a check for $10k or more for a used bike. You just get a lot more bike for your money with metrics.

I plan on sharing some equipment reviews, bike reviews, random rants, and roadside revelations on this site. For now, I’m going to get some more miles under my belt and crank out a couple articles about my little Honda.


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