A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

12 May 2007

Rust Won't Take a Polish

My Avid fans (all three of them--or is it four nowadays? I forget) know that I am posessed of a Yamaha U7 (illustration below). It has been near the centre of my thoughts of late.

There was the "Show 'n' Shine" held this weekend on a local main street.
It was sponsored by the local strip bar, a place I am ashamed to admit to not yet having visited. I'm a strong believer in supporting the arts, if not the artists themselves, but since we replaced the dollar bill with the "loonie" and the two with the "twonie" it's become much pricier to fill a g-string.

And of course the event was dominated by the Hell's Angels and the Harley-Davidsons, which totally blew it for me. In the entire street full of bikes there was one loverly Enfield India, WWII vintage, a single 1980-ish Honda CB 650 Custom, like the one I still technically own, and an absolutely gorgeous BSA. There were some other Hondas, but to tell them from the Hogs one had to look really closely. Polished, porky bikes.

The rest were all H-Ds. Mostly wearing several thousand dollars worth of surplus hardware, usually chrome. The "West-Coast Chopper" mentality definitely has taken over. No Indians, no Kawi triples or '60s Suzuki racing twins. Just pile after pile of shiny, $20,000 bikes. Not even a single hard-tail or '80s AMF-made Harley (made with the famous porous oil pan).

The booths all sold leather (none of it particularly interesting leather), t-shirts, shades or knives. No parts, no tools, no manuals. There were some paint care products and graphics artists, but nothing else. Which told me all I needed to know.

But for fun I looked round at the crowd. There were a couple of real scooter tramps, shaggy, unshaven, eyes red from the road and the glare. But most of them were wearing about $1000 worth of clean, new leather gear. Their tattoos were, often as not, strategically high on arm or thigh so as to be concealed by a business suit. Gang colours were tastefully hidden, and presumably the Angels with arrest warrants stayed clear and let the lawyers and merchants get on with giving them legitimacy.

I'm sure there are a few riders who take their paint care seriously. But the H-Ds and lookalikes are about blending your identity with your bike.

I was so tempted to bring my old U7 down. It has a rubber-mounted spotlight in place of the headlight. The paint is flecked with rust, at idle the engine clatters with what I suspect is a loose piston slapping around on worn-out bearings (I'd feel a bit better if the bike had more than one piston). The spoked wheels are brown with rust and the pot metal trimmings are pitted. Half the bike was cut off after some unknown accident at least two decades ago and rewelded on again, then piled high with bondo. The leg shield is missing.

I felt like putting on my 1975 fibreglass ping-pong-ball helmet and riding downtown, then parking it next to the shiny bikes. Then when people stared I'd explain:
"Harley-Davidson is about choosing to buy a motorcycle for the same reason you choose your jeans, or your brand of smokes. It's about playacting attitude, and about image. That's not what real riders do.

Do you think I ride this bike to satisfy my ego? Does this bike say 'Check it out ... I may be forty and a corporate attorney, but I own a shiny big bike!'?

I ride this bike 'cos I love to ride.

I don't need a t-shirt, a bandanna, or a tattoo to tell the world.

All I have to do is show up on my single-cylinder, 80 cc, thirty-year-old street rat."

Then I realized what was up. Of course the scooter tramps weren't there. The posers pose.

The riders are all out riding.


At 3:24 a.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

But my understanding is that you don't ride that bike, because you haven't fixed it yet.

At 7:50 a.m., Blogger Lori said...

No, RC. To a bit of embarassment on my part, he does ride it around town, to work. Parks it next to my co-worker's car. She says "THAT belongs to him?" :-)

At 8:21 a.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

Ah, progress! Last I heard the gas tank was held together with duct tape and even to a non-techie such as myself that sounded non-optimal to say the least.

But he should totally be walking to work! It's good for him!

At 9:03 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

That was my point--I don't care what's wrong with it. As long as it can roll, I'll ride it.

However, the gods like nothing so much as hubris. Good title. Think I'll go use it.

At 2:06 a.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

See? God wants you to walk to work too!


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