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Kawasaki GPz900R

One Great Ride

(September 2020, from the Travels with Guido series #362)

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen

Is it possible you spent all that money for a single run?

As someone who is terrible at selling motorcycles, and usually only does it grudgingly, I tend not to think about the process of how or why we talk ourselves into the decision. But let’s have a crack at it.

Just for this exercise, let’s discount the times where real financial stress is the issue. Nope, what I’m talking about is the occasion when you decide that you’d rather release the money held between the wheels and tip it into another transport of delight.

Of course ‘decision’ is often something of an exaggeration in my case, as it implies, you know, decisiveness. A sense of purpose, a mission. Get the money, get the thing off the property and move on. 

Yeah, well, the process doesn’t always follow the playbook. Though the motorcycle is advertised at a reasonable price, Muggins has been known to hang up on would-be buyers who crossed an admittedly invisible threshold.

Or make viewing the motorcycle so difficult one recent victim actually offered to pay more than the advertised price if they could just be allowed on the property. And, in a couple of cases, I’ve cancelled a sale because I haven’t approved of what the new owner wants to do with it. 

See, being a would-be motorcycle buyer isn’t all strong drink and glitter!

Despite all that, there have been occasions where a successful exchange of money for motorcycle has happened. I reckon in the majority of those cases  – certainly in recent years – the relatively quick end of the relationship was entirely predictable.

Talk to anyone about buying a bike and, most of the time, the real thrill for them is the chase: working out which of the scads of models available is right for their needs, asking their mates for advice and then actually chasing down the deal on their final target.

After the brief initial glow of acquisition, much of the excitement wears off. Then the relationship actually involves a little maintenance. Much like our personal lives.

In two recent cases, my relationship has effectively ended at the conclusion of the first really good ride. 

One easy example is a Kawasaki GPz900R I bought in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and rode some 2300km back home to Melbourne. It was a terrific ride and the Kawasaki, once a little breathing issue was sorted, performed faultlessly.

It was a great motorcycle and I didn’t for a moment regret buying it. Fast, comfortable, reliable and surprisingly good to travel on, over 30 years after it was made. Incredible. But after that ride it was almost like we were travelling in parallel universes as I’d started to lose interest. Time to move it on and the money tied up in it on to something that (for me at least) was going to be more engaging.

1947 Indian Chief

Another perhaps more extreme case was the 1947 Indian Chief. This was by far the most expensive motorcycle I’d bought and it took a lot of effort to scratch together the money. Meanwhile a good friend put a lot into building a fresh engine and showing Yours Etc the internal workings along the way. It was all terribly fascinating and went on for months.

After the initial glow of ownership and interest, I took it along on an Indian event somewhere out in the hills. One afternoon, we had a brilliant gallop across the countryside together. The Chief was happily rumbling along at 70-80mph and felt unstoppable, even handling the odd wrinkle in the road without fuss.

It was as good a ride you could hope to have on a machine then nearing its 70th birthday. Quite unreal, really.

And, weirdly, from that day I kinda started losing interest in the thing. There were all sorts of logical reasons for selling of course, but in reality the spark had gone out of the relationship. Maybe I felt I'd conquered rather than owned it. So it went to a new home.

I’ll hasten to add this hasn’t happened to all my machines. There are several which have been with me for over a decade or more.

In some cases I guess it’s the whole ownership journey that you value, perhaps more than the model itself. But I dare not tell my usually tolerant partner Ms M Snr that, really, after all the money and effort we’ve expended over the years, what it can come down to is one great ride.


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