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You Again

(from the Travels with Guido series #338, October 2020)

Honda Valkyrie Interstate

by Guy 'Guido' Allen

Buying back the toys you loved

Dammit. Life would be far simpler if you just hung on to motorcycles, instead of selling them.

What’s got muggins on to this particular hobby-horse is a long-term itch to go out and buy another Valkyrie Interstate.

You may not have seen one in the flesh, but if you think something along the lines of a cross between a Goldwing and a 1961 Chevrolet Impala Bubbletop, you’ll be pretty close. They’re about as subtle as a smack in the head with a Ferris wheel.

Somewhere along the way the good folk at Honda correctly surmised that the Goldwing, while a very effective tool for travelling long distances, was not the most exciting object on the planet. So in the late nineties they grabbed an unsuspecting GL1500, stripped it, hotted-up the engine and threw a bucket of chrome at it. Enter the wonderfully-named Valkyrie.

It actually turned out to be a seriously good power cruiser. A little underdone in the braking department, perhaps, but fast, halfway decent handling and, with about 100 horses on tap, about the quickest thing you could buy in the cruiser class.

Roll on to 2000 and two things happen: Honda launches the 1800 Goldwing, plus the Valkyrie Interstate. The latter has hard bags, a giant steering-mounted fairing, sound, plus a few other upgrades.

I bought one of the Honda demo bikes at some stage and probably used it far more frequently for more long trips than I have any other motorcycle over the years. We clocked up 50,000km pretty quickly.

At some stage I decided I was over it and put Mac the Valk on the market. It got snapped up and, as it disappeared down the driveway, you couldn’t help feeling an instant sense of regret. This was a mistake. Maybe it should have been put away in the shed and given a rest for a while.

Of course this has happened numerous times over the years. It seems that learning from your mistakes isn’t necessarily built in to the DNA. Let’s see…start with the Suzuki GSX1100E we had years ago. Beautifully sorted and sold to fund some other transport of delight. Then we went out and bought a second several years later.

Much the same thing happened with Triumph Daytona 1200s – had two of those. Or Meriden Tridents – have now had a T150 and T160. Don’t get me started on single-cam Honda CB750 Fours. Have there been three? Yep.

Then there are the Blackbirds. All three variants have lived in the shed at various times. And there were the three early GSX-R1100s. Let’s not get into the Indian Chief Vintages. You get the drift…

There’s probably someone out there with accounting qualifications who will point out that all this buying and selling costs money and it would be a whole lot more financially sane to buy something and stick with it.

(Actually, it reminds me of a comment from a bank manager many years ago, back in the days when you actually went in for a chat about a personal loan. At issue was a modest amount to buy a motorcycle. When the list of assets came up, the banker looked coolly across the desk and asked, “Why don’t you ride one of the other ones?”)

Meanwhile there was a lot to like about the Valk. It was quick, ultra-reliable and surprisingly cheap to run as a result of that. Plus it had plenty of character and did its job admirably. There’s a low miler for sale in Perth at the moment, and I could do with a long ride back to Melbourne across the Nullabor…

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