Sunday, September 19, 2010

35 Years Ago Today

... I bought my first motorcycle.

I was stubborn. Right or wrong, I wouldn't by a motorcycle until I could afford a Harley. I thought spending a few hundred dollars on a Honda would be a waste of money and would just make getting a Harley take longer.

The day I bought it. Not much to look at, but I was jazzed.
Special features:
6 over forks and no front fender. In the early seventies, probably half the Sportsters sold had extended forks before leaving the dealer.

In the mid '70's, Harley's were in big demand in the LA area, so prices were relatively high for the times (especially when you didn't have a big network of bike riding friends). My outlook was pretty much limited to the local paper's classified pages.

Several weeks earlier, I had gone to the CHP auction and put bids on three bikes for $1,200-$1,500 each hoping I'd get one. I didn't, so the day I would have found out, I bought my Sportster. It was listed in the LA times. I was in Downey and it was close by in Paramount.

More special features: Radiator cap and dent in tank, Posa (or Lake?) Fuel slider carb, Braided vinyl fuel lines. The stock Tillotson carbs had a push inner coil for the throttle, so with this carb, it meant you'd rotate the grip forward to go. It was awkward.

The hillbilly who owned it, was the second owner and kept it in a backyard full of junk. It was only a 4 year old bike and the motor had already been rebuilt. By today's standards, the way it looked, you'd have thought it was a 10 to 20 year old bike.

I think I paid a whooping $1,300 for it, which was likely way too much, but I was getting impatient. Keep in mind, in 1975, new Sportsters were about $2,300 plus dealer fees and taxes at this time. Also, I had a friend with a '71 XLH who wanted about $2,000 for his bike.

More Special Features: Custom seat and sissy bar, a piece of cardboard for a battery lid, and no horn. Bonus feature: A tendency to jump out of third when getting it on.

In any case, I was happy, had plenty of fun with it and nine years later in '84, it got me $1500 credit towards a big twin.