Last weekend was the kind of weekend that everybody thinks of when they picture a weekend. Not too much to do around the house, not a lot of humidity, no mosquitoes, and some 2 inch thick ribeyes waiting for the grill to heat up.
Yep, you guessed it – I got out the bike and took a three hour tour through a quiet part of the state with little traffic and no drama. Sitting at a gas station in Ty-Ty, Georgia and smoking my lunch, a younger guy (who drove up in a $50,000 diesel pickup) commented on my bike and the weather and stated how he’d love to have an old Harley but they were “too expensive” and “just for rich guys.”
I smiled at him, told him they sure could be if you wanted it that way, and then told him that I could buy my bike ten times over for what he paid for his truck, but expensive is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.
But it got me to thinking. Folks say that golf is a rich man’s sport, too, but if you really want to, you can learn to play on an old set of clubs and learn a lot about it before you spend thousands. Why are motorcycles – especially cruisers – any different?
I chewed on that idea on the way home and then decided that I’d do a little shopping in Craigslist around the different small cities in the southern U.S. and guess what? There are a lot of cheap, old bikes out there. A whole lot.
Are they sexy bikes? Not really – a 1980 Kawasaki, 1982 Honda, 1985 Honda, and an ancient Yamaha, but they were all under $350. Not one of them ran, but in my phone calls to the owners, they all acknowledged that the bikes had just been sitting due to a variety of reasons – none of them mechanical.
So I’d guess that for the price of a carb rebuild, some new fuel lines, and a battery, you could get into one of these bikes for $500 if you did the work yourself. Of course, that would require some sweat equity out of you, and you’d have to Google a bunch of stuff instead of playing on Facebook, but if you really wanted a starter bike, they are out there.
The good news? Those old Japanese bikes run forever and parts are still pretty easy to find, if you know where to look and you are strong in the ways of Google.
Now, $500 is a lot of money to some people – or the car payment this month. What’s important? That part is up to you. Personally, I think that most of us can learn how to handle all the basic maintenance on a bike right there in our own driveways and realize that the dealership has been screwing us for a while. Of course, with a newer bike with computer gizmos, you might be stuck with the stealership, but oil changes? Spark plugs? Filters?
Come on! You can get in the “game” and learn a lot, and if you don’t like it, you can get out by selling the bike for a least what you have in it. For those of us with all the bike we need and a garage full of tools, this also gives us the chance to put a new rider on one for them to “check it out” and see if the $25,000 bike is the one they really want to sign up for and buy.
Plus you get to get dirty in the garage, and what’s wrong with that. That, my friends, is most definitely NOT a rich man’s sport.