It’s been a busy two weeks. I drove about 4,050 miles, flew another six thousand or so, covering eight states on the ground and finding myself in places as diverse as a truck stop in West Virginia, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills, and the production facility for RainSong guitars north of Seattle, WA.
While I was gone, my brother turned in his first review for Jalopnik. I think it’s a solid, honest read.
The CBX above is just one of the great vintage Hondas I’ve seen during my cross-country travels of the past few weeks. Spotted at the Corvette Motorsports Park near Bowling Green, it’s the fully-restored property of a fellow who is lucky enough to own another one in similar condition.
As a child, I built a model of the CBX and dreamed of the day when I would own a motorcycle with the big Honda’s effortless speed, power, and dignity. LJK Setright said it best:
You will remember the subaltern who, asked the place of cavalry in war, described its function as “lending tone to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl”. The CBX does the same for motorcycling, with that effortless superiority which is the mark of the true aristocrat. Alas, a man is often ill at ease with a silver spoon if he was not born with one in his mouth, and it is not difficult to identify among motorcyclists that same resentful rejection of the best because of lack of familiarity with the best. It is a kind of craven lack of confidence, as though a mortal man were offered Aphrodite but, daunted by the prospect, ran back home to the girl next door. Only thus can I account for the failure of the motorcycling world to snap up every CBX made, while they hunt down the CB900F remorselessly.
I blush to think of how Setright would sneer at my workaday 1975 CB550, parked outside my office this morning. Perhaps he’d approve of my VFR.
Along the California coast, somewhere between Huntington Beach and San Jose, I saw this well-used 1974 or 1975 CB750 serving as a commuter. Both of the times I’ve owned a CB550, I’ve regretted not getting a CB750 instead. But the truth is that a good 550 can be had for under two grand while a good CB750 costs a multiple of that. You can buy a Kawasaki ZX-7 in reasonable shape for what you’d pay to get a running CB750. Operating costs for the larger bike are larger as well, because the CB750 is more highly stressed and more fragile than the fifty-horse CB550. I suppose what I really want is a CB1000, one of which was for sale cheap right here in Powell a while ago.
At the Black Lightning Cafe in Humboldt, CA, I came across this CB400 Four. The reason we say “CB400 Four” is because later CB400s were two-cylinder bikes. It wasn’t until the CB-1 that Americans got another 400cc four-cylinder Honda. Thirty-seven horsepower made this a motorcycle for the patient and/or diminutive.
Heading from Humboldt up to my friend Sean’s job at See See Motor Coffee, I pulled up next to a ’75 Gold Wing, in like-new condition, with a sidecar attached. I didn’t get a photo but it looked like this:
It was ridden by a stocky, grey-haired woman. The sidecar was empty.
I didn’t see any vintage Hondas on the road from Portland to my final destination in Woodinville, WA; I did see plenty of people on “adventure bikes” with steel boxes on both sides. I appreciate these people; they, and the wanna-be Harley RUBs, keep me, my hi-viz yellow jacket, and my forty-year-old middleweight UJM from being the lamest of the lame out there on the American road. Riding a BMW GS-whatever with no dirt in the treads is the precise equivalent of driving a “Call Of Duty” Edition Wrangler. One of the fellows in my office has a picture of his “adventure bike” at the top of a hill in Colorado. The picture is framed, along with a map of his route. The route is entirely paved. And I shit you not, there’s a ten-year-old girl on a bicycle in the background of the picture. I wonder if she has her adventure framed as well. “Remember the time that MacKenzie rode her bicycle up to the top of Mount Fluffykitty?”
Although I am tempted to frame a picture from the time I took a McLaren 650S to the top of Mount Evans. Mostly because there was ice on the road and for a while I thought I wasn’t going to make it to the top, or back down to the bottom.
In the next few days, I should have a variety of stories up on R&T and TTAC from this adventure. The major story will be for print and it won’t come out for a few months. More details on that as I get permission to share. In the meantime, enjoy the second half of your week, and I’ll talk to you soon…