Jan 1, 2017

Nothin' Special, Adventures On My Talking Motorcycle: Page 1

Lots of people ride motorcycles but how many motorcyclists are aware that motorcycles talk to them? And if you are aware do you really know what your motorcycle is saying to you? It takes a very special relationship between man and machine to come to know what the words mean-- a relationship built upon years of trust and understanding. Only when you know your motorcycle inside and out, valve, piston, rings, and bearings... Only when you've caressed her oil pump and gently adjusted her clutches, valves and metering rods, will she open up to you in such as way. And maybe not even then.

I'm one of the lucky few who have ever been trusted by a motorcycle with her innermost thoughts, dreams, and visions. And it was only one of many motorcycles I have owned over the years who came to trust me in this way so I don't take for granted that I'll ever experience this again.

 The motorcycle is a bike I call, Nothin' Special, a
1983 XS650 Yamaha Heritage Special. The XS650,
while long out of production, is a vertical twin, more akin to the old British bikes of a now bygone era, than most modern V-twins, in-lines and boxers They were always and remain a different breed of motorcycle than anything else on the road then and today. They sound different, feel different, handle differently, vibrate differently-- you name it vertical twins are unlike anything else.

Oh wait, that's the wrong photograph, that's an 850 Norton Commando-- an old British vertical
twin. This is Nothin' Special next to the railroad tracks..

The truth is, riders either love or hate vertical twins. There's no in-between. Motorcyclists are known to be opinionated SOBs and proud of it, but when it comes to vertical twins there's no middle ground. And we bikers intend to keep it that way.

It took several years before Nothin' Special trusted me enough to speak to me in a way that I could understand her. Long before then I had already rebuilt her from top to bottom, inside and out with new and used parts, some stock, some aftermarket and some high performance. While gaining probably no more than 2-3 horsepower my goal was to help her live a long life. I've never pushed her to her limits in any way and while I occasionally get sporty with her I'm careful never to do anything that might cause her pain or leave her sore. And while she's always paid me back with reliability, I think it was the tenderness with which I treated her that got her to open up with me.

Strange Roads

Sometimes life takes you down a road
you've been down before.
Sometimes where you planned to go,
on time and nothing more.
But the best adventures of my life,
the best I've come to know
were when we rode uncharted roads
to find out where they'd go.

A simple poem. Those were the first words Nothin' Special ever spoke to me. I'd just realized after riding for hours that I was riding on the wrong road and upon stopping began shouting a tirade of expletives I'm really glad no one other than Nothin' Special and I heard. To say I was shocked to hear my motorcycle reciting poetry was an understatement.
Then she said no more. Not another word for weeks. Leaving me to question if I'd really heard her talking at all.
To make matters worse, the road I'd been traveling wasn't on any map, anywhere. I hadn't seen anything in hours. And I had just switched to reserve. If I didn't find gas soon I'd be pushing.

Please continue reading Nothin' Special, Adventures On My Talking Motorcycle: Page 2