There's happy and then there's happy! Right now I am happy! Why, you ask? Well I'll tell you.
Just before I left Florida for Washington this past spring, I stumbled across a Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycle at a really good price. It had been a while since I'd sold my last one and I'd been looking for another...for the "right" one ever since. This latest one in the ad had all the things I want in a Sportster: the belt drive, the five-speed gearbox, spoke wheels (I don't like mags)... They've evolved over the years, gaining weight as features were added. I wanted one of the lighter ones of the mid-to-late 1990's.
Sometimes people buy motorcycles with the fantasy of being a “biker.” It doesn't always work out. Sometimes they buy bikes and never get to ride them. The ad I saw was for a 1996 model with only 7,000 miles. Of course I snapped it up. As luck would have it, the bike was located up in Georgia not far from where my friend Matt lives. His brother Joe and I drove up one Friday afternoon. We went to pick up the bike on Saturday morning. I brought it home on Sunday.
As with all Harley's, the previous owner (“P.O.”) had customized it to his liking. But not to mine. (People always think that their modifications makes a motorcycle more valuable. Not so. In reality it makes it less valuable. The new owner (as in: me) then has to spend money un-doing those modifications.
The previous owner of this bike must have been a short little guy, for he installed a kit that moves the lower shock-absorber mount rearward, which has the effect of lowering the bike. In addition, he took off the stock shocks and installed shorter ones. The overall lowering of the bike allowed various bits to touch the ground when cornering or going over big bumps. Not a desirable trait.
In addition, the P.O. installed a horribly loud “aftermarket” exhaust system. It made the ride from Georgia down to Florida painful. There are literally tons of aftermarket exhaust systems for the Sportster. Trouble is, they're all loud. I want a quiet exhaust, and so found a completely stock system online – one that had obviously been removed and replaced with a louder one. It wasn't a lot of money but still, every dollar I spend on the bike increases the “actual” total price.
Here's the bike in Matt's driveway in Atlanta. I forgot to mention that gawd-awful seat which was the very first thing I changed.
Since this is my third Sportster, I have a good supply of parts in-stock. I have a small “sport” windshield that I think looks attractive and unobtrusive. I have a different air cleaner, because I prefer a round one to the oval ones Harley installs. And I have a taller side-stand because the stock one allows the bike to lean over too far when parked. I have some other bits too. Or thought I did.
It's been a couple of years since I sold my last Sportster. So before I left for Washington I went hunting for motorcycle parts. I looked high and low, all over the house but could not find the parts described above. Oh, I found the windshield, because that's too hard to hide. The rest of the parts? Gone. And I mean gone! I was pretty sure the parts hadn't gotten thrown out, but you never know. There's been a lot of people in my house and garage, especially while I've been away. And, I can be an idiot and accidentally throw valuable stuff out.
And so I left, fairly dispirited, figuring that I was going to have to buy those parts again. I talked to the Harley dealer and they want nearly as much for just the windshield mounting kit as they do for the whole windshield and mounting kit combined! Ouch. The other parts aren't all that expensive, but the dollars add up.
And so yesterday I was cleaning out the garage. I need the room. The Sportster needs some work (obviously), but I'm also in the process of refurbishing a couple of old and rare Japanese motorcycles which I own and intend to sell so I can buy this house – two things I said I'd never do but hey, you can't always predict the future accurately.
As I was loading stuff into my van to take to the dump, I came across a box that had been buried under a bunch of others. It was fairly empty but had some unmarked, sealed plastic bags in it. Curious, I lifted a bag out and was immediately overjoyed to feel the air cleaner! Other plastic bags contained all the other parts I had been searching for. Talk about happy!
So the Harley will come together pretty quickly and easily. It'll be the way I want it, not the way the P.O. wanted it. The Kawasaki's...well, they'll take a little longer. But they're both worth a lot of money. At this point I would derive no pleasure from riding either of them; they're just too rare to be what we call a “daily driver.” I would end up only riding them on certain special occasions. And who wants that? Motorcycles are meant to be ridden. I don't want a museum piece.
My Sportster is neat and all, but if I wrecked it I'd just buy another and build it up to my personal taste again. It's that easy (and fairly cheap) with Harley's; not so much with old Japanese bikes of which the hard-to-find parts are becoming super-expensive! And so the Kawasaki's have to go while I can still afford to fix them up.
So, a great day! I made plenty of room in the garage to work on stuff, AND found some parts I thought I'd lost or thrown away. Maybe not huge accomplishments, but life is made up of the little things. And you know, it's the little things make me
Scott Meyer used to publish a hilarious comic called "Basic Instructions." In it, he provided insights and ways of dealing with (mostly) everyday occurrences. His take on these things was often...well...odd and the morals of his comics were often strange. In the comic below, Scott talks about the pleasure of something unexpected.
See the actual comic (and Scott's others) HERE.