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What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

What can I actually afford?

You will know, of course, that I have a tendency to swoon over just about every bike I see. I'm not terribly picky, though I'll admit that the stuff I get most excited about tends to be rather pricey. My grandmother has always accused me of having such tastes. When I was a boy she would take me clothes shopping and claimed I had a magical ability to immediately identify the most expensive item in the shop.

I got to thinking about this a few days ago, after posting my review of the Indian Chief Classic. I absolutely love that bike, but as part of the review I went to the trouble to work out that at my current rate of saving I would have to wait until my 50th birthday to be able to buy one (I am presently 38 years old).

And that got me wondering: what bikes could I actually afford right now? So, I started searching eBay, BikeTrader, MCN,  and various other bike listings to see what I could come up with.

The first thing to really catch my eye was the 2001 BMW K1200 pictured above.

"it had a collision. I sell it for parts," explains the owner. "seat are ok."

Glad to know the seat is OK. The bike comes in under my budget and, golly, it's exciting to think of owning a genuine BMW. I could make a project of this bike -- fix it up and thereafter have my very own top-of-the-line tourer. All I'd need would be a garage to do the work in, appropriate tools, money for additional parts, and a mechanical knowledge that extends beyond "Righty tighty, lefty loosey." I have none of these things, however, so let's move on.

At my current budget, the bulk of bikes available are 125cc machines from China that have very clearly been ridden and maintained by 17-year-old boys from England's less-desirable towns and cities. Here and there, one finds an old Kawasaki GPZ 550 with interstellar miles, looking like it might -- just might -- survive a lap or two at Dirt Quake before needing to be sold for scrap.

The best bike I can find for the money I have now is this one: a 1989 Suzuki GSX750F with 32,500 miles on the clock. We all know eBay is a haven for liars and thieves, but let's pretend otherwise and take the bike's seller at his word.

"This bike really rides very well and is unbelievable to think it's 25 years old," says the seller. "Like a 5-year-old bike, not a 25 year old."

He adds, however, that the bike is currently on SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), which is a UK tax designation given to vehicles that are not being used on the roads. Usually you SORN a vehicle because it doesn't run. But it's not unheard of for people to SORN a bike over the winter.

Either way, it means the bike is not currently allowed on British roads, which: a) calls into question the owner's claims of how well it rides; b) means I couldn't legally test ride it; c) I'd be faced with a lot of paperwork before getting it back on the road.

Maybe it's a sweet find. Maybe I could get my hands on this thing and experience the joy of riding around on a modern classic. I think, though, that I'll just keep saving my pennies and dreaming of another day.


  1. Or you can be like Sash and get a bike on loan for free.

    1. Man, if I could figure out how to pull that off I already would have! Your wife has a lot more charm than me.


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