The Imaginary Bike Collection
With the Lotto Max prize continually bumping up to $50 million it isn’t difficult – even if you never buy a ticket – to find yourself thinking about what to do with all that money. Fancy cars and expensive houses? Too predictable. Share it among your relatives? Donate to charities? That would be nice. But how about buying a few motorcycles? We are motorcyclists aren’t we?
But what to buy and what if you only get one of the $1,000,000 consolation prizes? Take a pass on the the bikes that are just plain expensive like Honda’s just announce $184,000 street version of their MotoGP bike, ditto the Ducati Superleggera or Panigale S. Why don’t we set a few ground rules for this fantasy (1) forget any bike that you could walk into the showroom and buy today – the object of your affection has to be discontinued, (2) nothing ridiculously obscure because we don’t want to be searching for years, (3) stick to the last thirty five year as a 1950’s Indian Chief, an Ariel Square Four or a Henderson in good shape is going to blow the budget. So that is a 1980 cut off – who wants to remember the ’70s anyway?
No-one is going to have the same choices for a bike collection. Much will depend on the style you prefer, the era in which you grew up or even where you grew up.
Here are my choices for spending that imaginary money on a bike collection (the word “cool” is going to appear more than once because there is no getting around it). There are ten bikes on the list because 10 is a good round number for a collection. I must have a short-term memory because most of my choices are more recently discontinued.
Yamaha RZ500 In the mid ’80s if you wanted something stupid fast, cool and easily available, this two stroke Yamaha was it. It oozed fast, it oozed blue smoke and it oozed testosterone. At the time it didn’t even seem that expensive which is why you don’t come across too many of them anymore.
Yamaha MT-01 Put a giant air-cooled, v-twin from a cruiser into a streetfighter platform and you have a bike virtually unique in the market. Giving it an underseat exhaust was icing on the cake.
Suzuki B-King (this is going to sound familiar) Put a giant inline four from the world’s fastest bike into a streetfighter platform and you have a bike virtually unique in the market place. Ditto on the underseat exhaust but this time make the exhaust tips ridiculously large. Probably the most extroverted bike of the last twenty years and a cartoon superhero.
Harley-Davidson XR1200 The Sportster with the emphasis emphatically on “sport”, the XR1200 was both a tribute to the racing heritage of the Sportster and a slight nod to a more modern era of sport technology for the The Motor Company. And it looked great.
BMW R1200S Wasp-waisted, straightforward and unencumbered by a lot of new technology, the R1200S was a sporty BMW and heralded the last of the classic boxer sport bikes before BMW set out to proove they could unleash a water-cooled inline four to go up against the best of them.
Kawasaki ZX-12 The ZX-12 and the Hayabusa battled for the fastest bike title with Big Green’s machine being no slouch. Yes, you could go buy yourself a new ZX-14 (if you weren’t following the rules) but the ZX-12 is a simpler, cleaner iteration of the theme. It looks plain ol’ fast rather than the weird ol’ fast of the new big ZX. All that and surprisingly comfortable.
Triumph Tiger 1050 Upright seating position, a glorious triple motor and serious sporting potential. The Tiger before everyone had to have a big burly ADV bike to make like they were always on the verge of a trip to Patagonia. The 1050 is gone and it should be missed. Did I mention the glorious motor?
Moto Guzzi V11 Sport – It has to be the green one. The little V11 felt as though it was milled from a single piece of metal and looked like no other bike on the market. It wasn’t sexy like a Ducati but maybe that was part of its charm.
Buell X1 Lightning – Because it is a Buell. Because it is an air-cooled Buell. Because it is all up in your face. And finally, because it didn’t have a super short wheelbase and an oil filled frame.
Honda VTX1800 The Suzuki M109R is still around so the VTX takes the spot for giant Japanese powercruiser with arm yanking torque from a liquid-cooled, multi-valve v-twin.
There you go. That is our bike collection hopefuls. But it might be hard stopping at 10 bikes. Hmmm, a Honda CBX, an old Katana with a flip up headlight, a Harley-Davidson Crossbones or Rocker (an elevated and suspended passenger seat, you just don’t see that too often), a BMW R1200C (definitely), first generation GSX-R1100 ….. Maybe I need to rethink my list and start buying those lotto tickets.