This photo is a recent find. I was very proud of this my first bike. It was bright red with chrome panels on the tank and purchased brand new from Toronto Honda on Dundas St. W. At the time I had a factory job and was taking a year off school to travel and find my way in the world. Seated on the bike is my father with me looking on. This bike rode everywhere and truth be told I nearly killed myself numerous times in town and country riding. Somehow we survived together for about 3 years before someone offered to buy it off me and I moved on to cars. Top speed on the 90s was 65 mph but I sometimes would draft behind trucks going 75mph. Not a very smart idea because one very hot summer day riding out to Waterdown behind a tractor trailer on the QEW the engine seized. I could feel the engine hesitate and I only just managed to pull in the clutch before the engine stopped and pull off to the side. It wouldn't turn over so I knew it was stuck. After it cooled down for half an hour it started right up again and away we went. Couldn't kill the motor but I was very lucky and another lesson learned.
Belonging to a vintage bike club and not owning a vintage bike began to weigh on my mind. While on a 5 day bike ride with a couple of friends, a man who shall remain anonymous happened to mention that he really loved his R80 but had to sell it. I'd seen the bike and it was very appealing. Time passed and more conversations happened during the trip and after a while I thought what would the harm be in seeing the bike? After the ride ended I called him up and went to take it out for a ride. The price was very attractive, there were lots of extra parts and as I mentioned it was very pretty. So another bike came into the family and I am back to owning an airhead BMW again. Wonderful. The full Hannigan fairing is a rather unique feature designed by a Toronto man who used wind tunnels to get the aerodynamics just right. In truth you can ride in the rain and stay mostly dry. For a 25+ year old motorcycle, it is a great touring bike and she looks great as well.
This bike was the last of the much loved gear driven Honda V4's that were trusty and reliable and became the gold standard for sport touring bikes for a decade. This bike was an eBay purchase from a man in Cincinnatti who had lost his job in the 2008 downturn. His online description of the bike and the conversation with the owner convinced me that despite all cautions from well meaning friends, it was the bike I needed to have and since it was a well regarded Honda, what could go wrong? Buying on eBay can be a nightmare. As it turns out not much did go wrong and it was a very good bike. Thanks to a good friend, we brought it back through Detroit and home to Toronto. It had a very distinct sound and was easy to ride in town or on the highway. Gas mileage was good and she was dead reliable. However its power was derived from winding up the motor and after some long rides in the mountains of North Carolina and Colorado, I became convinced that winding up a motor wasn't where I was comfortable. This bike was fun to ride but not as relaxing as some other bikes. My head was turned by a few rides on a newer twin that had ample torque with no effort. The VFR was sold easily to a new owner who tweaked the suspension and added some Hindle pipes and she was great again for the next owner. A very good bike and it became even better the harder you flogged it. As you age though that becomes more of a pain and the riding position also wasn't great so it went on the Kijjii block.
This bike came to me through an old friend who was a more advanced rider and didn't have any emcumberances like children. We were both standing outside the CBC where we worked talking about bikes and I happened to mention that I always liked the look of the 1980 Honda 750F. After a pause my friend says that he has one in the barn. More pause while i realize that I am now on dangerous ground. After a time he says he put it away a few years ago and is thinking of selling it. Long story short I go have a look and of course its what I wanted, from a trusted friend at a very reasonable price. It was in need of cosmetics and a major tune up and he offers to deliver it no charge from the barn up in the Caledon Hills where he lives to my house in Toronto. Deal done. After some time being brought back to roadworthiness, the bike rode well though was heavy and a bit wobbly in big sweepers at speed. I learned later that Honda track bikes had the frame bracket joints welded to make it steadier in the curves. As long as one didn't push things, it was fine bike and well within my budget. Plenty of parts available and ebay became my good friend as I was able to find a very excellent set of original chrome 4 into 2 Honda pipes. With new tires, a rebuild and rebore to 900cc, and lots of polish it was pretty to look at and a reliable bike all round. People kept mentioning Freddie Spencer as though I had made a connection. He was a god and made the Hondas do things beyond the Honda engineering folks wildest dreams. For me it was a nice steady bike and we had many good times together. However a new 2004 Suzuki Bandit 1200S was calling out to me and so off it went to happy new owner in Burlington.
Interesting bike and some say one of BMW's best ever. This was the short wheel base version and it was a lovely ride around town or on the road. This bike came with Krauser bags and was fairly simply to maintain. After about 5 years I sold it to a young surgeon and he in turn traded it in at BMW Toronto when his wife was expecting a baby and they bought a SUV. Now it sits on 4th floor taunting me when ever I venture up there.
1997 Ducati 900SS with many options not least was the titanium Ducati exhaust that gave it the distinctive note. A fun bike though a little too focused as a track bike and not happy on the street...but very happy on the open road. Once you got into the crouch, it was loads of fun. Trouble is the crouch can be a bit restricting and only suited to flat out riding. I started riding with some folks from Woodbridge who assured me that they weren't crazy rider on their Ducati's. I quickly realized their idea of crazy wasn't same as mine. They liked to pass on hills and corners as is done in Europe....the other cars will move over won't they? It was my third bike by now so wasn't ridden all the time and somehow I managed to avoid any tickets. However she did cost me a bit of money in tune ups and suspension setup and a few other things. So I decided to reform and get something respectable and she was sold off. She had loads of torque and very impressive sound to go along with it. Pulling into a parking lot with other bikes at Campbellville always was an attention getter. It looked the part but I have to admit that I may not have. Crouching over the tank felt great if you were on a mission like breaking the lap record at Mosport but not so much riding on a Sunday morning. Time to go so out she went.
2008 Ducati GT1000. Pretty nice sit up standard bike with 1000cc's and plenty of poke. This bike came with the optional Termignoni exhaust and a chrome rear rack which upped the appeal. However the brakes and suspension were not so good and would have required a fair bit of money to upgrade. Another problem was that the plastic fuel tank was the subject of a class action law suit in the US and the long term outcome was uncertain. That plus a few weird things that happened with the dealer (Rev Cycle) led me to sell sooner than I should have because now used GT1000's sell for more than it was new in the showroom. Style wise the bike looked great from all angles except side. The rear wheel opening was oddly too large unless you opted for the extra bags. My wife is not a big fan of Ducati's.
1984 Suzuki GS1150E and 1986 GS1150ES. The red bike came from a dealer in London and was previously owned by older gentleman who must have done something to the motor because if you opened it up, the vision became blurred like in Star Wars and you had to hang on for dear life lest the bike run away from you. It was truly the strongest motor I've ever ridden. Handling was not as good but still it was pretty nifty around town and on the road. Never spent a dime on the bike for two years and was tons of fun. After a time though being blown around riding at above the normal limit became tiring and since I was planning on going to Maritimes on 2 week ride, I searched for the same bike/motor but with the full fairing. So for a brief 2 weeks I owned both and sold the red one back to original owner who had been searching the used bikes ad's for years to find it. The silver GS1150ES rode well initially and wind protection was decent and still with the monster motor. However this bike experienced unending electrical troubles and wasn't such a joy to own. Turns out it was an out of province bike with no provenance meaning it had been built from bits of that and bits of this. Nice job covering their tracks but the problems only became evident after a day or so on the big trip east which means I was into darkest New Brunswick when things went seriously wrong. Long story short it was shipped home on friends truck and rebuilt but by this time I no longer trusted it and moved on.
This is the 3rd and last Suzuki and was purchased new from McBrides on Dundas. The sales girl was reputedly a retired stripper who was quite the motorcycle enthusiast. She enjoyed racing so selling bikes seemed a natural fit after giving up pole dancing. She was the top sales person and moved on to real estate after McBrides closed its doors. This bike was a good purchase from start to finish and she (the bike) never let me down. Only fault was a burnt out signal light in its 3rd. The Yoshimura Pipe added in the 4th year upped the fun factor considerably. The other modification was replacing the fork springs with Race Tech fork springs and that transformed the handling and it was now a bit of a hooligan bike. Downside was that it used more fuel I was now in real danger of losing my license. So the solution was to find a bike that was more of a sport touring bike and that next bike was the Honda VFR 800. The Suzuki was in great shape and is likely still being enjoyed somewhere in Southern Ontario. Those bikes were not too refined but motor and transmission were well built and ran forever provided it was given basic maintenance.