The Ones That Got Away....thankfully.


Most of us love love bikes, and I am no exception. I've been fortunate to have owned about 60 of them in my life. I have had attachments to nearly every one I owned, and many I have not owned. Still.....not all of them have lit me up. A few of my past bikes generated little or even a negative emotional attachment. It is common to talk about bikes that we liked, so, I figured I'd spend some time to discussing the ones that I happily sent down the road.

First on my list was a 1974 Penton 125 Six Days. The bike delivered its power like a light switch. It broke constantly, and the closest place for parts was 50 miles away. It was formerly owned by Ned Overend, whom I think was the New England Enduro champion. Ned was a seasoned rider, mechanic, and hard as nails. I was fourteen.

A 1979 Suzuki RM400N, that was way too much bike for me at the time. This former race bike had Fox Factory shocks, Fox handlebars and seat cover, Simons forks, and 1980 rounded fenders, which made it stunningly beautiful. I bought it for $900 from a co-worker who assured me it would make a great woods bike for tight New England riding, perhaps the biggest lie ever told. It was ridiculously tall, stiff, hard to start, and fast, and I was a skinny seventeen year old kid. One of my memories was rebuilding the worn-out chain guide system on it which had about 50 different bearings, seals, spacers, and more bearings, and cost a small fortune. I finally sold it when, on one of the many times it pitched me off, I broke my wrist and needed surgery. 

Then there was the 1982 GPz750. I got smitten with this bike from its looks also, which caused me to miss the fact that it had been crashed fairly hard at some point. The seller had prettied it up enough to distract me from the fact that some part of the chassis was bent. My short test ride did not show me just how dangerously homicidal the thing was when ridden hard. On a bright spot, it did spit off my slimey then-roommate, which still makes me smile.

There was the 1998 KTM250EXC. It did nothing well. Power delivery sucked. Suspension sucked. Didn't turn. Hard to start. I had spent a lot of time on RMX250s and this thing was a real pig by comparison. It may have been setup issues, but there was no way I was going to invest any time sorting it out. KTM did not sell many bikes back in those days. Good thing, because if word got out about this turd, it would have ruined them.

I had a 2001 Arilia Falco that I absolutely hated. It was my second Aprilia, and my first one was amazing. This one was a pile. It had a great motor but awful Sachs suspension. I tried to remedy this by spending A LOT of money at a California suspension tuner who had checked out from running his business. The derelicts that were working there somehow made the bike much worse, and nearly every ride on it scared the crap out of me. On the positive side, it caused my forearm strength to double from trying to hang on. Eventually fear overtook me and I sold it to a guy who I disclosed all this to, at a huge financial loss.

There were a few bikes that I sent down the road because of circumstances, yet don't miss. The XT600 that I bailed on, because I just could not get excited about it. A WR250F in boxes that I traded for a helmet, too much of a puzzle. An SL350 project that came when time was in short supply. All good machines, but not right at the time, and not missed either. 

What about you? Again, talking about your favorite loved one bikes is common....tell us about the ones you are happy to see gone. Any of your bikes break you, your bank, or your spirit?

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  • Brian Price
Comments 4
  • UrinalCake

    I had a 2001 Buell X1 Lightning. It was my first bike. It was a lot of bike for a first bike. Still, it couldn’t keep up with the cheaper (better) asian bikes, even in the turns. I ended up laying it down in an intersection (my fault — wasn’t paying attention, thinking about ex-gf, grabbed the brake), and breaking my collar bone pretty bad too. I still rode it for a while with the headers all scratched up. I put an aftermarket intake on it to get it running again. Every damn thing would vibrate loose on that bike. Some guy bought it for nearly what I paid for it. He had too much money. I was stoked to be rid of it and ride something a little less unique. I picked up a 2005 ZX6R and loved it. Now I own a 1290 SuperDuke and I feel like it’s the best of all the worlds. Strong v-twin with decent top-speed, amazing cornering/handling. Love it!

  • Roger D
    Roger D

    Brand new 2005 BMC Hooligan custom chopper. Really wanted to have a custom bike at least once. It was a fun bike – when it ran. Biggest issue was the components BMC put on the motor – electrical, carb, etc. Got so fed up with it spending more time in the shop than on the road – AND, I didn’t want to spend a bunch more money to put quality components on it to make it reliable. I still have mixed feelings, but don’t miss it.

  • Tyler-San

    2003 YZ450f – One of the first bikes I ever bought brand new. It had a LOT of power and a 4 speed tranny that was NEVER in the right gear. I couldn’t sell it fast enough.

  • Larry Desaulniers
    Larry Desaulniers

    This is an easy one. ‘84 900 Ninja (GPZ900R). I bought it as a basket case, put it back together (after much additional expense), then went on a tour. It rained the whole time until the afternoon its oil pressure light came on and stayed on. After a long hike to make a phone call to my wife to make a 7 hour drive to pick me up (this was years ago before cell towers started to show up outside of municipal areas), the rain finally decided to stop. The fates were mocking me.
    Once home and after doing some diagnosis (and guesswork), I tried a new pressure switch, and that was the problem. I couldn’t sell that bad luck machine fast enough.

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