Sometime you don’t find the motorcycle, but rather, it finds you. Actually, that’s most of the time. Ive never gone in search of a motorcycle. But Ive owned 5 different ones now. In fact, one of them I owned twice. And three of them were stolen. And of the 5 bikes Ive owned there have only been 3 models. That’s right, Ive owned two models twice each.
The first bike I ever bought was a Kawasaki KLR 650. It was the same bike my best friend St itch had bought when we were living together in Harlem. It made me want a bike, badly. But really what made me want to be a motorcyclist was the primal sense a little boy gets when he sees a motorcyle… Man these things are COOL. It’s impossible to ignore.
But a motorcycle wants to be in my future, or so I thought, and Stitch told me so. “Man, the way you drink, theres only one way that’s gonna end.” And he was right, if I had bought a bike in 2000 or 2001 it wouldn’t have been long before it killed me. But then things changed. Slowly. I met a woman I wanted to be with. I stopped drinking for 30 days, which led to 3+ years, and then finally one day I decided I wanted a motorcycle. Back before high speed internet turned everyone in to a blogger, I was a magazine addict, and I used to stoat a magazine shop with a tattoo parlor in the back, at West 3rd Street and 6th avenue a lot of nights on my way home from Tribeca Rock Club… and I used tis see a Red KLR parked outside. I just kept seeing that bike over and over, and I decided that’s the bike I wanted.
As summer turned to autumn, I remembered hearing that autumn was the best time to buy a bike. Conventional wisdom said that people bought bikes in the spring, and then sold them in the fall. The spring was a time of optimism, of sunny days spent riding twisty mountain roads. Of end of year bonuses burning a hole in people’s pockets. But when fall came, so too did the realties of the impending winter. Of the need to stop the bike., of there being no chance to ride it at all. And to the realty of the fact that there was a very expensive machine that you almost never used, collecting not just dust, but piling up expenses in the form of insurance, parking garage fees, or maybe even tickets. And all that psychic energy got was eating up. So that’s when I decided I was gonna go and find me a Red KLR 650, just like the one that I kept seeing parked outside the magazine / tattoo shop.
BUT FIRST I WENT AND GOT MYSELF A MOTORCYCLE LICENSE – which is a whole other adventure in itself that will be told at another time.
A few days later I walked into the parking garage on 155th street where me and the lady kept our Toyota Matrix, and what did I see but a red KLR 650 with a for sale sign on it… This was the 2003 model, which had just hit the streets in the spring, with price tag of $5,000. I called the number and asked the guy how much he wanted for it. He said $3,000. I told him Id give him $2,000, but he said his price was firm. No dice, I said, politely, and hung up. A week or so later I called him again and offered him $2,000. He said no way, but that he would sell if for $2,700. Again, no die. A week after that I called again and offered him $2,000. He said, pass, but Ill take $2,500. I figured I had the advantage, because who was gonna buy a used motorcycle in the fall.
The next time I went to the garage, I noticed something else, the bike hadn’t moved and was actually starting to collect some dust. I asked the garage attendants what the deal was, and they said the owner had brought it in and just left it there, hander been riding it. So I went and took a closer look and realized that the right side had a bunch of scratched on it. Tell tale scratches… HOLY SHIT THSI GYU HAD DROPPED THE BIKE, WHILE IN MOTION. Of COURSE he wasn’t riding it anymore, and OF COURSE he was gonna sell it to me for $2,000.
So Called him again and told him I knew he had dropped it and thats why I was offering $2k. He finally relented and agreed to that price tag and so I went and met him at the garage the following day with $2k cash in my pocket. We made some very brief small talk, and then he agreed to let me take int out for a test ride. I did, and I LOVED it. The KLR is not a fancy bike, but it suited me perfectly. It was an endure bike, which meant it was big enough and stable enough to take out on the highway… but that it was also nimble enough and tough enough to take off road and tackle the dirt trails. A literal DREAM, as I had become quite hooked on watching motocross and the Crusty Demons of Dirt video series… So I couldn’t get a straight up street bike.
When I pulled back into the garage, I was TOTALLY SOLD, and bought the bike right there on there spot. As we started filling out paper, I asked him about the low mileage and asked where he had been riding it to. He said he had taken it to Coney Island a few times, but that he mostly just rode it back and forth to work. I asked where he worked and he said Soho. I said, “Oh yeah, what do you do?” A tattoo artist… Oh yeah, where’s the shop?