Motorcycle Memories

Coming Of Age With ‘The Nicest People’

By A.C. Reeves

The July 2019 issue of American Motorcyclist revived several memories from my youth. I was about to conclude my higher education at a top-ranked midwestern university. One of my fraternity brothers became an owner of a Honda step-through 50cc bike (as shown on page 18.) He let me ride around campus, and before long I was hooked.

After all, Mr. Honda did say, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” I thought I was nice, and to meet other nice folks was appealing.

The summer before my last semester of college, unknown to my parents, I acquired a used CB150 Dream. A beautiful red machine. I kept it at a friend’s down the street, riding it to work each day and returning it to his garage.

While my parents were gone on vacation, I kept it at our house. Forgetting they might come home early, I got caught red handed — well, “red biked”– when they arrived. Not a lot was said, but there were some uncomfortable minutes. But at least I could then park at home!

Soon after college I was drafted into the military, a common occurrence in 1966 when a student deferment expired. My “bike” became an olive drab Jeep with a 106mm recoilless rifle mounted in it.

After returning to civilian life, I acquired some spare cash and became the owner of a new CB350. Maybe it was the 305, as I’m a bit vague on that now. But it was nice.

Wow! A big bike that I could actually venture out on state highways away from my hometown.

The CB750 debuted in 1969. As I recall, Honda made some refinements in the model, and I bought a new 1971 version.

My first wife and I, along with another couple on their CB750, made our first cross-country trips on those 750s, camping along the way. What an adventure!

I think maybe there was a bit of envy from some of my former small-town classmates when I actually rode a motorcycle from Indiana to California and back. That was a great bike, until 1975.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Mr. Honda introduced the GL1000 Gold Wing. No more chain to lube and adjust on a trip. A better touring platform.

I ordered one to arrive at a nearby dealer, hoping it would be red. But when the dealer called to advise a GL had arrived, he disclosed it was the teal color. Darn. But, teal was a rarer color, red being more abundant.

Off to California again, this time for a bit longer. I traveled from Chula Vista, Calif., to San Francisco and then headed back East.

The GL served us well, and the paint still looked new.

In 1999, my current wife and I were visiting motorcycle shows, considering a new bike. Not as interested in the “Honda Civic” the car-like Gold Wing had become, and not quite sure of the sometimes questionable reliability of other brands at the time, we spotted the Yamaha Royal Star Venture: a V-4, water cooled, shaft drive, with comfy touring seats and a five-year warranty.

That bike carried us through a number of states and was replaced by a new 2003 Aprilia RSV, which is still being ridden today. In fact, this one has carried us to and through D.C., 49 states, all the provinces of Canada and one territory at least once, some more often.

However, camping is no longer the chosen mode of evening respite for the “older” body.

Interestingly, in mid-June of this year, while riding in northwest Georgia with friends from various states, we made a stop at the store on the eastern end of the Tail of the Dragon, on U.S. 129. Among all the bikes assembled there in that parking lot, one bike stood out for me—a teal 1975 Honda GL1000. I talked to the owner, who was proud to say the serial number of his bike is 40. More memories.

Thank you, Mr. Honda, for bringing such joy to the lives of so many of us. I have seen creation up close and personal on so many rewarding miles. I hope I’m blessed for several more.

And thank you, American Motorcyclist, for reviving so many of these fond memories!

A.C. Reeves is an AMA Charter Life Member from Columbus, Ind.