The hardest part about leaving any relationship is the memories—the thoughts of all the good times you’ve had together. The hardships, the triumphs.
The same holds true for project vehicles. A few years ago, I purchased my first motorcycle, a 1981 Suzuki GS550L, for $300 off Craigslist. It was the beginning of an imperfect but beautiful relationship that I wrote all about in an article a few months back.
The relationship, admittedly, involved quite a few more bumps, bruises and setbacks than I expected. Like the time I seized my engine by using too much starter fluid. Or the time I forgot to tighten the bolt at the top of the fork and the whole bike wobbled erratically. Or the electrical wiring from hell that smoked every time I started the bike.
Back then, I was probably cursing profusely. But looking back, these were good times.
But we got through it, me and my GS. I donned my rubber gloves, broke out my scalpel and started surgery on my poor, wounded motorcycle. I tightened my fork nut and read through confusing wiring diagrams, eventually figuring out the pesky electronics.
I tracked down an engine donor on the Internet, and $75 later, I transplanted its healthy four-banger into my disabled machine. In the end, I spent an entire year bleeding, sweating and crying trying to get the bike fixed up, but eventually I was finished.
We were back on the road, gunning through Detroit in awe of the incredible architecture and history. The four cylinder engine and that four-to-one exhaust system blared down Gratiot Avenue at 7,000 RPM. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.
But I won’t ever hear that sound again.
Some riders decide to hang up the gloves when they start having a family and just lose time to ride and maintain their bikes. The same thing happened with me, except by “family,” I mean “large collection of automobiles.”
Owning so many cars meant I could no longer store my vehicles in the Fiat Chrysler parking lot; I had to move to a place with a garage, so I left my little apartment in Detroit for the suburbs.
Now I have a garage, and I can take care of my vehicles. But riding here isn’t as fun, and with my family of cars to wrench on, I just don’t have much time to ride.
Eventually, I saw myself riding less and less, and then I realized: I need get rid of her.
I threw the old GS on Craigslist for far more than I really expected to get. It was my way of convincing myself that I was at least trying to dump one of my projects. But nobody replied. So I dropped the price to a level that was still more than the bike was worth. Secretly I didn’t want to get rid of her.
But eventually logic prevailed, and I lowered the price to $600. I knew someone would buy it for that price, and I just wanted it gone. I wanted the bandaid ripped off quickly.
In short order, a guy came by in a Chevy Blazer and took my first motorcycle away, along with my enormous pile of motorcycle parts. My garage had cleared out a bit, and I was feeling weird.
I wasn’t feeling strange because, in the end, I probably lost about $600 on the whole ordeal. No, I felt that peculiar way because of what I’d put into that bike. It was over a year of rigorous wrenching with my friends, tons of research online and in books, and many visits to random people on Craigslist selling parts.
The people I met, the friendships I strengthened by wrenching with people, and the joy I got riding the bike, made watching her roll away on a flatbad a heartbreaking moment.
But I learned a lot from that relationship. I can fix an old Japanese bike with my eyes closed, and now I’ve got more space, coin, and time to work on my other projects. So in the end, I knew it was the right call.
Still, I miss her.