Monday, February 11, 2013

Procuring a Ride

Two Thanksgivings ago my dad talked me into buying a motorcycle. His persuasion tactics were pretty straightforward. He sent me an email one morning. "Hey get this One. Love Dad." There was an attached e-bay listing. It was fairly evident he had been scouring a listings for a few weeks with a very specific make and model in mind. It was a 1979 Kawasaki KZ650. That's right, 1979. A 30 year old motorcycle.

To be fair, I was pretty easily swayed.  I had casually mentioned thought of maybe, kinda considering getting a bike for sometime.  Usually right after late night tbs airings of Terminator 2.  Dad helped me scratch a little at the thought by checking out a few possibilities he'd seen at auto auctions over the last year.  But there always managed to be an issue here or there.  Damaged forks.  Electrical issues.  Too much money.  All bikes at the auto auctions had landed there as a result of insurance total loss claims so reasons not to buy, weren't terribly difficult to come by.  I didn't have a ton to spend.  I wasn't really sure where I'd be able to store it.  Hell, I didn't even know how to ride a motorcycle.  When winter rolled around that year, I adopted an 'out of sight, out mind' mentality pretty easily.  But not Dad.

Maybe searching for a bike had ignited some pent up excitement he had stuffed in the garage with his own bike several years ago.  Maybe Dad was excited to see me interested in something that exuded a little more masculinity than my typical after work hobbies (comic books and late night prose).

Whatever it was, he kept looking.  And several months later he found it.  In Indianapolis.  A short 2,000 mile round trip door to door from the garage in Houston.  But it was pristine.  Less than 30,000 miles.  Polished.  Chromed.  It was almost as nice as the Dad's own 1978 Kawasaki KZ650 sitting in the garage --well as nice as his had been back in 1978, these days it was a damn different story.   The Indianapolis seller had been the original owner.  He assured us he had maintained it through the years, and was only finally getting rid of it to silence his wife once and for all.  For the $1500.00 he was asking, nostalgia aside, the bike looked like a steal.  And hey, if I'm able to find a cool starter bike for a reasonable price that just so happens to be the same kind of bike my old man learned to ride on then why the hell no-- oh shit. Someone else just bought it. I had been stifled again by our old family foe:  excessively prolonged consideration.  After watching my dad struggle with this condition for years, I had hoped it not to be hereditary.  Not so.

And so the search continued.  After just a few more months though, Dad struck again.  With several upsides.  This one was a 1979 KZ650 SR (alloy wheels, electric fuel gauge, disc brakes, 4 in 2 exhaust, chrome chain guard... or as I understood it at the time, the sportier one).  Plus it was half the cost.  And it was just outside of Austin, TX which was significantly closer than Indianapolis.  The only draw back was that it may not run.  Or at least it had been a few months since it had been started according to the current owner, which as my Dad pointed out more than once is different than inoperable.  Plus, he said, "with Thanksgiving coming up, you might as well see what they'll take for it."  Somehow that logic seemed to make sense.

So a few weeks later Dad and I were driving across Texas to check out the back and maybe (almost certainly) make an offer.  The problem with checking out the bike in person, as anyone who has ever shopped for anything knows, it takes a helluvah lot of downside to talk yourself out of a purchase once its suddenly a real and tangible thing.  No it didn't start, and no the owner couldn't remember exactly when the last time was that he got it started, but Dad did lay down on the ground and look at the bottom of the bike and rub his finger around the inside of the exhaust pipe, so it seemed to be "mechanically sound."  Plus as I pointed out, while we were whispering together in our quiet consideration, "the registration had barely expired so it had to have been running at some point kinda recently otherwise they wasted all that money on registration, and that would be dumb."

We forked over the cash, grabbed the straps we need to haul the bike back to Houston, struggled to load to load the bike into the back of the truck... stopped.  cursed.  struggled again.  asked the guy we just bought the bike from for help.  quietly let the guy we just bought the bike from take over with securing it in the back of our truck.  And then we were off!

I was the proud new owner of a 30 year old inoperable bike kinda like the inoperable one my dad already had at home in the garage.