I’ve ridden motorcycles for quite a while but there was a space
approaching 20 years when I didn’t own one of my own. Unfortunately,
I found myself in the position of depending on the “kindness of
strangers” for my infrequent two-wheel fix.
When I sold my 1978 Suzuki GS550 Four, most of the bikes I had ridden
would be considered “standards” using today’s classification. I
don’t recall many people having anything that looked remotely like
today’s “crotch rockets,” except maybe the professional road racer.
During the ensuing years, the motorcycle’s I would have an opportunity
to grab a quick ride on would also be considered standards or possibly
cruisers, although we didn’t call Harley’s cruisers. In fact, most
of the Harley’s I came across during that time were either the older
“hard tail” models, or of the “chopper” variety, but no crotch rockets,
and actually, no cruisers yet either.
I would go down to the local motorcycle shop from time to time and
when I looked at the new “sport bikes,” I thought they were for
professional racers or at the very least, someone who wanted to
become a professional racer. Horsepower in those days, for most
riders, was usually in the high 30’s or low 40’s with Norton having
an amazing 60 horsepower. I almost bought a Norton Atlas in 1969,
rubber mounted, and sporting a full 60 bhp for those who were bold
enough. A 750 cc or 800 cc engine was considered big for the average
rider, which pretty much described my riding style. These new sport
bikes often had over a hundred horsepower. Damn, and double damn!
Now fast forward 20 years and I’m getting back into the sport (hobby?)
and I see, on the Internet, that Triumph has reintroduced the Bonneville.
Hot damn, I want one of those so I ran to my local Triumph dealer,
and put $500 down, hard money, on a new Bonneville. That was in
March 2001. To my amazement, the new Bonnie was now 790cc’s and
61 hp. More than enough. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a Bonnie
until October but now I didn’t want to wait. I ended up buying a
used 1995 BMW R100RT with 60 hp. It turned out to be a great bike
and, by the way, why didn’t someone tell me about windshields and
bags. They’re great and make long distance touring a snap.
Anyway, I’m out on the open roads getting used to my powerful new
Beemer when a couple of “crotch rockets” blast by me like I’m standing
still. Scared the stuffing out of me, it did. I certainly didn’t
want to ride one of those things. Dangerous. Crazy. Too damn
fast. Geez, I’m starting to sound old. Besides, those guys dress
Then I take the Beemer in for service and the dealer gives me a
loaner. Out comes a Triumph 955i, a crotch rocket. Hey, I can’t
ride this thing. Sorry, that’s all we have available. If you want
to bring yours back in a couple of weeks we can reserve something
different. No, I’ll take the damn thing.
So I climb on this thing and feel like a monkey humping s football,
and off I go. First off, the thing is as light as a feather compared
to my Beemer. Second, it’s got horsepower up the kazoo. Third,
it handles like a dream and forth; it’s a hell of a lot of fun!
Oh, oh, I’m starting to like this thing.
Still, there are some things I don’t like. I don’t like the fact
that leaned over like that; my shoulders get in the way of my seeing
out my mirrors. I see mostly my shoulders. I have to kind of drop
a shoulder and then quickly turn my head to see what’s coming.
I start to merge onto the freeway and I see a Yamaha sport bike
with a passenger over in the fast lane. No problem, I merge into
the slow lane, then over into the next lane when all of a sudden,
that Yamaha blasts by me, on my right side, in my lane. I see him
as he disappears back into the fast lane up ahead. Who was that
masked man? I damn near soiled myself. I’m not sure, but I think
I had just been challenged. Since I wasn’t wearing all of those
red, white, and black leathers the crotch rocket rider usually wear,
he probably spotted that I was on the wrong type of bike with my
synthetic “First Gear” touring jacket and all. He was just poking
a little fun at me.
When I would crank on the throttle of that 955i, away this puppy
would go; head into an onramp or off ramp and your molded into the
bike, leaning way over. My Beemer is a fine handling machine but
we’re talking apples and oranges here. Reluctantly I take the 955i
back to the dealer at the end of the day. I climb back aboard my
trusty RT and head home with a new appreciation of crotch rockets.
Do I now want one? Nah, there fun but there not for me. I don’t
race and I’m at that age where I want to appreciate the scenery,
not stayed glued to the road ahead. I’m at the age where I appreciate
a good sauce, but I still enjoy a spicy entrée once in a while.
I wouldn’t mind taking a crotch rocket out once in a while but I
wouldn’t spend good money for one. They’re obviously aimed at those
who love speed more than the ride. I love the ride more than speed.
I have to say that those who do ride them seem to be having a lot
of fun but I also regret that way too many of them are ending up
dead on the side of the road. When the power of the machine surpasses
the power of your body to react to changing conditions, there’s
trouble ahead. Too many of my crotch rocket riding brethren don’t
seem to be making it to my age. What a shame; they may have found
that a cruiser or a tourer will give them all of the enjoyment that
speed used to. Well, at least it can come close.