Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Bike

The Yammie, the Gunmetal Ghost.

A word from Ian on his beloved girl...

I had spent my whole life hating the idea of motorbikes. My Dad was sustained injuries to his head (and some brain damage) when he piled his Ariel Square Four into a telegraph pole in 1939, and he spent the rest of his life paying the price. But in 1996, I was walking through a shopping mall in Richmond NSW, and spied a beautiful new two-toned Honda Shadow being displayed as the prize of a raffle. I thought it looked particularly retro, what with the colour and the spoked wheels and all, so I bought a ticket.

I’m one of those people that when I buy a ticket for anything, I expect to win it.

As the prize-drawing day drew near and past, I twigged to the fact that I had not won this bike. It played on my mind for a while, and one day I walked into the local Honda dealer and bought the bike.

As it happened, it was the very same bike that had been used in the raffle display, but not the bike that had been won.

So, I walked out of there as though I had won the raffle. Just nine thousand dollars difference!!

I didn’t know how to ride. I enrolled in the Stay Upright course, and in no time, I was staying uptight.

Because of my age, I was able to immediately ride a bigger capacity bike on the road, so away I went. I traveled all over. Melbourne, Adelaide; all around country New South Wales. The bike was big enough for me and met all requirements except one…..I couldn’t buy good enough after-market accessories to make Annette’s ride comfortable. That is, not a very good pillion seat available; no good footrests – all of that.

So, within a year of buying the Shadow, I was enviously looking at Harleys and the bigger Jap bikes. I decided that (at the time) I didn’t want to go through all the hoops that one had to go through to prevent my bike being pinched – and that was seriously on the cards if it had been a Harley that I’d settled for, so we decided on a 1997 Yamaha 1300cc V4 Royal Star Tour Deluxe. This was the beast with all the comforts for a pillion passenger, and all the weight and grunt to handle long haul holidays.

Here was my second-only motorcycle and I had opted for something that tipped the scales at nearly 500Kg!!

It didn’t take long to get used to the weight, and before too long, we had chalked up quite some miles on the beast. That was when I started in on some “extras” for the girl. For BOTH of the girls, I should say.

I bought a Corbin tour seat from the U.S. and installed an electronic cruise control. I had the whole bike painted in my own special colour combination, and had airbrush additions added to my own design.


I haven’t conquered the Nullabor yet, and probably won’t after all my trips from Adelaide to Perth in a Beetle, but she’s done the rounds. At time of writing, there’s about 160,000 Kms on the clock, and we expect a lot more to go. She has seen roads from the frozen tarmac of Cradle Mountain in Tassie to the melting bitumen of the Hay Plain. She’s still going strong.

We’ve had a bit of a think about trading up, but I’ve believed that that would only be trying to keep up with mates who seem to have a new bike every year. We don’t see the point.

We are both very accustomed to the old gunmetal ghost, and she still purrs along beautifully or rockets along with a snarl, depending on how we feel.

In the intervening 13 years since we first threw the leg over her, we have had to replace 2 clutches (expected), one differential (expected at 100,000) and one rear brake disc (expected).

The Gunmetal Ghost is almost as much part of this family as is Minka and our Weber Barbecue.

Those Corbin 'comfy' seats
The Yammie, the Gunmetal Ghost.

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