Motorcycles

Psalm 36:7 – “How precious, Elohim, is your grace!
Psalm 109:26 – “Help me, Yahweh, my God! Save me, in keeping with your grace.”

Riding A Motorcycle
Anyone who survives riding a motorcycle does so only by the GRACE of Yahweh, Yeshua, and the Ruach Ha’Kodesh. It takes only the tiniest patch of sand, oil, water, ice, pine needles, new tar, or other slick substance for a motorcycle to lose traction and go out from underneath its rider – even at slow speeds. The result can be fatal at any speed. Survival, even protection from minor injury, is always a deliberate act of Yahweh’s grace. That being said, let us now begin the journey to two wheeled driving:

The Motorcycles
Philippians 4:7 – “Then Yahweh’s shalom, passing all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with the Mashiach Yeshua.”
As I said in my About Jeff article, I am an avid motorcyclist. Jeff and motorcycles are a bit like french toast and maple syrup, bees and honey, brownies and ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream. They just seem to go well together. Motorcycles have always been a joy to own and ride, and it is on a ride when I most powerfully feel Yahweh’s shalom.

My riding days began at the same time I ended up in UC Berkeley – purely coincidental, I’m sure. Eighteen is such a fun time in a boy’s life . . . . .
Bike 1:. Bike one was a Honda Super Sport 90cc. Top speed was circa 50mph. No need to plead the fifth for this one.  You might think given my fascination with speed and superb handling that I started out with the biggest, fastest bike on the market, Nope. That came shortly thereafter.

Bike 2: Bike two was a Vincent Comet 500cc. Now we’re getting closer to the fastest. I may need to plead the fifth for this one as specs say it topped out a tad over 100mph. This bike furthered my appreciation of British motoring machinery (remember the sports cars?). Triumphs, BSAs, Norton Commandos. All great machines. All come equipped with speed and superb handling. This bike is one of my favorites. I paid $300 for it, and today it would cost ten time that. Yikes.

Bike 3: Bike three was a Honda Super Hawk 305cc, which I built by taking the parts off of two other Super Hawks that college dorm mates had crashed. It also topped out about 100mph, but didn’t require adding oil before every ride, ha ha! Again, I may need to plead the fifth for this one. Having both the Vincent and the Honda kept me busy. College took a back seat. Also a favorite. I think I paid $100 for the pair of wrecked bikes..

Bike 4: Bike four was the real prize. It belonged to a friend. When Ray first bought the bike, it ran on one cylinder most of the time, and both cylinders occasionally. Made riding it challenging, so guess who got the chore of riding it from Berkeley to Marin to be rebuilt. Pete Adams of Marin Honda did the repairs. When we got the call to pick it up, back to Marin we went. Pete owned a Black Shadow, A Black Knight, and a racing Black Lightning. Have you guessed the type of Bike Ray and Pete both owned? Yah sure, ya betcha –  Ray’s bike was a Vincent Black Shadow 1000cc, the fastest production motorcycle at that time.

Ray wanted to see how his Vincent compared to Pete’s, so asked: “How does it run?” Pete glanced over at his Black Lightning, sighed, and with a very stiff upper lip (he too is British), replied: “Some motorcycles, no matter how much you do to them, turn out fast, as expected.” He then turned to look at Ray’s Black Shadow and said: “But then there’s others that you just put together with stock parts, and they go like a bat out of hell.” I have no idea how fast it could go (the speedometer topped out at 150mph)! However, I more than likely need to plead the fifth on speeds attained while riding this fine machine even though neither Ray nor I never pushed it to its limits. 

I later found out that a ninth Series “B” Black Shadow had been pulled from the assembly line and tweaked for speed. When Rollie Free ran the bike on the morning of Feb. 13, 1948, he hit an average of 148.6 mph, breaking Harley Davidson’s 11-year-old record by over 12 mph. Unsatisfied with the speed, Rollie modified for aerodynamic efficiency and achieved an average top speed of 150.313 mph—a milestone that would turn himself, John Edgar and Vincent motorcycles into a household name. Not bad for a hand-assembled motorcycle with only 1,700 ever made, eh?

This bike, the Vincent Black Shadow 1000cc, is THE all time favorite. Wish I could afford to buy one of my own. Hey, in 1968 they only cost $500. Now they cost $40,000! Yikes again.

Bike 5: Bike five was a Yamaha 500XL. Suitably fast and good handling. The Highway Patrolman who eventually caught up to me (because I had already pulled over to wait for a riding buddy) swore that I was doing at least 125mph, though he never got near enough to clock my actual speed. It all turned out okay and no need to plead the fifth. He had never seen a Yamaha 500XL, but had been informed that he would be getting one soon for his Motorcycle Cop duties. We had a long talk, and discovered that the bike I was riding, was in fact, a Police Special. Even had the electrical hookups installed for all the gear the Highway Patrol would add. Yahweh has a grand sense of humor. Wanna-Be Hot Rodder on a Police Special. Yeeha! My usual riding buddy had a Honda 750cc Four-In-One which he only let me ride once, but that’s another long story, despite the quick ride . . . . .

Bike 6+: Over the years, I’ve ridden and owned a bunch of motorcycles of all sizes and shapes, including Hondas XR-75, XL-175, and more recently a 450cc Nighthawk. Last year, our Apartment Maintenance Man convinced me to buy his motorcycle which he was ready to trade in for a bigger bike, at a very generous low price. All he said was that it was a Honda. So, I head over to the shop to take a look, and just couldn’t pass up his offer. Honda 750cc. Twin cylinder just like the Vincent. Model: Shadow just like the Vincent. But wait, not only was it a twin cylinder, not only was it a Shadow, the full model name is the Honda Shadow Spirit, VT750-C2F! How could I refuse?

The Caveats
Ephesians 6;11-14 – “Put on the whole armor of God, having prepared everything, so that when the battle [ride] is over, you will still be standing.”
Riding a motorcycle is a dangerous, yet extremely enjoyable sport. Only by the grace of Yahweh does one survive. Just as one needs to put on the full armor of God to navigate daily life, so too one must put on suitable protection to ride a motorcycle.

Any person who rides without full protection, preferably of the hi-visibility type: helmet, armored jacket, boots, and gloves is an idiot. No, make that a stupid idiot. It takes only the tiniest patch of sand, oil, water, ice, pine needles, new tar, or other slick substance for a motorcycle to lose traction and go out from underneath its rider in an instant – even at slow speeds. The result can be fatal at any speed. Survival, even protection from minor injury, is always a deliberate act of Yahweh’s grace and protection. Never forget this, nor take his grace and protection for granted.

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

Honda 90 SuperSport
My Vincent Comet 500
My Honda SuperHawk 305
Vincent Black Shadow 1000
Yamaha TX500
Honda XR-75
Honda 450 NightHawk
Honda 750 Shadow Spirit