Updated: Sep 3
This blog post was submitted by Zach Gas
I guess you could say it all began in my childhood, playing around my dad’s retired gunmetal grey Norton 800 and seeing the portrait his friend Tom made for him on his trusty steed long before I was even a consideration. He rode before I was born, but I guess gave it up to give us the things we needed and wanted growing up in life. However, motorcycles always fascinated me as I’m sure they do for most young boys. Kept merely as a dream, a cool idea, or just something to fantasize about in my spare time.
Fast forward about 23 years; all my friends at work were getting into riding. One of them even went so far as to become a member of a racing association. Now we are talking four guys who are all friends and me the fifth being the odd man out. Naturally, after some ribbing and a bit of hassle, I was convinced my dream needed to become a reality. I went and wrote my exam to get my license; the very same day purchased my very first brand new motorcycle a 2014 Honda Grom MXS 125 (nobody panic this is only the beginning).
With my newly purchased monster, I proceeded to learn how to ride with the help of my friends in a parking lot of a local unused sports complex. After putting a relatively small amount of wheel time on this fascinating machine, I was confident enough to hit the road. Nine kilometres and a few hundred dollars in insurance premiums on a learner’s license were all I needed to hit the road!
My first year of riding was mostly city traffic as the Grom is only a four-speed 125, not built for speed or endurance (I think the fastest I had it ever was 121 km/h going downhill with a strong backwind and a race tuck worthy of Le Mans). Riding the city traffic made me learn fast and respect the ride; I learned so much in such a small amount of time, and as you fellow riders can attest to riding is not something you can “fake it until you make it.” I had a few close calls that the first season; never dropped the bike, but I can say on more than a few occasions I could have used a new set of britches.
The end of the season came; I still had all my skin and dignity, and I decided to call it a wrap after the first severe snowfall of the year came; away, the beast went to leave me with a moto curiosity to think about all winter.
Then, as if I had been waiting a decade, the oppressive white stuff slowly melted away and left me with dry but chilly conditions to practice my new found love again. Most of my second season was uneventful; save for the fact that I graduated my license to stage 2 and took a road safety course, which I would recommend to even experienced riders just because it was a blast.
The significant change and surprise in my riding career came almost at the end of my second season. My dad called me up one day from across the country and asked me if I could rent him a truck to go pick something up for him some 600 km or so away. I, of course, obliged as any good son would do for their father but low and behold when I arrived at the destination it had all been a great con, and I was there to in fact pick up a gift he had gotten me in the form of a 1983 Shadow vtc750. I can say without a doubt still to this day, and I am unsure who was happier when I put that first phone call through after I realized what he had done for me.
Now the real work began, though. As I said, it was right at the end of my second season when I picked up this generous gift and drove it home in the box of a pickup; in fact, I drove through a 3-hour snow squall to get it safely into my driveway and then straight into my living room. The bike ran when I picked her up but still needed a lot of work; so I spent the better part of the winter months tracking down nearly obsolete parts and overhauling what I could(and outsourcing what I couldn’t). Plugs, carbs, tuning, seals, speedo, tach, etc.; you name it, and it was either replaced or tweaked, but I was on a mission to get the old girl singing again for the quickly upcoming season.
Sing she did; In a glorious king of the lions kind of way. My third season is when I began to consider myself a real rider. I had put lots of blood, sweat and tears into that bike, and I was damned proud to be riding her like she was mine. No longer was I restricted by distance or speed; I could finally stretch my legs and actually ride (because let’s face it, you can only do so much city driving before you begin to lose your mind). When I got my car license, I thought that was liberating, but to be able to stretch my legs on a real bike was something else entirely. I became a bike, and the bike became me, we were one, and we were one with the road.
We had a lot of fun, the old girl and I that 3rd season, but things were starting to change. I started a new job and began neglecting her a bit; in return, she began to give me problems. It began as a couple of hot starting issues and turned into an all-out war. Her speedo quit, the starter began to go; she began to eat oil like it was gasoline. I was far to busy with my new job to be bothered to fix it, let alone ride, so I decided to put it away for the winter early and formulate a plan to either build her back up or find something more reliable.
It turned out my job didn’t allow a lot of tinker time, so my plan turned into getting something more reliable for my fourth season (I felt a little treasonous, but the old girl had a good life and did well by me). Initially, the Honda Fury drew me, but the more I looked at her and read about her, the more I was convinced a stretched out ride wouldn’t be comfortable for a small guy like me; I kept getting drawn back to the shadow. After much deliberation on my part, I decided to go with the 2017 Honda Shadow Phantom 750 for the beginning of my fourth season. I figure I work hard enough why not treat myself to something I know I will love; something that will be reliable and good to me for years to come.
The weather so far this season has been uncooperative. Still, I am happy to say that my brand new Shadow Phantom is in my driveway as I am writing this waiting for some decent temperatures and conditions to go out and chew up some asphalt. The little bit I did get out on her only served to prove that I made the correct decision choosing her. She rides like a dream, and I know we will have fun together.
Till next time