Bikes we love The Journey

The allure of Big Red

1989 Ford Mustang GT convertible

I’ve mentioned before that strange, short period in my life during which I was a professional actor, driving a convertible Ford Mustang and going out a model. No, really. That was my life. In the mid-90s I was living the dream. Not necessarily my dream, mind you. In fact, I wasn’t very happy with any of it.

The model, for one thing. Sure, she was pretty to look at but her little-boy physique when disrobed sort of creeped me out. On top of that, she possessed a rice-cake-fuelled mania that made her diplomatically challenging (i.e., she was unpredictably annoyed by every other thing I said or did) on the best of days.

Acting, too, was not as much fun as I wanted it to be. From a professional standpoint it is 98 percent stress, 2 percent fun. You think of nothing but how on earth you are going to earn your next paycheck, and you keep weird hours with weird people. One of my better “friends” from those days would occasionally get up mid-conversation, go stand with his nose to a wall and hum to himself.

The Mustang was probably the most tolerable aspect of life. That was a good-looking car. Mine was an ’89, which wasn’t exactly the heyday of Mustangs in terms of aesthetics, but the engine sounded right and it looked cooler than anything my friends were driving (1). Despite that, in a rather short period of time (just a few months) and to my surprise, I discovered it was a car I didn’t really enjoy. I didn’t like the seats, I didn’t like my view of the road, I didn’t like how it felt on the highway, I didn’t like the convertible top, and so on. It just wasn’t me; none of it felt right.

Eventually I sold the car and bought a GMC Sonoma 4×4 that had no air conditioning. And I. Loved. That. Truck. With. The. Whole. Of. Me.

I drove the hell out of it –– Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California. I lived in that truck for days at a time. She took me everywhere I needed to go, everywhere I wanted to go. She survived several girlfriends, one of whom accused me of loving the truck more than her. Which was true.

That I have no photos of the two of us together (the truck and me, I mean) makes me deeply sad. In the end, the Sonoma was stolen from outside my apartment in San Diego, and I was advised by the police that it was not even worth looking for. I like to think she is still alive and running today, somewhere in Mexico and making someone as happy as she made me.

But I digress. The point is this: experience suggests that although I may really like the idea of something, I may end up not actually liking that thing. Which is why I often think the bike I actually want, deep down, is a Honda.

I suppose that’s not too surprising. On this blog I’ve sung the praises of the CB500X and the NC700X, as well as lamented the absence of the the CTX700 from the UK market. And in my mind, every bike I consider finds itself being compared with the CBF600 (on which I took my Direct Access), regardless of whether the comparison is fair. Hell, I have even found myself daydreaming about getting a Deauville.

I fear I may let you down, Chris.

Hondas are good bikes, there’s no denying that. But they don’t look very cool. Even the new CB1100 –– though it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Hondas don’t growl. They are not the type of bike that induces that fire-engine reaction in non-motorcycling males (2). Hondas are not cool. They are not badass. They struggle to meet the Chris Jericho test.

But then I think to myself: they’re reliable as hell. For the same price as a Triumph of questionable age you can have a Honda from the past seven years or so that has ABS, lower insurance premiums, and higher mpg. 

I’m not Chris Jericho; I’ve never even attempted a moonsault. I suppose I’m more of a Lance Storm guy.

Lance Storm is one of Jericho’s best friends. The two trained at the same school in Canada and moved up through the ranks together until the strength of Jericho’s character really started shining through in WCW (3). By all accounts, including that of Jericho, Lance is the better technical wrestler. He built a reputation as being stalwart, capable of always producing a solid match. But he never had the flash or character that makes a pro wrestler great. He wasn’t cool; but he was reliable as hell.

My Sonoma wasn’t cool, but it was reliable as hell. Maybe, in its own way, reliable is cool. Especially where a new rider is concerned. I want a bike that starts every time, a bike I can ride and ride and ride, a bike that won’t sap me of my almost negative funds. So, maybe what I really want is a Honda.


(1) Maybe. The definition of “cool” is nebulous. My best friend drove an enormous 1974 Mercury Marquis. In it’s own way, that car was infinitely cooler than my Mustang.

(2) My wife has correctly identified the fact that every man wishes he had a motorcycle. For those without a bike (and that includes me these days) they are left to stare: jumping up and turning their head when one goes by, just as when they were kids and fire engines would zip past. 

(3) Chris Jericho is my favourite wrestler. I met him once and I still count that as one of the best days of my life. So, obviously, I know a hell of a lot about the guy. Sorry to bore you.