21 February 2007

There's nothing new under the Sun...

The EssEffChron has a nice write-up about the new Can-Am trike.

But oh my freaking God, what the hell is this sexyugly machoweird three-wheeled motorcycle/car thing called the Spyder Roadster that costs 15 grand and goes about 110 mph and looks like a BMW motorcycle got it on with a nasty go-cart during a lost weekend at a mutant underground design studio in Testosteroneland? I mean, please.

I have no idea if the Spyder will sell, if it's just silly and ridiculous and overblown and who the hell wants an expensive flat-cornering faux-motorcycle when the same 15 grand can get you a Ducati Multistrada and personal riding lessons and an entire suit of badass leathers with enough left over for a delicious hooker-filled weekend at the MGM Grand in Vegas?

Doesn't matter. One look at the Spyder and your brain snaps a few boundaries. Definitions loosen. Possibilities widen. Yes, it's just another crappy oil-sucking vehicle. Just another drain on the planet, another expensive toy for wealthy middle-age Boomers with too little extant testosterone and too much disposable income. I know.

But then again, it might be more. It might actually be just as wickedly hot and fun and deliciously unique as it appears. After all, anything that stretches your brain and makes you consider new possibilities, that breaks old definitions of what the world is supposed to be all about, these things are precious and good. These things are all too rare. This has not been, in the age of Bush and Rove and the sustained, systematic, intentional crushing of independent creative thought, the way of the culture.

Plus, don't you sort of miss riding your tricycle?

Well, kinda. When I was about seventeen, me'n Tommy and Ed ponied up $25 each (a lot of money for teenagers to have all at once back then) and bought a '47 H-D Servi-Car from a gas station that used it for transpo after delivering customers' cars. The thing used more oil than gas. It had a 45ci (750cc) sidevalve mill and would go about 50mph flat out, which was scary fast. At that speed, it wobbled and shook and clanked and mightily protested such a caning. It also overheated, spewed oil, and stunk. It was red. It was the cat's ass, and we were the only guys in town with such a cool beast. Or maybe we were the only bozos who'd be caught dead on it. Don't know, damn sure didn't care.

We took turns bombin' around on it all one summer. It had a tow hitch, so we would tow it to parties, the beach, etc. behind my '48 Plymouth and take girls for rides. Sometimes three or four of 'em at once. We figured out how to get the thing sideways. The bald tires helped.

We actually got chased through town one Saturday night by a local cop on his much newer Servi-Car. We didn't want to get caught because we had just scored three or four quarts of beer and didn't want to lose it. We outran him for a little while, then pulled into the gas station we had bought it from, shut 'er down, and dove under a car to hide. Yeah, like that worked! We looked out from under the car and saw the officer's polished riding boots about two feet away, one toe a-tappin'. He said this: "I'm off Sunday and Monday night. If you guys don't have passenger grab handles on that thing by Tuesday, I'm writin' ya up". And he left. Talk about yer sigh of relief! We thought we were gonna go to jail. We had taken the grab handles off because it looked cooler. We put 'em back on.

If he had written us up he would have discovered that the license plate we were using was off my my little H-D Model 125. Hey, same make and almost the same year, whass the prob?

One of the big deals was the time we parked it in the same gas station, which was right next door to the local hangout, and when we came back, the station personnel had scraped the name of the station off the back. I don't blame 'em. We had acquired a little local notoriety with the machine by then and they understandably didn't want their name associated with our shenanigans. It didn't look very good, so we put our own logo on it:

Sort of a bust, I guess, but we were young and foolish. The little white thing above 'Olympia' was the offishul sticker of the "National Association for the Advancement of Flatheads", Politically Incorrect as all get-out, but hey, it was 1963. I went in the service that fall and have no idea what ever happened to Sweet Betsy the Trike.

Sorry about the wasted space, but I copied it from a very small photo and don't know how to fix it. For you sharp-eyed ol' H-D buffs, no, the photo isn't flipped. All the shit is on the opposite side because the thing was an old police mount, from way before parking meters, and the no-meter maid needed his right hand free to mark tires. Throttle was on the left, gearshift on the right.

I hadn't really planned to tell that story, but it brought back memories, so I'm glad I did. That was the most fun I ever had for $25.

What I was gonna do was counterpoint the space-age Can-Am trike with this Morgan, about which marque can be found everything you would ever want to know at the link:

There really isn't anything new, just modern.

Don't get me started on four-valve cylinder heads...

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