Its a good question, and if you asked me, I would reply with a very definitive ‘no’. The reason for this is that like adorable puppies and favorite teddy bears, motorbikes have personalities. Motorbikes have character. And motorbikes need a caring owner. Unlike our cute canine and button eyed friends though, a motorbike has to sleep outside, if its lucky in a garage or shed, or if its unlucky under a sheet in the street. If it’s downright neglected however, it’ll be left in the street with no cover and at the mercy of the elements.
To be honest with you, if I could park my bikes in my living room, I would do. My Stratocaster and my weird wooden ‘mask on a stick’ from Bali do nothing to enhance the functionality of the TV room, but that is where they reside. Why then, cannot a beautiful bit of sculpture like a motorbike not serve a similar purpose? Yes I know I live on the 4th floor, so would need to remove a window and hire a cherry picker to achieve this, but I am being theoretical here. Well, I am for the moment, but I do Intend to have ‘that talk’ with my better half when we find ourselves in more conducive accommodation.
Further to this, in my mind, older bikes are especially in need of caring owners as they tend to have far more exposed ‘bright work’ (read about my tribulations with a bike so adorned here) with less body work to protect it. Due to older materials technology, the metals and finishes used in their construction were not particularly, (understatement alert), elementally ‘robust’ and the paint and fabric elements are prone to rapid degradation if not protected. In short, machines of a ‘certain age’ need some serious TLC.
What has started my musings down this path today is that just down the road from me has been sitting something, that, when new, looked very similar to this:
But now, looks very actually like this:
And that, as someone says on Twitter quite a lot, is ‘sad’.
I first noticed the GSX1100 sometime in 2002, as it happened to be on the route that I would take when going to the grocery store from my downtown apartment. It was parked in the carpark of an old and slightly disheveled apartment complex and looked great bedecked in its shiny red paintwork and reflective chrome. It was obviously cared for and cherished. In short, it made me smile. It was clearly getting some use too, as every time I walked past it would be occupying a different spot in the carpark.
A while later, around mid 2005, I moved from downtown to uptown and began to pass the same carpark when heading down to take the ferry to the city. It was around this time that I started to notice that the bike didn’t seem to be parked in different locations anymore. Instead, it was sitting approximately in the middle of the carpark, at the top of one space and slightly intruding into the adjacent one.
It has never moved in the 12 years since.
That’s 12 winters, many with heavy snowfalls, 12 spring thawings, 12 searingly hot summers and 12 wet and windy falls. And they have taken their toll.
The once lustrous paint has lost its sparkle as the sun has baked and bleached it, the tires have slowly and sadly exhaled, letting the bike sink further towards the ground. I’ve seen the exposed engine, exhaust, clocks and controls lose their shine, and I’ve watched as the leather seat has frayed, split, and finally dissolved away entirely, leaving the padding foam underneath exposed. Even this has started a pockmarked and uneven patina of decay, under assault from wind and rain and whatever else falls from the sky in this part of New Jersey (you would be surprised). Essentially, when viewed up close, you can see the bike is no more sitting on the ground, it is instead, slowly and surely becoming one with it.
This then is a case of slow motion ‘ride-acide’ and I am a material witness.
So, the obvious question first - what happened to the owner? We really have to assume the worst, but why wasn’t the bike been auctioned / sold / gifted as part of his/her estate?
Compounding this, why has it been allowed to stand abandoned and unloved in that car park for 12 years? Car parks are a big business in Hoboken because parking is a nasty business. Essentially, if you don’t have a garage or designated car park access, you are reduced to parking on the street, and as we all know, that is the third most stressful thing in life after divorce and moving house. So, car park turf is in many ways the most hotly contested real estate in the mile square city and even though the bike is only occupying a small portion of a space, that sort of thing is not lightly tolerated.
Its obvious what needs to be done. I’ve got to take off my riding helmet and put my detective one on (it’s lined with tweed, the visor glass has magnifying properties and it has a vague odor of pipe tobacco). Thus appropriately clad, I will head down to the car park and start my inquiries. The big Suzuki’s eulogy has to be sung. Or at least written down.
Follow this ‘Developing Story’