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Last year I was wowed by the Martin Motorsports “Modern Classics” motorcycle show. I couldn’t believe that a dealer would (1) shut down for an entire day at the start of the season, and (2) attract such a first rate collection of motorcycles for a show. This event simply blows away any other I’ve seen.

And just like last year, I was shutter happy. I wish I had more talent for taking pictures because my point and shoots just don’t do justice to the beauty of some of these machines.

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The show started even before we got in the door, with this beautiful example of a Ural Patrol with sidecar parked next to us in the lot.

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Another shot at the Ural.

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Beautiful Moto Guzzi. Some lucky person’s daily rider.

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Another beautiful ‘Guzzi in the parking lot.

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1957 Moto Rumi Competizione 124cc owned by David Markel, who also basically owns Skippack, PA

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1957 Moto Islo Carrera 175cc. One of only 2 surviving examples. Only 4 were produced.

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1972 MV Agusta 350 Electronica

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1985 Ducati MHR Mille

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1957 Moto Morini 175 Setto Bello, also owned by David Markel.

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1970 Moto Guzzi v750 Ambassador LAPD Model

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1936 Indian Sport Scout, which is still a working race bike that has won the AMA National Championship for its class three years running. This model was also made famous as the donor bike for Burt Munro’s land speed racer in the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian.”

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Suicide shifter on the Indian.

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1975 Harley Davidson Aermacchi RR250, owned by master mechanic Bill Himmelsbach of Eurosports Coopersburg.

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My friend Scott gushed over this bike. I didn’t catch what it was.

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1967 Triumph 8V Roadracer, which once held a land speed record at Bonneville.

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Another nice Triumph road racer

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I saw this Honda Trail 90 at Lansdale Bike Night too. It’s sweet.

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1948 Norton Manx Roadracer. Makes my heart go pitter pat.Yet another from the Dave Markel collection. I have to figure out a way to meet this guy.

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Just some pretty bikes

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The Jawa dirt tracker

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1972 Montessa 250 VE Capra.

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1971 Ossa 250 Stiletto Scrambler.

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1973 Rickman Zundapp R125MX.

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1978 Harley Davidson AMF SX175. Yes, 175.

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1978 Harley Davidson MX250. Only one model year, only 1,000 made, several hundred reportedly were scrapped at the end of the model year. Still a cool bike.

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1960-1970 Jawa 890 Speedway. I’m guessing the 10 year range on the model year is because the owner doesn’t know how old it is.

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1973 Triumph X75 Hurricane. Oh my…

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1972 Norton Commando Combat. Again, oh my…

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1969 BSA A65 Lightning Special.

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1955 MV Agusta Disco Volante. Guess who owns it? That’s right. Dave Markel.

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1956 MV Agusta 175 CSTL. Owner: oh nevermind.

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1964 Ducati Monza, described by the owner as a “bitsa bike” (bitsa this, bitsa that.)

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Look at those slim sexy lines on the MVA Disco Volante.

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One of my favorites. 1954 MV Agusta Squalo owned by my new best friend, David Markel.

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Another angle of the MVA Squalo

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Can you tell I liked this one?

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1949 Gilera Saturno. Markel collection.

I’ve said it before. Martin Motorsports just gets it. They understand the way motorcycles get into the soul of those of us who love them. They realize we’re all suffering from cabin fever and needed to get out today and ride a bit, and ogle some bikes, and think about the season ahead. Dennis Martin has done a wonderful job building his dealership and according to one of his colleagues who I chatted up today, he’s one of the most successful Triumph dealers in the country.

Later this week, I’ll share some other things I discovered Dennis is up to that will further differentiate his dealership as the best in the business. Stay tuned.

In May 2011 I made what I consider to be one of the worst decisions of my life: I traded my beloved 2008 Triumph America for a bigger bike, a Triumph Rocket III Touring. I had gotten it in my head that I needed a big bike. Not just a big bike, the BIGGEST bike.

Almost from the moment I brought the Rocket III home from the dealership, I realized it wasn’t the right bike for me. I really missed my America. I was sorry I had traded it in. I was disappointed in myself for getting bitten by the ‘bigger is better’ bug and had been kicking myself ever since. I pined to have an America back in my stable again.

Early this season I sold the Rocket and bought a used V-Strom, which has proven to be a very good choice for me. But I had it in the back of my head that if the opportunity presented itself, I would add another America to the stable. For much of this season I had my eye out for another used one.

A recent class at a racetrack had me thinking sportbike yesterday.

Then a few weeks ago I took a riding class at a racetrack and had suddenly gotten bit by the track day bug. Now I had it in my mind to get an inexpensive track bike and do more track days – something like a mid 2000’s R6 or CBR-600. So yesterday I made the rounds of local dealerships looking for a candidate to buy.

As I pulled into Martin Motorsports, one of my usual haunts, I noticed a woman standing next to a Pacific Blue and New England White America just like the one I used to own. “Cool,” I thought. “An America like my old one.” I parked my ‘Strom and walked over to say hi.

“Hi there, I used to have a bike just like that,” I said with a smile as I approached her. Then, as I got closer, I noticed something. Not only was this America just like my old one, it WAS my old one. There was a telltale scratch on the tank that had its roots in a camping trip I had taken with some friends in 2010. We had paused to rest and take some pictures near a pretty lake, and as we were gearing up and getting ready to go,I swung my leg over the tank and a rock in the heel of my boot made an ugly scratchmark.

The telltale scratch occurred about 5 minutes after this picture was taken.

The telltale scratch on the tank.

This bike had the same scratch.

“Did you buy this bike at Hermy’s?” I asked.

“Yes, we did,” she replied.

“Last May?” I asked.

“Yes, my husband and I bought this last May,” she replied.

“This used to be my bike.”

I told her the story about how I had traded it and missed it, when she dropped this bombshell: “We just traded it in for a Thunderbird.”

I could not believe it. I had missed this bike for the past year and three months. I had thought about getting an America to replace it. And here it was, about to be placed on the showroom floor of my favorite motorcycle dealership.

Today, my beloved 2008 Triumph America is back in my garage. It was an expensive round trip, as I got trade-in value for the America in May 2011 and paid retail value to buy it back yesterday; and I bought the Rocket at retail value in May 2011 and sold it for something less than retail value this past February. I don’t want to think about how much money this bad decision cost me, really. But I am so grateful that the bike is back in my life.

When I tested it out yesterday, it was like being back with an old friend. When I drove it home, it was like it had never left. When I was signing the papers to buy the bike, the woman who handles transactions at Martin’s remarked, “You just can’t get away from this bike, huh?” I literally started to well up and replied, “No. It’s not that. I have an emotional connection to this bike. I made a mistake and it found its way back to me.”

So many strange coincidences had to happen for this bike to get reunited with me: I went out yesterday shopping for a sport bike and ended up at Martin’s at around 1PM; Frank and Holly, the couple who owned the America, were just out riding, stopped at Martin’s, and fell in love with the Thunderbird they ended up buying at around the same time. I believe that the Pacific Blue and New England White 2008 America that I started my motorcycling career with will now be in my garage forever. Perhaps one day one of my grandchildren-to-be will inherit it…

Me and the America. May 2008, the first day I bought it. August 2012, the day it came back into my life. Then and now. We’re both a little older and have a few more miles on us, but I’m also a whole lot wiser and I’m filled with gratitude.

Yesterday I was at Martin Motorsports for its annual show “The Modern Classics.” Once again Martin’s demonstrated why it’s the best motorcycle dealership in the Philadelphia area, bar none.

The dealership turned it’s showroom floor into a motorcycle show which, in Martin’s words, “celebrates the motorcycles of the 60s, 70s and 80s that made big contributions to their eras with their technology, style, performance or establishing new trends…the bikes you remember…the bikes that made you a motorcyclist!”

It worked, in spades. The place was packed with hundreds of people and the bikes on the showroom floor were an amazing collection of rolling works of art. My friend Scott and I agreed: if someone gave us the freedom to pick any bike on the floor to take home, it would be damn-near impossible to make a decision.

The folks at Martin’s just get it. It’s not just about selling bikes and performing service. It’s about celebrating motorcycles, celebrating being a rider. Every weekend at Martin’s is a happening, even run-of-the-mill weekends when there is nothing special going on, even if it’s just to stop by and look around.

Enough words. Enjoy the pictures.

I’m not planning to do a lot of coverage of custom bikes. There are a lot of people focused on that beat who do a great job of it – Cyril Huze Post and BikeEXIF to name a few. But you might like the bike in the attached photos. I saw this at a Triumph Demo Day at Martin Motorsports last summer.

It’s a 1983 CB1100F engine mounted on a combination of a 1981 CB900f frame, 1998 CB900rr back end, and CBR 600 front end, painted in a stealth fighter scheme. Some other bits and odds and ends.  The guy who owned it works as a welder at a machine shop and claims to have put the whole thing together for under $2,500.  One of the coolest DIY custom projects I’ve ever seen.

Enjoy!

I mentioned earlier this week that Martin Motorsports in Boyertown, PA is my favorite local dealership. They’ve built enough goodwill with me over the years that I’m willing to overlook a recent administrative error that led to me losing out on a Bandit 1250. That’s pretty good. And I’m not bitter. 🙂

I think all MC dealerships can take a page out of Martin Moto’s book. Here are some of the reasons why they are my favorite:

(1) It’s not a dealership, it’s a community. On any given Saturday, there are RAT Packs meeting for a ride, the local chapter of STAR Touring and Riding having a get together, Boy Scouts cooking hotdogs and hamburgers for the customers, a demo event launching from the parking lot…it’s rare to go to Martin’s on a weekend and find nothing going on. During the prime summer riding season they are open for their “Second Sunday” events when they provide special discounts and take their customers on group rides on local Berks County twisties. This focus on the community of motorcycling makes a trip to Martin’s a happening in its own right. They have evolved into a Destination Dealership. Read the rest of this entry »

As I mentioned in my first post, I spend a lot of time on weekends visiting local motorcycle dealers and testing out new bikes. I’m grateful that most of the dealers in my area support test rides and will let me take a spin. I’ve even been honest with them: “I’m not looking to buy.” They seem to get it. Maybe I’ll take a ride and just have to have the bike. This has happened recently. Twice this season, in fact.

So as the season winds down, I’m going to list the bikes I tested this year and provide a brief blurb on each. When I put this list together, I was pretty shocked. I’ve ridden a lot of different bikes this year.

With my Rocket III Touring on the Blue Ridge Parkway, October 2011. The Rocket was made for trips like this.

1a. Rocket III Touring. Numero Uno on this list is the bike I currently own. I rode the R3T a number of times at a demo day at Eurosports back in May. I liked it so much I ended up shopping for one and bought my current ride from Hermy’s later that month. Since then it’s been a love/hate relationship. In summer, on a 90 degree day, in traffic, I hate this bike. It is like riding a convection oven, it throws off so much heat from that 2300 cc powerplant. When I’m filling it up with gas, I hate it. I’ve averaged 30 miles per gallon this year and more often than not been in the mid 20’s. But when I’m rolling up heavy miles and cruising along on a nice twisty, or passing a tractor trailer on the slab, I absolutely love it. When I’m on a trip with my friends and hauling my camping gear, I love it. When I park it on Main Street in New Hope next to about a dozen ElectraGlides and the peeps walking by stop to look at my bike and ignore the Harleys, I love it. Read the rest of this entry »