Take me home, El Capitan!
"Sokath, His Eyes Opened" : Reality Smacks Me in the Kisser ... The CBX Story ..... Another Pirate's Tale

I would hazard a guess that all of us can look back to our earlier days and remember a certain young lady.... or car... or motorcycle that really rocked our world at that time. Ahh yes.. you remember, don't you? Glory days. But think about this for a second... If you had the chance to go back and relive a few moments with that young lady or drive that car or ride that motorcycle.. would you want to?? Knowing what you know now.. ?? Think about it.. would you really? Sure you would.

In 1980 I bought myself a slightly used 79 Honda CBX..(pic at right) In case you are unaware, this is the bike that turned the 1979 motorcycling world upside down with it's massive 6 cylinder in-line engine sticking out in the wind for all to see and fear. For a few short months it was the most powerful bike on earth both coveted by every go-fast junkie and disdained by the insurance agencies who actually complained so much that in the successive 2 years that it was produced, Japan actually dropped the horsepower. Can you imagine that!! All the magazines were asking.. "Do riders really need 100hp?" The CBX was to motorcycles what Dolly Parton is to breasts. One glance at it and all you could do is stare at the magnificent man-made attributes with wonderlust.

The original owner of my CBX had put 200 miles on it and admitted it scared the beejeezus out of him so I got it at a paltry $1800. I owned it for about a year and sold it because it handled like crap but to this day.. in my mind.. it had the most awe inspiring engine I had ever straddled. Smoother than a K1200RS... the sound of an F16 ... a lust factor of 10...and an eye popping (at least for that time).. 103 horsepower!. The only downside was that it had a feeble frame that would flex when the wind blew. Not confidence inspiring to this wannabe knee dragger. You could forget about serious corner carving on the CBX which wasn't it's forte anyway. I put about 4000 miles on it and sold it for about $1700, but have missed it ever since. That's a long time to miss anything.

Just recently I decided to buy a 3rd motorcycle as Amber can't or won't ride on the back of either my 06 K1200S (bad passenger ergos) or my MVF4 (no rear seat) so my mind started pondering the possibilities of a designated "two-up" bike. We both had been missing our time riding together. I'd need a bike with a relatively flat seat and good ergos for a passenger but something that would also please me. As I wouldn't be doing any serious speed or corner carving with her on the back, the CBX came to mind. WooHoo!! I could relive my glory days and have a bike that she'd be comfy on. I started my usual anal research and was immediately smacked in the face with the reality that unlike every other Honda ever made.. the CBX has actually gone UP in value and is considered a collector's bike all over the world with prices ranging from $6500-$20,000.. Geez.. My luck.

After a month of looking I found one in Minnesota at an asking price of $8900 with only 14K miles on it. The guy said it was in showroom condition and the picture CD he overnighted to me backed it up. I spoke at great length with the owner about the bike and it's history. It was the same model year AND color as the one I had owned.. RED. It felt like destiny. Hell.. it could have actually been the same bike. Perfect. I wired him a $1000 deposit and we agreed to meet in Nashville Tn on Aug 19th to complete the deal but ONLY after a test ride which we both thought was just a formality.

Our agreement was, if I didn't want the bike for whatever reason he'd keep the deposit. If I did buy it I would fork over the balance in cash. On the 18th he drove a full 900 miles and 12 hours (I only had to endure 250 miles) and we met up just outside the Opryland Hotel early on a hot Saturday morning.

While the bike did NOT fit my own anal description of showroom new, it was in excellent condition. I couldn't find a single scratch or nic in the original paint. The bike was 100% original and exactly as I had remembered it 26 years ago. The seat looked like it had never had an ass on it. The six pipes gleamed in the morning light. I was giddy for my test ride and my trailer was anxious for this red beauty to roll on board for the 5 hour drive back to NC. I had a fat envelope full of $100 bills ready to be handed off after a brief jaunt down the road and back. The owner had the clear title in his hands.

I have dreamed of the arm straightening power of the big six dozens of times in the last 20 years and after the long wait I was about to reach out and touch a small piece of my past. He tossed me the keys and told me to take it out for as long as I wanted. I donned my gear while the bike warmed up then took off with a big smile on my face, a woody in my Levis, and a hot music city wind at my back. It only took about 2 minutes before the wind left my sails and the wood left my pants.

I wound it through the gears through a few minor curves at sedate speeds and before I got ½ mile down the road I realized this wasn't the bike I remembered....or was it? The first thing I noticed was that while it seemed to be running perfectly.. it's painfully slow! and it doesn't feel as glass smooth as I remembered!! and the handling seems much worse than I remembered!! and now that I'm smart enough to wear ear plugs I can't even hear that jet engine whine! and the ergos are all wrong with the pegs waay forward and the bars about 8" too high! At the first stop sign I almost run through the intersection using BOTH brakes! The bike feels like an antique compared to any bike I've ridden in the last 10 years... and I guess... it is. O, my gawd.

I pull the bike over in a shaded parking lot, pull off my helmet, sit down and ponder the dream shattering implications. I am in shock. Has time so tainted my memories of this bike that I don't even recognize her any more? Have modern era bikes gotten THAT much better that I can't even ride this former god-worthy machine due to it's crude abilities and lack of power? Have I become so spoiled that I can not appreciate what this former "king of the world" has to offer? What am I gonna tell this guy when I go back and tell him he just drove 12 hours for nothing? Who invented green ketchup? and why? Questions upon questions are bouncing off the insides of my skull like the infamous "Superball" sold back in the 70's before they pulled them from the market after they injured every other buyer. My head hurts.. I feel queasy.

I get back on the bike and ride for another 10 minutes hoping I must have been in the wrong frame of mind, but to no avail. The magic is gone. I sheepishly take the bike back and break the news to the owner. He's not happy but surprisingly he doesn't bludgeon me to death once I remind him that as we agreed, he gets to keep the $1000 deposit which will cover his gas, his stay in Nashville, and all his food. He'll even end up a couple of hundred ahead and still have the bike to sell. I try unsuccessfully to not feel guilty for backing out, but this is just not the day.. nor the bike that will make me part with my semi-hard earned doubloons.

I feel emotionally injured the rest of the day. I feel.. tricked .. no.. duped by time. All these years longing for something that proved to be a let down.. Expecting something just short of brilliance yet delivering total disappointment.. kinda like the last 15 Woody Allen movies.

So there you have it.. apparently..It is true... you can't go back. I guess I've grown spoiled by modern technology. Am I suggesting that you should pass up an opportunity to relive your glory days with some past dream car, woman, or a CBX?? Absolutely not...but.. don't be surprised if reality smacks you right in the kisser.. Be forewarned.

And that's all I've got to say about that... Pirate out...
Jerry D. Finley
/ Pirates' Lair