I decided over the weekend. I had a choice. I could go out to my garage and fire up my Triumph Bonneville and go for a ride in this glorious weather, or I could take a short 7-mile ride to my other property and fire up my Harley Davidson and do the same. I could also list both of them for sale and end my 52 years of motorcycling once and for all, or I could exchange two wheels for three. I decided upon the latter. What prompted such a radical change? Embarrassment, pure and simple.
A while back, friends Paul and Bud came up from Connecticut to go for a ride and grab lunch at the Black Rock Steak House with my fiancee. While paddling my Harley out of the garage my left foot hit some uneven surface and I tumbled over, putting a nasty dent in the custom-painted gas tank. We all met up at my house where I showed Bud and Paul the dent on my gas tank. As we took off I tumbled over one more time on uneven ground. After a nice lunch, I rode back home and put the bike up and I’ve ridden it maybe three times since that day. It’s been about two years.
I contemplated simply giving up motorcycling. I had a scheduled visit with my doctor and he had me standing on one leg at a time to check my balance. I am unable to balance myself on my left leg. I don’t have the physical strength I once had to lift a five hundred pound motorcycle (using my back in a method that anyone can use to right a motorcycle) upright. I thought about selling the Harley only because I’m getting tired of how loud it is and keeping my Triumph and fitting a sidecar to it. With a sidecar, you no longer need to worry about dropping anything. They handle nothing like a motorcycle after adding a sidecar and you have to learn its unique characteristics to ride it safely. OK, and there’s no reverse either.
This was where I spent a long time mulling the whole “give it up or get 3 wheels” question. There are a lot of pros and cons. The biggest con is all of the great people I have met through motorcycling and not being able to ride with them anymore, not that I’ve done much of that lately anyway. I miss it. But my apparent frailties have been holding me back.
There are other three-wheel alternatives. Trikes are one solution. Again, another new handling scheme to learn, and in most cases, no reverse gear. Then there’s the Can-Am solution. The motorcycle is made by Bombardier, the folks who brought us the Ski-Doo snowmobile and Jet Skis. They have reverse gear. They also look a lot like a snowmobile or jet ski with wheels. During my work career, I was proficient in Photoshop and would alter photos of my friends’ Can Ams to have skis on them to poke fun. My two friends, truly hard-core Harley riders with hundreds of thousands of miles under their belts on new Harleys that they wore out, switched to Can Ams several years ago and they have never looked back. They just had a yard sale and sold all of their Harley leathers and other goodies. I opened my mind.
I went on to the Can-Am website and educated myself about Can Am’s low center of gravity, stability control, and ABS braking capabilities. Oh yeah, and the fact that they have a reverse gear. I’m calling the dealer tomorrow morning to arrange a test ride and I’ll probably be shoehorning one of those babies into my garage within a week or two. Hit me up if you’re looking for a nice Harley or Triumph. Call it what you will but my physical instability will not kill my ability to ride for at least another decade or so. I’m trading 2 for 3.