My First Motorcycle/Miami in the 70’s

Age appears to be best when it comes to these four things; old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old motorcycles to reminisce and remember. – Trawlercat

In 1970, at the age of fifteen I needed a motorcycle to get to my new high school- Miami Jackson. Most of my friends that wanted a new toy, bicycle, boat, used car or motorcycle got theirs the same way- today we call it – work.

Ahhhh, the Miami I came to know and love in the 70’s where our summer temperatures averaged a blistering 88.5 degrees and it rained on average of 16-21 days a month.

Initially I thought I wanted a Harley Davidson motorcycle. When I was 15 years old, a brand new dual sport type 125cc Harley Davidson was priced at nearly $400.00. I believe 1974 was the last year Harley actually sold dual sport motorcycles. Recently though, the Harley brand unveiled their 2021 Panamerican motorcycle to compete against the likes of any adventure motorcycle, especially my 2020 40th anniversary BMW GSA.

The California Redwoods

A brand-new 1970 Honda CB100 on the other hand only cost $300.00. Yet, I first tried buying the Harley but, the Harley salesman would not sell it to me because of my age. And thank goodness I stuck with Honda, Yamaha and years later BMW. I never looked or rode a Harley again until this year to test ride their new Panamerican.

Florida motorcycle law when I was fifteen stated that 15 brake horsepower was the maximum allowable size for a fifteen -year-old. The Honda CB100 fit this description but, the Harley Davidson did not.

In 2021, I am coming up on over 60 (and I don’t mean miles per hour) plus I NOW live and ride in California where we have a helmet law and awesome lane splitting laws.

When I first started riding a motorcycle in Florida, there was a helmet law. Today there isn’t one. Back then my family may have had seat belts in all our cars but, no one ever wore them. Dad would smoke his cigar in the car and the kids would cough. If the smoke bothered you you just stuck your head out the window. Mom always had ash trays around the house but, they were only for decoration. No one was allowed to smoke indoors.

Our refrigerator was always well stocked with those sugary soft drinks that came in bottles. Today if you still drink the stuff it makes you obese and gives you Type 2 diabetes.

So how is it that back then someone wrote laws looking out for this fifteen year old kid with a brand new motorcycle? Laws like wear a helmet and you can’t ride something too powerful but, I forgot to tell anyone I didn’t know how to ride one. No problem. The salesman will teach you all you ever need to know about riding a motorcycle in the dealership parking lot. That’s just how it was done. And no one ever got lost. If you did then you just stopped at a gas station and asked the attendant for directions ir better yet, they gave you a free map.

“Today, they call it victory for personal freedom” – I think not! In one state in 2021, the law only requires motorcyclists to “carry” helmets, not wear to them. Sort of like, only fasten your seat belts if you think you are going to crash.

I don’t have any polaroids of that first motorcycle today. Most pictures people took back then were not necessarily of things, we didn’t want to be wasteful, film plus the development of the film cost money.

And here’s another one, I’ve had the same phone number for at least fifteen years now. A friend of mine who lives in another state is still using his California number. How cool is that. That would have been impossible long ago – of course, we only had telephone booths. . When we moved we got a new phone number.

“Look at me, I’ve got youth on my side.”

Earlier today I shared a few pictures with another rider who shared his pictures with me. It seems that we both took a long spell from dirt riding. The pictures tell the rest of the story.

Colorado BDR
On the Colorado BDR

The first picture is of me riding on the Colorado BDR. Today, I’ll just say that I’m an older and wiser rider plus, I just stick to fire roads. Earlier before this picture was taken I high centered on a huge boulder, exploding the kill switch on the foot peg, causing the bike to start but, switch off again every time I went to put it into gear.

Also, there’s about an 80 degree straight down drop just to the right of where I landed. The very next day I also lost my rear brakes. I must’ve dragged my new riding boots on the brake pedal wearing them down. I ended up riding the rest of the way without. Yeah, I learned a few things on that ride. And that’s just the thing. Today there’s so much protective clothing and equipment available, one can easily fly off a motorcycle on dirt or road and easily walk away. That was not the case in the early 70’s.

……Aim for the stars,
And if you only reach the sky-
Remember that you did your best
And hold your head up high.

Don’t let opportunities pass,
Nor drown in foolish pride,
But strive toward some noble goal
While youth is on your side.

*Taken from: Reflections of Life. 1997.