A Motorcycle Diary

I can’t say exactly when I got the idea to get a motorcycle, but the notion has been with me nearly my entire life.

I’m pretty sure 2021 is the year that I’ll finally get one. I’ll be sharing the journey here as it happens.

Life is better on Two Wheels

My interest in motorcycles probably stems from my love of transportation generally and two-wheeled locomotion specifically. Bicycling is my main form of exercise and, most days, my preferred mode of transportation. Life is just better on a bike.

My first two-wheeler was a Schwinn with training wheels that I was given around age 6. My most vivid memory of this bike involved crashing into a parked car on my suburban NJ street. Both bike and I survived unscathed, but I remember feeling rather embarrassed that an elderly neighbor had witnessed the entire thing and was laughing as I picked myself off the ground. I pedaled away in shame.

This was the first of many crashes to come and I have plenty of scars to prove it. Still, I ride.

Around sixth grade I got deep into BMX bikes and even tried racing a few times at the local track. I was mediocre at both racing and trick riding, but I still loved everything about BMX. To this day, I proudly display the lone third place trophy and second place ribbon that I won during this time.

In college and grad school I had a few cheap mountain bikes for getting around the city. I did the Five Boro Bike Tour a few times and the NYC Century one-and-a-half times with my trusty blue Trek. I gave away the bike to a good friend but I think it’s still sitting in his parents’ garage, unridden in over twenty years. What a shame.

Heading to work on my beloved Brompton M6R, October 7, 2020.

After I started my current day job, a co-worker introduced me to folding bikes and I’ve been hooked on them ever since. I’ve owned Bike Fridays and Terns over the years, finally getting a Brompton in 2019. The Brompton is by far my favorite, although I loved them all. It’s exquisitely engineered, prefect for city riding and city living in small apartments.

I bike as often as I can. When weather and work schedules permit, I do a nineteen mile round-trip to the office via Riverside Park and the Hudson River Greenway. It’s a blissful way to start the work day.

On weekends, I like to get on the bike and explore a new part of the city or just do some grocery shopping. It’s a proven fact: groceries taste better when you schlep them back home via bike.

As an urban planner by training, of course I must also add that our cities and our country would be far better off in every way if we could get lots more people getting around by bike instead of by car. America’s car dependency is bad for humans and the environment, full-stop.

My First Motorcycle

The bike I get this year technically won’t be my first.

When I was in middle-school I actually did own a motorcross motorcycle very briefly. It was a Suzuki RM80 that my mother purchased for me for $300 used, a lot of money for us at the time. After barely a month of sitting in our unlocked suburban garage, it was stolen. I never got a chance to ride it.

I suspect our juvenile delinquent next-door neighbors took it, because for the rest of the summer we could hear them riding a dirt bike in their backyard, hidden behind a tall wooden fence.

I hope karma found them eventually.

The next time I seriously considered buying a motorcycle was after starting my first full-time job after grad school. I somehow believed that my new salary (the highest I’d ever earned until then) would somehow finance a lifestyle that included motorcycle ownership. I learned soon after receiving my first paycheck that I had very badly miscalculated how far that salary would go.

No moto for me. But I didn’t mind much. I was very happy pedaling my way around town on my bicycles. The motorcycle dream went into hibernation for another twenty years, awakening in 2020 amid a global pandemic.

Next time: motorcycle training and motorcycle shopping.