Recently, I bought a 1996 Honda Shadow 1100. It’s a bike I have wanted for a while but never could afford. I kept checking Craigslist and looking reconfirmed my belief. I like them because they are Hondas, which makes them more reliable and cheaper than their Harley Davidson counterpart. …still not cheap enough though.
I got this one cheap because it needed work and had no title. The guy who sold it told me he got it in a real estate deal and honestly, he didn’t look that trustworthy, but the price brought it within reach and I couldn’t resist. He wanted $1300, I offered $600 and after he had a heart attack, we landed on $800.
A bike without a title is like a person without citizenship or without parents. It has identity issues. You can ride it around, but if the police stop you, the dream will end right then and there.
So the first thing I had to do was figure out how to get the State of Michigan to give me a title and license plates. They did it when I furnished a document bought from an insurance company for $100 called a “Surety Bond”. It meant that if the real owner of the bike came forward, the insurance company would settle with him and get the State off the hook for giving me a title. They valued the bike at $2250.
So the bike was insured and titled, but still needed some other things. It was “laid over” in it’s previous life and the front “forks” were bent making it pull to the left and somewhat unsafe. The seat was ripped up, the rear cylinder wasn’t firing all the time, and the gas tank had a leak. I gambled on it when I bought it thinking I could fix these things one at a time for less money than it would cost to buy the same bike in nice condition.
So after I got it legal, I threw it in my van and brought it here to Montana where I’m working with Youth With a Mission.
Like I said, I got the things fixed one by one, trying to spend as little as possible. When I felt reasonably good about it, I decided to attempt the 220 mile trip to visit my old buddy Brian in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The bike made it without incident except for a small lull in power when it was just warming up. Probably nothing…
On the way back, I stopped for gas about 60 miles short of Lakeside where I live in Montana. It was about 6pm, the sun was still high, and I felt great about the trip. After all, there’s nothing like having a powerful bike on the open highway. People pay lots of money to trailer their big fancy Harleys out here to drive in this pristine country and here I was getting to do it for cheap.
I had missed dinner back at the base, so I went into the gas station to gas up and eat a little. As I walked in, the lady told me they
were tossing all the food for the day and I could eat whatever I wanted for free. I asked for a coffee and because they didn’t have any, she brewed it and gave that to me free too. I guess people don’t normally drink it when it’s over 90 degrees out. Go figure.
So after a nice pit stop all set to finish the trip, I get to the bike and it won’t start. Just a sputter then nothing. What could have happened while I was in there?
I didn’t want it to get dark because then the bug factor gets maddening and there are deer running all over.
I spent over 4 hours pulling the fuel system apart trying to figure it out with a “god-send” of a guy from the town of Plains, Montana where I was. As the station was closing at midnight, we agreed we weren’t going to get it and I was about to call someone to come get me. How irritating to spend all that time and not get it.
Just as he was leaving me there, he suggested, “Just try feathering the throttle a little to give it short bursts of fuel while you crank it.”
I did it and wouldn’t you know it? It barely started but it did stay running.
I thanked him, jumped on that thing, and blasted back to Lakeside at full speed, praying no deer would jump out. Who knows what was even wrong. Maybe the fuel pump is close to the end of the line… I drove into the base about 130am.
All that to say, there’s something fulfilling about getting something old, without value and making it worth something again. …to me anyway. I am a little like this bike. I need lots of work, but for some reason, God sticks with me despite my stubbornness.