Blog by TSK
How in hell did I end up owning one of these?
1 month ago

How in hell did I end up owning one of these?

I've always been attracted to motorcycles that were fast and high-tech and futuristic. This little beauty defies all of those categories. It isn't a sense of nostalgia... I was 8 years old when the GB hit the market and my parents were children when the racers that the GB pays tribute to were circulating the mountain course. I never had Triumph or Velocette posters on my walls... just NR750s, CBRs and 916s.  

It started with a brochure. I was mucking around on ebay about a year ago when I stumbled on a 1990 Honda motorcycle full-line brochure titled "Come Ride With Us into 1990". It was a fun little throwback and would make a great garage ornament. It represented an era of risk-taking and experimentation from Honda where they turned out some truly great and innovative machines. Some of them were truly ahead of their time. They collected dust in the showrooms at the time but eventually became collectable, desirable, even "exotic".

I was familiar with the groundbreaking GL1500, the exotic RC30, and the classic VFR750 and CBR sportbikes. I always loved the XR and CR dirtbikes of the era (on the other side of the pamphlet) I remembered a little about the cult-classic Hawk GT, Transalp and Pacific Coast, precursors for modern motorcycle trends, unleashed 20 years premature on an industry not quite ready for them.

And then there was the little gem on the far right under the PC800 which I didn't recognize at all. I was immediately intrigued.... It seemed Honda had unknowingly predicted the retro cafe craze a couple of decades in advance and had turned out a beautiful tribute to golden-era cafe racers. It seemed incongruous to the high-tech fleet which shared the showroom with. I started reading everything I could find about the GB500 and it began to look more and more attractive to me. Though popular in Japan, it was only offered in the USA for 2 model years and then pulled after selling less than 5000 units. It had a simple steel cradle chassis, an air-cooled dirtbike motor, spoked alloy 18`` wheels, a kickstarter (plus electric start) and a beautiful tank, cowl and covers, painted a deep metallic British Racing Green with a gold pin stripe. In spite of a complete lack of period nostalgia or really any connection to that era, I fell in love with the clean lines and purity of design. The GB was never offered here in Canada but a handful of esoteric enthusiasts have deftly imported them. ;)

I started browsing ebay and would typically see a new GB500 listed every month, in various states of condition and fluctuating in price between $5500 and $8000. I didn't have the nerve to bid but began to get a sense of the market. One particular listing popped up 3 times. It was by far the nicest one I'd seen but the asking price was a bit ambitious. Three times in a row it was listed with the same heavy price tag and three times it failed to sell. It dropped off the radar for about a month but was recently re-listed at a slightly friendlier asking price. It seemed the seller was finally serious about letting it go so I called him and we agreed on an offer. The price was still at the high end of what the market will bear on a GB but this one is in immaculate condition and comes with all of the period extras that I would look for (bar-end mirrors, extra handlebar, Supertrapp pipe, 40mm Keihin flatslide carb, Corbin 2-up seat) plus all the original parts and spares and a binder of documentation and manuals. This particular unit spent its first 18 years in private museum collections before getting sold to its previous owner, who put about 8000 miles on in the last 3 years in and around Los Angeles. And now it's mine... well almost. It's in a trailer on its way north and I'll have it in a few weeks once I can get it across the border. 

After a series of fast motorcycles and a pattern of thrill-seeking and risk-taking behaviour, some part of me just wants to enjoy a purer simpler form of motorcycling. As it happens, the friends (friend, really) I ride with are (is) undergoing similar crises. (he just bought a Sportster 48) Slow down, relax, enjoy the surroundings. This little supermono will share a garage floor with my VFR1200, to which it couldn't be any more different. I love riding my big, fast, high-tech VFR but I`ve lately experienced a strange insecurity in which I don`t want to take the VFR on shorter rides because I feel like I`m wasting its potential and doing it an injustice. It`s stupid, I know, but I guess I`m odd like that. I hope to fill that void with this little green beauty.

Stay tuned.

at its former home in a Los Angeles interior design studio

Supertrapp pipe and bar-end mirrors seen here

Passenger peg set currently installed... first thing I`ll take off.

Can`t wait to ride it but a bit afraid to get it dirty.

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