located inside the engine cases, would pop off with a truly
awful sound. That’s exactly the way my wife acts when
she’s angry today.
My brother, on the other hand, came up with motorcycle
names that should have been satisfying to a motorcycle’s
mechanical ego. He called his Honda 100 Excalibur, Sword
of Vengeance. Still, it wasn’t much better in the end. The
Honda had a short that would electrify the frame on occasion, so if you touched it in the wrong place, you would
be shocked. Again, just like a woman. This is clearly a
case of the wrong name. If you called your wife the Sword
of Vengeance, you would expect to get shocked, and it
wouldn’t be by a little 6-volt battery.
Most of the motorcycles that followed had names associated with their color. My red Bultaco 125 was the Cherry
Bomb. That was a half-accurate description (the second
half). I had a friend who called his white KTM Great White
in the heyday of the Jaws movies. It was, indeed, a carnivore and would eat itself alive every other weekend.
There were a number of Green Ghosts, Yellow Zonkers
and even a Red Death in my group. It wasn’t until much
later that ethnic slurs replaced color-based descriptors.
My Bultaco 250 was either Franco’s Revenge or the Bean
Machine, depending on the day. It was sometime during
that phase that I realized the parallel between motorcycles
and women. In a blatant attempt at sucking up, I named my
Honda CR400F street bike Desiree, Queen of Mystery. The
real mystery was why I didn’t call it Crash, King of Road
Rash. After that, I stopped naming my motorcycles for the
most part—although I had an ATK that I named the Valdez
for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has owned one.
So, that was the end of my motorcycle-naming phase.
Most of the bikes I ride now come and go quickly.
Occasionally, one will stick out and get a temporary
name. I called the Honda CRF450R that broke my pelvis
Voldemort. I knew I would never ride it again.
There might be a dirt bike somewhere in my future that
moves me enough to give it a name, but I hope not; I’m a
married man. o
Motorcycles have names. They don’t, however, have language skills, so they can’t tell us those names. As
a result, some riders foolishly call their bikes by the wrong
name. That’s a mistake; the odds of actually calling your
bike by the right name are something like a trillion to one,
and that’s assuming their names consist of the same vowel
and consonant sounds that we use. More than likely, the
bike that you’re calling Conan has a name that sounds like
gears meshing—or maybe detonation.
I’ve called lots of bikes lots of names. Most of the time it
was unintentional in the heat of the moment, but I almost
never apologized, and yet I was surprised when the bike
mistreated me later. You need to remember at all times that
motorcycles are basically women. All the same rules apply.
Would you expect everything to be fine if you called your
wife by the wrong name? No, it would take lots of explaining, make-up time and maybe a trip to Cabo.
When I was young, I didn’t understand motorcycles or
women and made terrible errors. All of my bikes had names,
and not all of them were flattering. My first Suzuki 50 start-
By Ron Lawson