Text: Joe Freer • Photography: Christa Neuhauser
A life is a warehouse of sensations and experiences best opened and shared with as many others as possible. Whatever we choose to stock the warehouse shelves with indicates our particular passions and often leads us back to our inner selves. For me, the vintage bike experience holds a prominent place in "the building." Each time I ride one my senses go into overdrive, hauling up recollections of time, place, smell, sound and even taste. Good, bad or indifferent, any time I set off on a vintage bike, I ride to recall the way things were.
I have been a motorcycle enthusiast since the mid-sixties and, as I've mentioned, I am particularly fond of vintage bikes. My timeline opens in Millbrook, New York. The year is 1972. Nothing much distinguished Millbrook significantly at that time other than the fact that it was the home of a very engaging individual, Dr. Timothy Leary. His influence in the town and on its adolescent populace was quite apparent.
A small town in Dutchess County New York, Millbrook was "a great place to grow up" or so the parental party line went; but we, the disaffected youth of the time, were eternally bored yet most creative when it came to entertaining ourselves. And, at the very least, the infamous tales of Doctor Leary and his eclectic entourage helped to stimulate our exploratory juices. We were a cynical group of devout partiers. A social revolution whirled about us and we wanted to participate in all of it, especially in the music, muscle cars and motorcycles. Vietnam weighed heavily on our minds as did all the typical questions about life. A close cousin had just returned from the "conflict" when he was killed in a motorcycle accident. It changed me forever. I became a man that year on a gold-and-white Triumph Bonneville.
Fast forward to a beautiful October morning in 2005 when I picked up the '72 Yamaha from Christa and Florian Neuhauser. I fell hard at first sight. As expected, Christian had kept it in immaculate condition and I was salivating like Pavlov's Russian wolfhound. Ok, petcocks on...choke lever down...let's get it cranked up! Not a problem - this honey was purring on the first try. While it idled to warm, I stood back and admired the lines and the red-with-white paint scheme so indelibly etched in my mind years ago. The exhaust note was so like my old Triumph's that my senses were spinning long before I mounted the machine. This was going to be one great weekend and I was itching to get on with it!
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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the March/April 2006 back issue.