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Decade of Decadence (part 1 or 8)

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  • Decade of Decadence (part 1 or 8)

    Customarily Minded
    October 28, 2008




    copyright owned by author

    A Decade of Decadence --- the Life and Times of Shadow Shack's Multitude of Motorcycles

    Welcome to this installment of Customarily Minded, where stock bikes might be cool but customizing them is what makes me drool. I'm creeping towards the three year mark here at BB.org (as is the rest of the website, I joined shortly after the launch) so I'm going to run a series that should bring us to said anniversary date. An eight part recollection of my riding career that started in June of 1997 and keeps on getting better. With ten weeks remaining until said climactic event, that moment in time when the planets and stars will align and BBO launches itself into further harmonic greatness, I should be able to fire one of these off each week with a two week cushion and have it done by then. At least that's the plan, don't hold me to it.

    So with a little over a decade under my belt, allow me to share some of my thoughts and experiences as I set the way-back machine to track the history of my various rides accumulated over that time frame. And I'm also happy to report that I still have most of them today.

    First off, a prelude:

    https://www.beginnerbikers.org/forum/...ead.php?t=4763

    Cliff Notes Version of the above: I once saw something in a Playboy magazine that I lusted after and I just couldn't stop scratching that itch ever since. Get your mind out of my gutter, it's not what you think! One of the 1985 issues had a "Cool Stuff" feature and at the top of the list was the all new Honda Rebel: "All the cool to inspire others' drool for MSRP $1298" as they tagged it. Since I was still in high school and too young to be buying Playboy in the first place (but that's not important right now), that got shot down pretty quickly by the powers that be who were still providing for me. Suffice to say, Playboy is notorious for featuring things that most people can never have...chalk up another one.

    Anyways few years later (circa 1990) I was in college and found myself scratching at that itch once again. Alas, the Rebel was gone but I found something else I liked even better. Thus commences my tale, feel free to join me on my trip down memory lane as I reminisce my personal realm of the radical and real.


    PART 1 of 8


    Late May, 1997 - After seven years of scratching the motorcycle itch (yes, it really was the seven year itch), much to the surprise of the salesguy I had been talking to for so long, I committed to it. But I couldn't take it home that day, see I wanted that cool black and yellow paint scheme and the only one left, the one I was sitting on, was already sold. So they ordered another one for me, and by the first week of June that puppy was in my driveway!

    My buddy who rode it home for me (his first new bike ride ever) had his bike at my house already, we picked it up after work the day after I got "the call". We putted around the neighborhood and a nearby parking lot for hours. Somewhere along the way I got my permit and was sort of semi-legal (he had no M endorsement either), but I spent hours each day putting around the neighborhood and parking lot, loving every bit of it.



    The first mod inadvertently dropped into my lap, I want to say in October or November of that year. I was leaving a girlfriend's house who lived in the shady side of town, and at a stop sign some dude called out to me from his yard saying "Hey man, nice bike! I got something here for it that you might be interested in." I park on the sidewalk and he gets up, roots through his carport and produces a set of saddlebags. Guy carries them over and throws them over the pillion, saying "Naturally you'll want to mount it under the seat, but see if you like it." I did. $50 later I had some genuine leather bags with genuine rusted rivets, which I touched up with some genuine sandpaper, genuine primer, and genuine yellow paint.

    Shortly after that I ordered the Hondaline backrest and pad from the dealership I got the bike from, further clamping that set of throwovers down some more. Bike number two came along in the summertime after that (I'll go over that in part 2 of 8 later), courtesy of a second dealership here, and beyond riding the two bikes alternately ol' Stocker (as I would later dub the bike) recieved only miles in lieu of mods for about a year.

    Bike #2 leaves my possession after a couple of unfortunate drops, so I begin to concentrate on my next project: a chopper (which becomes Bike #3 --- again to be told in a later volume). I begin to bone up on literature and visiting shops left and right but they all tell me the same thing: "Kid, ain't nobody gonna build you no Honda chopper. Nobody makes the stuff to do it." I'm not deterred, but at the same time I'm not going to be without a bike so I begin scouring for a new second bike while I put my current second bike (freshly repeaired) up for consignment at the dealership I bought Bike #1 from.

    Anyways, back to Bike #1. Off comes the radiator grill, and it gets taken to a local plater who charges me $50 to chrome the boring black metal piece. Another $50 goes to Jardine for a chrome horn ring, and soon that centerpiece that I once tried to ignore was literally popping out. Hey, it wasn't anything major but I willed it and made it happen.

    That brings us to around August or September 1999. Bike #2 leaves my possession, having stagnated at the dealership on consignment despite efforts to get it sold (I bribed several sales folks there a bonus if they sold the bike) and I get "the call" that I need to discuss dropping my target price as the new Kelly Blue Book arrived with new and improved lower retail value for the bike. Into the dealership I go and the BSing begins...me reluctant to drop the price further but also wanting to be rid of the thing so I can move on. There sits the bike I'd been eyeballing (a 95 VLX deluxe), hoping said current bike would hurry up and sell so I could acquire it, and the thought of swapping title for title, my 1500cc bike for this 600cc bike and a dream to chop it. Bike #3 arrives in my driveway...and that's as far as I'll go with this "Part 3 of 8" prelude for now.

    Late 2000 rolls around, I now have four bikes in the garage, three of which are tagged/insured. So I get to work on the first major downtime of the Stocker: I pull the entire front end apart and take the upper triple tree and risers to the same plater for the chrome bath. Once they return, a set of braided leather lever covers go on as well. Somewhere along the way a headlight visor ends up leading the way.

    The following year I pull the rear wheel off with hopes of plating the rear drum cover, but end up having to settle for polishing as they claim there's too many odd surfaces for the plating to adhere to (they tried three times and kept coming up with peeling, discoloration, and flaking...I later figure out that perhaps their equipment probably needed a good cleaning). The wheel finally goes back on after a lengthy downtime, along with a new rear sprocket cover and a rectifier cover, and eventually a chrome rear brake rod/retainer.



    2002 rolls around and the wife gets a VLX to match some of mine. She likes the button tuck seat on my 97, I like the smooth seat on her 88. She has the same backrest I do, which came with the sale, so presto change-o. A chrome "Shadow" embossed plate goes behind the pad when I commit to the swapover. Another rear wheel tear down later for a new rear tire in 2003 (followed shortly after with a new front tire) and I add some saddlebag guards to the bike, simultaneously painting the worn to the metal rub marks on the swingarm which resulted from the bags rubbing over the years of bumps and other road irregularities that the shock absorber was designed for.

    The name "Stocker" derives from keeping all the stock parts on the bike, yet giving some of them custom touches at the same time. The basic theme is to do as much as I can with it without resorting to the aftermarket or other non-Honda parts. I have a set of 98+ O-ring pegs ready to go on as soon as I get them polished/plated...and the OEM parts-custom treatment will continue. The bike has served me well in the past 11+ years, and 30K miles later she's still my primary ride of the pack.

    (to be continued...)



    PM or E-mail Shadow Shack through his profile and let him know if you think he'll pull off eight editorials in ten weeks.


    Customarily Minded Wicked Wonder of the Week



    Yep, the former "Machine of the Month" returns in an all new guise for the current yet temporary format. This Wicked Wonder comes to us courtesy of the VLX Riders Forum at Delphi, a bike that was voted Coolest of the Year for 2008. The bike is a 2006 Honda Shadow VLX belonging to a fella that goes by "rverhalen" at the forum. It's loaded with custom touches, starting with a crazy outboard intake set up grafted to the carburetor and feeding the spent fumes through a set of groovy boom tubes. A Sportster-esque rear fender was grafted onto the frame, highlighted by a low profile seat. A set of drag bars adds to the lean look, and restrained LED lighting lets the eyes wander a bit. But most noticeably is that one mod that Honda absolutely refuses to offer us int he United States, something that would surely put their stagnating sales slacker figures back on top again (see the last editorial for that one), a custom modded springer fork.
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