The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
Rider: Gary Webster, Torrington, Wyoming
Occupation: Retired railroad engineer
Rides: 1976 Kawasaki KZ900, 1976 Kawasaki KZ900 LTD, 1982 Kawasaki 1000 LTD, 1982 Suzuki GS1100GK, 1986 Honda XL600, 1994 Yamaha GTS1000, 1986 Yamaha FJ1200, 2003 Harley-Davidson FXDWG
Gary’s story: “I’ve been riding since I was 12. When I turned 16 and started riding more, it seems like almost all of the bikes were 2-strokes with blue exhaust and the ring-a-ding noise. Even today, I miss the smell of those 2-strokes. I’m trying to remember the last time I pulled up to a gas pump where they had a spark plug cleaner on the island so you could clean your plugs.
“This is a picture taken in July of 1976 with me astride my new 1976 Kawasaki KZ900. I was in uniform on F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. The next picture is of my son, Gary N. Webster, astride the same 1976 KZ900, 38 years later. My son is also in uniform, he recently took a promotion from a sergeant to a warrant officer. Hopefully this bike passes on to a grandkid someday.
“We both started riding at a very young age and I have a total of eight bikes. Many times when I am on my KZ900, other drivers and bikers flag me over to look at my bike. So many people tell me ‘I had one of those bikes when I was young.’ When I get on my Harley and ride the two lanes, every other biker gives me a wave, and it puts a smile on my face. However, I can go home, get on one of my non-Harley bikes, get right back on the road with the same clothes and only get a quarter of the waves. Under my helmet I am grinning ear to ear. This is the bike I love and enjoy. This is when I am in my zone.
“My son Nick has picked up on that sentiment, too. New bikes are his interest. He likes big, naked, stripped down bikes like the new Kawasaki Z1000, but the U.S. Army is keeping him so busy training he doesn’t have much free time. Sitting in my bike shed is an all original, low mileage 1982 Kawasaki 1000 LTD, winterized and waiting for him. Nick took his girlfriend at the time riding on this bike, and they recently got married. I can’t wait until winter is over and the snow melts. I’m going to be on one of my bikes heading to the Atlantic Ocean, then hopefully up to Alaska.” MC
Photos courtesy Gary Webster: Gary and his KZ900 in 1976 (top), and his son on the same bike in 2014.