A Motorcycle Tour of Long Island on a Honda CB750

Taking a motorcycle tour on his Honda CB750 was just the thing to remind the author — and the bike — that both of them were more than urban drones.


| January/February 2007



Motorcycle tour - Honda CB750 - Brooklyn and Queens expressway sign

The Long Island Expressway provided a route out of town.

Photo by Kerry Pierno

One hundred miles east of Manhattan is a place where the locals say the only thing farther east of its windswept dunes and tall sea grass is Portugal. To most urbanites this is the end of the earth. I set out at dawn one day on a motorcycle tour with my 1975 Honda CB750 KS — to ride right off “The End.”

With a population of over 8.1 million in an area of 321 square miles, New York is the most populous city in the United States and the most densely populated major city in North America. So says the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2004 population estimates. But I betcha they left out the cabbies, those nomadic men and women who live in their cars and sleep three hours a day, forever outrunning the NYPD, the taxi and licensing bureau, and sometimes the INS.

There are days living here where it feels like all 8 million are right behind you, ready to stand on your neck.

Slaves to the City

Depending on how you feel about bikes, you couldn’t ask for a better or worse existence than life as a street urchin. My Honda CB750 sits outside uncovered every day that it doesn’t snow, and the only way to keep her young is to use her. Classic Honda motorcycles thrive here. Sure, you see the usual Brit fare, but usually only in motion going from one parking garage to the next. Rarely do you have the honor to park your old Rising-Sun special next to a Trumpet or Norton. I had a Norton once, and the city ate her in two weeks, but this Honda is indigestible.

When I got her she was languishing in a garage on Long Island, stiff from lack of use. She doesn’t smoke and is light on her feet. I keep her in gas, tires and oil, and she moves too fast for rust to catch her. I’ve had her close to 10 years now, and she has been my only transportation for long periods during those years. I’ve ridden her crossed up sideways in snow, and I have raced and chased the hipsters and their classic British motorcycles through Brooklyn. It has been true love.

As for me, I don’t know how I ended up here, over-educated in grad school only to hump Vespas around the city during the day and baby sit drunks in bars at night. Maybe it was fate. Maybe I was bored.

william patterson_2
7/16/2010 2:58:58 PM

Thanks for the "virtual" ride, I enjoyed that. I am glad to see someone has respect for the old single-cam 750, and I can still hear/see the first one in my town, in 1970, a lovely sounding sports-car exhaust tone coming from those mufflers....


scott c. lees
7/15/2010 2:46:29 PM

Heh... Nice story. I kept expecting you to put in your earlplugs and play some classic Jim Morrison, The End.






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