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Looking Backward...

History of My Hobby

As you likely already know, motorcycling has been around for as many years as motors have been available. From the very early years where actual bicycles were fitted with small gasoline engines the sport has undergone tremendous growth and change. Today's high tech machines bear little resemblance to those of the by-gone days. And that technology has also driven a great deal of specialization in the designs of motorcycles for different types of riding. 

Today, there are many types of bikes from dirt to racing. I will try to talk to only the "Street" types here for brevity's sake. Most bikes you will see on the roads of America today will fall into one of 4 category types. They are: Cruisers, Sport, Touring, and Dual-Sport. 

Cruisers, perhaps the most common are epitomized by the Harley genre. There are many of them out there and Harleys account for a great deal of the sport's popularity. There are many other brands now however that have adapted to the popularity of cruisers and so make "Harley Look-alikes". Cruisers are most often seen, well, cruising, up and down the city streets. These are more suited for the short around town trips, though many a rider can and does make longer around the country trips on them as well. 

Sport bikes, also known as "Crotch-Rockets" are those sleek, fast-looking machines where the riders appear to almost be laying face down on them. They too are quite popular, especially so for the younger - got-to-go-fast crowd, and they do indeed go fast. Many are capable of speeds in the range of 150-180 MPH. The riding position of these bikes is quite "extreme" and as such they are not that well suited for spending long hours traveling across the country. 

Touring bikes are also very popular, with both the Harley Road-King and the Honda Gold-Wings as well as a host of other makes and models sharing the honors of those who seek to ride endless miles in as much comfort as a motorcycle can offer. These bikes are bigger, heavier, and have a host of amenities designed to make long distance traveling more comfortable and enjoyable. However, those same characteristics tend to make them a bit less adept at the sportier type of riding that many feel epitomizes motorcycle riding. 

Lastly, and a relative new-comer to the scene is the "Dual-Sport" bikes. The "SUV's of motorcycling" these bikes meld the features of dirt-bikes for off-road riding and street legal features to result in a bike suited to ride into the back country and then go "off-road" when the urge strikes. 

So, where does the Honda ST1100 fit? Well, it may well deserve yet another category which in fact is what the initials in it's name stand for - ST = Sport-Touring. Yes, that's right, the Honda ST1100, as well as a handful of other makes and models are bikes designed specifically to bridge the gap between sport bikes and touring bikes. Bigger and heavier, and with a less radical seating position, these bikes make spending hours in the seat much more do-able. Yet, they still retain design features that allow them to perform extremely well in the kind of quick, nimble riding in twisty, winding back roads that many motorcycling aficionados prefer. The ST1100 has been consistently rated amongst the very best of this type of bike and that is why I ride one.

The ST1100 is no longer produced by Honda, it has been replaced by the newly designed ST1300, starting in 2003. While the new ST has much of the appeal of the old and it's looks are similar, I have no plans to "upgrade" any time soon. My SilverSTreak has plenty of miles left on her and we are very comfortable together. The new ST has a few annoyances that keep my interest at bay - First, it requires premium fuel which adds to the cost factor, especially the more you ride. Second is that the fuel filler is now directly on top of the tank, requiring removal of a tank bag to fill (on the 1100 it is back further and allows for fills by merely sliding the tank bag forward a bit to access). Lastly the hard bags now require the key to open at all times vs. only when you want to lock them as on the 1100. None of them are "show-stoppers" if I were in the market to replace my 1100, though I would have to carefully consider all the alternatives before making a purchase. For now, my trusty 1100 will remain, offering plenty more miles of enjoyment.

My Background

My love of motorcycling began when I bought my first bike at age 16 - a used Honda 160 Dream. This was a very small street bike that I got primarily to learn how to ride on. I did that in very quick order - and tired of it even before I had gotten my motorcycle endorsement! I sold it after just a month and bought a used Honda 305 Scrambler. Still a street bike, the scrambler had some of the features then available for off-road excursions, though I never went there. Instead, I quickly applied for and was tested and received my motorcycle endorsement and thus began my love affair with riding motorcycles. 

Within a year or so, I was looking to upgrade once again, and this time I had some cash so went and bought a brand new Honda CB350F - a 4 cylinder 350cc machine that just purred like a kitten. I loved that bike for a while, but as I found myself often riding with a passenger, it was a bit short on power. Hence, another upgrade, this time to a brand new Honda CB750 (in 1971). I rode the daylights out of that bike whenever I got the chance. By this time I was married though and working lots of hours so over time I had less and less time to enjoy my beloved hobby. For that reason I ended up selling that 750 to a good buddy of mine and for a few years went without a bike altogether. Those were some of my darkest years! 

By 1979, I had divorced and moved on. I was looking to start out to being "myself" once again so one of the very first things I did was go out and buy a brand new model for Honda - the 1979 Honda CB750F Super-Sport. I bought this bike based partly on my already solid experience with a 750, as well as the beautiful look of this machine. Unfortunately, as it was a brand new engine design for Honda, it came with an un-characteristically Honda trait - the engine leaked oil! And I mean big time. By the time it was re-called by the dealer and warranty repairs made the oil had made quite a mess of the engine. And though the repairs did reduce the oil leaks drastically, they never did cease entirely. None the less, I rode this bike a lot for a couple of years but then found myself in another relationship with a woman who just refused to ride - at all... I should have taken that as a sign and ran the other way, but I didn't... I once again put my riding on a back shelf. I continued to ride, though not nearly as much as I would have liked. Eventually, our incompatibility reached an impasse and once again I became foot loose and fancy free. My riding picked up once again and I spent many years riding all over New England with my other motorcycling friends. 

Finally, in the fall of 1999, I was doing a lot of riding and when I returned from a trip all the way around Lake Winnepesaukee in central NH, I noted a great deal of oil all over the rear wheel of the bike. That is NOT a good thing, and I am lucky it hadn't led to a "get-off" (fall down while moving) incident. The diagnosis - a cracked cylinder. Estimate to repair ~$2200.00. Now since I had only paid about $3000 for the bike in 1979 I just didn't feel that throwing that much money into a 20 year old bike was such a smart move. So I sold the bike to a junk yard for $200 and started shopping for something else. 

When I began my shopping, I hadn't even heard of, nor seen an ST. I had seen and was somewhat enamored with it's close cousin the Honda Pacific Coast 800, but Honda has been sporadic about producing the "PC". Then, while perusing used bikes at a dealer, she caught my eye... A Startlingly beautiful Silver ST... Well, just one demo ride and I was hooked. I gave it some thought over a few days but went back and nailed down a deal to make that silver baby mine. It was a decision that only seems to get better and better the more I ride the bike! 

Update - March 2003
Well, it's been 3 1/2 years no that I've had this ST. When I got it in October of '99 she had only 16K miles on her. As of today, she's now got 62K. That's 46K miles I've put on her and it still keeps getting better. Last year (2002) I put 20K on, including two major trips - one riding "2-up" with my honey, Eve to my HSTA Club's "STAR" event in Hot Springs Arkansas (a 2500 mile trip over a week) and the other, a solo trip to Laconia, NH for a week where I covered 3555 miles in a week and a half, including back-to-back 800 mile days going to and returning from the destination.

Update - January 2006
WOW! Now at 108,000 miles and still loving her more every time I ride!
In 2005 I rode some 18,000+ miles, including trips to Lexington, KY, Deals Gap, NC and Dillard, GA. No breakdowns of any kind, just hours of great riding, be it interstate romps to get there or riding the "Tail of the Dragon". I did do some major scheduled maintenance in 2005, including replacement of the timing belt as recommended by the factory at 90K and while I was in there I decided to replace all cooling hoses due to their age, and I also installed an electronic cruise control.

Update - March 2008
Well, it appears that 2007 got away from me - working for a living will do that!
In any event, my riding has continued as my enjoyment of the bike. In adddition to my "regular" riding, I joined the ranks of a somewhat elite group of riders called The Iron Butt Association. I did this by leaving Sun City Center at 4:00 AM, and driving - with only 4 gas stops - to Chambersburg PA (1028 miles). That leg of the ride qualified me for the "Saddle Sore 1000" and the next morning, I left PA and rode another 500+ miles to Derry NH, and by getting there before 4:00 PM (36 hours from my previous days departure time), qualified for the "Bun Burner 1500"

SilverSTreak now has 143,000 miles on her and is running well. I hope to start posting more details on the rides I am doing so stay tuned!

Update - June 2009
Just returned from yet another epic trip - 9400 miles in 31 days to attend two events, Hyder Seek in Hyder Alaska and MSTA STAR09 in Staunton, VA, SilverSTreak turned over 200,000 miles on the way home and she does need her forks and steering bearings serviced, but that is to be expected for this many miles. I actually have a number of trips to write about and hope to get them up soon. For now, a map of the Hyder/STAR trip is available on the Routes & Maps page of this site.

Update - November 2009
One more big trip squeezed in this year - riding from FL to PA to pick up my riding buddy then to NYC to start a run across the US on the first coast to coast highway designated by the federal government, the Lincoln Highway. We started in Times Sq. NYC and rode all the way to Lincoln Park in San Francisco where we reached the Western Terminus of the Lincoln Highway. We attempted to ride on as much of the original 1911 alignment as we could, though we did have to detour onto some later designated sectioons due to road closures and private property in places. - oh and much of it was dirt road - which we rode on as much as possible. SilverSTreak now has 216,000 miles on her and that means I have ridden my 200,000th mile since I bought her back in the fall of 1999.