I have wrecked quite a few machines in my 20 plus years riding. Each mishap could have been avoided if I had respected the capabilities of my machine. Those were the invincible years when nothing in the world could ever hurt me. As I got older and wiser, I learned to respect my motorcycles a little more.
1973 Suzuki GT 380
The Suzuki GT 380 was introduced to the public in 1972. It was the first street motorcycle I ever owned, and had the pleasure of wrecking at the age of 16. The Suzuki GT 380 was an air cooled, 371cc inline 3 cyclinder-2 stroke engine, with a whopping 32 horsepower at 7500 RPMs.
The GT 380 weighed in around 420 pounds including all the fluids. It was chain driven and had a 6-speed transmission. Its top speed was just shy of 105 mph.
It had plenty of power for a first bike, but stopping was the issue. The 1973 Suzuki GT380 model came with a single disc brake in the front, and the rear was equipped with drum brakes. Needless to say, the braking technology at the time needed further development.
It was the first street motorcycle I ever wrecked, not on the street, but in the woods chasing my buddies. I decided to take it apart with the intention of eventually fixing it myself. Years later, it is still in the box. Shame on me.
1984 Honda Ascot VT 500
The 1984 Honda Ascot VT 500, was first introduced to the public in 1983 from the Japanese manufacturer and was produced for only two years. I bought the 1984 Honda VT 500 model used from my brother Joey many years later.
The Honda VT 500 was a liquid cooled, 491cc V-Twin engine, with about 50 horsepower at 9500 RPMs. Weighing in around pounds., the shaft driven 50 horses would get you a top speed close to 115 mph at the top of its 6-speed transmission.
Once again, the braking was awful with a single disc in the front and expanding rear brakes. The Honda VT 500 did make it for a year or so without incident. Unfortunately, I wrecked into a telephone pole while attempting a burn out for some girls.
This is the part where I feel real stupid. I was attempting the burn out in gravel before the front tire let go, and I became one with the telephone pole. The later resurrected the bike before selling it to a friend to buy a sportier bike.
1992 Suzuki Katana GSX600 F
The 1992 Suzuki Katana came with a 599cc liquid/oil cooled, inline 4 cylinder motor. It had a 6-speed transmission, chain driven, and could crank out 86 horsepower at 11,000 RPMs. It weighed around 440 pounds, had a 5.3 gallon fuel tank, and could easily make 130 mph.
As you can probably figure out, I’m getting faster bikes, which in turn will eventually result in a lot more scars, and broken bones. It did have dual front discs, which made a huge difference, as well as a single rear disc that helped me avoid a lot of mishaps.
The “can of tuna”, as many people would refer to my Katana, was my first real sportbike. I learned my lesson on the first two bikes. No chasing my friend in the woods, and no burn outs in gravel. I still did burn outs, just not in gravel or near telephone poles.
The 1992 Suzuki Katana GSX600, I wrecked into a used car lot’s sign trying to avoid a ground hog. I was riding with several people, and looked back to laugh at the first ground hog I avoided. However, as I was laughing, making funny hand gestures looking back at the other bikes, another ground hog decided to run across the road.
I struck the ground hog with the front wheel, which I caught a glimpse of when turning around. Losing steering, I became one with the Noble Auto Sales used car lot sign. I had a little concussion, but within 2 weeks, I had the 1992 Suzuki Katana GSX 600 back on the road. I eventually sold it.
1998 Suzuki GSXR 750
The 1998 Suzuki GSXR 750 was the first year for fuel injection for this 749cc bike. It cranked out 135 horsepower, and had a top speed of almost 165 mph, which was seen multiple times. The fuel injection offered immediate throttle response compared to my earlier bikes that had carburetors. With a snap of the wrist, the 60.7 pounds of torque launched you forward.
Weighing in around 396lbs, this 135 horsepower bike was once again, chain driven with a 6-speed transmission. The braking systems had disc brakes all around could stop on a dime.
With a killer red, black, and silver paint scheme, the GSXR 750 was one of the coolest designed and handling motorcycles on the market at that time. Its ram air ducts screamed “let’s go fast”, this bike was all around badass.
However, in the early 2000s, I went from riding wheelies to doing stoppies on the front wheel. It was not long before the stoppies prevailed, and I went over the handle bars. Once again, I mastered the art of the concussion, broken wrist, and some swelling to my spinal cord. No big deal, the bike was fixed before I healed completely.
2000 Suzuki Hayabusa
The Suzuki Hayabusa was released in 1999, and truly was the fastest motorcycles on the market for years. Just shy of a 1,300cc motor, the Hayabusa had an inline four cylinder that could crank out 175 plus horsepower at around 7,500 RPM’s.
The Suzuki Hayabusa in 1999 and 2000, had an unrestricted transmission, and a motor that could see over 200 mph. Not bad for a sport-touring bike weighing in at around 475lbs, with a little over 102 foot pounds of torque.
Realizing how fast this machine really was, Suzuki and some of the other manufacturers decided to scale back a little on how fast these machines were getting. Despite the restrictions in the later models, I still reached speeds of 180 mph plus.
I had the pleasure of sliding one of these beauties on its side about the length of a football field through downtown Pittsburgh. Of course, I was obeying the speed limit at all times before hitting a huge bump in the road, which sent me over the handlebars.
I was able to hold on and steer the Hayabusa away from hitting anything, but held the throttle wide open while doing it with the rear wheel in the air. When the rear wheel touched, it was game over. The rear wheel slid out from under the bike, and the bike began to drag me down the street. The amount of freckles I lost that day to road rash really didn’t help matters.
Covered in road rash from the back of my legs to my shoulder, it took 3 months for my body to start getting back to normal. Of course the bike was fixed way before then, but I was still unable to ride anything for a few weeks.