What I learned to ride on.

Probably in 1977 or so, I began my experience with motorcycles. I was too young to have my permit for the street, so naturally, we did the off road thing. Recently I have been reliving my youth, and sharing some experiences, so I thought I would go back even further to the first bikes I rode.

Hard to imagine a better learning point.
Hard to imagine a better learning point.

We had a pair of Honda XL125’s, 1976. Red tank, black plastic, mild steel rims, and the street legal trials tires. The lights were removed, and we did replace the rear tire with a true knobby, but otherwise, the bikes were stock.  Probably had 3″ of suspension travel, and since they were “road/trail” bikes, they had soft-ish suspension for that good in showroom feel.

They were both bought used. These were pretty common, if you recall the gas crises of the ’70s, that drove a lot of people to riding motorcycles, this class of mild, beginner friendly bike was a good learning platform. But you quickly outgrew the bike, so you bought something bigger, and sold your “starter bike”.

I do remember my first trip. We went to Metcalf, a riding place south of San Jose, and learned the basics in the big, open parking area. Clutch, shifting, braking, how to steer/turn/stop. Later in the day we tried some of the easier trails in the park, and I was hooked.

Yes, I fell a lot, got a bunch of scrapes, but there was a thrill factor that was impossible to ignore.

We rode the hell out of those bikes. I learned all the trails at Metcalf, then we moved on to Hollister Hills (another ORV park), and spent pretty much every weekend riding. During the week I fixed broken levers, did maintenance, lubed chains, checked the valves, etc.

I wonder whatever happened to those bikes. We rode them hard for probably 7-8 years, most weekends, and with just a modicum of maintenance, they all ran perfectly.

Next, I will talk about the first bike I actually bought myself.

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