The Abomination is the Bike that Should Not Be. It is too horrible to contemplate. It is Evil, and it is Wrong. That is why it has been sitting there, gathering dust, for so long. Look away…
-Seriously. To view this motorcycle in it’s entirety is to risk brain damage, or at least serious injury to your sense of aesthetics. To ride it is even worse. Though I never thought I would say this, I think I have finally found a Bad Motorbike.
It wasn’t born that way, mind you. Oh no. In it’s infancy, it was a 1979 Yamaha XS650 Special; one of Japan’s first forays into the motorcycle cruiser realm. Yamaha took a perfectly wonderful copy of a Triumph Bonneville and tried to make it into a “factory custom”. The 16″ rear wheel and slightly raked front end, the peanut-shaped fuel tank and stepped saddle all represented baby steps towards what we would eventually call the “Yama-Hog”, or Virago.
I’m told these were comfortable, stable, and well-behaved on the street. It was only when you tried to ride them fast on twisty two-lanes that they began to exhibit bad manners.
Why then, did my good friend Anonymous try to force one into the guise of a vintage road racer?
Well, it was the same combination of financial and relationship factors that endangers the mental wellbeing of many old racers when they get married and start a family. They sell the racebike(s) to make a down-payment on a house, and then sit and mope around said house every race weekend, while the wife picks out wallpaper patterns and carpet swatches.
It is a miserable period in their existence, and it sometimes breeds an unreasoning desparation. So it was for poor Anonymous.
He picked up the XS650 in bone stock trim for next to nothing. It had all the usual vintage Japanese motorbike maladies: Dead battery, gummed up carbs, and all periodic maintenance items due at the same time. Somebody had “moved on” in their life, and left the poor thing in storage. But the price was right, and he was without a hobby for the moment, so he smuggled it home and hid it under a tarp in his garage.
He began to scheme and scrounge through all the bits and pieces collected throughout a long and illustrious amateur racing career. The fairing from an old BMW, spare clip-ons from another old racebike, a boat-tail saddle from an old Harley Davidson Superglide, all of these were blended together into a Thing which, to his fevered imagination, represented an entry into the wonderful world of Vintage Road Racing!
Next came hours of drilling and safety-wiring. For those of you mercifully uninitiated, this involves breaking many tiny drill-bits in the process of boring holes in assorted nuts, bolts and your oil drain plug, through which you then thread mild steel “safety-wire”. Then you must twist those strands together and route them in a complicated and arcane practice known only to racers and aviation mechanics. This is done ostensibly for safety reasons, but I suspect it is really intended to assert the absolute authority of tech inspectors.
But Anonymous was determined to feel the thrill of the racetrack again, so he persevered. Through all the fabrication and innovation, all of Mr. Murphy’s interruptions, he pressed forward towards the objective. Do I even need to tell you that Anonymous is a fellow Marine?
Finally the day came, when he found himself at Brainerd International Raceway. With The Abomination on a trailer, towed behind the family mini-van, he registered to race. I have no idea whether or what he told his wife. But there he was, ready to whack that throttle and feel that rush, once again.
Although they received many strange, even pained looks from the inspectors, they passed tech on the first try. It probably hurt too much to examine so closely. They recognized my friend from races past, and could see the mad conviction in his eyes. In a rare moment of mercy, they let him go… Anonymous suited up and readied himself for the first practice session.
The Abomination ran well on 100+ octane race gas. It bellowed through it’s “economical” Mac two-into-one header. With nothing more to do, Anonymous twisted the grip and blasted through the gears down the long straightaway, headed for turn one.
He never told me exactly what happened next. Every time I ask, his face turns white, and his eyes get that thousand-yard stare. But he tells me this is definitely NOT a racebike, and I should never try to use it in anger.
I took it off his hands with the trade of a .22 caliber Browning Buckmark target pistol. I hadn’t used that in a long time anyway, and I was curious as to what I could do with such a crazy collection of machinery, all safety-wired together.
In the early years, I started it up once in awhile, just to annoy the neighbors. But I have never ridden it in it’s current configuration. Anonymous’ reaction was enough for me.
Someday, I will take The Abomination apart, and sell all of it’s racy bits to finance The Resurrection. I don’t know if it will be a Street Tracker or a Bobber. My tastes prefer the former, but the bike’s chassis begs the latter. For now, I test my fortitude by going out and looking at it, even sitting on it, once in awhile. Yes, it hurts. But that which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.