A 1981 Yamaha MX175: An Eight Year Old’s Dream
I can not remember what we had been doing on that evening, or what friends I had been with, but I was happy to leave them to follow him. I was eight years old and I was busy learning how to become a cowboy on the horse that my parents had just bought for me. But he said that he had a motorbike that, “Would probably be just about right for your size.”
I had been having motorbike fantasies for years, as both of my brothers had matching 1978 Honda XL125 motorcycles that were actually bought on the day of my birth. Hours and hours of my life were spent sitting on those bikes as they were leaning against the shop, simulating motorbike sounds and riding the hell out of those bike without ever them ever moving. I felt like a superhero when I used to sit on those motorcycles. I could save the neighbouring girls from a whim of danger in a moment if needed be….
I followed him up to his parents place, and I can remember walking across his parent’s perfect lawn. It was dark outside and all that we had for illumination was the streetlight at the end of his parent’s lane. He opened the shed and pulled out a Yamaha YZ125. I looked at it and it was way too big for me, but it looked fun. He leaned it against the shed and then pulled out a 1981 Yamaha MX175.
I remember the smell of that Yamaha MX175 motorbike so well, with the gas and oil injection combination. In my memory, I can still remember the glow that the motorcycle emitted just for me when he pulled it out into the light. That bike was probably the most beautiful thing that my 8 year old eyes had seen up to that point in my life. I climbed on the seat. It was far too tall for my short legs, but I knew that I had to have the motorbike anyway. It was one of the moments that altered my life. He told me “$400 for it, but I would take $375.” I quickly did some 8-year-old mental financial accounting.
Everything in my life that had mattered up to that point stopped mattering. The only thing that mattered form that moment on was that motorbike. A 175cc. Friends my age with motorcycles had 80cc bikes. Not only did I have a chance to have a motorbike, but I also had a chance to have the King Motorbike. I had $275 in my bank account from selling a couple of pigs which I had raised. I was $100 short… So, I went home that night to cut a deal with my mom.
“You will stop riding your horse,” she argued. “Of course I will not stop riding my horse,” I assured her.
My allowance was $3/week. I had a calculator at the kitchen table. If I took an 8.5 month advance on my allowance, I would have enough money to be the greatest 8 year old that there had ever been. Incredibly, mom agreed to the pact with me. Mom’s are good like that. She must have seen in my eyes that there was no chance that this was not going to happen.
Within a couple of days dad and I went back into town with a horse trailer. We loaded it inside and brought it home…the 1981 Yahaha MX175! It was mine! MINE! Paid full in cash! I could not wait to get back in the vehicle and head back to the farm to unload my new superhero machine!
The motorcycle was so big for me that I had two car-ramps set up in the garage on the farm that I parked the bike between. I stood on the ramps with the bike between my legs so that the bike’s height worked with my short legs. Car-ramp-stilts were my launching pad that I would leave from and where I would return to park again. The only problem was that if I went down with that bike, and it was on its side, it took every last ounce of strength that I had in me to pick it back upright again. I would have to rest once I stood it up again before I could even muster up the energy to get back on. But, before getting back on I would have to take the bike to the side of a ditch or the side of a hill so that I could have a place where one of my legs was long enough to touch the ground to be able to take off again. If a hill or a ditch was not an option, I would rest the bike on it’s kick-stand, get on, quickly dump the clutch and take off from the kickstand position.
I got off the bus at 4:30pm and I rode that bike until dark every single night. I rode it until the unbearable cold of winter set in, making it impossible to ride. Then I was out again every day after school as soon as winter started to break and the snow began to melt. The country would just begin thawing and I would be out there on my Yamaha MX175, blasting through the snow-banks. I spent the next six years of my life hanging onto that bike as I bounced across our land, on one tire, tearing up the hills, and launching towards the sky. I may have actually coined the term, Airmiles. Going to sleep at night, school, and winter were the only things which kept that bike and I apart. I put miles upon miles upon miles on that machine.
By the time I was a teenager it would be my transportation to parties with a collection of stolen dad-beer in a backpack. Cowboy boots, a cowboy shirt, a lip full of Copenhagen chewing tobacco, a backpack of beer, and a 1981 Yamaha MX175 motorcycle were my formative party days. By that point the motorcycle had been my Nearly Everything for years and had been almost everywhere that my mind had considered travelling.
I still have the Yamaha MX175 at the farm today, decades later. Every time I get home, I go out to the garage and I kick-start the engine a few times just to make sure that she does not seize up. I loved that motorcycle. I still do. It was my dream come true, and for $375, to purchase that dream was an incredible deal.
My horse had a great life after I got that motorcycle…she immediately went into retirement.
It turns out that mom’s are usually right…