Photo Credit: Honda. More old brochures and ads here.

I wake up to its piercing howling every morning. RAPHAEL it wails BUY THAT STUPID MOTORCYCLE AND GO BREAK ALL THE BONES IN YOUR FACE.

‘That’ motorcycle is a 1970s Honda XL, with a four-stroke single-cylinder engine and low-level off-road suspension. There was the original XL250 of 1972-’77, along with the 100, 125, 175, 185, 350 and 500, with a couple other displacements if you toe into the ‘80s. The system is the same—it’s a road-legal bike that handles rough roads and light trails but doesn’t look or sound mean or serious like all the new off road bikes or two-strokes.

Advertisement

Simple, reliable, usable and something near affordable. A 250 gives you 20 horsepower at 8,000 RPM for 287 pounds with half a tank of gas. The seat sits a low 32 inches off the ground. Ratty ones are mid three figures. Nice ones are three grand, everything in between is Craigslist decontextualization.

No, these XLs all have the same simple face, an unblinking eye ahead of a flat, inviting seat. You could be taking the day off riding out to the beach, Orlove, it croons. I go off jumps, Orlove. You like jumps, Orlove. You have good healthcare, Orlove.

Maybe I never broke enough bones as a kid. Read too many books. Didn’t spend enough time watching my own red blood trickle over rocks stuck in my palms.

Advertisement

SCAR YOUR RIBS AND YOUR BANK ACCOUNT YOU HOMEBODY, echoes as I go to bed YOU’D FEEL BETTER WITH THE WIND IN YOUR HAIR RUSHING TO THE HOSPITAL.