The Norman Transcript

December 30, 2012

The little yellow motorcycle that could

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The motorcycle that my father purchased second-hand at a west Norman garage sale was not something a teen-aged boy would want to be seen riding around the city.

It was summer yellow, with knobby tires, an automatic clutch and two sets of gears. The mirrors rose from the handlebars like deer antlers and the back seat resembled the luggage rack on our 64 Rambler Cross Country.

The accompanying half-shell helmet had a plastic bubble visor that dipped down onto your nose making the rider look like he was preparing to weld something big. It was faster than my Schwinn but not by much. Top speed was about 50 miles per hour. We usually waited until dark to zoom around the countryside or take into the D&D motorcycle shop for tune-ups.

The worst part of that Honda Trail 90 was the frame. It was a step-through, like a woman’s bicycle. Hardly the macho bike to park in front of the Cubs Den at Central Junior High in the early 1970s. A kid could get beat up pretty quick that way.

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However, one snowy day, not unlike this past Christmas Day, the Trail 90 was the envy of all my rowdy neighborhood friends.

Schools were canceled. The roads were a sheet of ice so we went sledding in the hills of east Norman. The best hill may have been 12th Avenue NE, north of Rock Creek Road, near the highest point in the county.

We figured out the little Trail 90 with its low-range gears, knobby tires and space for a husky person to sit on the luggage rack and keep the tire from sliding was ideal for pulling wooden sleds full of riders back up the hills.

We could link half a dozen sleds with riders holding onto the feet in front of them with the first one holding the feet of the husky boy sitting backwards on the luggage rack. It would pull them straight up the hill for yet another run.

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Cars and trucks couldn’t make it up the hills but my little yellow Honda never failed me that day.

Not sure what happened to that much-maligned motorcycle from my youth. We delivered many a paper route with it. My brother sunk it once in Rucker’s Pond but was able to clean and dry the parts and put it back together before dad noticed it was turned into a pile of parts on the garage floor.

A friend who collects motorcycles — his wife is very forgiving — found me the same model on E-bay this past year. Same color. Low mileage with mirrors and a luggage rack. He even offered to buy it and bring it back to Norman for me to enjoy on winter days.

I passed on the offer then but oh what I would have given for a Trail 90 beside my tree on Christmas morning this year.


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