By John Evans
My greatest fear was of not taking the chance, of wimping out, of being that half-drunk guy at the bar, many years in the future, mumbling about the special whine of straight-cut gear-driven overhead cams, or staring at the floor in embarrassment, unable to pronounce “homologation” on the third try. Everyone who’s ever had a dream bike can tell you a story about it; most of them end with the words, “I wish I had it back.”
I’d owned a Honda NC35 RVF400, my heretofore ultimate, during a stay in South Korea five years previous; I’d spent eight years there as a visiting professor of English and literature. I loved that NC35, and I missed the linear delivery and low, sit-inside feel of a mid-’90s Honda V4 sportbike. The void in my life left by its untimely crank/main bearing suicide remains.
That is why I am here, standing next to a repossessed Honda RC45 RVF750 in a public parking garage in Seoul, South Korea, while my good friend Hwang Young Sung argues with a loan shark in Korean. This is the 1994 RC45, a bike raced by the likes of Joey Dunlop, John Kocinski, Miguel Duhamel and Colin Edwards, a bike so rare and valuable, Keanu Reeves felt justified taking a six-minute selfie with one and posting the video to Youtube.
The owner of this example, however, does not ride; he has never ridden the bike. His predecessor spent a lot of money on the bike and took good care of it, but was a little crazy, and made bad decisions elsewhere. There are no manuals or maintenance records. The missing stock parts are gone for good. Young Sung points to highlight small flaws. Silence follows. The guys pretend to be interested in their phones. They won’t …read more