Saturday, April 6, 2013


 In truth, Smiley is a tribute to significant eras of my past.

The 1991 Airhead, whom I have fondly named “Smiley,” looks great sitting in the garage. Smiley has a shiny blue paint job, sleek lines, a low-slung elegance with a moderne sheen. He has some power, but nothing like the K bikes or the Oilhead.  Cracking a ton is an effort.  Although Smiley is a monoshock model, he simply does not handle like a modern bike. He will go the distance, but he lacks the adjustable ergonomics of the later models.  The windscreen tilts manually, but not enough to block the turbulent flow, even with a nifty re-curved after-market screen. The seat is in a fixed position, nearer the pegs than on the Oilhead. 

 My first BMW was a basket case /5, which permanently cured me of Triumphs. Whilst living in California, I formed a significant relationship with The Airheads, a group of scalawags centered in San Diego, CA.  The editor of their magazine, one B. Jan Hoffman, penned a column named “The Luddite Screed,” which, in two words, describes the Airhead Attitude. 

When I fled California just before the turn of the century, I encountered the New England Branch of the Airheads, personified by Siouxzanne Harris. Like every other male BMW rider in New England, I was smitten with her. The feeling deepened when I visited Buzzard’s Crest a decade later, discovered a steel building full of Airheads, and a treasure trove of tools and parts assembled by Sioux’s late husband Voyle. 

During the current century,  I’ve owned several K bikes, an Oilhead named “Butch,” and an F650 Dakar named “Felix.” While riding the more modern machines, I’ve encountered Sioux and her retinue of Airhead admirers at rallies across the country. Merriment always ensues. Now that I have returned to the Airhead fold, Siouxzanne informs me that she will be riding an R1200 GS. Well, at least she’ll be able to keep up with me now.

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