Everybody Has One

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor


There was a difference of opinion of epic proportions

There’s a funny cliché: I hope my widow doesn’t sell my bikes for what I told her I paid for them. And, of course, there are variations on that theme: cars, tools, snowmobiles, rare beer can collections—just fill in the blank. Last weekend I attended an estate sale of a gentleman who fancied himself a motorcycle mechanic and rare beer can collector. After scrounging through piles of what I would describe as junk, I found a few morsels and set about the dance of negotiating with the guy’s heirs. The not-so-lucky family members tasked with liquidating what they also described as junk were the man’s widow and daughter.

If you read my writing in American Iron Magazine, you may have figured out a few things about me. I like swap meets, I like auctions, I like finding cool old parts and tools. And more than that, like most people, I like getting a smokin’ deal on stuff. I spoke with the daughter who was a bit overwhelmed with the task of cleaning out the house. I mentioned that she would probably get the maximum dollar for things if she held an auction; pitting  several (or, at least, two) people in the crowd against each other, bidding for an item, would financially benefit her family the most. Her response was that she didn’t know how to go about it, and just wanted to get rid of all this stuff. I asked her for prices, and she asked for offers. And so started the dance.

When I’m confronted with this samba at a swap meet, you better believe I start way low. The worst that can happen is the seller says no. But I wouldn’t want it to appear that I was taking advantage of anyone in this situation. After all, she has already suffered, having just lost her dad. I gave what I considered a fair offer. She consulted with a friend more knowledgeable about motorcycles, and he thought I was only off by five or ten bucks. So we were in the same ballpark. Less than 10 seconds later, I was counting off a few bills and she was thanking me for coming. All good.

Just a few feet away, her mother was arguing with a guy who was dickering on some chain binders. Mom was asking the daughter to look up the price of new chain binders on her cellphone-internet gizmo and wanted to base her price on the results. The ones in question were undoubtedly not new. There was a difference of opinion of epic proportions. I’m not sure if that guy got the chain binders he wanted, and I’m not sure if she got retail price, as I had walked away from the uncomfortable situation.

My point is, often times there are differences of opinions. It’s true among families, friends, relationships, the motorcycle hobby, presidential elections, and life in general. You might think your bike is the coolest thing ever! I mean, James Dean and Steve McQueen got nothin’ on you! But everyone walked by your bike parked on Main Street in Daytona without giving it a second look. What was wrong with them? Are they blind?

I once attended the local Sunday morning breakfast bike gathering, and after a while I saw a group of guys gathered around my bike. So, I walked back and just stood there, silent. Some guys were complimenting it, and some were slamming it. One guy posed a question, “Where did the owner get those handlebars?” It was then that a buddy of mine spoiled my fun and said, “Why don’t you ask him? He’s standing right behind you.” You don’t know somebody’s true opinion unless you have a hidden camera.

I recently posted pictures of a new American-made V-twin motorcycle, the Vanguard, on Facebook from the New York International Motorcycle Show. Everybody was quick to voice his opinion and criticize. My first reaction was “some will love it, others might not.” It’s an American-made, V-twin-powered, high-tech motorcycle, from a new company that is going to try to make it in this business. We will cover it in American Iron Magazine. Might not be your cup of tea, but you have to give them credit for trying. So, if you were one of the naysayers, I guess Vanguard doesn’t see things the same way you do. What? Are they blind?

Steve Lita

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