She came into my life completely out of the blue. I was online checking out the used bikes at a few of the local shops for a Brother, and then I clicked on her image. When I showed him the pics, and the price, he was interested. But only sort of. More curious than anything else. So I got on the phone and called. He wasn't in a position at the moment to put anything down quite yet, but I was more than just curious what I could find out about her. It's not like I could really afford another bike, but something kept pushing me to call and get more information about this hot little number, and with such a sweet price.
Needless to say, when I got the call back from the salesgal, she gave me all the right answers. Out of curiousity, I asked what sort of trade-in I could get on my '05 1200 Sporty. When I heard her say;"Without seeing it, around $5,000 to $5,200" I almost got a hard on. Then I asked her what the payments would be figuring in that kind of trade-in amount. "Less than $100 a month." was the reply she gave me.
The next day, I rode Miss Bettie for the last time. I took her up to Renton to use as a trade-in. Part of me thought I was nuts for trading in a bike I had bought brand new less than four years before, for a bike that was almost twenty years old. But I knew at the time that I wanted a big twin again. I wasn't going to be able to afford a Pan, or even a Shovel (at least in 2009's economy) for what I could pick this sweet Evo up for. I wasn't completely sold on her yet. There was still the test ride to come. That would decide whether I was leaving Miss Bettie or not.
I had never ground Betties pipes or pegs going through a right turn. At least not while feeling comfortable about it. She wasn't the tightest cornering bike I'd ever had. She sat almost as tall as my old Norton P11A, Lola. Which is still strange, because Lola always handled corners really good. I rubbed the pipes and pegs the first time just pulling out of the parking lot. She layed over so far, and so effortlessly, and came right back up with nary a lick of effort. I swung around thru Renton on a test ride of a few miles. It seemed like everytime I made I right turn, I was dragging the pegs or the pipes. Without even trying. It wasn't that they were so low, but that I was so easily and comfortably leaning into corners wiht her that I wasn't even thinking about it.
When I got back to the shop, I told the salesgal that depending on the trade-in, it was a done deal. They gave me a quote of $5,200 as a trade-in on Miss Bettie, and I hung around while the financing got worked out, and the bike washed and detailed.
It was the shops 1st anniversary at their new location. So there was a big party going on. I ran into an old friend, and her fiance. He was looking at a new bike too. But he was actually shopping for a NEW bagger. Not my cup of tea at all, but hey, it wasn't going to be my bike, so who cared. When the bike was brought out front for me, I told Tammy and Doug that I had just traded Miss Bettie in for a bike, and pointed her out.
Now I had looked the bike over pretty closely before I took it out for a road test. Sat on it, brought it up off the kickstand, fired it up, and checked out the clutch and suspension. So when Tammy walked up to the bike and said it had such a cool looking rose painted on it, for a minute I thought she was looking at the wrong bike. But sure enough, there on the top of the rear fender, was a ghost rose. It only really shows up if you're in the right position. It's much more of a ghost than the eagle flames on the gas tanks.
That's when Tammy asked what I was going to call the bike. "I really hadn't though about it much yet. But I think I'll call her Gypsy Rose." I added without much thought." I told her. Since I traded in Miss Bettie; who I named after the queen of the pin-ups, Bettie Page. I thought the ghost rose made it only fitting to name this bike after another famous sex symbol. This one was even from the Seattle area. The famous Gypsy Rose Lee.
Gypsy, and I have put a lot of miles behind us since April of 2009. She had just under 45,000 miles on her when I bought her. Which, if you figure she was a 18 year old bike, isn't that much. Something like 2,500 miles a year. In the past five years, I have probably come close to doubling that amount. I'd have to 'guesstimate' that she has about 70,000 on her now. That first winter I had her, I did some modifications to her. One of which was to disconnect the speedometer cable when I changed from a 21 inch front tire to a 16 inch. I just didn't feel that having a speedo was important enough to buy a speedo drive geared for a 16 inch wheel. Besides, did I really want to know how fast I was going? I'd know if I was doing over the speed limit easy enough. The only thing I had to worry about was when I was going so fast I was scaring myself....and do I REALLY want to know how fast I'm going then?
I've changed a few other things over the years. Those pipes are history. I actually ground off about an inch off the bottom of the fishtail for the front pipe going around corners. So, a few of us threw together a different exhaust system that doesn't grind in the curves. It still needs to be redone, as over the years I have come to realize the front pipe runs too close to the clutch cable, and also rubs the kicker arm when I kickstart the bike. I have also pretty well quite running the front fender, and may actually use it as a rear fender on the Frankenbike.
I have to admit, I just can't see getting rid of Gypsy. I can see a few more changes coming. Mostly minor ones. What I would really like to do in a couple of years, is get a Fab Kevin hardtail kit for her, and just run a sprung saddle seat, and a different rear fender. But that is a couple of years down the road. After I finish the Frankenbike.
Next week, I am going to bring Gypsy into the front room again, and spend a couple of weeks just going through and giving her a serious once, or twice over, and replacing al the gaskets in the top end, and primary. As well as adjusting the shifter pawl drum. Maybe, if I can score the pipe at the swap meet the end of the month, I'll get that exhaust finished the way I want.
One thing I can be pretty certain is true; As long as I own Gypsy, I don't think she will ever, really be "finished".
Catch ya on the road sometime...