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  • Robert Farago

Goodbye Charley, Hello Fritz

Wherein our humble adventurer swaps bikes - and loses money

To paraphrase the Noble Bard, I come not to bury Charley the Gold Wing motorcycle (not shown), but to praise it. Actually FTS. The Japanese/American motorcycle failed at the first furlong – once again proving that your author is terrible at choosing transportation, great at losing money.

Start with this. How much would you pay for an upgraded motorcycle stereo system – new speakers, killer amp – that lacks mid-range or bass? I shelled-out $3k. Ouch.

Not a problem, once Charley gets the tour pack I should’ve purchased in the first place. The top box has big ass speakers. When it’s finished, someone will benefit. Not me. Charley and I have parted company.

Boomtown Rat

Charley was killing my hearing. Literally. On my way back from the Dallas tunesmith to my Austin aerie, the sound of the flat-six engine slung under the Honda was booming.

When I say booming, I mean BOOMING. The kind of everywhere-all-at-once sound you can generate singing a single reverberating note in the shower.

Charley’s harmonic resonance in seventh gear – at 70mph and up – shook my nerves and rattled my brain. Too much of that drove this man insane. And damaged my physically.

The four-hour two-wheeled torture session left me with tinnitus. I’m not sure if it’s permanent, but it’s been two weeks and there’s been no respite or relief.

Not only that, but my ears are now so sensitive that the loud voice of the Army guy sitting across from me at the cigar lounge is punching my eardrums.

Hell on Wheels

I dropped Charley off at Ride Now and said dudes, check it out. Three trusted riders jumped aboard and… nothing.

“One of the quietest motorcycles ever made,” my main man Mark announced, perplexed. I couldn’t find any internet reports of Honda Havana Syndrome to contradict his assessment.

Suggestion: it’s the Shoei helmet. That complaint is on-line, albeit sparingly. Spendthrift that I am, I own two more helmets with which to test the theory. It was better in alternative headgear, but nowhere near acceptable.

Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow

Next stop: RK Audiology. No infection or physical damage. The hearing test revealed that I’ve lost some acuity over the years, but nothing serious enough to warrant a hearing aid. Yet.

“Every person’s bone structure is different,” I was duly informed. Sure, but why did it take over a thousand miles for the aural assault to rear its ugly head upon mine? “It happens.”

The correct expression is “shit happens.” To me. A lot. As I mentioned in the opening of this post, this is not my first money-losing “wrong vehicle” experience. Not even the worst (see: EAG and Me).

That said, what if my ears couldn’t abide any motorcycle? My Ridiculous Random Motorcycle Tour was imperiled. That would suck on a cosmic, not-to-say career-killing level.


There was only one possible solution: another bike.

I went back to my local Indian dealer, to reacquaint myself with their cruisers. Specifically, the liquid-cooled Pursuit, blessed with Apple CarPlay and a front end straight off a 1970’s Chevy Silverado.

Indian’s monster bikes are armchairs-on-wheels that handle like a Ski Doo and scream OFWG. Not literally, thankfully. At most, they roar like a slightly wounded bear. The Pursuit’s engine sound didn’t insult my ears, but really? Riding one in full protective gear is like riding a sport bike dressed for cricket.

Not it. Assuming I had a choice. I had. One. A BMW K1600 GTL.

With considerable trepidation, I arranged a test drive from Ride Now, the same dealer who sold me the Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster and the Gold Wing.

I’ll review the big Beemer in a separate post.

Suffice it to say, its inline six is as smooth as a baby’s backside, serves up more twist than Chubby Checker on repeat play and remains supernaturally quiet at speed. Give the K1600 GTL’s throttle a mighty twist, and the resulting frequency is high enough to be a feature, not a sonic buzzkill.

Sigh. It now comes down to depreciation (a.k.a., money down the drain). That $3k on the stereo? Gone. The cash spent on sport pipes and the tour pack? Gone. My Speedmaster? Traded-in to soften the financial blow.

I’m hoping it’s gonna be two-for-one. I’m also hoping to meet a beautiful woman with a kind heart, a high sex drive and her own income. Her own bike FTW.

Here in the real world, BMW is offering zero percent APR financing and a grand in customer cash on the 2023 1600 GTL. So there is that.

Step Right This Way!

It’s often said “the longest journey starts with a single step.” In fact, the longest journey starts with a single idea: “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!” My exact thought Winging it down I-35.

In terms of literature, the best journeys involve setbacks, challenges and travails. So far so good. Bad? Whatever. Bring it on!



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