My 1974 Honda Café Racer has a kick-start; it’s not a common feature especially as my only option to start my motorcycle and is not generally preferred over the (highly coveted by me) electric start, a feature that takes a mere push of a thumb to get you and your bike on your way. Instead, my kick-start takes the crazy-assed physical effort of my entire body to start the engine and usually ends with me tearing off layers of my clothing, while apologizing to all the over-the-shoulder glances with their fancy-pants electric starters. It’s a bit of a showdown between it and me. Those who have ever tried to kick start a cold engine in the morning, or stalled in the middle lane in mid-afternoon traffic, or got a kick-back shin bruising when the ignition timing is off, know what I mean. It’s a beast.
However, a beautiful moment occurs when I finally, finally get my motorcycle to idle (which usually results in me high five-ing anyone who is still waiting). The sound is indeed sweet. It purrs. It’s a rough purr mind you much like a beat up alley cat that has found some summer sun on a patch of cracked asphalt. I wait patiently. Listening. It tells me when it’s ready. I wait because I know that in its idleness there is movement. The engine is coming to life, a mechanical resuscitation by the fuel that’s injecting and flowing through its system. Food for its parts. It needs to idle otherwise it is just pieces of metal and chain, an empty shell, nothing more.
My bike is in the garage right now. I’ll be painting the battery tray, readjusting my clutch, changing my left mirror, and replacing a burnt out signal light. Like me, it’s overwintering, waiting for patches of warm sun.