6 Bikes That Got Away

Once MC reader Peter Del Nagro got rolling he couldn’t stop. Here are six of his favorite bikes that he wishes he still had.

The Ones that Got Away
The Ones That Got Away©Motorcyclist

Editor's note: Tell us your story! Send us plenty of words (“Why You Bought It, Why You Sold It, Why You Wished You Still Had It”) and a few good photos of the bike and if we use your submission, we’ll send you a magnificent Motorcyclist t-shirt and some other random swag. Email your submissions to: mcmail@bonniercorp.com

He loved the classic Suzuki GS, but when Peter Del Nagro went to buy one at the dealer back in 1978, he ended up riding home on a Honda CB750 F2 (click here to see that Honda). Not a bad choice, but this was just the start. He went on to get that Suzuki plus a few more, all of which he sold and now wishes that he hadn't. Below are six of the now-classic rides that got away from him.

1975 Honda CB400F
1975 Honda CB400F©Motorcyclist

1975 Honda CB400F
Why I Bought It: I had always loved the look and the proportions of this bike. I rode a friend's with clip-ons on the Ortega Hwy and had the time of my life.
Why I sold it. My wife and I out moved out of the country for a while and storing it for a few years wasn't worth the expense.
Why I wish I hadn't sold it. I had done a lot to this bike: 452cc big-bore kit, dyno-tuned Keihin CR26 carbs, Dyna electronic ignition, 420 RK chain and sprocket conversion, Race Tech Gold Valve Fork Emulators, and Progressive shocks. It always made me laugh out loud when I rode it, it was that much fun.

1978 Suzuki GS750E
1978 Suzuki GS750E©Motorcyclist

1978 Suzuki GS750E
Why I Bought It: I had learned to ride on a friend's GS750E and also wanted a winter project. $650 delivered from 100 miles.
Why I Sold It: I sold it, along with my '08 Kawasaki Versys, to buy a new 2015 Kawasaki 300 Ninja (which I love.).
Why I Wished I Hadn't Sold It: Sentimentality mostly. It had a nice ride. People said nice things about it and the work I'd done.

1980 Suzuki GS550
1980 Suzuki GS550©Motorcyclist

1980 Suzuki GS550 Why I Bought It: I liked the way the classic GS Suzukis looked, I had considered one of these when I bought the Honda CB750 F2--it was more appropriate for a beginner, actually--and there was one on eBay in the next town over for only $452.
Why I Sold It: Actually, after 10 years and 20,000 miles I gave it to a friend who had always wanted it.
Why I Wished I Hadn't Sold It: It handled well, was reliable and unbreakable, but compared to a GpZ 550 that I really wanted was kind of slow and bland. But then around 85 mph it would wake up and come alive. After you replace the stator, you can't go wrong with a GS Suzuki.

1982 Yamaha XZ550 Vision
1982 Yamaha XZ550 Vision©Motorcyclist

1982 Yamaha XZ550 Vision
Why I Bought It: A real gearhead's bike (DOHC, four valve heads, downdraft carbs, water cooling, shaft drive, monoshock, trailing front axle, electronic tach) that was way ahead of its time.
Why I Sold It: Good luck with those carbs! And I wanted something faster.
Why I Wished I Hadn't Sold It: Shaft drive is nice. The engine was torquey, smooth, and very tractable. And with the Works monoshock and Sargent seat it had a beautiful ride.

1980 Yamaha XS650
1980 Yamaha XS650©Motorcyclist

1980 Yamaha XS650
Why I Bought It: The XS650 was always a good-looking bike, and I wanted to do all those famous Minton Mods to it featured in Motorcyclist. So the engine was bored for a 750cc kit with heavy-duty rods, the heads were ported — I asked the famous Jerry Branch but he wouldn't return my calls — there was a Megacycle cam, bigger carbs, a better coil, a Sargent seat, and I upgraded the suspension.
Why I Sold It: After 10 years and 30,00 miles I was in the mood for something else.
Why I Wished I Hadn't Sold It: It had some rough edges (engine vibration mostly; the mirrors were dead smooth), the technology was dated, the muffler fell off a couple of times until I figured a way to lock it on. But, dang, it was fast! It was just sort of badass too and had a f*** off attitude.

2008 Kawasaki Versys
2008 Kawasaki Versys©Motorcyclist

2008 Kawasaki Versys
Why I Bought It: It was Motorcyclist's MOTY. Once I got past the droopy headlight I liked the looks and the techno-geekiness of it.
Why I Sold It: With that and the sale of the GS750E I was able to buy a new 2015 Kawasaki Ninja 300 (which I love.)
Why I Wished I Hadn't Sold It: What a great bike! I'll probably buy another one. I took it touring (CO, Upper Midwest, VA Civil War sites), rode it to work, and rode it to the store. You sit up nice and high, I liked the red color, and it was fun.