After hemming and hawing for years I finally decided to get my M1 license last spring, and started planning to buy a bike sometime early next year. I was saving up for a budgeted $2k for my first wheels and thinking about a few different bikes (Suzuki Savage 650, Honda Rebel 250 or better yet 450, Yamaha VStar/Virago, Vulcan 500, etc), when my friend decided to sell of his bike. I wasn't hugely into the idea of a standard, but if someone says "Hey, I just had a kid and don't ride anymore, and then someone broke into my garage and stole all my cyclocross bikes and I need to build a new one before race season and I'll sell you my bike for $500" you don't argue.
So I ended up with a 1976 Honda CB550 Four. Great bike, but much older than I wanted, and a standard not a cruiser. It made a weird rattling noise, and cosmetically it was trash, but for a learner bike it was perfect.
Then I did an oil change and found glitter in the oil. Next came a crash course in bike mechanics as I rebuilt the entire top end, including the head, replaced the cam chain tensioner and guide, rebuilt the oil pump, replaced the front brake light switch, repainted it (well, mostly not-painted- I did the tank in a brushed steel finish with a black racing stripe), and finally had a quite respectable bike. The good folks over at the SOHC4.net forums were instrumental in that.
It came out looking like this.
Naturally, I started playing with the idea of selling my freshly finished bike to some hipster who wanted to make a cafe racer. These bikes are all the rage these days, and the CB550s are quite rare in California. I started looking around for a cruiser again.
Then I found a 2005 Vulcan 500 with less than 5,000 miles on it in Lemoore, a couple of hundred miles away and about an hour south of my folks' place. And it had a solo seat! I'd heard horror stories about the stock seat, so that was a huge plus. Boom, the race was on!
I put my CB550 on Craigslist and had it sold for way more than I paid for it (even with new parts and tools!) within 24 hours, and started emailing the the guy in Lemoore like mad. 48 hours after I sold my CB, I was standing in front of a gorgeous blue Vulcan. I took it for a test ride, dickered for a bit, and went for it. I paid just a couple hundred dollars more than I sold the Honda for. Score! Then I rode it home.
Mind you, so far the sum total of my riding experience was less than 100 miles. That day, I rode 40 miles back to my folks' place, gave the bike a thorough once-over, loaded my overnight bag into the saddlebags, and took it 200 miles home. By the time I got in, my butt was on fire from that hard-as-a-rock solo seat, but my mind was flying.
That was last weekend. Since then, I've gotten the bike registered in my name, insured, etc, and this weekend took it for another quick jaunt with my brother on his Nighthawk... from Oakland to Santa Cruz via Hwy 17, then up the 1 to Half Moon Bay, and then 92 to Hayward and home to Oakland. 170 miles. A fantastic ride, but I think I might put on the stock seat (it came with the bike and is stashed at my folks' place right now- I wasn't about to lash it on the back) and see if it's any more comfortable than the solo. The solo looks great, but it's got almost no padding and is so round that I can't really slide around on it.
So there's how I came to be a Vulcan owner, and a wheeler and dealer in motorcycles, and apparently a glutton for long rides and serious butt pain from a rock-hard seat I'm not used to.