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Suzuki Hayabusa

The Matt Solution

(part of our Travels with Guido series, June 2020)

by Guy 'Guido' Allen; pic by Lou Martin

Anyone who buys your pride and joy should have to sign a contract that lets you take it back

It was a strange discussion. There we were talking with Ms A Jnr and recently-minted husband Matt. It was about letting go of your toys and selling them on to new owners.

Now there are people out there who will give you that blank thousand-metre stare when you raise this. And then there are the petrol-heads who get it instantly.

Here’s the question: when you sell a bike, do you have any right to say how it’s used? On any normal commercial planet, the answer is a resounding “no!”

WTF? You just sold it and it’s an inanimate object. How on earth can anyone get wrapped up in what happens next? Take the money and run as far away as possible. Which is perfectly sensible advice.

And if we were talking white goods or lawn mowers, I’d go with that. But this is motorcycles and, like it or not, sometimes your personality and history get wrapped up in them. (This also might help explain why I’m not a successful motorcycle dealer.)

A few experiences have led up to this. The first, over a couple of decades ago, happened when I was working for Triumph Motorcycles Australia as the PR factotum. Young Jim Steele, then dealer manager, related a story about talking to a car dealer mate. Bob (or whoever) said, “You don’t know how lucky you are – people get passionate about motorcycles and some high-end cars. Meanwhile I’m selling Toyota Camrys, and so long as the light comes on when the door opens, the punters are pretty happy. I might as well be selling refrigerators.”

Ride on a few years and I’ve got Hannibal the much-modded first-gen Hayabusa on the market. Not sure why – it seemed like a good idea at the time. The most serious punter wanted to take it north, strip it down and drag race it. The engine was already producing 208 horses at the back tyre, so it made sense as a starting point.

For some reason I was outraged and took it off the market. Maybe it was all the care and attention that was put into sorting it as a good - if a little nuts - road bike. Whatever, muggins did not approve and wasn’t going to let it out of the shed. It’s still there.

Ms A, at the time, completely approved of the decision. To quote: “You can’t do that to Hannibal!” She had ridden the monster by this stage, so maybe she connected with it in some way.

Nothing has changed as I’ve got older. An oddball BMW R65 I had up for sale got pulled off immediately when the would-be buyer said he wanted to turn it into a bobber. This was a machine once owned by Gyro of Ecco Engineering (or at least that’s the story), and had so far survived in its full early 1980s oddball modded form. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of that history being wiped.

In case you were wondering, we have actually sold a few bikes recently. All three owners passed the approval process, and one had owned the bike before! Long story…

There we were chewing over this whole selling drama with Ms A and Mr M (both bike riders) and it was the latter who made the connection. They’ve recently bought a very large (think Shetland Pony), hairy and exotic dog. A Greater Spotted Swiss Hooting Hound – or something like that.

Whatever. They had to sign an agreement with the breeder that gave visitation rights and, if things had gone horribly wrong, the ability to intervene and rescue the mutt. Though it irks, in some ways I admire that.

Which of course provided Matt’s solution to selling a motorcycle you love. Get a copy of the Swiss Hooting Hound contract, and modify it to say ‘Suzuki’, ‘BMW’, or whatever marque and make the new owner sign it. You get to visit and, if they’re not treating it with respect, take it back off them again. Works for me…

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