My dad sent me this picture on Monday with the caption “got the old thing out yesterday.” I asked him how it rode. His response? “Flawless!”

The bike is his 1978 KZ1000 LTD. From what I remember, he bought it in 1982 and has had it ever since. He has never ridden it much. To my knowledge, he trailered it to the Black Hills from eastern SD once and rode around for a couple of days in the 80s, but that was probably it’s longest trip. Last time I saw it and looked at the odometer it at 14,000 miles on it. It’s been stored inside it’s whole life and and extremely clean.

Back in the day this was the fastest and biggest thing around, so making them touring bikes was common, hence the Windjammer and touring pack. Without them, it would look like this:

My first memories of it are taking short rides around town on the back, then sneaking into the garden shed where he kept it (we didn’t have a garage) to sit on it and make motorcycle noises. I fell asleep on the back on a 30 mile trip home from my sister’s softball game once. Dad leaned back to keep me pinned between him and the backrest until we got home.

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By the time I turned 16 I was a big car nut because of my dad. He went to tech school to be an auto mechanic, but had left the profession for another job before I was born. However, he still had all the tools and knowledge, so he worked on all his vehicles. He’s always been extremely patient with me and showing me how to do different things related to vehicles. Motorcycles were no exception.

That summer he pulled the bike out of the garage and helped me wash it, check the tires, oil the chain, and fire it up. He made me get on the back, which I thought I was too old/cool to do and we drove out to a quiet road. He stopped, jumped off, and told me to give it whirl. I got the clutch out and got rolling fine, but when it came time to turn I got scared, ran wide, and laid it down. He picked it back up and made me try again. The second time I did fine. I was hooked. I got my motorcycle license a few weeks later and until I bought a bike of my own this is what I learned on.

He’s threatened to sell it for the past few years and I keep coaxing him to keep and ride it. I’ve told him that if he does sell it, it better be to me. I thought we had a deal done this year, but now he’s talking about putting some tires on it, giving it a tune-up, and keeping it for himself. I’m all for it.

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Growing up around this bike gave me a love and appreciation for them from an early age. It has become outdated, goofy looking, and screaming 80s nostalgia, but it will always be the coolest bike to me.