Cherry Red Pipes
by K Frego
In 1964 and 1965 the American motorcycle of choice was the Harley Davidson XLCH Sportster. The sportster had a 833cc Twin Vee engine that was fast. With chromed dual exhaust pipes and the famed eyebrow headlight cover the Sportster was in a class of it’s own. Some two cylinder 250cc Japanese motorcycles from Honda and Yamaha were being sold in the states, but they were way under powered compared to the Sportster. The British BSA and Triumph 650cc motorcycles were state of the art road racing and endurance motorcycles. The Sportster couldn’t compete with them in their events, but the Sportster ruled the streets and highways. A friend named Russ arrived in Hawaii on the same ship I was on. We were the only two Marines headed for Kaneohe. Russ bought a Sportster a few months after we arrived. It was a class ride, but we found out it wasn’t perfect.
Russ and I hit a couple off duty days at the same time. We doubled up on his Sportster and went for a day trip. We followed the coast highway around the south end of Oahu. Every time something looked interesting we would stop and site see. We hit the blowhole and climbed down into the little secluded beach adjacent to the parking lot. We hiked around the top of Hunauma Bay and took in the spectacular views. We bypassed Diamond Head and opted for Waikiki where we could get a few cold beers at Fort DeRussy Military Recreation Area on the beach. The sun was going down as we headed through Honolulu back to base.
We took the old Pali Highway two lane road back to the windward side of Oahu. There was very little traffic on the old highway. The new four lane highway was shorter and faster. The old highway was always a nice motorcycle ride. Russ was throttled wide open as we ascended a hill. Two people on the Sportster really slowed it down going uphill. As the highway broke over the hill and headed down a long straight stretch Russ never cracked back on the throttle. He kept reaching down between his leg and the gas tank to the engine. The road was a long straight stretch and the speed was no problem. The first intersection with a stop light was about three miles ahead. Russ hollered the gas was stuck wide open. He was trying to shut off the gas. We were flying by now. As the intersection neared Russ hollered we might have to lay the bike over to avoid a collision. If we did kick away from the Sportster when we hit the ground. Both exhaust pipes were cherry red from the engine to the tips. There was no cross traffic when we blew through the red light going wide open. The engine started sputtering from loss of gas and we finally stopped within sight of the Kaneohe main gate. We sat in the shade under a tree while the motorcycle cooled down. Russ found and fixed the bind in the throttle. We had to get back on the Sportster to get home.
Things happen fast when you’re wide open………..amazing how adrenalin and the man upstairs kick in to make sure you don’t miss anything. Like cherry red pipes.