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March 3rd, 2002
How I got into motorcycling
Hi guys, my name is Dennis, but people sometimes call me D-Train. I am one of the 2 guys that created CruiserCustomizing, and this is my story of how I got involved with motorcycles. I used to ride motorcycles back in my youth. In 1980, when I was still living in Southern California where I grew up, I bought a new, bright red Suzuki GS-550E motorcycle for $2000 (my how times have changed!). I guess it was considered a sport-bike back then but today would be considered more of a standard. This was a great motorcycle that was pretty fast and was really good at getting me into trouble. I ruined my driving record because I was ALWAYS speeding on this bike and I ended up with 12 tickets by the time I got rid of the bike, which was shortly after I went into the Navy in 1984. In those 4 years I put over 60,000 miles on that bike. So anyway, I spent the next 6 years in the Navy stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, got married, got out of the Navy in 1989, got divorced, and ended up moving back to California in 1991. I got married again in 1996 and then one day when my wife was gone to the Phillipines over the holidays, I was a little upset with her for leaving me alone for the holidays so I decided to do something that I had been wanting to do since 1984, and went shopping for a motorcycle. After my experiences with my last bike, and having my drivers license suspended 3 times because of it, I decided maybe a sportbike wouldn't be a wise choice and decided to look at the cruisers. And with my last bike being a 550cc bike, I decided maybe stepping up to a 750cc cruiser would be a logical step so I went out and fell in love with a Honda Shadow 750 ACE. I applied for financing and was pleasantly surprised to get an approval!
I bought the bike in early December, 1998, and 2 days later found the Shadow Riders Forum. I spent most of my waking hours on that forum over the next few years and was made an assistant moderator in early 1999 since I spent so much time there and was internet savvy. I was using this bike to commute to work 35 miles one way and all of it on busy SF Bay Area freeways. I quickly realized that maybe a bigger bike would be more appropriate for my purposes, so I went to my local Honda dealer once again with the intention of buying a Shadow ACE Tourer. I applied for financing without even test riding the bike first and once again I got approved, even without having to trade in my 750 ACE. I went in to pick up the bike and decided just for giggles to test ride the ACE Tourer and an Aero while I was at it. After riding both bikes I realized that, even if "Spock logic" told me that the ACE Tourer was the better, more practical bike, I found myself looking over my shoulder longingly at the Aero, and I realized that if I bought the ACE Tourer I would always be kicking myself whenever I saw an Aero, wishing I had bought one of them instead. So I followed my heart instead of my head and bought the Aero instead. This was in January 1999, only 1 month after I bought the 750 ACE.
I went home and put the 750 ACE up for sale and sold it a few months later for what I felt was a fair price. I never regretted for a second my decision to purchase the Aero and to this day I still think it's one of the best bikes I've ever owned. Shortly after I sold my 750 ACE I was down at my local dealer again, which not only sells Honda's, but they also sell Kawasaki's and Harley's. I walked past a green on green Nomad and to my amazement saw that it was marked down $2000, from $11,999 to $9,999 and I just got really excited and decided to give it a shot and applied for financing. Once again I was approved and didn't even have to trade in my beloved Aero to get it.
I bought the Nomad in June of 1999. This bike was an excellent choice for commuting on the freeways and was smooth as butter, rock solid, and handled really well. But alas, the bike proved to be bad luck for me and I dropped it twice in the first 4 months I had it. I had my first accident on it when it was only 2 weeks old, it only had 700 miles on it. I had just merged onto the freeway and had to get over right away because this on-ramp was located just before a major freeway interchange and I needed to get over a couple of lanes right away. So there I was, looking in my mirrors trying to get over, and not paying as much attention as I should have been to the cars in front of me, and the car in front of me decided to come to a complete stop, right in the middle of the freeway, don't ask me why. So by the time I noticed this guy I had to do a panic stop, something I had never tried on the Nomad. I ended up laying the bike down to avoid rear ending this idiot and tumbled down the freeway breaking one of my ribs. Luckily everyone stopped and I wasn't run over. The guy that caused the accident took off and nobody got his license # or anything so the accident was judged as being my fault.
So then, a few months later, with the Nomad and my ribs as good as new again, I headed to Palm Springs for a bike rally. My mom lived on the other side of a mountain from Palm Springs and I headed over the mountain one night to spend the night at her place. Taking the turns on these really intense, unfamiliar mountain roads faster than I should have been at night I went into a right hander really fast and when I came out of it there was a left hander coming up way too quickly so again I found myself in a panic braking situation. I remember locking up the rear tire and fishtailing. The next thing I knew I was tumbling down the road again, I think I had let go of the rear brake to stop the skid and low sided (I know better than that now). So there I was with a banged up Nomad once again, after only 4 months of ownership and I decided right then and there that maybe I would never be 100% confident riding my Nomad again and decided to sell it and start shopping around again for a new bike (hey, it's as good of an excuse as any to justify getting a different bike, right?) so I fixed it up and put it up for sale. I then went bike shopping and ended up trying to decide between a Road Star Silverado and a Valkyrie Standard.
I ended up buying the 2000 Valkyrie Standard in May of 2000 and sold the Nomad a couple of months after that. So, for a while I had an Aero, a Nomad and a Valkyrie all parked in my garage. It was kinda tough to decide which bike to ride each day. LOL! After I sold the Nomad I would go back and forth between riding the Valkyrie and the Aero. At first I would ride the Valkyrie because I was so enamored with it. It was a joy to ride and was incredibly fast and smooth. But after a while I realized that I missed the personality, looks and sound of my Aero, with its single-pin crankshaft and a Bubs Big Willies exhaust system on it the bike sounded awesome! As time went by I found myself riding the Aero more and more. Then came the VTX. I met a guy that was thinking of buying a Harley Sportster for his first motorcycle and I told him about the VTX. He ended up buying the VTX and we went riding one day. He let me take his VTX for a spin and from that moment on I just had to have one. To me this bike could replace both my Valkyrie and my Aero because it was sort of a blend of the 2 bikes. I tell people if you would have taken my Aero and my Valkyrie and put them in a blender, what would come out afterwards would be a VTX. :o)
I immediately went home and put both my Aero and my Valkyrie up for sale. Once I had both bikes sold I started searching in earnest for a VTX, finally having to have one shipped up from Los Angeles since there were none to be found anywhere in the Bay Area.
I took delivery on the VTX in late June, 2001. This bike is everything I thought it would be. As fast as my Valkyrie was but with every bit as much style and personality as my Aero had. I had finally found motorcycling nirvana, well, that was until the Yamaha Warrior came out, now I am having that itch all over again. LOL!
No, I don't think I would ever really trade my VTX in on a Warrior, and I can no longer afford to own 2 motorcycles, so I'll stick with my awesome VTX and just drool on the Warrior every time I see one.
CruiserCustomizing is born
In April 2001 I got an email from a guy I barely knew named Uwe. He had an idea for a website, a website about motorcycle accessories where people could find all of the accessories available for their bike
all in one place and enter reviews of those accessories. We got together and met face to face to discuss the possibility of collaborating on the website. Since he created professional websites for a living and
I had owned so many different bikes and had spent so many countless hours on the various Delphi motorcycle forums learning about the various bikes and their accessories, and it seemed that just about everyone
knew me, he decided I would be a good partner to have to help build the site, especially since I was also a computer geek and had made a good living as a network administrator and had built a few websites
myself. So in July of 2001 CruiserCustomizing was born. We started out with just Honda's, to be sure that the site would be as successful as we hoped it would be, and when it did prove to be a success we
started to implement the site that you see today, complete with Yamaha's, Kawasaki's and Suzuki's, as well as the Honda's.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story and I apologize for being so long winded. I hope I haven't bored you too much. Please feel free to email me any time at: