I feel pangs of guilt from time to time, like I haven’t been upholding my part of an unwritten bargain. You see, I have a daughter who just turned nine, and, as much as I love motorcycling, I haven’t yet passed on that love to her. Despite a regular stream of new bikes and moto apparel around the house, she has thus far avoided the lure of the funnest form of practical transportation on wheels.

I rationalize it’s because I don’t want to be the kind of dad who forces his offspring to imitate his life, so I don’t encourage activities she shows little interest in. And I’d be gutted if I were to drag her unwillingly into an activity that could inflict pain on my baby. After all, one of the primary roles of a parent is to protect their child from harm, and it always cuts to the quick when I see my little girl in pain. I certainly don’t want to see her get hurt on a motorcycle like I have.

Of course, getting hurt never crossed my mind when I got hooked on riding minibikes. I wonder how I would’ve reacted back in my tweens if someone had told me riding motorcycles for the next 35 years would involve a few broken ribs and collarbones, as well as a mostly fused ankle from a stupid motocross incident and an extremely flukey partial finger amputation. As always, your mileage may vary…

I’m proud to have at least taught my kid to ride a bicycle, which is more than I can say for some overprotective parents these days. She’s pretty good at it for someone who doesn’t ride often or particularly fast. Her friends don’t ride much, so she rides almost exclusively with me. None of her friends ride minibikes. As a protective parent, the fact that she’s less exposed to danger has been okay with me.

My dad wasn’t a fan of motorcycles, but I’m very grateful he was cool enough to chip in for half the cost of my first dirtbike and take me out riding on weekends. It wasn’t until he was 72 years old that I took him on his first motorcycle ride. I wish he was able to have stuck around for a few more.

My dad wasn’t a fan of motorcycles, but I’m very grateful he was cool enough to chip in for half the cost of my first dirtbike and take me out riding on weekends. It wasn’t until he was 72 years old that I took him on his first motorcycle ride. I wish he was able to have stuck around for a few more.

The closest my kid came to powered two-wheelers was the occasional spin down our street when I’ve had a scooter for testing, as she could be stuffed ahead of me in the seat and held onto by my left hand. But she’s now tall enough to comfortably reach the passenger footpegs of most motorbikes, so the option for riding on the back has opened up.

My kid’s school is several miles away from our home, necessitating a car ride to get there. My wife recently got a job that prevents her from picking up our kid right after school some days, and there are the occasional instances my kid can’t stay with friends after school. On those days, living in a one-car household means I’d need to swoop into action on a motorcycle.

By sheer coincidence, little Miss Duke’s first motorcycle ride home from school would be on a KTM Super Duke. I had test-fitted her on it the day prior and had found an extra-small jacket, helmet and gloves she could use. We also employed a Grip-n-Ride belt, reviewed here, so she’d have a good hand hold on me.

Evans Brasfield’s Precious Cargo primer on taking children for motorcycle rides

She was excited when I met her at school, and a few of her classmates were envious of her novel form of transportation. I helped her gear up and reminded her not to squirm around and to keep her hands on the Grip-n-Ride handles. As I engaged first gear, it’s possible I was more nervous and excited than she was.

The slow speeds on residential streets were ideal for getting her acclimatized to the riding experience of the bike leaning in corners and the weight transfer of acceleration and braking, and she told me she was totally comfortable so far. Later, we had to venture onto multi-lane roads with speed limits as high as 50 mph, and I wasn’t sure if she’d be afraid of the higher speeds or of being so exposed to other vehicles.

I needn’t have worried. It turns out she loved it! Nearing the end of our ride home while stopped at the front row of a traffic light, I asked if she wanted to accelerate quickly, to which she quickly nodded and agreed. I brought the Super Duke slowly off the line and then grabbed her leg with my left hand and and goosed the throttle for a few seconds. We accelerated rather briskly, as Super Dukes do, and when backed off the throttle all I could hear was a cackling, “Ahahahahahahahahaha!”

This photo was shot shortly after the blast of acceleration from the Super Duke. As if there was ever any doubt, these smiles confirm that motorcycles are indeed fun!

This photo was shot shortly after the blast of acceleration from the Super Duke. As if there was ever any doubt, these smiles confirm that motorcycles are indeed fun!

Now that she’s keen on riding, it’s time to properly gear her up. HJC is one of just a handful of helmet companies manufacturing youth-size helmets, and the CL-Y pictured here is notably smaller and lighter than an adult-sized HJC with a similar interior size.

Now that she’s keen on riding, it’s time to properly gear her up. HJC is one of just a handful of helmet companies manufacturing youth-size helmets, and the CL-Y pictured here is notably smaller and lighter than an adult-sized HJC with a similar interior size.

My mornings are blessed by wake-up snuggles from my girl, and the next day she ambushed me by asking to pinkie promise that I’ll pick her up from school on a motorcycle again. Then, while being driven to school, she said to her mom, “Cars are boring. I want to ride a motorcycle.”

We didn’t ride again until a week later when I had a rare day off work. This time I picked her up from school on a Honda CB500F. While stopped at a traffic light, she asked if we could accelerate fast again. She was unimpressed with our first run up the gears, so I applied full throttle the second time, but the amiable CB simply couldn’t measure up to the massive grunt of a Super Duke. That night when I tucked her in bed, she said she liked the KTM better. When I asked why, her answer was simple: “It was faster.”

So, as Father’s Day approaches, I reflect back on how my dad supported my budding love for motorcycling when I was a nervy and impetuous boy, this despite his personal distaste for it. Now I’ve trundled into the role of dad myself, and I see with startling focus the excitement on my own kid’s face for riding motorcycles.

When I was asked the previous eight Father’s Days what I’d like to do to celebrate the occasion, I didn’t much care – maybe just a nice lunch out with my little family. This year I can’t think of a better treat than taking my girl out for a ride.

  • Old MOron

    The general profile reminds me of the Griso.

    • Moto Guzzista

      I can sort of see what you mean.. VERY generally speaking. I’ve been considering replacing my already lowered bar on my griso with clip-ons just to give it a more unique look and stance. If I do, I’ll lower the instrument cluster so the top profile is nice amd low. Then the profile of the griso will be much more similar to this C-01.

      • DickRuble

        And then you’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable on the bike and you would have a mean looking bike to walk around instead of riding.

        • Moto Guzzista

          No, I won’t, and my bikes don’t sit anywhere for more than a few hours. I ride them every day, year round. I also take everything into consideration when I design, as I have done in the past when I designed and built my own one-of-a-kind bonneville. The last pic is what this 2010 t100 looked like when I bought it. The other 3 pics are what it looked like after I was finished with it a month later (I say finished, but I’m really never finished.. I’m planning on getting a benelli mojave fuel tank to mount to this bonneville because I think it has better lines than the factory tank). I’ve always thought, and still do think, the Griso would look much better with a smooth top profile (lowered controls, headlight and gauge cluster), and yes it can be done correctly.. I just haven’t bothered to do it yet.

          • DickRuble

            Nice! That’s what I call customizing.

          • Moto Guzzista

            Yes, the bike was wrecked badly, and I had to do some work on the frame, which I was expecting. I went through the engine and found the internals to be immaculate, so I replaced all the gaskets, put it back together, and only had to replace the shifter connecting rod that runs through the crankcase from the shifter on the left side to the shift mechanism on the right side. I also put in stronger clutch springs while I was at it, and reprogrammed the pcm with a more aggressive map to take advantage of the freer-flowing intake and exhaust.

            A modern 6T would be nice, but I think it would need to stay true to the original, or it would just be obscured by all the other modern retro bikes. This first pic is my favorite 6T yet. The second pic is another modern iteration of the bonneville/thruxton designed by two gentlemen (I can’t remember their names at the moment), and I REALLY wish triumph would build it as a more modern version of the bonnie. That would really stand out in a market headed towards retro-saturation.

            I also really like what Moto Guzzi has been up to for the past 10 years, and I think they’re headed in a good direction. They should interest new buyers who previously would not have considered MG, or who (more likely) have never heard of them, all while staying true to their quirky roots. A great example of a beautiful design direction is the new California Custom.

          • DickRuble

            The 6T had a very natural, relaxed riding position. And it was light. The same geometry with a 500-800cc and a rear suspension instead of the hardtail would be just perfect.

  • DickRuble

    Style 8/10, practicality 0/10.. I’ll have the RC8 instead, thank you.

    • reason4yourself

      Who cares about innovation, she’s a beauty. Everything this lacks in innovation, the RC8 lacks in aesthetics.

  • TonyCarlos

    Interesting styling exercise. If it is even street legal (lighting?) I suspect the handling is compromised.
    It is good looking, though.

  • meeklepeekle

    not sure I like the John Deere color scheme

    • Moto Guzzista

      You mean the classic Lotus color scheme?? I’m not exactly sure of the dates, but I think lotus was using that color scheme while john deer was still using red.

      • meeklepeekle

        Umm… like John Deere has been around a long time. But it’s how the colors are applied that make this look like a cute JD lawn tractor derivative. Now there’s an expression of speed!

  • Luke

    got to give it to them for trying something visually very different. Price guesses? $40K- $60K? No idea really, but I know If I drove past a parked one, I’d turn around, park, and take a good look.

    • DickRuble

      Since we’re playing the price is right… here’s my guess: $120,000

  • CrashFroelich

    ‘Tis a looker. Successful design exercise, no doubt. Coffee shop eye-candy for nouveau riche poseurs. Of course I’m jealous.

  • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

    Seems kinda ugly to me, has the turning radius of an SR-71 at full-tilt, and looks like it has the ergos of an iron maiden. I think they have a hit!

  • Chris

    Love it.

  • Old MOron

    “As I engaged first gear, it’s possible I was more nervous and excited than she was.”

    “Cars are boring. I want to ride a motorcycle.”

    This is so cool!
    It’s still about two and a half weeks away, but have a great Fathers’ Day.

  • Ian Parkes

    That school’s coolest Dad

  • ADB

    Great read. This is why I check in every day. Well done.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    Now we know for sure that motorcycle affection syndrome passes to descendants.

  • Starmag

    I don’t think I could do this if I had a little girl. It’s one thing if she rides a minibike and hurts herself, but another entirely if I was driving and she got hurt. I don’t think I’d be forgiving myself anytime soon. We all know that crashes are many times not the motorcyclists fault no matter how skilled the rider. I’d pick up a cheap used second car. Boos and hisses in 3,2,1……

    • Old MOron

      Breathe easy, Starmag. You’ve said what YOU would do. You did not tell others what they should be doing. That’s when the boos and hisses tend to come.

  • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

    I hear ya. I have 5 kids, 1 boy, 4 girls. None of them ride, but I do have two that are too young to get their license yet. The youngest who is 11, likes the bike most out of any of them. I think may be it’s time to take her out on it. I want them to show interest instead of me indoctrinating them, so that’s probably why the lack of interest. I try to treat ideas and habits if you want to call them that as a buffet: :Let them pick what they like.

  • Kenneth

    What a great, true-life story. My so-conservative parents, now long gone, did absolutely nothing I found interesting (not to mention, exciting). Just imagining my own father offering to take me on my first motorcycle ride at age 9… what a powerful, ever-lasting memory that would be.

  • Old MOron

    “the next day she ambushed me by asking to pinkie promise that I’ll pick her up from school on a motorcycle again.”

    You know, this could have easily gone the other way:
    She was a little scared by the ride, but she thought it was fun. In that case Dad could’ve asked for a pinkie promise that she would try it again some day.
    How cool that she ambushed you!

  • therr850

    My parents were not in favor of me riding and my father-in-law was dead set against it, he had a plate in his leg since 18 years old from a bike accident. I was twenty-five when I started and haven’t regretted it once. Our son rode with us from about five till his teens. He still isn’t interested in riding his own and he is forty-seven. He is our only child so,,,,,.

  • JMDonald

    If I remember right there is some kind of moto park that looked ideal for kids somewhere around Perris. I started out on mini bikes. My Grandparents had a small farm that was perfect for riding. I have only gone a few years since I was a kid when I didn’t have a bike of some kind. Riding at a young age is fun but not half as cool as having your Dad pick you up on a Super Duke. Well done.

  • spiff

    It’s nice seeing family smile. Glad to see you appreciate Duke.

  • Robert Broderick

    Still remember the smiles on the kids faces whenever I took or picked them up at school on my ZRX . With a backrest a little wheelie was was safe and fun and getting a hug from from your teenager isn’t hard to take .

  • jpath

    Great story, brings back good memories. My daughter now has a baby girl of her own, and she just asked me the other day to take her for another ride.

  • John B.

    Tempus Fugit. Enjoy!

  • Christian

    Well, my oldest daughter was 9 when I took her on her first ride. I had similar qualms; we went around the block, to start, and just to see. A few check-ins and nods later (I mean, really: how many times can you check the little pillion rider is ok while you go around the block? You’d be surprised), we went around the neighborhood. Still ok. And then we went through the Quebec hills, nice and winding; stopped at the pub for an apple juice (make that 2), and then more winding roads. 3 hours later, as we’re getting close to the house she asks (i.e. yells through the helmet) “where are we going”. Me: “…home”. Her: “Why?”.

    • Kevin Duke

      Wow, her question sweetly distills the joy of motorcycling!

  • http://www.theridesofar.com Lance Oliver

    You’re a good father, Kevin, for many reasons, but not the least of which is not wanting to push your child into the same things you love, as some parents do. Happy Fathers Day a little early.

    • Kevin Duke

      Thanks for the kind words, Lance. Nice of you to say so. :)