Dates from this period are a little fuzzy but I think it was not long after the Falcon Futura breathed its last that I acquired the Suzuki X-6 Hustler. A friend had bought it new then gave me a good deal on it when he went to New York to work his way to Europe as he had done once before. The working passage never quite came together and he returned after a few months and I offered to return the bike. He declined and I’m pretty sure part of the reason was pure kindness as he knew how much I was enjoying it.
The X-6 was a rather advanced and interesting motorcycle. The ‘6’ in the name referred to the unusual for the time 6 speed transmission. The engine produced 29 HP from only 247 CCs. It was a 2 cycle but had an oil injection system so that fuel did not have to be pre-mixed as with most 2 cycles. A top speed of 90 MPH was advertised and, while I never quite reached that, I did have mine above 80 MPH.
A friendship that continues today was started partially by this bike. John Nawrocki and I worked at the same company and he had an X-6 Scrambler. The Scrambler was an almost identical motorcycle with up-swept exhaust and a few other modifications for off-road use. It seemed natural for the two of us to ride our Suzukis together despite the fact that John’s bike was bright red and mine a sedate black.
I worked downtown and parked the Suzuki on the sidewalk in front of the building whenever I rode it. After work one day, I stepped outside to see a policeman checking parking meters or something similar. Although I had reason to duck back inside, I quickly decided it was too late and nonchalantly mounted the bike. Either helmets were not required at that time or they were and I had one. Either way, I was not in violation of a helmet law. Before I could start the bike, however, the officer approached and asked, “Where’s your eye protection?”
I don’t think I even knew about eye protection being required but I sure didn’t have any and my unsatisfactory response to that first question led immediately to another. “Let me see your license.”
The license thing was what had made me think about ducking back in the building. A law requiring a motorcycle specific endorsement on drivers license had been passed some time back and I didn’t have one. I was cited but got my endorsement before my court date. That plus a promise to wear sunglasses got me off with just court costs.
I rode the Suzuki quite a bit although the longest trips were probably several sub-100 mile rides to Darke County. One day the drive chain broke and I pushed the bike just a little over a mile to a Honda dealer. I doubt I could push a dead motorcycle much more than a yard today. I bought the needed replacement link but had no money to pay for installation. I did it on the sidewalk beside the shop with tools that a mechanic, careful not to actually hand me anything, laid just outside an open door. Kindness like that is remembered a long time. Then one day the engine just died.
This time it stayed by the side of the road while I hitched a ride home then went with the band I was in to audition an organist. Once that was over, we could pick up the bike. The audition did not go well (He was much better than us.) and we couldn’t muster the energy to unload the equipment so we could fit in the bike until the next day. By then, the bike was gone.
About a year later, at something like 2 AM, the phone rang. It was a policeman calling to tell me the Suzuki had been found. I was pretty sure that, after the bike being gone for a year, I could have waited until daylight for the news but the police were so excited about recovering a stolen motorcycle, which NEVER happens, they just had to call me immediately.
I think I got the bike started — I remember something about the coils — but I don’t think it was ever quite right again. Before long, it was one of the pieces involved in a car purchase.