Feels Like the First Time

Story by Emily Roberts// Photos by Dean Foster
May 30 2023

There’s nothing quite like the experience of getting a new, or new-to-you, motorcycle. From the moment you first see it and inspect it, to when you bring it home and imagine all the experiences you’ll have with it. Whether it’s customizing or restoring a machine, or experiencing adventure and exploring the vast wilderness, there’s truly nothing that can compare to that feeling of uninhibited freedom that comes with the purchase of a bike.

I recently purchased my very first brand-new motorcycle, a Beta 200RR 2-stroke dirtbike. It’s an off-road weapon and one that has been on my dream-bike list for some time now. I was almost in tears when I saw it for the first time, knowing that it had never been ridden, and the machine was mine.

I was lucky enough to help build the Beta out of the crate with my local shop, Shuswap Xtreme Recreation in Salmon Arm, B.C. Watching it come to life, and hearing the engine running for the first time in its complete form, was overwhelming and exhilarating. I knew I was in love; my smile was etched into my face with certainty. Just riding it around the parking lot was one of the most exciting rides of my life.

As I drove home with it in the back of my truck, I found myself constantly looking in the rear-view mirror just to take another glimpse at the beauty. I’ve always seemed to gain emotional connections with my motorcycles, as I’m sure many others do. One thing I love about motorcycling is that people ride bikes based on that emotion. We often find ourselves drawn to motorcycles that project the idea of who we are, or who we want to be. We become infatuated with them based on their looks, on their performance, and on the personality we expect them to have, and how it fits with ours.

We get into a relationship with our bikes, fall in love with them, and sometimes fall out of love with them. These can be long-term or short-term relationships, but the first time never changes. The first time you hear it start up, or when you finally take it home for the first time; the first time something breaks and you realize that just loving a machine isn’t enough — you have to do maintenance, as well.

I’ve had some relationships with bikes end because it’s just too hard to get parts, or it’s more of a project than what I’m looking for. As motorcyclists, we have an ongoing love affair with our motorcycles, one that someone who doesn’t ride may never understand. I can’t help but love my machines for so many different reasons. I suppose that’s why I end up buying more than I sell … it may be a problem.

We don’t always get our dream bike, but we can still love the one we have. I have this kind of relationship with my beloved Suzuki Gladius. I didn’t get it based on my love for it; it was more: “Hey Mom, can I borrow your motorcycle?” I was young and broke and couldn’t afford one of my own.

I neglected to tell my mom that it would be gone for three months and come back with an additional 23,000 km on it. Together, the Gladius and I travelled dirt roads and highways across the country and into Alaska, and we now have more than 70,000 km together. The Gladius had always spoke to me through long, never-ending roads, and it exudes rebellion and adventure. All of my bikes speak to a part of me that makes me hold onto them, and makes me want to ride one over another on any particular day.

As I sat in the garage with my shiny new Beta, I remembered how grateful I always am to ride and how much joy I constantly find while on two wheels. Then came the fear, with minor stints of guilt. I didn’t want to drop it for the first time. Why did I buy a brand-new bike? I wanted to ride it but became worried about damaging it. After that subsided, the excitement and adrenaline came. Not only do I have a new bike, but one that I know would reliably work, one that I can ride to the fullest and one that I can get parts for. As long as I take care of it, it’ll take care of me.

I rode it for the first time, through mud, through water and into deep sand, and dropped the bike in the dirt, just to get it over with. Like a first date, we just got to know each other, all while knowing all the great adventures we would take together. My new dirtbike speaks to me through the dirt, the logs and the rocks we’ll ride over and the wilderness we will explore.


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