"I Rode the NR750 !"

by Jeff Deeney

From: jeffd@fc.hp.com (Jeff Deeney)
Newsgroups: rec.motorcycles
Subject: I rode the NR750! (was re: Interceptor Rebuild Update)
Date: 2 Apr 1995 04:51:13 GMT

Yes, that's right, I got to ride the fabled Honda NR750, and what a ride it was. For those unfamiliar with the NR750, it is a limited production motorcycle from Honda that retails for $65k (*if* you have special connections in Japan). What makes the NR so special is the oval piston technology that Honda engineers spent more than a decade struggling to perfect.

Our local dealer, Harden Rollins of Loveland Motorsports, had somehow managed to purchase a '94 NR750 for display in his showroom. The bike, in all it's carbon fiber glory, has been residing on a pedestal with a "Do Not Touch" sign in conspicuous view. Rumor was that if you were to buy a new bike from Harden, you might get to take the NR for a short spin.

Well, the time had come to part company with the Interceptor that I've been toiling on over the winter months. The new rings were broken in, and the bike was detailed to look almost new. LMS had some nice XR650L's on the floor that I figured to use the Interceptor as a down payment for.

The first day of April dawned cool, but sunny and clear. I donned my leathers and hopped onto the 'ceptor, hoping to return home on a shiny new XRL.

I parked on the side of the renovated quonset hut that served as the main building for LMS. Not long after walking through the door and starting to closely examine one of the two XRL's on the floor, Harden came out of his office to chat with me. When I mentioned that I had an Interceptor I would like to consider for trade, we strolled outside and he gave the VF a quick looksee. He was fairly impressed with the condition of the bike. I put the key in and let him start her up. He gave the engine a couple quick revs and nodded satisfactorily.

When we returned inside I started gently wheedling him that I might be willing to work a deal on an XRL today. In fact, I suggested that taking the NR for a quick spin around the block might be enough to convince me that we could work out a deal within the hour. Let me tell you, this took quite a bit of talking. Harden was understandably reluctant to let anyone take this expensive beauty for a spin. First off, the bike was marginally street legal. Second, the carbon fiber body work is hideously expensive. The tank/side/tail piece alone was worth as much as 2 brand new XRLs.

Well, Harden finally agreed on the condition that he follow me on the Interceptor. That way he would also get a chance to check out the mechanics of the bike I would be trading in. He had one of the mechanics fetch a ramp and we carefully wheeled the NR onto the showroom floor and out the front door. While Harden ducked inside for a key, I put on my helmet and gloves.

I have to admit that at this point I was literally bursting with nervous energy. Here was an engineering masterpiece that only a handful of people can claim to have ridden and I was going to get to take it for a spin. I marveled at the precision welds, the lustrous finish, and the exacting detail built into every component.

When Harden returned with the key he had also donned his helmet and leathers. He stood over me as the motor whirred to life. What a fantastic sound! Throaty and smooth. In effect this motor is a V-8, which is the best way to describe the exhaust note.

By the time Harden mounted the Interceptor and wheeled around to the front of the shop, the NR had warmed sufficiently to open the choke all the way. The glorious smell of a warm new bike was just beginning to waft it's way into my helmet. With a quick nod to each other, I snicked into 1st gear and pulled out onto the highway heading out of town.

The power band on this thing is electric. It pulls with authority from down low, all the way up to where a normal redline should be. Since the engine wasn't fully warmed, I wasn't about to try pushing the 15k rpm redline. 10k was sufficient to launch me well past the 55mph speed limit by the time I clicked into third gear.

Glancing in the mirror, I saw that Harden was gaining on me as we approached the first traffic light. Just as I entered the intersection, the light turned yellow. I glanced back to see Harden fiddling with the petcock on the VF (I must have turned the gas off). He looked up just in time to clamp on the brakes and stop before running through the red light.

Well, at this point I suppose I could have pulled over and let Harden catch up. That would have been the prudent thing to do. Instead, I made the mistake of listening to a niggling voice in the back of my head that said "Hey, you could pretend you didn't see him miss the light, then you could take some backroads and see what this beauty can really do, without the chaperone in tow".

I cruised along with the traffic for another half mile before taking a casual right turn onto a paved county road. County roads in this part of rural Colorado are generally quite straight and laid out on one mile grids. The road in front of me looked clear, so I gave the right grip a tug and was greeted by a wonderful pulling sensation in my arms, a front wheel that was lightly skimming the tarmac, and a speedometer that was winding up like a tachometer. I shifted at about 13k rpm, and by the time I was into 4th gear, I was well past the century mark. What a rush!

When it came time to slow down, the binders did a wonderful job. This thing was so light and the brakes were so good that I found the back end starting to lift under what felt to be only moderate braking effort.

I took a left turn at the next cross road. I was familiar with this stretch of road and knew that it was sparsely traveled. It was also lined by a fair number of trees and traveled up and down over some small rolling hills and across some small streams and wetlands.

Dropping down into a cool wooded gully, I had a wicked idea. Normally, I'm a very conservative guy. Maybe that's only because I've never had a street bike that had the power or light weight to pull any kind of wheelie. It was time for things to change.

I started up the opposite hill slowly. With the engine purring along in second gear, I grabbed a handful of throttle and gave the bars a gentle tug. I was elated as the front wheel easily rose skyward. Not wanting to push the envelope, I kept the front wheel within 2 feet of the ground and relied on acceleration to keep the front end up. With the massive torque and predictable power band, power wheelies were quite easy to control.

As I approached the top of the hill, I slowed and brought the front wheel down. I gathered speed and did a spirited shift into 3rd gear, floating the front wheel upward as I quickly gained speed. When the motor started complaining that it was ready for a higher gear I brought the front end down. This was when all hell broke loose. I know what you're thinking; the idiot looped the bike. No, nothing so careless.

Over the raised front end, I was unable to see a rather portly porcupine that had wandered into the middle of the road. He looked every bit as surprised as I was. I was so close that all I had time to do was quickly raise my feet and crack the throttle open to lighten the front end. With a bump, thud, and a splat, it was all over for Mr. Porcupine, but my troubles were just beginning. The bike shuddered and wobbled, but I was able to remain in control as I carefully slowed down.

Shit, I've ruined a bike that cost as much as some houses, was my first thought. I pulled over to survey the damages. It was while walking around the bike that I realized fresh porcupine guts on a hot motor has to be one of the most unsavory olfactory experiences on this planet. The underside of the bike was coated not only with entrails, but with scores of sharp black quills. As near as I could tell through the gore, nothing was severely bent or broken.

Firing the NR back up, I headed for the nearest car wash. It was one of those outdoor affairs with grey cinder block walls separating the stalls. My biggest fear was that Harden would ride by and find me while I was cleaning things up. It took all of $5 in change before I was satisfied that all of the stains had been removed. I had to take the bubble brush to the really stubborn stains to get them out.

After a final rinse, I pushed the NR out of the stall and started drying her off with some of the cheap towels that were available. It was only while drying the bike that I discovered the extent of the damage. The lower fairing cowl was badly cracked and one of the mounting points had broken entirely away. The tires had several quills jammed into the rubber, but still seemed to be holding air. I borrowed a pair of needle nose pliers from the fellow in the stall next to me and pulled out all that I could see.

Perhaps the worse damage was some deep scratches on the expansive tank/side panel/tail piece. I kicked myself when I realized these were probably induced by using the bubble brush. A quick check of the bubble brush revealed what looked to be a chunk of coat hanger wire tangled in the bristles.

Boy, was Harden going to be pissed if he found out. Yet I wasn't willing to concede that all was lost. I felt confident that I still might be able to salvage the situation. I pushed the bike up beside the red brick wall of the 7-11 next door and went inside. In the automotive section, I was able to find some duct tape. In the miniature sporting goods section, I located some fishing line. On my way to the counter I picked up a large pack of sugerless bubble gum.

With sweating palms and a racing pulse, I set about my repairs. By now Harden would be wondering WTF happened to me, so I had to work quickly. Using a combination of duct tape, fishing line, and gum applied to the inside of the cowling, I was able to make the repair look reasonably solid - at least for the time being. Hopefully by the time this repair was discovered, several weeks would have passed. As for the scratches on the upper body work, all I could do was hope to distract them from seeing them until I had left.

On the way back to the shop, the bike start sputtering and coughing. At stop lights I had to keep the motor revved to 4k to keep it running. Looking behind me I noticed a thin veil of blue smoke. The bike also wanted to keep pulling to the left. I was starting to think that I may have bent the frame or forks. During the last mile to the shop, the otherwise crisp handling started to become vague and mushy. Just as I pulled into the driveway, I had to quickly kill the motor to prevent anyone from overhearing the hideous rattling noise that the engine had started to make.

When I pulled into the parking lot, Harden had not yet returned. He must be fuming about losing me on the demo ride. Since it was now nearly noon on a Saturday, I was able to push the bike inside, past the occupied sales staff, and back up onto the pedestal without anyone looking too closely. I took care to park the scratched side against the wall. As I struggled to push the bike up the ramp, I noticed that the soft handling had been due to low air pressure in both tires; probably from a few of the quills that worked their way through the radials.

I finished placing the bike none too soon. Harden stormed in the door just as I had walked back over to the XR650Ls. With some quick talking, I managed a plausible excuse for losing him in traffic. He strode over to the NR, gave it a quick look over, and seemed satisfied that everything was OK. I quickly pulled Harden back over the the XRL, and proceeded to negotiate a deal. I have to admit that I was probably taken to the cleaners on the deal we arrived at, but speed was of the essence. After signing some papers and writing a check, I was on my way out the door with a shiny new XRL.

When I got home, there was a long message from Harden on the answering machine. For the sake of decency, I can't repeat half of the words he used. It seems that he discovered my cover up on the NR and was none too pleased. I want to come clean on this, but to be honest, I don't have the $$$$ to make the situation right. Hopefully the shop has insurance to cover the damages. At the least, I doubt I'll ever be able to set foot in his store again. Any thoughts on how to handle this situation?

-Jeff Deeney-  DoD#0498    NCTR    FOLMA#2     '88 XR600-Shamu 
jld@fc.hp.com  AMA#540813  COHVCO  '81 CB750F-Llamaha  '95 XR650L
"A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem." 
                   -Shanti Goldstein