Zu früh alt, zu spät schlau

July 14, 2004, Del Ray Beach, Florida

The title, as you may have surmised, is in the native tongue of my father, German. It means “Too soon old, too late smart”. Something my dad used to say from time to time when a regretful and questionable decision or action had taken place. Case in point, the two main things in this picture, the truck and the motorcycle.

The truck, a 2002 Ford Ranger 4×4. I bought it brand new and I had that truck for 6 years. Then I made the hasty decision to trade it in the day the tranny started giving my trouble at 180K miles. I should have just fixed it because quite frankly, it was the best vehicle I ever owned.

Too soon old, too late smart.

All loaded up for the trip back to NJ

The motorcycle. 1994 Harley Davidson Sportster XL883. I had that for 10 years and 6 months. I made the decision to sell it after I bought the Heritage and the money was to refund the source of the down payment money. I should have just worked part time or sold one of the many guitars I had at the time to refund the money. Because, honestly, I loved that little bike. It owed me nothing and I owed it everything. It had just over 16K miles when I sold it and it was in tip-top shape.


The cover didn’t stay on long. I still have it though.

Oddly enough, I don’t have a lot of pictures of the Sporty and I’m really surprised at myself. I have more pictures of the bike the day before I sold it than in the 10 years I owned it. In the thousands of pictures that currently exist on my hard drive, I only found one. The funny thing about this picture is the default file name my camera tagged it with: IMG_I883.jpg

2010, New Hope, PA


When I got the Heritage, I didn’t think I’d ride the Sportster that much. To be fair, I didn’t do much riding the first 4 months I owned the Heritage because of the weather. But something happened to me that year. I rode more than I ever did before. I don’t know why, I just did.


2014-12-08 07.00.10
Gloomy day before the sale
2014-12-08 07.00.47
EVO… like a clock







I didn’t do any mods to the Sportster. The only major thing I did was change out the handlebars to a more traditional straight bar, different mirrors and put on new saddle bags. Outside of regular maintenance, tires, bulbs, a gasket here and there, I did nothing else to the bike. The battery was the original battery from 1994 when I sold it. Makes me wonder about the quality of workmanship these days. I’m about to purchase my second battery for the Heritage in just 4 years and yet, they have all been maintained the same way.

In the 10 years I owned the bike, I put on just over 10K miles. Not impressive but not too shabby. Life was busy then and the need for 4 wheels most of the time got in the way. The first year I owned the Heritage, I put on 10K miles. Again, a different time and a different need.

I have often thought I should call the guy from Long Island who bought the bike. And then I think “Why, to torture yourself?” and invariably, I don’t. Would I ask him to take a couple of pictures and send them over? Probably, buy that too would break my heart. What if he tore the bike to pieces and modded the crap out of it and turned into some horrific abomination of itself? What if he turned it into a chopper? What if her stripped it down and turned it into a hideous Trike? What if her repainted it to some blasphemous green metal flake color? What if, he never changed it? What if I called him and said I want to buy it back? Where would I get the money for that when I don’t even have the money to repair the Heritage? What if I just stop thinking about that stuff and be glad I owned it and move on.

No. Too soon old, too late smart.

2014-12-08 06.59.55
Sorry buddy, I didn’t know what I was thinking.

To think that if I still had it I would be riding despite the Heritage being broken. But I suppose that’s the way life is. We make decisions based on current needs and not based on “in the event of…”. Had I disposed of that thought process, well, we wouldn’t be reading this right now would we?

I’ll get another Sportster, I know I will. Will it be the same 1994 XL883 I had? No, not likely. You all know I have my heart set on a 2015-2019 Roadster and it will be a glorious day when that bike arrives. Oddly enough, when I do get the Roadster, it is likely I won’t ride the Heritage as much as I used to.

The lesson here boys and girls is to:
1. Take more pictures of the things you appreciate so that when you make that stupid decision, you can look back upon it and reflect on said stupid decision.
2. Think before you decide on selling something you truly appreciate.
3. Never sell because you need the money. There are ways around that.
4. Have and maintain a 2nd bike for the “..In the event of…” moment.
5. Be thankful, no regerts.

Too soon old, too late smart.

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