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Spare Parts: Mirror image

By Ernie Copper

Freedom, independence and individuality are words often associated with motorcycling. Yet bikers all look alike, to varying degrees: jeans, boots, leather jackets, etc. We all seem to be OK with that and are dealing with it very well on our own terms. We all know we don’t own the only pair of jeans that Levi ever made and in most cases our jackets are probably just as similar. We accept a degree of sameness as being part of life.

 

The same can be said of our homes, cars and pets, too. We accept and even enjoy it when someone has a dog or cat that looks like ours. It just happened to me this weekend when I met Abby, a Golden Retriever that looks like a brown version of my black-haired dog of unknown origins, Samson. Abby’s owner thought that Abby looked as much like Samson as I thought Samson looked like Abby. We took comfort in that sameness. We both knew we didn’t own the only dog in captivity, much less the only retriever, and that was OK.

 

We want and need our transportation to fit within certain boundaries, too. That’s why cars and bikes, and everything else of a certain era, are so easy to identify. Different makes and models of cars are very similar in design decade by decade. It’s no accident that cars of the ’50s and early ’60s had massive tailfins, but cars of the new millennium do not. We’re a trendy bunch. We want things to look mostly the same, yet somehow just a little bit different from our neighbor. It’s why you’re reading this publication. The same, yet different.

 

And so it was uncomfortable when my neighbor came over one day to tell me that he has always admired the looks of my birch white/platinum silver Heritage shod with wide whites. More to the point, he’d bought one just like it and wasn’t sure how to tell me before he brought it home. The whole thing reminded me of what I imagine it would be like if a guy was asking to marry my daughter, but on a smaller, less personal scale. A quick Google search shows that about 2,700 were made in ’95, so the odds are phenomenally against my neighbor and me owning one at the same time.

 

You have to understand that cars and bikes come and go with an alarming degree of regularity from my neighbor’s house, even by my standards. A ’Vette today, a Camaro tomorrow. A Road King this week, a Sportster next. So I figured I wouldn’t get too excited about this awkward matching bike possibility until the clone bike actually showed up. But there was something in his tone during our conversation that sounded like he’d been covetous of my bike from the beginning, and he’d decided to buy one of his own rather than steal mine outright. He’s a respectable guy.

 

So, forewarned, I waited for him to bring it home and one day, there it was. It was like my bike was in his driveway. Very strange. It would have been bad enough if we were talking about a relatively modern bike, but we’re talking about mid-’90s Softails! The only glimmer of difference is that mine is a ’95, and his a ’94. Well, that and my light bar, seat, cam, pipes, K&N filter, passenger floorboards, air horn and engine guard.

 

I went over to check it out and it looks like a good bike. Of course, I’m biased.

 

I never thought I owned the only Softail in that color combo, but I never thought one would move in across the street, either. It is decidedly weird. I’m cool with it, but it’s still a strange feeling to look out the window and see a lookalike bike that you’ve owned for 15 years sittin’ in someone else’s driveway. It’s kind of like the feeling you had as a kid when you left your bicycle in the neighbor’s yard as you rushed home for dinner and then looked down the street later that evening realizing your mistake. You needed to get it back where it belonged quickly, before anyone noticed.

 

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I just hope he doesn’t end up with a girlfriend who looks like my wife. That could be a problem.

 

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