In the early 1980s, I had the temerity to entertain several dozen crackpot hypotheses on the fundamentals of motorcycling—this was before I even owned a bike. One such theory stated the very first bike you own ought to be dirt cheap and ugly as sin. Consequently, my first ride was a CB450SC Honda Nighthawk—“popularly priced” fodder for a carefree, college-bound simpleton like yours truly. Obviously bone-shaking performance and dashing good looks were luxuries buried far down on my shopping checklist at the time.
I was recently reminded of my irrelevant rants while on a photo shoot in Modesto, California, where I met Antonio Renzi. His first bike is the 1400cc Yamaha Royal Star pictured here. A heavyweight cruiser with custom bodywork and seriously massaged mechanicals has a funny way of smashing small-minded motorcycle theories. In fact, gazing at Renzi’s immaculate 1997 Royal Star, with its supercharger sprouting from the cylinders, made my first-bike theory seem painfully ignorant. This guy’s first ride is neither a basic nor a beginner bike. It’s a monster.
Renzi admits he was drawn to Harley-Davidsons initially, but the expense and reputation for unreliability redirected his quest toward metrics. An admirer of functionality, Renzi found himself particularly intrigued by the Yamaha Royal Star’s innovative four-cylinder configuration. Renzi acquired his first registration slip three years ago with the purchase of this Star, even though he’d been riding for 15 years prior. “Before this,” he says, “I just rode whatever was available…cousins’ bikes, friends’ bikes…whatever!”