Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend

Exhaust Note: Phil Buonpastore says goodbye to his trusty Honda Aero 1100, his faithful steed of 14 years.

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend
Phil with his trusty Honda Aero 1100 near the St. Johns River in Florida, not long before he had to say goodbye.

On April 8, 2021, at 8:47 p.m. near Sarasota, Florida, my 2001 Honda Aero 1100, a trusted traveling companion for the last 14 years, met its unceremonious end when the driver of a car ran a red left-turn arrow and crossed my lane of travel.

I bought my Aero in 2007, and ended up owning it longer than I’ve owned any other motorcycle. To say that it was a great bike is a major understatement. The Aero was steadfast, reliable and enjoyable for many magnificent motorcycle tours. Recently I had the thought that it might be the last motorcycle I’d ever own. Drawn to its classic styling, even after a decade and a half owning the bike, I would still smile when I looked at it parked in the garage.

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend
On the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2008

Yeah, okay, so I loved the bike.

When I bought the Aero in 2007, it already had a windshield, auxiliary lights and highway bars, and within a short time I added a Corbin seat, Champion hard saddlebags and a throttle lock. Once outfitted, the bike was completely comfortable and suited for long-distance travel. I rode many 12-hour-plus days without complaint. Together, we logged nearly 100,000 miles from coast to coast.

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Some of the best of these rides have been documented in the pages of Rider. Riding the Aero the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway culminated in my first article published in the magazine, “A Ride on the Ridge,” in the July 2009 issue. Living in the Atlanta area for many years, we explored well-known roads, like Tail of the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway, and hidden gems throughout the Southeast.

When I moved to Seattle, Washington, in 2010, I rode the Aero through the Ozarks, on Route 66 west of Flagstaff, over the Hoover Dam and through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. While living in the Pacific Northwest, new routes up and around Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and the Cascades, as well as east into the high desert around Yakima took us through some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen. More unforgettable memories and and more features in Rider, such as “Olympic Peninsula, Motorcycle Heaven in the Northwest” (May 2012) and “The Cascade Loop” (January 2014).

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend
Mount St. Helens, Washington, in 2011

One of my most memorable rides was taking the Aero the “back way” to Idaho on the Brownlee-Oxbow Highway, along the Snake River and into Hells Canyon. On all these rides, through hundreds of hours and countless miles through some of the most deserted roads in America, I never doubted that the Honda would get me there and back. Many times I patted its tank like a cowboy pats his horse.

In 2016, at a career dead end and financially tapped out, I moved to southwest Florida, where my extended family lived. With no income, hustling to find a job and get back on my feet, the logical thing to do was sell the bike. Sadly I did, but I told the buyer, “When you buy your Harley” — everyone rides them here — “I want first call on buying it back.” Fourteen months later, my Aero came back home.

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend
Near Harmony, Washington, in 2012

Our last tour was just a few weeks ago, a whirlwind five-day, 1,000-mile ride around northern Florida, with overnight stays in Cedar Key, Apalachicola, Jacksonville and Crescent Beach. A lovely ride.

But now it’s gone. Due to a split-second error by an impatient driver, the Aero suffered terminal front-end damage. It’s never easy to say goodbye to those we love. My Aero will be missed, but I’ll always have great memories of our years and miles together.

12 COMMENTS

  1. That sucks! People, can suck! But the most important thing is you are ok.? I hope you’re ok! On to bigger and better motorcycles!

  2. I would think the insurance company is gonna say the bike was worth near nothing being a 14 year old import. I say buy it back and go find the used parts you need and put her back on the road as a once in awhile ride around town bike and keep all them great memories alive.in the mean time start racking up up some long road trips on the new bike and create some new memories. RIDE ON!

  3. I feel for you brother. I have not had the experience in 30 years of riding but I know how it feels to bond to your machine. Nothing can replace it but you can start new memories and go from there. My riding is my therapy and I don’t know how I could live without it. Good luck and stay safe. Dave in Michigan.

  4. Same kind of thing happened to my son. He is still recovering from his injuries. The bike was totaled. I hope you where able to walk away. Best wishes on finding a new bike. I just got my license and am looking forward to many years on the road.

  5. I have to say that having feelings for mechanical things seemed a bit weird but as I matured I get attached to just about everything. I sold my Moto Guzzi California for a later model of the same bike which seemed like the smart thing to do as I don’t need two humongous bikes sitting around. But, I now feel selling my first Guzzi was the equivalent of abandoning a puppy. Even though I have an almost identical bike albeit a half dozen years newer I still get a sick feeling when I look at pictures of my original Guzzi. So, I hear ya when you talk about missing an old friend. I contacted the buyer who’s a friend to possibly buy it back, I was more than a little aggravated when he told me to contact his therapist for help letting go !!

  6. Good story, Phil. I hope you’re uninjured and doing OK. I live in W central Fl, and have ridden my trusty 09 FJR to many of the places you mentioned. I had to sell it in 2014 to buy my condo, but was able to buy it back in 2017. It’s been trouble free and I doubt I’ll sell it again until it falls apart.

  7. Wow, what a story to tell. The Aero was the first cruiser type bike I ever considered. Unfortunately I never got to experience one. I hope you find another trusty steed.

  8. I always thought the 1100 Aero was Honda’s best effort at building an “American-style” cruiser. I understand why you loved that bike, very good-looking ride. I especially liked the retro “dreamcicle” version. Sorry your partnership ended so dramatically for you. Hopefully, there are still some well taken care of Aeros still out there for you. Good story BTW.

  9. I had 2000 Honda Aero. Due to unfortunate financial reasons I sold it. It was the best riding and most dependable bike I have owned. That was 6 years ago and I literally cried like a baby. 6 months after the sale I tried to buy it bad. So for no luck on that . We both need to try and find another one. I feel your lost . A 70 year old does not look good with sad eyes. I don’t care. I MISS MY BABBY

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