NEWBURGH – Brad Bath’s love of Honda motorcycles began on his 10th birthday.
“It was a Honda 70,” Bath said. “It was the biggest thing, the greatest gift I ever received.”
He eventually graduated from the 1970 Honda CT70 Mini-trail to the XL 250.
“I kept it all through college (at the University of Evansville),” said Bath, who has maintained a local dental practice for more than 31 years. “I rode it when I was at UE, all four years of college.”
The Honda CT 70 is a trail bike; the XL250 four-stroke 250 cc motorcycle was introduced in 1972 and manufactured through most of the 1980s. It helped lay the groundwork for the revolutionary modern four-stroke-enduro, physically similar to the look of dirt bikes and sharing some of the same characteristics.
Bath basically put the Honda 70 on the shelf as he attended the Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis.
“In the mid-90s I asked mother if they still had it, but dad had sold it,” he said.
Bath, however, became nostalgic enough to buy it back on eBay 10 years ago. In fact, he became nostalgic enough for vintage Hondas that has collected around 60 and loves to restore them in a garage on Sharon Road in Newburgh, about five minutes from his house.
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“I jokingly call it the VHEC (vintage Honda entertainment complex),” Bath said. “They’re all Hondas and they’re all from 1965 to ’85.”
Sometimes when Brad gets off work or on weekends, he hops on one of his Hondas and takes a ride. The problems of the day fade away as he mashes the gas.
“I go on Sharon Road and do a nice loop for 10 or 15 minutes,” he said. “You have to get it up to running temperature at least for five or 10 miles.”
He said his wife, Julie, is a good sport about his hobby.
“She sees how much joy I get out of it,” Brad said. “I’m blessed that she gives me so much latitude.”
Brad and Julie have three children: Natalie and twins Abigail and Andrew. But none of them share his love of motorcycles.
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In pre-COVID-19 days, some old men would stereotypically gather at the coffee shop and shoot the breeze. Even now, curiosity seekers and friends see Bath tinkering with his vintage motorcycles and stop to swap stories – from a safe distance, of course.
When he was a chubby 10-year-old only child, he heeded his dad’s advice.
“Don’t take something apart you can’t put back together,” Bath’s father told him.
He is meticulous enough to use original paint to restore and repair his treasured motorcycles. And he doesn’t let them collect dust in the garage.
“I ride all the bikes,” said Bath, 61.
Interestingly, Bath’s mother, Helen, enjoyed retelling the story about how Brad didn’t like saliva growing up. Yet, he became a dentist anyway.
His parents needed dental work years ago and after his father, Bob, saw the huge estimates, he basically told Brad: “This might be something you might want to go into.”
Saliva be damned.
A 1977 Huntingburg High School graduate, Bath earned his undergraduate degree at UE in 1981 and graduated from the IU School of Dentistry in Indianapolis in ‘85.
However, he may love motorcycles as much as dentistry.
“People ask if they are all for sale,” Bath said. “None of them are for sale.”
From an early age, motorcycles became such a part of his life, he couldn’t imagine being separated from any one of them. He’s as meticulous about motorcycles as he is about teeth.
Contact Gordon Engelhardt at [email protected] or on Twitter @EngGordon
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Newburgh dentist Brad Bath continues love affair with vintage motorcycles