Years ago, seriously, something like way back in 2006 or 2007 I decided I wanted an Adventure Bike.
I had the choice narrowed down to one of two options that were available at the time. One was the BMW 1200 GS and the other was the KTM 950 Adventure. I loved the BMW’s cockpit and dash, but wanted something a little more serious for the dirt ( I know how I tend to ride) and the KTM was a little more “dirt friendly”.
As I was sitting at my desk day dreaming of the new bike my thoughts drifted towards personalized plates. I started thinking about an appropriate plate for either bike.
DMV had an online vanity plate checker at the time so I tried a variety of ideas only to find they were already taken. Since both bikes were of germanic descent I remember using Google’s translate tool to see if I could make something work “auf deutsch“.
German, being you know… german – most all of the ideas I had ended up being too long for a 7 digit motorcycle plate.
Then I hit on something quite by accident.
That was crazy! AUF sounded like OFF but meant ON? That’s perfect for a dual sport bike!
Now what was the german word for “ROAD” again?
Oh yeah. My high school german was coming back to me.
Crap! Well that will never work! You can bet the DMV doesn’t have an “Eszett” nor the prison dude that would be stamping my plate.
So I tried AUF with the english word, ROAD and the California DMV said it was available! I bought it on the spot. In 30 days I received a postcard saying my plate was at the local office and I needed to come down and pick it up! The problem was, I didn’t have a bike to put it on yet.
There was another problem too. Remember I said it was somewhere in 2007? That office I was sitting in was a mortgage office and I made all of my money originating mortgages. The tidal wave of bad news was just about to hit. Remember the SubPrime Mortgage Crisis? That wiped us out – and so did the idea of a new Adventure bike.
What’s supposed to happen with unclaimed vanity plates, is that after 60 days or so they are supposed to be shredded and the plate then becomes available to everyone once again. I always assumed that’s what happened to mine.
But… the local office (Concord, Ca) underwent a complete remodel. Somewhere, someone must have missed the memo. When I looked in the computer for the plate their computer system always said the plate was not available. I assumed some other lucky person with an Adventure bike took my plate.
Then one day (this was a year ago) I was in the DMV registering another vehicle and I happened to ask the clerk about the plate. She looked it up and said it was indeed taken. 🙁 I asked her if that person was me and she smiled and said yes! For some reason I had to pay $45 to renew the plate, and I was happy to do so.
Once again, I had the plate but didn’t have a bike to put it on. Luckily for me this plate was in some sort of bureaucratic limbo and has been happily sitting in the office waiting a full year for me to get my ship together. What’s the german word for that? 0h yeah.
When I finally got my 2006 KTM 950 Adventure last Sunday I thought this was it!
Monday I happily trotted down with my pink slip and bill of sale. They informed me I first had to get the VIN verified. The DMV dude had no problem finding the VIN. He did have a problem finding the motor number. A quick Google search determined it was right above the kickstand mount. The problem is, the bike has a kickstand mount relocator which perfectly hides the motor numbers behind a very large plate!
So I went home and looked at taking off the plate just so they could see the numbers. In doing so, I found out that with a flashlight (and maybe a mirror) you could manage to actually see the numbers, especially if that area was clean.
So with a clean number area, a flashlight and a small makeup mirror I went back to the DMV the next day. This time I had a very nice, and much smaller girl doing the work and with a little coaching she finally agreed that she could see the motor numbers. Phew!
I popped inside, got a number and waited another 40 minutes. Once my number was called I gave all my paperwork to the clerk and explained that my vanity plate was here and wanted to have it on this bike.
Well, somebody must have pissed in her Fruit Loops that morning because she explained she couldn’t go look for my plate and that I had to make another appointment for that. She issued me a generic plate and stickers and sent me on my way.
Today was day three of my DMV experience. Luckily I had a clerk who was willing and listened to my story. She found the plate and then… well then… there was some sort of issue with the plate as the computer wouldn’t allow it to be assigned to my bike.
An hour later, they figured it out and I finally after all these years, have both the plate AND the bike together for the first time. 🙂
Can I just say PHEW!?