In 1964, during his internship, he met his future wife, then a fourth-year medical student. When they married, he says they were living hand-to-mouth and needed a bed. So Dr. Rochmis made the ultimate sacrifice. He sold his motorcycle and didn’t ride or purchase another bike until 1972, due to life’s typical distractions like family and career.
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His second purchase was a Yamaha endure bike, an on- and off-road bike. Yet he couldn’t shake the image of a bike he had seen years ago.
“When I was around 15 or 16 years old, thumbing through a bike magazine, I saw a picture of a Vincent Black Shadow and thought this was the most beautiful motorcycle I had ever seen,” he says. “It’s an icon of motorcycles.”
Over the years, he ended up purchasing five Vincents but sold three. Then he explored other brands like Velocette and Triumph. He’s currently negotiating to purchase another Velocette. “I have none now,” he says. “I feel I need one for my soul.”
Although his BSA Gold Star won the “Best Special” motorcycle national award roughly 20 years ago, he’s never entered his cherished collectibles in any other competitions. He doesn’t feel the need to “shine up his bike,” he says, or brag that his bike is better than most others. He simply enjoys them, and that’s good enough for him.
He prefers older motorcycles because they have “mechanical honesty.” Although he owns a red 1989 Honda GT 650, he believes those built in the 1950s or 1960s that are all black with a little chrome and accented with gold are the most beautiful.
For him, the attraction is visceral.
“Motorcycles appeal to many of the senses,” says Dr. Rochmis, adding that sometimes he performs his own minor repairs. “I like the smell of metal, a little oil, and a whiff of gasoline. It appeals to the ears in terms of the sound of a beautiful running engine. The bike and you sort of come together … a little like the way a horse and horse rider come together.”
That’s why it’s so hard to let go. He says he turned down a very substantial offer for his Vincent Black Shadow less than two years ago.
As a member of the Vincent H.R.D. Owner’s Club, an international organization, Dr. Rochmis has made friends with motorcyclists from around the world. Years ago, he attended one club meeting in Canada, bringing champagne for its 100 members to toast their good fortune as Vincent owners. They nicknamed him Champagne Paul, which has stuck through the years.