The world-famous Honda CB77 that served as Robert Pirsig’s inspiration for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is headed to The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, published in 1974, is the story of a 1968 bike trip across America that Robert Pirsig took with his son. The resulting book sold five million copies (supposedly the best-selling philosophy book of all time), and has puzzled or entertained not only motorcyclists, but the public at large, ever since. But ever since the book was written, people have wondered what happened to the little Honda that took the Pirsigs across the US.
Now we know. It seems the bike was in Pirsig’s New England garage the whole time, where he restored it himself from 2014-’16 with the assistance of a local mechanic. Pirsig died in 2017, and now his widow Wendy has donated it to the Smithsonian, along with a bunch of other stuff that he had laying around his garage. As per the press release, the Smithsonian is getting “Pirsig’s leather jacket, maps, shop manual and other gear from the 1968 ride, together with a manuscript copy and signed first edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig’s favorite toolboxes, with tools for maintaining his bike and other vehicles as well as tools he made himself, are also part of the donation.”
Cool! The Smithsonian plans to add it to its museum collection in Washington, DC, so if you’re in the area, see if it’s on display, and you can check it out for free.