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motorcycle news

So on Saturday I went to a local Honda dealer to test-ride a ST1300 and see if it is something I would like to buy. See, a dealer in Springfield, Missouri, has a leftover 2003 on major sale now, but I didn't want to drive a few hours to perhaps buy something that maybe I wouldn't like, then have to figure out how to get it home, and the dealer was being difficult with my bank (not giving the VIN over the phone), and so on. All signs pointed to checking locally before making the trip. So I made a short jaunt to a local dealer and checked out the 2006 model. It's beautiful, of course, and comfy as all get out. They also had an ST1100, basically the same bike but without fuel injection and some body and chassis modifications... and much cheaper, of course, being a five-year-old bike.

So I took it for a ride. Gorgeous day, sunny and warm, and the salesman pointed out a good route to follow: Back to the highway, up to the second exit, then back along a curving road through hills and forest to the dealer. It really is the most comfortable bike I've ever ridden, and plenty fast. But I learned something that made me sad.

Even this bike has too much vibration for me to comfortably ride for any length of time. Sure, at about 75mph (or around 4000 RPMs) it ran smoothly enough that it didn't irritate my foot injury, but through most of the RPM range it's just not something that I would choose as transportation. See, I was thinking of using this for commuting to my Kansas City classes and perhaps using it for rides up to visit family in Omaha. But the discomfort would disqualify both of those ideas, so no motorcycles for me for a while longer.

Part of my self-identification has always been "motorcyclist." I bought my first dirt bike, a Kawasaki KE100, when I was 12 or 13 using money I'd earned from washing dishes. Since then I've owned two Kawasaki H1s, two Kawasaki H2s, a Suzuki GS550 - all of these noisy and uncivilized 2-strokes - then a Suzuki GS1150ES, and most recently a Suzuki Bandit 1200, which I just sold to 0verdrive. I've also owned a couple of scooters, one of which is what I mostly ride these days: The one with floorboards rather than footpegs. So what this means is that I've lost part of my self-definition.

Is this a big deal? No, most people don't differentiate between scooters and motorcycles, but there is a big difference: A motorcycle is full-service transportation that can take you anywhere in the world with perfect freedom (as long as the roads aren't icy), whereas a scooter can take you across town. A motorcycle is economical to own and ride - and of course a scooter is more so, but compared to a car it's a fuel miser. Motorcycles are unencumbered with all the stuff that surrounds car drivers.

So now I won't be a motorcyclist for a while; perhaps I'll try it again next year. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to just be okay with being a scooter-ist and bicyclist: They're both two-wheelers, after all. Perhaps this is the universe telling me to get started on building my Lil' Vehicle of Danger.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
Shawn was tickled to hear that you were test-driving STs. Sounds like you rode the older 1100 but not the new 1300, is that correct? He thought the 2006 might have less vibration. But I fear that *any* bike is going to bother your foot because they all do vibrate. I know what you mean about your self-identification as a motorcyclist. I wasn't one for all that long, but I do miss it. Seeing the empty spot next to Shawn's bike makes me melancholy every day.

Hang in there. I hope you can ride a big bike again someday.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 04:48 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking about a old Monster or a SV 650

Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
Interesting - they're both sort of the same bike, aren't they? jeanineers loves her SV650, and I've always loved the Monsters.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
I know. I think it's just do you want Italian sexy or Japanese sturdy :) Of course my little brother who can quote Ducati history verbatim from when they made radios is pushing me to get a Monster. I like the older ones though. The new ones have a larger motor, but are just..I dunno. Not a sleek. You remember my Harley, all nice and sleek and thin. I like that look.

Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC)
The SV650 seems to be a great little workhorse of a bike. Good looking, fun to ride, easy to maintain, decently priced--what's not to like?
Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC)
He's the reason I started looking into them! I know he loves his all to heck, so I started scanning the internet - which is how I discovered the ST1300 in Springfield (about two or more hours from here). I went to the local Honda dealer to see it, and discovered the ST1100 in great shape, which is why I tried that one, instead. I think you're right, that any bike (short of a Gold Wing) is going to have more vibration than I can handle because the footpegs are attached to the frame where the engine is attached. I've wondered about the Honda CBX, because an inline-6 cylinder is inherently without vibration due to the firing order, but there'll still be the pulses from firing, I'm sure.

This loss of self-identification stuff... this happens more and more as we get older, doesn't it? I used to run (nixed that at 20), used to fight at taekwondo tournaments (nixed that at 34), used to be a lot of things that I'm not any more. Hrm, this is going in a sad direction. Yes, I'll hope to ride again.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
Are there no modifications that could help, such as flat footboards rather than pegs?

I've heard this helps for many people.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
Y'know, I hadn't thought of that. I don't own Harleys (though I have ridden them on occasion, and WOW do they try to shake themselves apart!), so I forget that suppliers for Harley riders probably have all kinds of things to reduce vibration. Hmmm! Thanks for the tip.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC)
Yammys have a regular aftermarket set, so I'm sure that any bike can be mod'd for them.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:52 pm (UTC)
He's all wistful about Hayabusas these days, but we still have many years of truck payments ahead, so no new bike anytime soon. Yes, I agree--this could easily go in a very sad direction, and that's the last thing anybody needs on a Monday morning. Instead, let us ponder giant chocolate Easter bunnies, the relative merits of hollow vs. solid, and the age-old debate: ears first, or last?
Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
Hayabusas! Okay, that's a different angle... well, maybe not. I guess lots of people treat them as SPORT-tourers.

Guess what I ate for lunch yesterday? I was out shopping for carport parts, so no time for lunch... thus YUM! Robin's Eggs! I didn't eat the whole bag, thank the gawds.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)
I hate those periods of time when you have to put part of your identy on hold for one reason or another. We had to do a lot of that with the choice to put pooch thru grad school. My back injury 5 years ago took away my identy of horseback rider
Apr. 3rd, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC)
This is why I try not to hook self-identification with titles or things I do, to say, "I ride motorcycles" rather than "I'm a motorcyclist."
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 3rd, 2006 06:39 pm (UTC)
That's an excellent point, my friend!
Apr. 3rd, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
True, it IS the license that identifies one, not the vehicle.
Hence I am still a trucker, although I've never owned a semi either.

speaking of your icon, there, I noticed that the music for Deadwood on HBO is veryyy similar to the music for Firefly.
Even to having a horse running about in the opening credits.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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