Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

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.

Tags: the self, vehicles

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