Sunday, January 27, 2013

On the current bike

Going on three years back, the bike I’d had for almost 14 years developed a nasty problem of the “Do I want to spend the money and time fixing this?” type. I decided no. So the next decision was “Do I want another bike?” Well, hell yes. So started looking around. That bike was a Kawasaki Vulcan 750, and I’ll admit that if they’d still made that model I’d probably have bought another one and switched the seats and a few other things around before selling the old. But they dropped the 750 and went to a 900, which followed what seems to be the current design for cruisers: bigger than has to be and heavy. And I didn't like the style.  No-go there.

Sport bikes are a no-go, too. I’d ridden sons’ Ducati, and the performance was wonderful: fast, maneuverable, solid as a rock on the road. But the seating position sucked, after 30 minutes or so it started killing my hands and wrists*.  They also tend to be more maintenance-intensive, and while working on things can be fun I'd rather be riding than wrenching.

While I was looking son came home on leave. We did some more digging on the Vulcan, confirming to me that I didn’t want to do what would be required to fix it. So it went on Craigslist and found a new owner**, and the search continued. For about two days.  At which time he stopped by(friends to visit and such, didn’t spend all his time with family) and said “I saw a bike over at Performance you ought to look at.” So went and looked. Honda VFR800 sport-touring: 800cc fuel-injected engine, ABS brakes and a number of other things, including risers on the handlebars that gave a much more upright seating position. So took my helmet back over for a test drive. And I liked it. Pretty good on comfort(which I care about a lot more than used to), maneuverable, lots of power***- CONTROLLABLE power- for the highway… so I worked out numbers, and decided to bypass my too-often "Well, I'll wait and think a bit" which often leads to "Crap, it's gone!"

 I have to admit, it looking so much like a sport bike I probably wouldn't have tried it on my own, but son tried it out and strongly recommended I give it a try.  Glad he did.

Haven’t made some of the trips I’d planned(yet), but have made a few short ones. I changed the seat for a Sergeant with better padding, put sleeves on the grips, and got the trunk; otherwise it’s just been normal maintenance. Yes, there are lots of things you can get and do to up horsepower and torque; not planning on any of them. As it sits, I’ve yet to be in a place straight enough and empty enough to open it up all the way, and it’s got lots of ‘go’ available. As in “I can break the highway speed limit before I reach the end of most ramps” go without firewalling it; so while I like the idea of “Hey, I get this kit and put on the supercharger and it’ll double the horses!’, what would I do with them?

I mentioned the fuel injection and antilock brakes, it also has VTEC. Four valves per cylinder: below 6700 rpm it only uses two, you hit that point and it starts using all four. There’s a surge of power, the exhaust note deepens, and you know you’ve poked the beast with a stick. And he wants to run.  It's a little addictive.

Once I learned the ‘how to take it off’ pattern on the fairing it doesn’t take long to remove it for work and put it back on. The only real PITA there is the clips: they’re a plastic unit, push in the center and they unlatch. They also get beat up or broken easily, especially those on the bottom; found replacements(MUCH less expensive ones) here. Aside from that, no problems. The trunk in the ‘lift the front’ post is a Givi Monolock I lucked into at the shop where I bought the bike(Performance Cycle in Bethany, good place): display, needed to move it so it went for about half-price. And it’s been one of the handiest things I’ve ever bought. Also picked up a set of soft saddlebags for trips(have you seen what hard bags COST? For bloody fiberglass or plastic boxes and mounts? Jeez!)

I have to mention, I’d told the guys it wasn’t a big rush on the tires as they still had some decent tread left, which would take me through the next couple of weeks no problem. When I dropped the wheels off he got a funny look on his face when he looked at them, and I had to elaborate that there was still decent tread over on the sides. I think he formed An Opinion of me.

*Yes, I know the ‘use your back, legs and abs to hold your weight’ thing; my hands are beat-up enough that it doesn’t help long.

**Showed up with a friend to look it over; friend looked like the archetype of ‘Old Biker Who Can Fix Anything On Wheels’; I don’t doubt they got it back on the road.

***I long ago came to the conclusion-especially on bikes- that "More power and torque than I may need is a LOT better than  'not enough' "


Gtajmack said...

Do you ride with any groups ?
I don't like to ride with big groups,but its great to go to dinner with a few friends.
After I sold the VFR I bought a CBR1100XX. Its a little more comfortable than the VFR ,but has more balls.
I live south of Norman,and the weather really has been nice in spurts.

Six said...

97 Bandit and a 98 R1100 RT. The Bandit is a better around town bike but the Beemer is sweet on long rides. This Spring my buddy and I will be heading up to Washington State. Can't wait.

Firehand said...

Gta, no, I haven't. And I want/need to. Which means getting off my ass and getting in contact with people for such; a meals with folks would be nice.

Six, I've heard nice things about the 1100. And damn, that sounds like a nice trip! May I ask where you'll be starting from?