To quote Mark Twain, "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated"
I can't believe it's been so long between posts! Except for the holiday weekend, corporate demands have been extremely heavy. Work is the required evil to pay for the bikes, you know. I intend to keep riding for a long time so I have to be able to hold a job. My next few weeks look just as busy. On top of that the weekends will be filled with motorcycle training duties. The good news is that all three of my next assignments are out of town. More bike miles. Dang! I've had tremendous withdrawal, though, from blogging. Even if it means some late nights, I won't go so long again between entries.
There's still the second half of the Great Harley Track Adventure to finish. Hopefully enough of you remember the first part to make it still relevant. I skipped the Sharin' the Road entry last week. It didn't seem fair to make them share the spotlight with the Fourth of July weekend. There's several things bouncing around in my head that I've just got to get out. Should be some interesting, if not scary, stuff upcoming. Right now, though, we take a break from the regularly scheduled programming to introduce the newest member of the family. Her name is Elvira and she's a 2008 Yamaha FJR1300 with ABS. She's Raven Black with little silver metal flakes in her paint.
Elvira will be Sophie's replacement. We haven't decided whether to keep Sophie or find a nice home where she can live out her days. I suspect I won't have the heart to send her away. We've shared a great deal of awesome memories over the years.
Picking out a new bike was a lot of fun, I have to say. There were a few really intriguing possibilities. My first inclination was to go for the Honda ST1300. There seemed to be quite a few 2007's around, but hardly any 2008's. We didn't much care for the strange grey color of the 07's. The 08's were nearly the same color as Sophie and we liked them a lot. I didn't move soon enough, though. According to a large dealer, they got about a third of what they ordered. The only bike I could find was at a dealer in Southern California. I shuddered to think what it would have cost to get it here! There was always the option of waiting for the 2009 model to come out. Turns out that the delay proved to be blessing in disguise. Without this I probably wouldn't have explored the Yamaha.
For a while I was close to making a deal for the BMW R1200RT. This is technologically awesome bike. Heated grips and seat, cruise control, etc., etc., were pretty tempting. It felt like a rocking chair motorcycle to me. Too much creature comfort! The price was higher and a lot of riders of this bike told me the maintenance costs were higher than other bikes. I wasn't really fond of the looks. Where the R1150RT was streamlined and blended, the 1200 looks like BMW just piled fairing bits on top of each other. The thing that killed the deal for me was taking a demo bike out for half a day. I couldn't come to grips with the buzzing, clunking, and roughness of those two huge pistons and the stuff that made them work right. I guess I've gotten spoiled by the smoothness of the water cooled fours.
It happened that Katie and I were on our way to Florence for a work related thing when we pulled into a rest area. A guy was there on an '07 FJR. It was a pretty plum color. Both Katie and I loved the clean lines of the bike. It's even nicer looking than Sophie to me, and I really love the lines of the ST1100.
The guy was at the start of a nine day trip with the FJR. He wasn't in any hurry and spent a lot of time answering my questions. Katie and I spent a lot of time during the rest of our trip talking about what we wanted to do for riding in the next few years. Here's what it boiled down to.
Both bikes are sport touring types. With the Yamaha the emphasis is on the sport side. For the Honda it's the touring side. Not that the ST can't be sporty. Sophie can vouch for that. And it's not like the FJR isn't comfortable. However, the bias one way or the other is pretty clear.
My question to Katie was how much she wanted to engage in touring type riding in the near future. Were we going to do more travelling or would life keep on like now? Which means a lot of solo riding for me with her joining me now and then. At some point it's been our goal to take some really long trips by bike while cutting way back on career stuff. I'm talking about trips longer than the long weekends we do now. When we can get them, that is! It looks like the next few years will continue as they are now. I'm still deeply engrossed in training and want to stay busy with that. Katie's got her own pursuits. When the right time comes we'll pick up a real touring bike. For now, though, we both agree I'm not ready for the rockin' chair bike.
With all that in mind, we opted for the FJR. Sporty and fun while being comfortable. Besides, Dean has one and, he being my hero and all, I needed one too! I made a call to a salesman I know who told me the plum colored '07's were gone but he still had a couple of the '08 models. We took a look, decided the glossy black was awesome, too, and wrote the check.
Naming her Elvira was Katie's idea. I was toying with the idea of naming it Bandit. Don't know if you remember the movie "Smokie and the Bandit" with Burt Reynolds. Technically, it was Burt's character that was named Bandit. However, the Trans Am he drove was black and shiny. I loved those cars. Katie liked the name Elvira and the "just beneath the surface wickedness" attached to it. Hmm, what is she saying about the bike and I?
I spent the holiday weekend putting on miles. Yes, I really love the bike. It's sleek and fast. The only real creature comfort is the adjustable windscreen. My spartan Ironman image remains intact. A rack to mount the Givi trunk is next on the list. Some electrical wiring for the GPS and stuff is on the calendar.
Tomorrow will see the return of Sharin' the Road. After that I'll share some impressions of the bike as the miles add up. Some of those miles included a trip North to have lunch with Lucky and Lady Luck while they were visiting. You can get a sneak preview by cruising over to The Great Motorcycle Pizza Tour blog. Click on the link to the right. That was a 177 mile round trip for lunch that Clinton and I took. I also let Clinton ride the bike which is a funny story by itself. No, the bike didn't get damaged. He did just fine but needed a little convincing to give it a go. Stay tuned for the longer version of our visit with Lucky.
Miles and smiles,