Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Meet Elvira.

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,



Conchscooter said...

Ha ha busted- riding without a tag!Nice bike though. 'Splain the shifter if you would or can...

Derek said...

Very nice ride. I've been searching for a slightly used model myself. Not this year probably but I can dream.

Allen Madding said...

She is a looker. If getting a bike from California to Orgeon was a head scratcher, you should of rang. I could of been talked into a delivery ride :)

Bryce said...

Elvira as in Madigan?

Scott Thigpen said...

Not a Ninja 250 but the FJR is pretty cool :)

Dean W said...

Of course we know my opinion is biased, but nice bike!

I don't know what Sophie's got, but one of my friends will probably hit 100k miles on his '04 FJR this year.

Miles of smiles!

I expect Dan will really come to appreciate the Yamaha over the Honda the first time he changes the oil...

Steve Williams said...

Congratulations on the new motorcycle. It sure looks pretty in the sunshine and will look even more exotic photographed in a grey dim lit day.

Good luck with the new ride!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Lucky said...

Say, that's a nice lookin' bike.

Elvira is the perfect name. Lady Luck calls the Triumph "The Mistress" for similar reasons. I just call it the Triumph. ;)

David said...

What a beautiful new ride! I know what you mean about the metal flake in the paint. My 'Strom has blue flake in the black paint. Gorgeous in the sun.

Talking with my Cali dwelling brother in law this week (a rare few days at home). He's looking into a bike/super scooter to save fuel and cut time off a new commute. Shipping a bike from Spokane WA to the Bay Area is around $600. Ouch! Yes, I stressed the need for training and gear since he's a new rider. :)

Congrats on the new bike.

Heading to the east coast this weekend with a load of something or other.
Dave T.

Tinker said...

Yamaha seems to have gorgeous paint jobs! I remember a black with gold metalflake, and gold pinstriping on a late '70s XS750, when people still rode 750s, and thought of them as a BIG BIKE.

Does any one recall the Yamaha 4 cylinder 400cc bike from about the same time period? I always wanted to try one...

Congratulations on the new addition to the Family!

irondad said...

I'm in the process of transferring the custom plate. My temporary registration is a yellow paper in the saddlebag. We've been by several LEO's with not even a twitch from them.

This particular bike has standard shifting. As in a clutch and mechanical shifter. Are you referring to the electric shift version? That one has no clutch lever. There's a shift lever but it's really connected to an electric switch. There's also a paddle on the left hand grip for shifting up and down. Yamaha gets bent out of shape if you call it an automatic. They say it's an electric shift model which is an entirely different thing.

Interestingly, I got to play with one last Monday. A guy brought it to our ART class. For those of us ingrained to use clutch slippage for low speed control it's a culture change. When you come to a stop in first gear, the bike sort of shifts into neutral. Upon twisting the throttle there's a little delay while things hook up again. That delay can cause a rider to be embarrassed!

There seems to be a lot of FJR's being bought. When I picked up mine, there was another guy writing a check for the other one the dealer had. You should be able to find a reasonably priced one soon. The good news is that they should hold up mechanically quite well.

I'll bet you would have! Maybe we could start a business together.

Wasn't Elvira Madigan a Swedish circus performer? My Elvira is connected to Halloween and a little less noble. Look here for more information

It's definitely not the baby Ninja. Did you see that the brand new Ninja got some major upgrades and was tuned for more mid-range? What a cool bike it is now! Not that it wasn't before, mind you.

How could you be biased towards the FJR? It's not like you own one or anything is it? I know for a fact that an ST1100, properly cared for, will do 160K. Glad to see the FJR has the same potential. I noticed the oil thing right away. Filter, drain plug, filler spout, and sight window all right out in the open. No body work in the way. Of course, I may regret the lack of lower body work during this coming Winter!

I now have a suitable subject to explore the new Nikon D40 camera with. So far I've pretty much just used the automatic settings. Should be fun. Of course, I'll never be you, but that doesn't mean I won't enjoy it.

Yeah, talking about your "mistress" in public could lead to trouble, couldn't it?

I seriously thought about hopping a flight down and riding home. The thing that held me back was the thought of so many straight line miles during the break-in period. There wasn't time for the really long, back road trip.

You drive safe out there. I'll be thinking of you. By the way, I'm headed to Sand Point Idaho around September 10. You going to be in town as I go through Spokane?

I briefly owned an XS850 with what had started out to be that black and gold paint job. It wasn't well cared for so it had lost a little lustre. I don't know which bike you're talking about with the four cylinder but thanks to you, I'll be checking out all the old bikes, now!

Rick said...

Great looking bike! I had looked into these as well. There are several bikes in this class, and they are so comparable,that often personal preferences is the only deciding factor.

Conchscooter said...

On the tag: how could you possibly imagine you would look suspicious to all those jealous LEOs on their clunky Beemers? Especially now you've explained you don't have the automatic- electric- paddle shifter- embarrass-me-at-traffic lights model. Phew! At least the oil change will be easy.

mrs road captain said...

Awesome looking new ride! Congrats. I am looking for a new bike myself...time to throw my leg over a "big girl bike" :-)

Stacy said...

Beautiful bike! I can see it generating miles of smiles...

Earl Thomas said...

Very nice bike. I've always wondered, how well does that adjustable windscreen work? Is there a noticeable difference from full up to down?

Charlie6 said...

Nice new motorcycle Dan!

Although I am biased towards beemers, the looks of the new ones don't do anything for me either.

Been riding the R80, it makes my 1150RT seem huge and ackward when not moving or when on dirt....

Redleg's Rides

irondad said...

You are so right in that! It could have gone either way between the Honda or Yamaha. Throw in the BMW and Kawasaki. Any would serve well.

Jealously makes people do strange things, badge or no. As you should know!

Mrs. Road Captain,
I wish you fun in the search. I sure had a good time.

Your SV is just as pretty. May we both have miles of smiles!

Earl Thomas,
The electrically adjustable windshield does make a lot of difference between full up and full down. It's weird that the thing returns to the down position when you turn the key off, though. I've noticed that, even in the full up position, the windshield doesn't quite have the protection that Sophie offers. Her shield is fixed in one spot. Like I mentioned, you gain in some areas and lose in others. The good news is that Yamaha sells a slightly larger screen. Don't know if i will try it or not.

Having owned an R/90 I know exactly of which you speak. Quite the culture difference!

Take care,


Bryce said...

Elvira Madigan (December 4, 1867 – July 20, 1889) was a Danish tightrope walker and trick rider, whose illicit affair and dramatic death at the hands of her lover were the subject of a famous Swedish film from 1967.

She was born Hedvig Antoinette Isabella Eleonore Jensen in Flensburg in northern Germany. Her mother was a Norwegian circus performer and her father a Danish stablemaster. Her mother later lived with the American circus manager John Madigan.

While performing in Sweden with her stepfather's circus, she met a Swedish cavalry officer, Lieutenant Count Bengt Edvard Sixten Sparre (born September 27, 1854). Sparre and Madigan fell in love, but their love was impossible, partly due to the fact that Sparre was married and the father of two children. After exchanging love letters for a year, they ran away together to Denmark in June 1889, where they spent about a month. When they ran out of money, they packed a picnic basket, went out to the Nørreskov ("North forest") on the island Tåsinge, Denmark, and had a last meal, after which Sparre shot Madigan and himself with his service revolver. Madigan was 21 years old and Sparre 35 years old. It was 20 July, 1889.

Madigan's and Sparre's grave is situated on the cemetery of Landet on Tåsinge and is still today visited by tourists and lovers from all over the world. Their tragic love story has some resemblance to the Austrian Mayerling drama, where Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his lover took their lives in January 1889."

The story of Elvira Madigan and Sixten Sparre was the subject of three films. The most famous is the Swedish film of 1967 directed by Bo Widerberg. The soundtrack features the Andante from Piano Concerto No. 21 in C (K 467) by Mozart, which is now popularly known as "Theme from Elvira Madigan".

The story was also retold as a balled written by Johan Lindström Saxon.

Doggerel about the love and cruel death of the lovely ELVIRA MADIGANS (translation from original Swedish).

Unhappy things still happen.
Even in our time,
Saddest of all is this
What happened to Elvira Madigan.

Lovely was she as an angel:
Eyes of blue and cheeks of red,
Waist as slender as a flower;
But she got a cruelly dead.

When she danced she on a tightrope,
Glad as skylark in the sky,
From the rows of filled-up benches
You could hear the cheers soar high.

Came then Count Lieutenant Sparre,
Beautiful and man of birth,
Gleaming eyes, heart a-flutter.
And love came answering his prayer.

Count Sparre was married,
Wife and children he had,
But from family he now fled
With Elvira Madigan.

Then to Denmark they fled.
But it had an unhappy end,
Though far away into the world
Had they planned their way to wend.

But, you see, their cash ran out,
Nought to live on!
To avoid poverty’s fate
Home they built inside a grave.

And the pistol full of pain
Sixten takes and aims
At Elvira’s young heart.
Scarcely lived she ere she died.

Hark all ye who joy in life,
Think of those and watch your way
That you not in blood may bathe
Kind folk when you come to die.

* The Swedish pop band Komeda recorded an original song "Elvira Madigan" on their third English album Kokomemedada.
* The English folk band Mr. Fox recorded their song "Elvira Madigan" on their second album, "The Gipsy".
* "Elvira Madigan" is also the name of a Swedish symphonic black metal band.