Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wives and mistresses.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. I have a lot of personal experience with a wife but none with a mistress. Despite that, my imagination is pretty vivid. Right now I'm imagining this is how it feels to have both a faithful companion and a racy playmate. In the past I've changed bikes with hardly a glance backwards. Things haven't been nearly so simple this time. I'm not so sure if it's the bikes themselves or something it says about me that has me thinking so hard. I want to pull off the Ironman mask and share some things with you. Maybe getting a glimpse under the mask will help you understand what I'm feeling.


I knew early on that Katie was the one I wanted to blend my soul with. In the same way, I knew several years before I purchased her, that an ST1100 was the bike for me. Honda introduced the bike in 1990. I fell in love with it soon after. The money held me back. There was a house full of children with their collective monetary demands. So I rode ten year old Hondas for years. In 1998 I bought my first brand new bike. It was the Pacific Coast. By then I could pay cash. It was a great bike but I was only on my way to the ST. Finally, in late 2000 I sold the Pacific Coast for within three hundred dollars of what I had paid for it new. Not bad for three years, huh?



Armed with a fistful of cash, I made the deal for Sophie. It happened that the bike was in short supply. I will always be grateful to Lon. He was the Sales Manager at the Honda shop at the time. Somehow he found a bike for me. It was 275 miles away in Renton, Washington. Lon sent an envelope with me. It contained the proper paperwork as well as a check to give to the Renton Honda dealer. Katie and I drove to Renton. She followed me on the ride home. Sophie was everything I'd dreamed of and then some. That first ride was heaven and it got better from there. I know it seems really weird to say it about a machine, but I felt like our souls had meshed perfectly. We were totally in synch.

We've been together almost 9 years. Where a lot of bikes are lucky to see three thousand miles a year, Sophie's seen six times that. Recounting the adventures we've enjoyed and the hardships we've endured together would fill several books. I know Sophie's not alive but it feels at times like she has a heart, soul, and personality all her own.

Alive or not, with or without a soul, bikes only last so long. It was time to replace her despite my feelings. It's also becoming increasingly prudent to have ABS on a bike. Katie and I went bike shopping.

I always thought I'd be a lifetime Honda guy. Having had a chance to put several hundred miles on an ST1300, it soon became apparent that the new model didn't speak to me like the 1100 does. Don't misunderstand. The 1300 is a great bike and shares a lot of the qualities of the original. It just doesn't seem to have a lot of personality. Still, though, that's the direction we were headed.

Supply was really tight. I'm a little disenchanted with Honda for not making very many available. We were told by a large dealer that they only got about a third of what they asked for. There are times I can be patient but this wasn't one of them. I really wasn't in the mood to wait until late Fall when the 2009's were coming out. We couldn't even find out what color they were going to be. The 2007 models were a funky gray. I'm not the only one who doesn't like the color, it seems. While the pretty Candy Dark Red 2008 ST1300's were gone in a heartbeat, there are still some 2007's around.

Katie and I just happened to encounter an FJR rider in a rest area. It was a great chance to ask the rider a bunch of pointed questions. He was more than willing to talk and I was eager to listen. This particular bike was a 2007 model. The Plum color contrasted by the aluminum of the frame was really pretty. We were also taken by the clean looks of the bike. There was a certain classy look with a hint of the sporty prowess hidden inside.

Dean, who comments here, has an FJR. We cross paths pretty often. Dean and I both teach our Advanced Rider Training class. The Yamaha sport-tourer shows up pretty often. I've had a lot of time to observe and talk to riders. I spent time reading reviews. Katie and I had a chat about our immediate future. Touring the country together is still a few years away. I'll mostly be riding alone with Katie joining me for long weekends on the bike now and then.

The scales tipped in favor of the FJR. We couldn't find any of the 2007 models by now but there were still a few 2008's. As you've seen, they're Raven Black with silver metal flakes in the paint. Not hard to look at by any means. A phone call and a large check later, and we brought one home.

Enter the Mistress. Mistress Elvira, to be exact.

Stay tuned for the next post. The really juicy part's yet to come!

Miles and smiles,

Dan


13 comments:

Steve L. said...

We've been dating for almost two years now. It got pretty serious pretty fast and we are going strong, but I find myself looking at other models. I'm not sure if it was just the 7000 mile itch. We got through that and things seem to be ok, but I don't see a long term future for us.
We've lived, loved and learned. It may be time to go our separate ways soon, but there'll always be a special place in my heart for my first bike.

Hrishi said...

Quite a coincidence. I bought a bike yesterday. Its an upgrade from my previous bike, which i owned for 8 years.

Cheers to you too on a new bike!!

Lucky said...

In the past I haven't really liked the look of sport-touring bikes, but the FJR is really sharp. I definitely wouldn't kick one out of my garage.

David said...

I'll admit to a bit of insanity, now and again, especially where my machines are concerned. I feel every complex machine has a personality. That's why I name them, or why I ask what their names are. (My truck I drive for work is Amos, my bike Waylon.) Dan, it takes a while to get used to a new machine, and when you've ridden one as much as you've ridden Sophie, well, it's hard to move on. Which reminds me, are you planning on "restoring" Sophie? Elvira (Great name BTW) will work her way into your heart. Those dark mysterious ladies just take courting. ;)

Dave T.

Conchscooter said...

I never name machinery, it just seems odd to me. When I had to give our sailboat a name I named it for my late mother in law. My wife liked that and we took off sailing so there was method to that madness. The Bonneville is the Bonneville, long may it run.

irondad said...

SteveL,
This relationship can be fixed. It's obvious that the thrill is gone. Buy a couple of different colored fairing panels. Trade them out once in a while. Maybe even explore a temporary seat cover. Then she can be anything you want her to be in your mind.

Hrishi,
Congratulations on the new bike!

Lucky,
There is something special about the way the FJR looks, isn't there?

DaveT,
I'm glad someone else shares my insanity. Conchscooter obviously doesn't. How boring for him!

You're right about it taking time. That's something I'm going to touch on with the next post.

Conchscooter,
Maybe you don't need the additional adventure and romance of personalizing your machines. There's certainly plenty around you where you live. Some of us live in less exotic places.

That's one explanation. The other could be as simple as one too many falling coconuts!

Allen Madding said...

...wait for it...wait for it

Dean W said...

Side note- I always take as much of the identification off a bike as practicable, which is usually quite a lot. The only identification of what my FJR is that's left are the tiny Yamaha logos on the triple clamp, gauge, and 'YAMAHA' on the stator cover (that's half covered up by fairing). I figure I paid a lot for that bike; if Yamaha wants me to advertise for them, too, they can start sending royalty checks.

I think it's interesting to note that a lot of people ask me what model BMW I'm riding. (The snarky reply is the new one, being built in Japan...)

As for the price of a motorcycle being "a lot" of money, the value of motorcycles in the garage is probably five times more than the value of the cars parked outside it (which also helps show where my priorities are!)

David said...

On anniversaries... Forgot to mention that this labor day weekend marks the 21st year my wife and I have been together. After all the struggles and terrifying rides (My wife had never ridden until she met me, and I ride pretty fast) she still married me. And they call ME crazy!!!!

The best part of marriage is when your wife becomes your mistress. ;)

Dave T.

Steve Williams said...

You know how you can tell how powerful your draw to your new mistress is?

Your hands are shaking. That's why the picture of Elvira is fuzzy...;)

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...

Allen,
Yeah, I'm waiting for the other coconut to fall!

Dean,
I'd settle for a free Yamaha jacket instead of the royalty checks, but I'm cheap that way!

I can think of at least 4 bikes that would be in your garage. Are there even more?

Dave,
Congratulations on your anniversary. Don't you know you're not supposed to scare your passenger?

It's much safer to have a wife and mistress be the same woman, isn't it?

Steve W,
I thought a long time about using that picture. Maybe it's fuzzy for the reason you say. Heavy breathing will do that.

Decided to use it anyway. In some weird way it seems kinda artistic to my mind!

Dean W said...

Dan-
Currently down to five bikes:

FJR1300 (Go all day)
KLR650 (Go anywhere)
Aprilia Falco (Go Italian!)
VTR250 (Go small)

and Lorri's Triumph Speed Four, which she finally let me take out for a decent ride today (even if I mostly just went to LBCC and back).

Heinz & Frenchie said...

Congrats on Elvira. The name is a bit back country for such a snazzy city slicker bike?? We got tagged at the dealership with Heinz and Frenchie because of the red and yellow. It stuck and actually fits our Franco American partnership. We both wish you years and years of great rides on Elvira. We look forward to reading about them.