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