Monday, 31 December 2012

Which Bike to Buy?

When I decided to buy my bike, I had thought about getting back to riding for a year. I had to justify the cost of taking that money out of my "rainy day" fund and spend it on something that was totally not practical, and would not help me financially if something should happen to my job. I'm sure you've been through those decisions yourself...

After much agonizing, I finally overcame that roadblock with the knowledge that if I didn't honour my gut feelings, I would forever regret it. So, on January 1, 2011, the serious hunt was on for a motorcycle!

I was looking for a standard bike similar to the 1977 Kawasaki KZ200 that I rode from 1981 to 1985. I had had a lot of fun on that and had ridden on all the paved roads of the North Island at that time. 

When I had been given the opportunity to take our neighbour's brand new 1983 Yamaha Virago 750 out for a 40 km spin back in 1983, I had loved the power and rider position of that too. (Thinking back on that, I don't know that I would have let a teenager take out my brand-new bike, but I must have impressed him enough that he wasn't worried.) 

Having not paid any attention to the evolution of motorcycles since 1985, I had no idea that small standard motorcycles no longer existed in North America. Everything was either the Honda CBR 125 or next stop, a 650, with nothing in between. Whoa, what had happened? Upon further research, discovered that smaller motorcycles existed in Europe but just were not available here. That is changing now with Kawasaki's new Ninja 300 and Honda's CBR 250 that came out last year (although not soon enough that it was available when I was looking). 

After talking to a few people and reading numerous blogs about beginner/re-entry bikes, I was told that since I had ridden before, I would quickly be bored with a small bike. Having not ridden though for many years, I wasn't so sure about that, but went with that advice while I was looking.

I also wasn't limited to a lower seat height with my 33 inch inseam, my options were not so limited as other gals. What was proving difficult though was finding a bike where I didn't lean over the tank. Coming from a mostly off-road riding background, the leaning over position with narrow handlebars was just not comfortable. 

Albeit my search would have been easier living in a bigger city with more dealerships, I needed to find a place I felt comfortable walking into that sold and serviced the brand I was going to buy. More consideration ensued...

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Chuckles

Sad picture...
Not mine but you get why we can't ride! 

Speaking of the long wait to get back on the bike again, I was at a Christmas party last weekend and was happy to commiserate with two more suspended motorcyclists.

I asked them how their riding season had been this past year. One had ridden all the way to Nova Scotia and back on a Goldwing, wow! He loved every minute of it. That's like just over a 3000 kilometre ride - one way. 

And the Harley Softail guy had enjoyed commuting to work from mid-April through to very early November. He knew it was time to put the bike away when he arrived at work one day, and his body was so cold that he could barely move to park the bike and get inside.  That's tenacity...Mother Nature's gentle reminder to him that she was shortly going to be letting us have it for enjoying a hot summer and extended fall. 

I asked both of them how they were doing with being off the bike for a few months now. The Honda guy who also rides a Ducati Monster said, "Don't go there!" and the Harley guy said quietly, "Shut up." He had such a pained look on his face, I wanted to give him a hug as I knew how he felt...

Anyway...I still have some wrapping to do...I would love to put a new motorcycle under (beside?) the tree for my guy who's thinking of getting a bigger bike, but I don't have a clue how to get it up the stairs without him knowing about it...does Lego have motorcycle theme kits? 

Wishing a Merry Christmas to you and yours.


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Winter Driving

Well, it has snowed every day these past two weeks, and we are already running out of places to put the snow. The sad part is that it is only the official second day of winter. We still have four more months of blizzards and clean-up coming at us! Arrrggghhh!

My winter tires on my car have saved me countless times already. Not that I drive fast, but if you happen to drive over those snow ruts at the right angle, they can send your car flying sideways into the next lane narrowly missing another vehicle. The snow tires give you the right amount of traction to pull out of those situations in a hurry. Here in Saskatchewan, we are used to watching for other drivers sliding sideways involuntarily, so are always scanning and leaving room for what I fondly call "ice road dancing".  The same intense scanning you do on your bike when there are patches of "marbles" to avoid so as not to send you sideways doing the "boot scraping boogie".

And just like on your bike, you have to watch your rear-view mirror when you are stopping to make sure the vehicle behind you also stops before they hit you. The auto body shops make lots of money this time of year... 

And what's with drivers who cut you off and then expect you to miss them as you apply your ABS brakes frantically? Have you heard all the grinding noises from the bottom of your floor boards when you do this? By the time I pull into the work parking lot after my half-hour commute, I feel like I've just driven in a Grand Prix with everyone racing to get somewhere and jockeying for pole position!

Yes, winter driving is a test of endurance and skill, but mostly luck. Is it any wonder that most of my co-workers have already booked a trip south to California or Mexico or Florida? Since I cannot take advantage of a trip this winter, I will console myself with hot coffee and reading other people's blogs of traveling on ice-free roads!


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Rediscovering Riding Again...

I had not ridden a bike since I was 20 years old - more's the pity I know. There were just a lot of years where it was not financially viable to put out the extra money for a bike while having a family to look after. However, I am at a point in my life where I can do that again (and after reading many other blogs, I see that I have not been the only one). Now, let me take you back...

When I was 12, my father bought us a brand new Honda CT70. It was to us way better than our 10 speed bicycles for obvious reasons. (It had an automatic transmission if I remember correctly). We all learned to ride on this - including my mom - and then sometime that same year, Dad decided that doing the family thing of us all riding would be a good idea. (He had been riding for a year or so before on a much, much bigger off-road Honda.) So then he proceeded to acquire bigger bikes for us all to go off-road riding on the many logging roads around northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Now let me state right here, that that little Trail 70 was the last brand new bike I have ridden! All the bikes in those ensuing 8 years were parts of bikes that my dad meticulously put back together to form a small fleet that we were proud to ride, let me tell you. Have a look for yourself: 


Check out the Honda CT70 at far left, then the Yamaha XR75, the Can-Am 250, Suzuki 125(?), Honda (Year?), then the BMW r 60/6. Thank you Mom for being the family photographer or I would not have this gem of my past!

I was looking at images of older Honda motorcycles to try to figure out what year and CC that big red one was. All I remember is the smile on my Dad's face when he rode it after fixing it up. 

The mint green Suzuki was mine. I had spray painted the tank, side panels and fenders as they were all scratched up from previous owners. My father believed that girls should know how to do some stuff too! (Changing tires on vehicles, oil changes, lubes, making stuff out of plywood with a jigsaw, and painting anything that didn't move...).

All the bikes were not in good shape when Dad got them, but through his care, mechanical prowess and perseverance, they were functional and road-worthy when he got finished with them.

Geez Dad, miss ya so much! You would have liked my newish Suzuki...and I didn't even have to do any spray painting...

Have a good ride for those of you not dealing with snow right now, and for the rest of us, there's always a bit of vicarious fun to be had while watching YouTube videos of other people riding...



Sunday, 2 December 2012

Good Morning Everyone!

I started this blog as something to do until I can actually get back on my '09 Suzuki Gladius. As many of you know - who live in the parts of North America that get snow from October to April - you cannot just hop on your bike and go for a spin any time you like this time of year.  All we can do is dream and go out to the garage/shed where our bike is being stored, and give it a loving pat and tell it we have not forgotten about them.

It is Sunday morning and this is the time I would normally already be out on the bike.  So, since I cannot ride through the snow, I will type and tell you about my bike if you care to sit and read while you too are waiting for the snow to go away.  

The day I spied this beauty on the dealer's website, I had such a feeling of relief. Do you know that feeling when you absolutely know that this is the right decision? I had been looking for a bike in my price range and that would work for the kind of riding I like to do.  I discovered this website Motorcycle Ergonomics from reading one of my favourite blogs that helped me out in deciding what would work. 

I've enjoyed the bike these last two years (well seasons, since we can't ride all year here) and would not trade it in for anything else. More stories later...have a good one...