I have promised you, The People, another motorcycle blog, and I have been delinquent in delivering. Forgive me. I've been a bit distracted. In addition, my motorcycle has not even been in my possession this week, as I brought it in for a 15,000 mile servicing. This is after skipping the 4,000 and 7,000 and 13,000 mile servicing, for which I am a very bad boy, indeed. The problem is that I ride every single day, 70 miles a day, and so I hate to be without it. Which is about the stupidest possible excuse I could come up with, since the bike will obviously be no good to me if it gets screwed up.
Now, I have done the basic upkeep of the bike--oil, tire pressure, etc--but when it comes to actual mechanics, ferget it. I am beyond incompetent. Well, that's not entirely fair. I'm just unskilled. I lack knowledge. I did not grow up with a father who tinkered in the garage and handed me down his toolkit. I do not, in general, repair items, and the only furniture I've ever assembled successfully comes from Ikea, which doesn't count. It's kind of a crappy thing to have to admit as a guy, and even worse when you ride a motorcycle. Because the expected cultural wisdom is that you fix yer own goddamn bike. It's about being "at one" with your machine, which, in theory, I completely agree with. I just know that in practice, it'd end in catastrophe. So, I just pay the price instead--and in this case it's a heavy one. Like, $1,500 worse. OUCH. The only solace I have is that this is what it would have cost me, apparently, anyway, just as a matter of course---not because I was delinquent on bringing it in. Still, that is a veritable buttload of money, and makes me realize once again how helpless I am in the face of mechanics.
In any event, I promised to say what I ride, and since it's not like it's any big mystery or big deal, I will tell you. I don't know why it has not come up yet. It is a 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic, in black. It looks like this:
I absolutely freakin' love it. Not only is it the first bike I bought brand new, but it is also the biggest and most comfortable. And loudest. Now, you may scoff at that last part, and I am certainly not one of those obnoxious attention-getting a-holes who feels the need to wake the neighborhood or cause babies to scream and dogs to howl as I ride down the road (and really, it's not THAT loud--it's all stock parts), but I promise you that having a bike that motorists can actually HEAR--since no one ever sees us--is a huge safety thing. I can tell, on the freeway, that it's usually the sound of my bike that makes drivers aware BEFORE they see me, and it's a comforting feeling.
The sitting stance on this bike--a cruiser, my first--means that I can basically sit upright, and even lean back a little, which is great if you're a middle-aged dude like me with a bad back. Younger dudes like to point and laugh at cruisers, but my comeback to you is this: Fuck off. Wait till you get to be my age. All I know is I can sit comfortably on this thing for 70 miles every day, and have a nice wide viewing angle in which to watch all the traffic. So you sport bike/rice rocket punks go ahead and rip by me and have a nice day. Old man Green is having a great old time anyway.
I started out small, by the way, on a tiny Ninja 250, and if you are a new and inexperienced rider, I can't recommend this strategy enough. Do not let macho posturing get to you. Do not let your friends laugh at you. Learning the basic techniques, and staying alive while doing it, is your first and only priority when you are starting out, and you do not need, nor really should have, a bigger, more expensive bike to start. It's just stupid. You're gonna drop the thing almost guaranteed at some point (I did, more than once), and, for me anyway, the 250 was just the right (small) size in which I felt like I could be in charge, rather than having the bike overwhelm me. It's also fast as hell, anyway.
I know some folks will probably comment that they started out on bigger bikes and were fine with it, and that's cool. Well, it's cool as long as you survived and didn't feel out of your depth. But I totally recommend starting small and working your way up. Or shit, even just staying small. My previous bike, before this Vulcan, was a Yamaha Seca II, a 600cc that was just beautiful to ride. And if it wasn't for my new, long commute, I would have been happy staying with it. I only upgraded because of the commute. I mean, to be honest about it, I totally would have gotten a bigger, newer bike much earlier than I did, because, ya know, you will always have that itch, but I let practical reasons, like money, trump my base desires. Fortunately, by taking a job with a hellish commute, a new, bigger bike became a practical reason. So yay!
One more thing about this bike. Some folks may be inclined, for better or worse, to say it looks like a Harley. I really have no opinion on Harleys or Harley riders. I'm too concerned with my own riding to judge others. I will, say, however, that I have heard that my bike is referred to, among Harley riders, as a "Hardley." I am amused.
Okay. I have procrastinated enough. I now must brave the horrid Bay Area freeway in my car, for one last evening. I hate it. Even when traffic sucks, when I'm on the motorcycle, well, I'm still on my motorcycle. In the car, I just want to run everyone else off the road and/or stab myself in the head with a pencil. I do promise I will do neither, however. The one thing I can do in the car that I can't on the bike is listen to music. And the first Gorillaz CD sounded so freakin' great on the way in this morning, that I'm going to listen to it again on the way home. But even louder.
Next time: The joys and perils of lanesplitting.