Friday, March 23, 2012

How to Look Like an Idiot, Over and Over Again.

Your author in a hat. Why this hat? Because it was there. No, I do not own this hat. And I'm not sure why the camera
melted my chin, either. Look, I'm not photogenic. It doesn't get much better than this.
           I spend a lot of time thinking about the garage – not in some existential way, (like what is a garage man? No carpet and a big door? What if I parked my motorcycle in the living room and put a TV in the garage?) No, not like that. I spend more time thinking about what goes inside the garage and how I'd like to change (add to) it. Like any crazy person, (motorcyclist) this leads to a conversation with my wife that I've had many times before – an old song where the players may change, but the song remains the same. Example:
           “Oh hey look, a '75 scrambler for only $500!”
           “Neat!” Kelsie says. “Which one are you going to sell?”
           “Sell?”
At this point, I look like a little boy after the 'big kids' stole my ball, the puffy lower lip, comic brows, hands in pockets and kicking at dirt. Sniffles.
           “Sell? Oh, yeah... I suppose, well, I guess, well... no... maybe... no...”
           Over the years, it's slowly turned into a kind of eroding comic routine that forget about, even though I'm frequently an actor.
           “Oh hey, look a '78 –“
           “Nope.”
           “Oh hey, look –“
           “Nope.”
           “Oh, hey –“

           “Nope.”
           “Oh...”

TU250X, pretty good looking for 4k. 
           I'm not trying vilify my loving, practical wife, the beautiful woman whom I adore. The person, without whom I would find myself alone and grease-streaked, drifting through a field of derelict parts with nothing but a box of saltines and government cheese to fill my belly. It's good to be grounded.
So, not too long ago when I said “Hey, you know what would be really great? A 250. Probably not a Rebel, but like a Ninja or a TU250X... you know what I mean? Something small, something fun – peppy. Something that would fit in the trunk of the 626.”
           And Kelsie, ever the understanding soul, particularly when it comes to bike said, “Of course I know what you mean! And it does sound of fun – which one are you going to sell?”
           Oh, right... Of course, I am the definition of insanity. I keep coming back to the same conversation expecting something to be different. Then, in the same vain I have The Conversation. It's ten seconds in the middle of that conversation where I really think it out... again. To anyone listening, it sounds like, “Sell? Oh, yeah... I suppose, well, I guess, well... no... maybe... no...”
The BMW next to a homemade adjustment tool
           In my head, it happens faster – and is a bit more intelligible (a bit.) Form the premise: A 250 would be an in-town streak of agility, a daily runner to work, to the store for small purchases, something easy to park and cheap to run. The kind stripped-down machine that exemplifies some of motorcycling's core attributes in the urban environ – agility, flexibility, utility. Hell yeah, perfect. This needs to happen. Alright. So, with all those machines, something can be sacrificed, right? There must be one that could be left on the altar?
           It would make sense to sell the machine that a glorified scooter closest resembles. Even though the Honda (1978 CB550K) is the smallest displacement, it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the embodiment of agility, utility, or flexibility, unless anyone considers a blue smoke screen of some utility.
           That means, the most likely candidate would be the '06 F650GS. Aside from being sacrosanct (formerly the ride of a friend lost to depression) there are many practical reasons why it makes the cut, or doesn't make the cut, or whatever, I can't sell it. I'm not very good with sports analogies that started out as farm analogies.
           First, you can't beat BMW for practicality or reliability, even with its quirks (an oil change costs 946 Deutsche Marks, or requires the book, a special set of wrenches and draining from three locations, a copper crush gasket, SJ oil and three grams of narwhal tusk [or synthetic replacement]) Quirks aside, it comfortably and cleverly captures the very nature of the two-wheeled spirit. In ways, it makes me think of the early days of motorcycles reborn – those golden days when machines were for enthusiasts, and this one is built high to ride above any terrain (and I suspect, look down on others...) it goes anywhere, does anything and does it with grace and class. It's gone cross country, battled on the interstate, dodged bales of hay and dug trenches, it's light, nimble, rugged and all motorcycle. Nice thought, but there is no way I could sell that, not for a 250, not for anything – to hell with that.
The Honda likes to graze with other heavyweight cattle. (CB550K)
           Inevitably, the '78 Honda is next. Selling this thing should be a no brainer – it's let more blood than a medieval barber and has cost me more than Deepwater Horizon, in terms of grief, environmental impacts and the funds that have been flushed trying to push back its inevitable implosion.
           It's not easy to love, It needs the oil changed every 2,000 miles – which was good, I suppose, in the mid-70s, but at this point, nuh-uh. (Shakes head.) Of course, if it were comfortable enough to drive any real distance, it might actually be a problem, but when you mix the maintenance with the grace and handling of a Panzer Tank, well, that's my Honda.
           Still, that particular steel breeze represents motorcycling to me on the rawest of levels. It doesn't explode with power (unless you consider backfires) but it tells the story of the open road and the access of the everyman to (reliable[ish]) motorcycles. It's the kind of machine that asks you if you own a tent and maybe, if you aren't busy, if you'd like to head into the mountains for the weekend for a bit of camping – just you, the tent, a fire, and maybe a bottle of rye. Then it lets you really see the terrain, largely because of the anemia of old carburetors with altitude change, but that's not why you're out anyway, you're out because you want to wear a metalflake helmet, leather jacket and feel like you're operating a WWII fighter. You feel like a motorcyclist. Gruff, rugged, manly (sorry ladies, I don't get the feeling that an old, oily piece of shit makes you feel feminine, or even womanly, but write in if I'm wrong)
           If you can't justify it in any other way, a 'gently used' cb550k is worth about as much as a palate of powdered cat piss. Even if you throw in the (boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of) spares, it won't fetch more than a working lava lamp. And besides, I like having all that stuff, what if 17 old Hondas come through looking for blinker covers? I should be ready! Unless a pristine '69 Bonneville shows up, there is no chance in hell I'd trade that thing away.
Svelte(ish) ass kicking power - the 2009 Kawasaki Concours
           So, that leaves the '09 Concours, the first vehicle I ever bought off the showroom floor. It's the biggest, most reliable and most wind resistant bike in the stable, and if I sold it on the eve of moving to Kansas – a state that produces over a fifth of the nation's wind and whose roads define the dictionary entry on parallel lines, I think I would see the kind of stars that show up when glass bottles make contact with skull. Trade a 1400 for a 250 under those conditions? Plus it's only 420 miles to the in-laws, ever ride a 400 miles on a 250? Guh.
           Even if that weren't the case, I'd have a hard time letting her go – I'm not overly sentimental about the Kaw, I've got plenty of that for the Honda and the Beemer, but this one, well, she goes anywhere. (Anywhere except off road, God, don't bother.) And, of course, it's as much raw motorcycle as anything. A touring machine that can eat up thousands of miles of asphalt, but one based off the Kawasaki's flagship superbike, a machine with a nuclear reactor in its chest, it's got that powerful, lunatic, virile appeal, all the 'raw meat' insanity motorcycles can represent. Riiiight.. I'll sell that one.
           I'll just keep trying the way I've done, and keep gibbering my way out of it, cause for the moment, it's all I've got. 

35 comments:

  1. What a great post; it was like looking in the mirror for me.

    But it's nice to at least dream about the opposite scenario:

    "I'm thinking of selling the Yamahondazuki."
    "Oh yeah? What are you going to replace it with?"

    Naw, that'll never happen.

    So we're stuck with insanity. But the good news is we have lots and lots of company.

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  2. Canajun,

    Yeah, the nice thing is, in the realm of motorcyclists, you're a hell of a long way from alone. (I almost wrote a loan, which seems almost as appropriate.) Crazies are everywhere, and a lot of them tend to you 'your' kind of crazy. not such a bad situation.

    And thanks a mill Canajun for reading and writing in. Love to have it.

    Brady
    Behind Bars

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  3. I suppose that if we were polygamous we would have many wives and only 1 bike?

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    1. I was thinking that multiple wives would inherently mean multiple bikes. Hehe

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  4. N,

    There's an appeal there on the surface, but upon any reflection, I think I like the way things are going. Just fine. You know, actually quite a bit.

    Brady
    Behind Bars

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  5. Brady

    The hat, the chin the face - JR Ewing?

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    1. Hell, I'll take it. The more I see myself in that hat, the more I want one. Maybe I should start a fundraiser.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  6. "Let more blood than a medieval barber." Awesome.

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    1. Thank you Mister Ratchet. I appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time to write in.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  7. So, basically, you're going to keep trying a non-winning strategy hoping one day to catch the better half off-guard? Perhaps when you start looking around in Kansas for a house...one with a huge garage?

    As to that '78 Honda requiring an oil change every 2000 miles, could be worse, a Ural requires an oil change every 2500 Km....and since you're in the Vaterland, you can do the conversion!

    dom

    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

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  8. Dom,

    Holy balls, really, 2500km? Ha. Do you ever go over, or are you diligent? I could see you exceeding that every so often, especially how much you ride. The Kaw is ever 7500 miles, I think. Which seems bananas by comparison - but what the hell do I know? It sure is nice.

    And basically, yes. Some day just maybe she'll say, you know what? We DO need a scrambler. That or a divorce... eesh.

    Brady
    Behind Bars

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  9. Brady:

    OKay ! That's IT !! I may do it. I keep looking at ads, I look at dealer's used inventories, I scan the Papers and I used to have a "spare" bike. I think I need another one, thanks to you. I recently saw a small 250cc dual sport, Yamaha something . . . I'm going to see if it's still for sale

    Have you ever tried the "storing this bike for a friend" scenario, because he couldn't take it home right away? This method works, except Kelsie may become suspicious after a few months when she keeps seeing you ride it everywhere as if it were your own

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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    1. Bob,

      My wife is a physicist - I'm pretty sure any bone-headed scheme I cook up will be be as transparent as a grease-coated sheet of paper. Still, if you get a 250 and need somewhere to keep it...

      I think you should. I know there are comments about shift shift shift on a small bike - plus the suspension usually needs a bit of firming, but a 250 dual sport would be great. Fun and easy in town, chance to ride off road - and you don't want anything too heavy when things get greasy in the mud. Go for it. Do it. Do it. Doitdoitdoitdoitdoitdoit...

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  10. I think you may need to get rid of the BMW thumper. I'll be by to take it off your hands and help clear out your garage.

    Every time I think about a spare bike, I start thinking about what I should get rid of. And get reminded of the two bicycles that would work just fine as spares....

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    1. Oh is that so, Richard? Well, tell ya what, if you pop by, I'll let you take it for a spin, maybe I could try out that R100RT. You're such a gracious man, by the way, in case I've never told you before. Spirit of a saint and all that offing to help me with my troubles...

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  11. I don't know if I could get away with having more than one. I've tried two windshields on the Bullet and they throw all of the air over my helmet so it sounds like I behind a jet airplane, yet going on the freeway without the shield gets tiring. I need a Connie, or ST or FJR, at least for the winter.

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    1. Alan

      The Connie is great, but like most bikes they don't always come perfect. I had to get an extended windshield (which was about $200, and is very very nice, I must say) because the 09 stock model shot a blade of air at my neck - which was nice. In hindsight I should have gone with the size bigger. The bike just wasn't built for anyone 6' or taller.

      Still, I love that machine. Though, I might recommend something between the bullet and the connie - you get 350% more torque for 75% Added weight. Of course, if you want to chew up the interstate, it's a great machine - but be ready to replace the windshield and seat.

      Thanks for reading!

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  12. That was a good read mate, captured a few of my own thoughts in it. The first part was particuly funny. Us bikers we are funny old fools......no issues selling a house, but dont ask me to sell my bikes!

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    1. Gotta agree, can't care too much where I live so long as there's a spot for the machines. And now that I've left Virginia, I find myself missing the roads out there more than anything. Ah well. Funny old fools indeed.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  13. Dang! That's a great Stetson, son! Like my granpappy always said: "Talk softly and wear a big hat!"

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    1. Thank you much Mr. Big Dog. They're on sale at Wall Drug in any size you could possibly imagine. Get a new set of boots while you're there, treat yourself right.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  14. Great stuff Brady. I'm still chuckling. Troubadour was looking at Craigslist the other day and mentioned how cool it would be to have a certain bike. I told him I thought it would be way cool, but he would miss Lucy. It took him a minute before he realize what that meant. I can be subtle every once in an while.

    Oh and as someone who has owned a Suzuki TU 250 - let me say they are great on gas mileage (80mpg) but for riding in town I hope you like shifting and shifting, and shifting. And 400 miles is very doable but just hope you don't have to pass anyone up hill over the mountains. Are you flexible - because it will take a full tuck. Ahhh, I do miss it sometimes.

    It is always fun to play the 'what if' game when it comes to bikes, whether the ones we have or the ones we think it would be fun to have.

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    1. Trob,

      You know, I do like shifting. It's almost something I miss on the Kaw, with six gears I usually go (unless I'm gassing it pretty hard) from 1 to 3 to 5 or 6. I rarely make use of all the gears. Sometimes it's just first second third - sixth. So much torque.

      Half the fun of riding the old sputterbucket is all the shifting. You drop two gears and the engine howls, and you erk out a few miles per hour more. You really feel like you're working it.

      I think it'd be a lot of fun to get a small bike and do a (relatively) big tour. It's kind of the same appeal you find when thinking about a vintage tour. Forces you onto small roads, slow riding, lots of stopping time for meeting and chatting.

      Oh God, now I'm thinking about potential rides for the summer.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  15. I read this to Oilburner and he just laughed. He said that he's had that conversation before. Then he reminded me the number of kayaks I have (3) compared to him (2). That I did sell my car to get my motorcycle.

    Great article. One I think many of us can relate to.

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    1. Lori,

      Yeah, I think that's the way of it. Every motorcyclist I've ever ridden with has has talked about what they would like next. Of course, my father in law is pretty content atop is new K1600 - but we can't all be so fortunate, now can we. Plus, he doesn't get the appeal of riding a bombed out wreck. I'll ride anything.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  16. I feel your pain JR Ewing LOL
    How about you pretend you buying it for her? Does Kelsie ride?
    I'm so lucky, I have the Concours and the Tenere in the garage and a half dismantled 79 Suzuki GS 850. As long as she has a cat,a dog, a cockatiel, a turtle, a fish in a small aquarium plus a pond full of koi outside, I should be able to maintain my bikes. She has asked if she should get another dog, hummmm, maybe, I do need to get a WR250 dirt bike ;-)

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    1. So you're a suzuki man, huh? I can't abide that as a Honda aficionado!

      The real question remains - will the 850 ever go back together? With the Honda I keep breaking it down, then rebuilding it, going a little further each time. One of these days I'll actually break the whole thing and paint the frame. I think, though, I need a new motor first. The one I have hasn't idled since I bought it, and I'm ready to kick it out of a moving truck.

      Why is your Suzuki apart?

      Do you have tours of children come through your home to see all your animals? It sounds like a regional zoo! We have a cat, which is great, but I don't know, too many animals and I might go nuts. At least the fish are nice and quiet. Granted, if you can stand the barking I'd take the trade for a 250.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  17. I've been trying to talk Richard into storing a bike at my house but he hasn't found the right bike yet, the F650GS would do nicely.
    Great story Brady, good luck.

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    1. Troub,

      All kidding aside - you can find a used 650 (which are immaculately maintained) for a good price. It's a hell of a lot of fun.

      Whenever my father gets on it (he drove a schoolbus, er, goldwing for years. Whenever he got on my 650 he would laugh his head off at the agility of the little guy. I highly recommend it.

      Thanks for reading,

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  18. The biggest problem with the TU250 is most owners start to aspire to a Bonneville and as I have one of those already...I figure I might as well skip the 250 "apprenticeship." but I do like the 250 very much.

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    1. Conch,

      That's probably true. I'd love to have a Bonneville, in some ways it would fill a hold in my displacement - but so would a 250. Trob mentioned shifting - and that's half the appeal. In town the Kaw doesn't use many gears. A small bike would 'alleviate' those problems.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  19. Yup, you nailed it. Same story here.

    I've sold bikes and guitars that I sure wish I still had.

    But then again, I've replaced them with some pretty cool stuff.

    And still looking...

    Great post!

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    1. Dan,

      I've managed to keep my guitars, but I buy them a lot slower than I buy bikes. I've got a fender blue voodoo half stack sitting in storage that I'm completely unwilling to part with, but never get to use. It's no Marshall setup, but I love it.

      Thanks for reading and writing in, I love hearing from everyone.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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  20. I have a perfectly good V-Strom 1000 with a custom fitted seat , so why am I taking my SYM Citycom 300i big wheel scooter thousands of klicks through the Canadian Rockies to northern BC and back? Because I can. Stellar handling, enough speed and no shifting:)

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    1. David,

      That sounds like an absolute gas. I've got to say, like a whole hell of a lot of fun. There is something great about going out against the world in a great, big, well-equipped machine, but there is a lot of adventure in taking something small, compact and efficient into the world. It's exactly the kind of thing that I like to do.

      Brady
      Behind Bars

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