Rick’s Gentleman’s Express Blog

Motorcycle news and opinion

Archive for May, 2011

Postpartum depression

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This item was originally posted on this site’s forum and is being re-cycled here…

I finally sold an old bike of mine over the weekend. I had been trying to sell it — off and on, with a hiatus during the winter — for almost a year.

I found a good buyer that is going to fix it up and ride it, not part it out on eBay like a tired horse sold for dog food.

I was relieved to finally move the thing, but at the same time a little nostalgic about all the years I had spent on it. Surprisingly, I had trouble sleeping last night, laying awake and thinking about working on it and the trips I had taken on it. The sensation took me totally by surprise — me the cynic waxing lovelorn over a piece of machinery. I’ve never been one to do that corny comparison of women and motorcycles, or to give my bikes nicknames. Nevertheless, there is some sort of pang there for an inanimate object, a pang that probably won’t go away for a long time.

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May 22nd, 2011 at 10:15 am

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All cruisers all the time

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This thread was originally posted on this site’s forum and is being re-cycled here…

Exploring our new location here in the beginnings of Southwestern Ontario has me visiting any bike shop I happen upon. I recently stopped in at Brantford Motorcycle, a Yamaha dealer in the city of the same name, and The Power Garage, also a Yamaha dealer, in Woodstock.

Both places were full of cruisers — most of which I can’t tell apart — with a smattering of sport bikes to appeal to the younger crowd. Brantford Motorcycle did have a couple of FJR’s and an MT01.

In talking to the staff, I learned that cruisers are pretty much all they sell nowadays. In fact, the manager at Brantford Motorcycle remarked that if someone had predicted ten years ago that Yamaha’s top selling bikes would be air-cooled V-twins one decade into the 21st Century, he would never have believed it. The crossed tuning forks company has always tried to be on the leading edge: 5-valve heads, hub-centre steering.

Perhaps it’s the nature of the roads around here which tend to be of the rolling country variety through green fields and woods. Not really the typical haunt of the highly strung sportbike. In fact I have found that roads through wide open spaces have a sedative effect.

Then there is the age angle, as riders are getter older and less apt to want to wail on an R1 or Hayabusa.

What ever the explanation, much to my chagrin, it appears that the cruiser thing is not going away any time soon.

Even more cruisers…

I stopped in at another local motorcycle dealership here in the outskirts of western Ontario to actually look at bikes. (Sorry, all you potential buyers in Toronto that have no dealerships within an hour of your home).

I visited Cycle One, a Kawasaki dealer in Woodstock, Ontario. A very friendly place with a line-up of motocross bikes outside and a row of heavyweight cruisers inside. The very helpful young man working sales asked if I needed any help. I told him I might be in the market for a new bike sometime soon (not really true, but I wanted to see how I would be treated) and being new to the area was in to look around.

He asked: “Do you think you would be buying a cruiser?”

I told him that no, even though I am too lame for a full-on sport bike, I wouldn’t be caught dead on one of the two-wheeled barca-loungers they had on display. He did admit that it took a “certain type of rider” to enjoy a cruiser. He looked up a price for me on the new Concours they had next to a Versys.

Here’s what I’m wondering. Are cruisers selling because they are all that’s available anymore, or are they selling because they are perceived as less threatening by middle-aged newbie riders?

I must say that over the last few years, as cruiser sales have taken off, I have lost interest in new models and/or attending new bike shows. My wife is often amazed at the amount of trivial information I have retained about all sorts of bikes: “that has to be an 1100 ‘Wing because it still has the larger diameter front wheel”, or “wow, a Honda CX Turbo, I can’t tell if it’s the 500 or the 650 because the guy repainted it red and they never came in that colour”, or “that’s the UltraGlide because it has those little clear air deflectors on the sides of the fairing”, etc.) I must say that as the big imitation-Harley cruiser trend has gone on (and on) I no longer have any such interest in bike details and furthermore can’t even tell one brand from the next, nevermind the models.

Have cruisers killed motorcycling for me?

Comment by Slo…

I understand your sentiments and like you I really don’t understand the reason why cruisers are so popular. The thing is the dealerships are full of them and, as far as I can see, these are the bikes that are keeping these shops in business. On the road you’ll see them everywhere and their numbers outstrip any other type of bike out there, so their riders can’t all be wrong. Or, perhaps, it just could be that the whole world, except you and I, has gone crazy.

Slo

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May 22nd, 2011 at 10:05 am

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Trailering

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This item originally appeared in the forum section of this site and is being re-cycled here

A discussion with a friend about riding a couple of weeks ago got me thinking, and it relates to an earlier topic of giving up street riding in a couple of ways.

My friend and I were discussing a couple we know that do a lot of riding and are into the “social” side of motorcycling. That is, they like attending motorcycle events. If the event is a long distance away, they like to trailer their bikes there and then offload them to ride around at their destination.

There was an article in Cycle Canada magazine a few years ago about a guy that toured by towing his Honda CX650 behind a Chevy Astro van. He camped in the van and then made day trips on his bike out and back from his “base camp”. I remember some controversy surrounding the story at the time that this was not “real” motorcycling.

Now I have trailered my bike to Daytona twice (and ridden there once). I know people that trailer their dirt bikes and vintage bikes without any concerns about their manhood. I know people that trailer their sport bikes to distant twisty roads. Should they have ridden there to prove something?

As I get older and coincidentally have less vacation time, the idea of trailering a bike to a destination or even renting a bike there gets more attractive. Does this make one less of a “real motorcyclist”?

Comment by slo

Trailering, what a subject, it`s a surprise to me that this thread has sat so long without a response.
O.K. anyone involved in motorsports is going to be transporting their ride as the days of riding to the track, stripping off the lights, and going racing are long gone. Also, a trip down into the States for some quality time on the bike in the middle of a Canadian winter will surely have the bike tied down to something at some time.

But for everything else, except of course if it’s not broken, ride it.

Everything else…

(a reply to Slo’s comment)
I knew there would be some diehard opinions on this…

I guess for me, with my bike for sale and looking at buying something smaller and shorter range, all these questions about how much bike I really need and what kind of riding to do are boiling up right now.

When I first started riding, just going for a ride was a thrill and I did it regularly. Bigger, faster bikes equaled bigger and faster thrills. After a while I started to get bored with the same old roads and wanted to explore further afield. Even bigger bikes with saddlebags and windshields followed.

Now that I am no longer up to a cross-continent marathon, I have been re-thinking what motorcycling really means to me and what kind of riding (if any) I will be doing in the future. Track days sound like a rich man’s hobby to me. Dirt riding — I’d rather ride through the woods on my mountain bike.

Complicating matters is an interest in motorcycling with my wife, a new rider. She has no pre-conceived notions about riding yet, so the idea of trailering our bikes somewhere and then exploring with them makes sense to her, being much like taking our bicycles somewhere on the rack on the car and then riding around a new town or trail.

I know guys that trailer their bikes to distant twisty roads even in summer, partly because their bikes would not be the best choice for the trip there and back. I suppose there is always the fear in the back of your mind that you might need to trailer your bike back from such a trip. I know that I wasted some beautiful twisties in BC because the bike I rode there on was loaded down like a pack mule and had a squared off back tire and a blown fork seal 10,000 km into the trip.

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May 19th, 2011 at 9:26 am

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City Bikers

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I spent the last week attending a work-related training course in downtown Toronto ā€“ the city of my birth and my home until three years ago. The course necessitated getting up at 4:15 each morning to catch a GO train into Union Station and then walking the last few blocks to a location at Bay and Queen. Looking out the window of the student lounge, I was almost face to face with the clock on the tower of the old city hall, now a court house.

To stretch my legs I took a walk at lunch each day in search of the perfect pizza slice. Along the way I got to do a lot of bike-watching. Toronto is the only city I know of where motorcycles can park for free. Gone are the days when you would be ticketed for more than one bike in a parking spot meant for a car. Also gone are the days of low-life car drivers stealing the ticket receipt you left tucked between the gas tank and seat. Gone also are the most ridiculous of all: the tickets for not parking your bike parallel to the curb. Now anyone fearless enough to ride into the belly of the beast is rewarded with free parking and the results are a treat: rows and rows of bikes and scooters of all descriptions. Four or five bikes can cram into a spot that would hold just a single car and judging by the number of times I saw the same machine parked in the same lineup each day, Iā€™d say that commuters are taking advantage of this perk as well as visitors.

Congratulations to the Toronto city council for getting something right.

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May 15th, 2011 at 1:02 pm

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