Motorcycle thing

I just took a beard trimmer to my 5 days’ beard growth to bring it back to 3 days’ stubble and it worked. Yay! I thought it’d look unnatural and too carefully-maintained. I feel sort of lame, though. But I hate being clean-shaven. I’m never gonna dance again, guilty feet have got no rhythm…

In other news there is a battery charging on our balcony right now as part of my project to make a bit of sense out of why I haven’t been out on the motorcycle at all this summer. For those just tuning in, I bought a 1980 Suzuki GS250T at the beginning of last summer to learn to ride on, but after a couple of out-of-town rides and a couple of very unnerving commutes I realized I needed a bike that would go over 70 km/h with me on it! While the ideal plan would have been to sell it and then buy another bike, it ran into some electrical problems and I decided that since I had cash on hand I should buy a bigger bike to get me through the rest of the season and worry about the GS after I was riding again.

I picked up a 1985 Honda Shadow 750 in running condition but not a whole lot above. It did indeed get me through the rest of the season and was powerful enough to be safe on the highway and on the commute, but it didn’t feel… right somehow. It didn’t feel like it suited me, and it was a bit of a ratbike to begin with and after I lost the (apparently irreplaceable) side panel on a long ride it was even more so.

So my plan last winter was that since the bike was in warm storage, instead of trying to winterize it in the parking garage (which is hard to work in) I was going to start it up every couple of weeks and tool around the garage for a while to keep things from gumming up. Of course I never did, and this spring with the wedding and all I just never got riding again. After we came back from Paris I tried to get it going but it wouldn’t turn over.

So the first cause of that is the battery being dead and dry, so I’ve now got a new battery on the tender out on the balcony to try tomorrow.

But that doesn’t solve the main problem with the bike which I haven’t been able to put my finger on until today, but I was talking with a friend on IRC about it earlier (and getting annoyed, because he seemed to put leaving a bike unmaintained up there with abandoning a puppy) and it sort of sunk in as to what was wrong: I’m just not into every kind of bike.

Lots of people are — they’ll have a garage with a tourer and a sportbike and a dirt bike and a cruiser and so on, and take the bike that they want to take, or they’ll try all sorts of different kinds as they progress, starting off on a standard and then getting a sportbike and later on heading back more practical with a sport tourer and so on. My friend on IRC was that sort of guy, telling me about the variety of bikes he’s owned and loved.

But that’s not me, and I feel kind of dumb for avoiding it. When I was in Montreal, the bikes I noticed were the BMW GSes and Ducati Multistradas. At the motorcycle course, I wanted to ride a Super Sherpa, but they all ended up in the advanced group. Of the instructors’ bikes I was more interested in Richard McDonald’s KLR 650 than in another instructor’s V-Max. When I was marvelling over the bikes in Paris, I was pointing out the dual-sports to Candice.

Yet for some reason I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be happy with a cruiser. (I nearly bought a sportbike of the same vintage and condition instead of the Shadow, and I suspect it would’ve had exactly the same outcome.)

The whole thing made me think of one of my other someday projects: restoring a 70s Datsun 240, 260, or 280Z. I’d love to have a Z to drive in the summer, but I really wouldn’t enjoy a Camaro, or an RX-7, or even a 1980 280ZX. It’s not just “I want an old car”, it’s “I want this one”, and having something that’s acting as a stand-in that requires significant attention ends up being more work than having neither.

So I’m going to fix that. I’m going to get the Shadow running if it’s not throwing good money after bad to do so, and either sell it very soon or first thing in the spring. I’m going to sell the GS too, but I’m not sure if I’ll get it running or sell it as-is — it’s such a small and old bike that it might be hard to make back what I’d spend getting it going again. And then I’m going to take that and an old GIC in the spring and shop only for a Kawasaki KLR 650, and a relatively recent one at that so I’m not buying 20 years of poor maintenance — probably 2000-and-newer. And then I’m going to commit to riding lots — the general idea will be that as I accumulate enough gear and luggage to do so I’ll take the bike and let Candice take the car as much as possible for, well, everything. If possible I want to try stretching the season as late into the winter as is safe, too.

And if a year from now I’m still feeling the same? Ok, tried motorcycling but it didn’t work out. No harm there. But I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen.

5 responses to “Motorcycle thing”

  1. The important part is realizing who you are and not avoiding it. Now, at the least, there’s one variable gone when you’re trying to figure out how the motorcycle stuff is working for you.

  2. Good realization to come to for sure.

    I’ve seen tons of KLR650’s in auto trader, so you should have no probs finding a good one. Do you like the KTM Adventure 950’s as well?

  3. Hi Rich! I was ordering Indian food this evening and that old /nick IloveBEEF /join #india joke popped into my head. I googled it to show my sister’s boyfriend, and didn’t your web page pop up!

    My LJ is mostly friends-only so I’m adding you. Feel free to add me back but even if you don’t I won’t be insulted. I’d love to hear from you though.


  4. Whoa! Yay! Hi!

    I was wondering a while ago what you might have been up to lately, but I wasn’t sure how to go about finding you. I see there was something about a baby in there. :-) Congratulations!

    I’ll drop you an email later on to touch base and we can catch up on the last few years — easier than trying to do so in a string of LiveJournal comments.

    You still hang out on IRC anywhere? I’m not on any big networks anymore.