Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wanna Buy a Motorcycle?

I’ve just about had it with the ‘Zuki. She’s handsome in an ugly-duckling, form-follows-function sort of way and her particular shade of blue strikes my fancy quite well, thankyouverymuch. She isn’t beautiful, by any means, but I knew that going in. She gets good gas mileage (50+ mpg), handles well…considering she’s neither a sport bike nor a full-boat touring-hog… and has about the right amount of power. The power isn’t sport-bike intense, which is to say “peaky,” but is well-distributed across the rev-range. Torque-y, in other words. She is a vee-twin, after all. So. What’s not to like?
Just this: She keeps falling over.
I dropped the damned thing again today. It was the same sort of scenario as last time— a low-speed, as in “standing nearly still,” slow-motion get-off, more like a “fall-over,” actually. But I did the dirty deed right in my frickin’ front yard this time, instead of a parking lot. I should explain…
I park the thing on the concrete pad/sidewalk next to El Casa Móvil De Pennington and always ride across the neighbor on the right’s grass and up on to the pad. It’s a fairly simple maneuver, with a couple of minor complications. First: You can’t approach the pad perpendicular to it; you must come in at an angle. Unless you want to run into El Casa Móvil, which isn’t a particularly good idea for all concerned: RV, bike, and YrHmblScrb…who kinda likes his body “as is.” Second: The pad is about an inch and a half to two inches higher than the grass. One maintains enough momentum on the approach to roll up on to the pad with the front wheel (bump!), ease off the throttle, turn the bike slightly to the right, while maintaining sufficient momentum to ease the rear wheel up on to the pad. And today the combination of INsufficient momentum, coupled with the rear tire hitting the lip of the pad and sliding out to the right…ever so gently, at first… before the bike fell right over. I couldn’t catch it. Once that thing starts to go…it’s GOING, whether you like it, or not.
The good news: I fell in the grass. The soft landing meant no damage to the fiberglass, I “just” broke the right turn signal. And got a lot of dirt in the foot pegs and various and sundry other nooks, crevices, and crannies.
The bad news: I’ve lost confidence in my ability to manage the damned thing at slow speeds. The bike, as I see it, is just too tall for me. That and the fact that it’s one heavy SOB. This is the second time I’ve dropped it, and that’s twice more than any of my previous bikes, going back to at least 1969 or so. (I have a great story about dropping my old Yamaha DT-1 in the BX parking lot at Wakkanai AS, Japan in '69 or '70. Remind me to tell you that one. Some time.)
So. Wanna buy a bike? Inquire within.
Oh…NO pictures this time. She looked pathetic laying there on her side in the grass. I couldn’t bear to embarrass her by showing her a$$ in public. Goes for me, too. Writing this is bad enough.


  1. Toby's motorcycle is in the barn needing some work done. He really likes it, but does not seem to have the time to do the work that needs to be done - he sort of wishes he had bought a newer bike. We still stop at all the motorcycle shops to look for Jesse a bike. Because she is short, finding one to fit her is a problem. She is taking a motorcycle class this fall and that should help her decide what she wants. Bike decisions are beyond me, but if you enjoy your bike, that is what is important.

  2. When I read "landed on the grass" I thought you meant YOU landed on the grass and were safe & sound. I'm somewhat amused that you focused more on the safety of the bike than yourself. Glad it was just a slow speed fall and not at full throttle on the highway.

  3. Buck,
    Sounds like a love/hate relationship with the bike. Maybe you can trade her/him for a different/shorter model...


  4. Ok...story response to Kris' comment.

    Upon purchasing my first street bike (which my father really wished I hadn't, at the time) and arriving home, Dad quickly decided that if I had one, he'd better teach me how to ride it.

    The next day Dad and I were in the parking lot of Kmart world HQ in MI. TSMP accompanied us to watch the training take place.

    The FZ600 I had purchased was a top-of-the-line sportbike of it's time and came standard with double disc brakes up front and the motor that required such brakes.

    The first lesson was emergency braking and Dad instructed me to ride at him at about 20-25 mph and when he gave the signal, to "grab all the brakes you got."

    Being a fairly inexperienced rider, I took Dad literally and did as he said. I didn't attempt to stop as fast as I could...I grabbed all the brakes I had.

    I instantaneously went down. In the ensuing moments, while TSMP was running toward me and repeatedly asking how I was, Dad and I were both focused on my new bike, wondering what the damage was...

    It's a biker thing!



  5. Shelly said: Sounds like a love/hate relationship with the bike.

    MOST definitely. It is. On the one hand, I love it when I'm moving down the road...the bike's comfortable and the height that is the source of my low-speed problems is a BIG advantage on the road and in traffic. I sit at the same level, i.e., eye-to-eye, with SUV and pickup drivers...which makes me more visible to them, and gives me better visibility, as well. I like that. But I hate the thought of dropping the thing every four or five months...or so. That's just not acceptable. thoughts have turned to selling it and replacing it with something that "fits" better. Just what that something would be is the question...

    Lou: I've had both good and bad luck with used bikes in the past. These days I lean much more toward new bikes, for exactly the reasons you've mentioned.

    Kris: It's always "all about the bike," assuming you're (a) still breathing and (b) NOT bleeding profusely after a get-off. And Buck's story kinda reinforces that, nu?

    Buck: I'll always, for ever and EVER, feel guilty about that incident. It's funny now, but it sure wasn't at the time!

  6. Buck, when you started to describe what it took to position the bike on the pad, I immediately thought "Oh my, that's a great way to have the rear wheel skid along the side of the pad and dump". DAMHIK

    But at least you didn't get into the big, pricey plastic. From what I could figure from working in the bike trade, the more fancy plastic on a model, the more people laid them over!

    I am very relieved at how afbuck's learner story worked out. I thought for sure that Dad was going to end up taking an impromtu fender-straddling ride in his son's new bike.

    BTW, our pal Red said that he just e-mailed you. He is a neat guy.

  7. Buck, I need your bike. I realized that most of my time is spent on the pavement and very little on dirt. I will trade an older, poor running Kawasaki for your zuke, it is even taller and more top heavy! Did I tell you about the gopher hole? I will be in Canada for 4 weeks. Ride the heck out out it and we can trade in a month. We can meet in Quitaque.

    Hasta Luego,


Just be polite... that's all I ask.