A Bike for Every Man (and Woman)
With all the bikes out there in the world there is surely something for everyone. With the exception of a few folks like Jay Leno, most of us will only own one or two bikes at a time. I am very fortunate to have four scoots in the stable at the moment. But they each serve a distinct purpose. There is the 2003 FXSTDI Deuce that I bought after recovering from cancer. She has been my touring rig for the past six years taking me to Sturgis, Daytona, Myrtle Beach, Laconia, and many other destinations throughout the country. There is my tried and true daily rider, a 1949 Panhead, rigid frame, foot clutch, jockey shift, and more fun than I can fit into a day. Just kicking her over in the morning makes getting up worthwhile. Then there is the 2002 Shadow 600, which is my wife’s pride and joy. She loves her “Hondee” and it has been hard trying to talk her into a Harley. The Shadow just fits her small frame so well. While I think it would rattle my teeth loose, she has no problem riding it across country. In fact, I could hardly keep up with her on the last trip to Daytona. Then there is the newest addition to the family, a 1975 Yamaha XS 650 with American Eagle sidecar. I just bought this one for the kids. Mamma has a little trouble with the idea of me taking our two girls (aged 1 and 2.5) out for a spin on the tank of my Harley. Sooo, I figured a sidecar rig would be perfect for trips to the girls play dates and pre-school activities. Besides, I can pull the seat out and take the puppy for a ride, or simply fill the sidecar up with ice and beer for the next club run. The possibilities are endless.
There are a few other models I would really like to own, and I don’t feel like I am being greedy about it. I am not asking for the world here, although it feels like it financially. If I did have the cash, I would want to get myself a Ducati Monster. The last time I rode a sport bike was when I was about 20 and a friend let me borrow his for a spin. He told me to take it out onto a nice smooth road in Albuquerque where he lived and wind it up. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I heard him say to watch the speedo because I would hit 100 before I knew it and the brakes on the bike were in bad shape. Well, I did take it out and I did hit 100 before I knew it… in fact, before I got out of third gear! The bike was like glass. A great ride, but even I knew that I would probably kill myself at that age on that bike. But now that I am a bit older, and a little more relaxed, I think I could handle it.
The Monster has beautiful lines and, being a Harley guy, I love seeing the engine with the bare naked frame. This bike is truly a piece of art. Actually, the Ducati Sport Classic would also be a fine piece to add to the collection. This bike reminds me of those beautiful café racers that were so popular in the 50’s and 60’s. While my dad was dating my mom, he rode a gorgeous BSA. He tried to teach my mom to ride and actually got her to give it a try. He got her situated, showed her where the clutch was and how to shift with her toe. He walked her through starting it up and giving it some gas. Next thing you know she is cruising across the yard and directly up a tree. Seems dear ol’ dad forgot to tell her where the brakes were. We really don’t talk about it much anymore.
Speaking of family members, my grandfather was an Indian Man. And the brand new Indian Chief is one slick bike. I like the Vintage myself, but fully loaded the thing costs nearly 36 grand. I am very happy with the thought that this time the alternative American brand just might make it. If you have not had a chance to check out their proprietary engine, be sure to take a gander. Beauty.
Now for a little fun for the family, I think it would be really cool to have a set of dirt bikes. Actually, because we live in Houston, where the off road terrain is slim pickings and the MX Tracks are quite a ways away, I would totally dig a dual purpose machine. This is the kind of thing I drooled over in 1985. Living in New Mexico, I thought the opportunity to ride on the street and play in the dirt on the same machine would be the perfect blend. Kawasaki has come out with a completely re-designed KLR 650 that looks like it would totally fit the bill. In fact, I am already planning on looking for a used 2008 model. I will start looking for it in 2013, but I am planning on looking for it. The bike is priced very reasonably new so I figure I could get one for a couple grand used.
I have also been thinking of putting my soon to be middle aged rump into the seat of a new FLHXI Street Glide. Harley has finally upgraded each of their bike line-ups and they have really hit one out of the park with their touring models. I remember after the Dyna upgrades chatting with a sales person at the local HD Dealership. He asked me what I thought Harley should do next. I said stiffen the frame of the touring line. He looked at me like I was nuts and said there was no reason for that. Well, he no longer works there, so I suppose I don’t have to worry about some idiot trying to sell a bike to me without even having an idea of what the customer base wants. I personally think Harley has done right by their loyal following. And, their current marketing trends, while being open to some question, seem to be getting more riders on their bikes… but that whole issue is another story all together.
Actually, I am a bit torn between the Street Glide and the Electra Glide Standard (FLHTI). The Standard has a raw engine that is just simply Old School Cool. It looks beautiful the way it is. The Standard also offers itself up to full customization by coming in two grand less than the Street Glide and offering a bare bones set-up. That two grand can do a lot. However, I would probably lower the Standard, add a radio, a short windshield, and maybe even new mirrors. Before you know it, I have spent the two grand making the Standard into the Street Glide. Merging the two models; the sleek, low stance of the FLHXI with its small bullet lights, tucked in mirrors, and short windscreen, with the sexy raw motor of the FLHT and it’s passing lamps would make a perfect platform. Bump the engine to a 103in, add a 21in front wheel, black out the front end, throw on some pipes and you are ready to travel across country and back in style and comfort… no need for crazy trunk packs and leg fairings, and the other jive that is on the FLHTCU (Ultra Classic). Keep it a bit simpler, a bit lighter, and a bit sexier. Yeah, that is the touring rig I would like to have in my garage.
Now, I know there are hundreds – thousands – of you who would say, “what about this or that machine… You can’t live without the new so and so from so and so… and what about the classics that you can’t get anymore… what about them?” Well, I could go on and on and on, but I am trying to be practical in my daydreaming. With any luck, I will own all of the bikes on my list. Not all at once mind you, but for a short period, one at a time. Really, that is all the Average Joe can hope for… that is, unless Jay Leno wants to lend you access to his collection.
Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,