Three weeks, 500 miles, already almost killed once

It started out with a day off - so I can blame my boss for this. He gave me a day off for working a hellish number of hours the previous week.

I decided, among other errands, that I’d satisfy my desire to look at scooters. I’ve been feeling the pinch of the current gas prices, I use about $5 per day to commute, so a scooter seems like a practical device.

My scooter thread.

I would walk into a store, point at myself, and ask what they had that could move me around. I made the mistake of walking into what was primarily a motorcycle store at first. They had the Suzuki Bergman but nothing smaller. $8k for the Bergman. Gee, the Honda Shadow & Suzuki Boulevard on the showroom floor are $1500 cheaper and much much cooler. That Bergman looks easy to drive, though. Might look like a dork, though. Thanks - I’ll think about it.

Intrigued by the possibility but scared by the learning curve, I left the dealer.

But, gee… around the corner is another dealer. I went there. They weren’t Honda & Suzuki like the first, they turn out to be Kawasaki, Yamaha & Victory. They’ve got a “super scooter” like the Bergman, too, the T-Max. Also $8k.

While you’re here, hmm - that Vulcan 900 is very pretty. Very, very pretty.

I started a thread about this too.

A couple days later I get a call from the salesman at the second dealer. They’re clearing out their 2008 floor models and that Vulcan is 10% off. Damn. I didn’t need a decision like this right now. I’m a big one for buyer’s remorse, I second-guess almost any purchase over $20 for days and days.

I told him I’d be in that evening to take another look.

I couldn’t resist - the allure of it all - the Je Ne Sais Quoi. Years and years I’ve wanted a motorcycle but never followed up on that wish. So - obvious at this point in the story, I bought the thing and then signed up for the MSF course held next door.

For two days, we did 25 miles in that parking lot, a space maybe 20 by 50 yards. Round and round, back and forth.

For the whole course, I fought the damn bike. It was too small for me, the controls were ill-placed for a man of my size. My knees were bent too far back, my hips ached, and I kept missing the forward controls with my feet when I tried to use them. Still, I was doing pretty well.

Something started to change though as the second day wore on. What I could do at 2:00 was not working right at 4:00. It was so noticeable the instructor called me over and asked if I was OK. I was tired, beaten & told him so but also told him that wanted to tough it out - see it through - and while I didn’t do well on the “final exam”, I did pass it, just barely, but I passed it.

I took my MSF card, went next door, and picked up my bike. I drove home (about 4 miles) on the back-roads, trying to get the feel for this much heavier motorbike.

It’s now three weeks. In that time, I’ve put 500 miles on it and I’m in love. I’m probably obnoxiously single-minded about it right now. My desktop wallpaper is now a motorcycle. I’m reading up on motorcycles.

I’ve taken it on two long drives already, about 100 miles each, trying to keep it under 50 mph because of the break-in. The mountain roads are good for that - most have a 45 mph speed limit. The rest of the miles are around town, commuting & the like.

After the first long ride, I arrived back in town and decided to stop by the MSF course & show my instructor the bike. It was soooo much better than the training bikes. The large frame of the Vulcan fits my body so much better and I’m not fighting the machinery just to operate it.

I rode about 110 miles by that time that day and I arrive at the right-hand turn into the course’s parking lot. I signal, slow, and begin to turn. There’s the squeal of brakes and a loud double thump.

I come to a rapid stop (my MSF course skills handy there - didn’t hit the fence, didn’t drop the bike, stopped cleanly).

The guy behind me, a Magnum station wagon, had tried to pass me on the right as I was turning right. I checked - my right-turn signal was on - still blinking from where I didn’t cancel it after I stopped.

There’s bike lane on the right side of that street. The guy saw me slow, he saw me move left a bit (to improve my turning radius), and decided to pass me in the bike lane. Damn - here I am doing it all right and this jerk decides to pass me illegally, despite my turn signal. “I thought you were going to turn left,” he said.

The double-thump was him dragging his tire & suspension through a very deep ditch that parallels the road. I hope it messed up his alignment. Just desserts.

My second long ride was this weekend - turns out I chose a road being used for a rally that day. I got my pic snapped by a photographer recording the ride. Nice!

I don’t know anything about motorcycles, but hey, that’s a cool looking bike.

My dad rode a motorcycle for a while. He said that driving a car, a defensive driver pretends that other cars can’t see you. Driving a motorcycle, he said, you have to pretend that everyone else is out to get you.

Anyhow, drive safely, and congrats on the new bike!

PS: Don’t tell my mom about the Magnum. She thinks all motorcycles are death machines. She and my Dad are worrying at me.

Congratulations, and welcome to the club! I’m glad you caved and got a motorcycle. :smiley:

And yes, those close-calls are just going to happen from time to time. People are idiots.

Oh, and I meant to add that the picture is really cool, too!

Be safe and have a blast…

Congrats! The 900 Classic was the bike I was going to get last year. The dealership finally called me back to tell me they found the particular bike I wanted (red), and that day was when we found out we were going to have a kid. So, no more bike.

Not for another year, at least. :stuck_out_tongue:

Nice photo, by the way. Have fun and be safe.

What? Are you kidding me?! I can’t possibly think of a classier way to bring home the new arrival from the hospital. :wink:

We chose the station wagon. His helmet hadn’t arrived yet.

Yay, another Vulcan (let alone a 900) owner! If you ever want to ride out to the bay area… :wink:

I so want to take the bike and a car seat to one of those check points to have it installed just to see what they say. I’ve refrained though because I’m afraid they may try and pass a law about kids on motorcycles. They tried a few years ago here in MD to make anyone who’s not 16 not allowed on a bike.

Relax, stay alert, and assume you’re invisible. IN-VIS-IBLE!

I’m doing my darnedest to get visible. My helmet even has blinky lights on the back and I added bits of reflective tape to it.

Nice. Yep I’ve got some black reflective tape that blends into my black helmet, but should be nice and shiny at night. Not that I ride at night if I can help it.

Damn Cagers!

Go Kawasaki!

Glad you’re diggin’ it!

Remember, no skin below the chin. Looks like you’ve got that down, based on the pic. Speaking of, you make yourself sound a lot bigger than you are. :stuck_out_tongue: I’m about 6’ 230#, and the Kawasaki dual sport I rode during the MSF was just right for me. I think I got lucky.

It’s a great bike, isn’t it? I’m up to 600 miles after 3 months rather than 3 weeks, due to not wanting to take it on long rides until it’s broken in, being too tired in the morning to take it to work 2 out of every 5 days, and there was a period of 2-3 weeks when it was busted that I couldn’t ride it. Every time I do get on it, though, I’m absolutely thrilled to have it.

I was a little concerned about power early on, because it seemed like I needed to get up into 5th gear just to keep up with 50 mph traffic, but after 500 miles the engine definitely started to loosen up. I can’t wait to take it out on the back roads and get it up to 75. Here’s mine.

Congrats on finally getting a bike! Now don’t get killed. :wink:

Honestly, I’m super jealous. Sounds like you’re having a great time, and that pic was pretty awesome. I’ve always wanted to be a motorcycle guy. Someday, someday.

I dunno - 6’3", 350lbs - usually the biggest guy in the room. (That on-road picture that got snapped does a good job of hiding my girth, too. Very flattering for me.)

I’m 43, too, and not as flexible as I used to be - the training bike seemed to bend my knees backward more than comfort allowed and pried hard at my hips for some reason. My hip joints would be screaming at the end of the day.

They had Yamaha bikes at my MSF place, a dual sport thing something like this and a Yamaha Virago (what an awful name) that looked something like this. I tried the dual-sport thing the first time, got tired of my knees protesting (it bends your feet back under your butt) and finished the course on the Virago. Better but not great.

Bosstone, I think we have the same taste in riding jackets. Coretech?. I wanted the blue Vulcan but I had to take a floor model to get the clearance discount and they only had a red one left. #2 choice - liked it better than the all-black bike.

Sorry, but that picture loses you all of your American cred - nobody in America rides with a helmet. :slight_smile:

(At least, it looks that way every time we go to visit.)

Yeah, Autolycus, that was me.

“Someday, someday”

(a wistful sigh goes well here)

Best I can offer is:
a) get the wife’s approval
b) Sign up for the MSF course
c) Just do it

There’s even a “will I like it” orientation course that MSF offers called the “Introductory RiderCourse” that’ll help you decide if you even want to follow through with the full course. My school credited the cost of the Intro course toward the full course if you wanted to go all the way with the two-day course.

I was intimidated by the learning curve - I’ve told people that this course was one of the hardest things I’ve done since leaving college. I was in fear of the learning process and that was always a quiet reason I never pushed harder to do this.

In my other thread I did a little of the economic justification but that’s really just a rationalizing smoke screen. The 250’s though make 80 mpg, better than the 50 mpg I’m getting on the 900. That’s even better for rationalizing. :wink:

Besides, I needed a motorcycle to go with my tattoo.

Does anybody know how many states DON’T have helmet laws?

Not that I would even joke about riding my bike without one, but I recognize that some folks, inexplicably to me, are very anti-helmet.