Friday, September 02, 2005

Sweet Temptation

Did something stupid yesterday... On my way home from work, I decided to stop by the BMW/Yamaha dealership because they're having a "Moving Sale" and all riding gear was half-price (and I need some new gloves). Got some nice gloves (only $34) and was on my way out when I ran into one of the sales reps. I'd met the guy a few times before, and we started talking. Eventually, I asked him what his current ride was (an obligatory question among motorcyclists) and he pointed to a BMW K1200LT luxo-tourer in the middle of the showroom. This surprised me because: (a) he's young, about 25, and (b) he had just mentioned how he likes to ride "agressively".

Curiousity finally got the best of me when he pulled the keys out of his pocket and casually asked: "You wanna try it?" Now this 2-wheeled yacht isn't really my type of bike - but when someone offers you a $30,000 bike for a test ride with no strings attached... Why not?

Just by sitting on the BMW I could tell that this was radically different to my little 650cc Suzuki. First word that comes to mind? Comfortable - think "easy chair with wheels". Second word? Intimidating - this thing was huge! Honestly though, once you get it over 10km/h the weight disappears.

Handling city traffic was a bit daunting at first, as I'm well accustomed to my ├╝ber-flickable V-Strom, but I eventually got used to it. Where this motorcycle really shines is on the highway - I could literally ride for hours and hours without even requiring a "butt-break" typical to most other motorcycles. I also finally understood what the salesguy meant by "agressive" riding. Not only does this bike go fast; it does so without your knowledge. I was cruising along at what seemed like a nice leisurely pace until I glanced down at the speedo and saw the needle hovering over 160km/h. Took in a few backroads and the bike handled suprisingly well. Steep lean angles were not only possible, but fun!

Alas, all good things must end, and I finally brought it back to the dealer (with a mile-wide smile on my face). For now, a premium-priced bike is way out of my budget... But someday, maybe?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Choose your wheels wisely.

Those of you who know me are aware that I'm not the biggest fan of a certain American V-Twin engined motorcycle manufacturer. Understand that my distaste is not directed towards the owners of these heavy chrome beasts - fact is, some of the nicest folks I've met at rallies ride an FXLRHTSCXR (or whatever...). It's just that I feel that these bikes are all show and no go and the whole company is based on a marketing campaign that abuses tried and true blind patriotism rather than being based on the machines themselves. [OK - rant mode off]

Anyhow, a good friend of mine (let's call him Bob) purchased an Ultra Classic Electra Glide with all the trimmings last year. By the time he finished adding the obligatory "Genuine HD" bling, "Screaming Eagle" strait pipes (ugh), Corbin saddle, official jacket & beanie helmet, and opting for the extended warranty (good idea), his fully-faired chrome beast cost him - get ready for this - $39,500CDN! Yup - that's enough to buy 2 equivalent Japanese cruisers with plenty of change to spare. Did I tell him he was crazy? Of course. Did he listen? Nope.

Before continuing with his story, I want to make it clear that I never rubbed his nose in it or even gave him a subtle "I told ya so". Bob is, after all, my friend and it's just a bike (albeit, a damn expensive one).

Here's how it's gone for him so far:

  • Motorcyclists in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have a favorite weekend getaway known as the "Island Run". Basically, we ride over to Prince Edward Island and run the whole circumference; using every possible backroad to stay as close as possible to the shoreline. Last year, just one month and a half after having gotten his HD, Bob calls me up and says "How about an Island Run this weekend?". Of course, I couldn't resist! So we left Friday after work, riding along Highway 15 towards the Confederation Bridge when I see Bob and Tammy (his wife) pull off to the shoulder. I check for traffic and pull a U-turn to go see what happened. The bike has died! No warning, no oil leak, nothing - its just dead. Pull-out the cellphone and call the HD dealer in Moncton for some guidance, and after being on hold for 12 minutes (no kidding) one of the mechs comes on and says - get this: "It could be anything; he shouldn't have been riding it so long so soon after buying it... It's a new bike, you know!" WTF? Couldn't believe it! This guy is trying to throw the blame on Bob for actually trying to tour on what HD considers to be their top-of-the-line touring mount. And believe me, it's not as if we were pushing it in any way - just a nice slow touring pace... Oh well; they send a truck to pick up Bob's bike and that was the end of our Island Run - without even making it to the Island. Seems his battery had gone bad (of course, it wasn't covered by the warranty).
  • Earlier this year, Bob decided to go to Laconia for the Annual Bike Week. I wasn't tagging along this time (couldn't get off work), so he was riding with some of the usual Crazy Bastards(TM), my usual bunch of riding buddies. This time, he actually made it as far as Fredericton (about 200kms/125miles) before he noticed a huge puff of blue smoke behind him and the oil pressure gauge heading south really fast. Again: phone call, towing, back to the dealer in Moncton, wait to get it fixed, leave again the next morning. Bob told the other guys to go ahead and not wait for him - which they did (he was the only one, out of 12, who was riding an HD and he felt bad about holding everybody up). Bob and Tammy ended up riding 12 hours strait to get to Laconia and catch up with the rest of the gang.
  • Two weeks ago Bob went to Cape Breton to do the Cabot Trail after I told him how great a ride it was (I went earlier in July). Everything went fine, until he was on his way back home and stopped because of some road construction near Amherst. He's at a complete stop, pulls his left foot off the floorboard to shift into neutral, and his foot is left searching in mid-air for the shifter - it was hanging below the bike! Of course, this wouldn't normally be a big deal for other motorcyclists: you pull off to the side, get out the toolkit and tighten the bugger up. Only one problem with HD's: no toolkit included! Believe it or not, even the toolkit is an "HD Genuine" option. Here's the funny bit; Bob rolled all the way back to Moncton (80kms/50miles) in second gear, pulled up to the HD dealer, walked into the showroom (Saturday morning - the place was full), and began a-hollerin'. This time (after a long, animated chat with Deeley Canada - the official Canadian distributor), they agreed to take the bike in and do a complete inspection (I've seen the invoice - 4 pages).

Well, Bob's bike finally got a clean bill of health. Now it's for sale - any takers?