Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's That Time Again...

Springtime, when a middle-aged man's mind turns to one thing; motorcycles.

I won't do my typical safety speech here. If you want to see my past posts on the dangers of riding, check them out with the "motorcycles" tag. Instead, I'll talk about motorcycle nerdery. Warning, you can see my pubes in one post when I show off my injury.

The bike above is the wife's 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 500-R. It is an old-school bike, despite being from this century. One of the British bike magazines did a bit on good starter bikes a few years back and left this bike out. When I emailed the author asking why, he said they wanted to go with a more modern bike. That is problem one. The 500-R is a parallel twin, 498cc, carburetor run work horse. Aside from tires and the semi-annual battery replacement (due to my negligence) it has had zero problems. Sure, things come loose and need touching, but it runs like crazy and is extremely low maintenance. They still make it, and have been since 1987 as the EX500 and GPZ500, depending on your market. It has been the Ninja 500-R since 1997. There have been very few modifications aside from the brakes.

This motorcycle puts the nerd in my riding. I am always being told by cruiser riders that they don't like sport bikes, to which I respond "it is a standard." Sport bike riders tell me I need something bigger. I say "pshaw." This noisy, high-revving little babe has been my favorite bike for years now, and I won't replace it. I am fearless in my love for it. I used to go to a Harley Davidson bar in Raleigh called "Scooters," and I would love pulling up on this little guy. Once, on a sunny day no less, the place was full of riders, yet I was the only one on a motorcycle. Pussies. This was one of those middle-aged, middle-class biker places where people pretend they are bikers. At the time I did not have a car, so in many ways was the only "real" biker in the place, or at least the closest the clientele was going to come.

I finally got the girl out to ride today, and forgot how much I missed it. I was a little shaky. We have awful traffic here, and I get a touch nervous at times, but ride smart and things tend to go well.

So, if you ride, have fun. If you want to ride, learn how. If you don't ride, keep an eye out for the bikes. Amazing how hard we are to see, even when you are looking. Same on all points regarding bicyclists and scooter riders. We all die the same way.


Kal said...

Please stay safe dude. I remember your previous adventures very well.

Nathan said...

My wife is always saying she wants me to learn to ride a motorcycle, but I must admit I'm kind of scared to try.

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Kal - I am a little nervous, which bothers me. Fear is a survival instinct, but nervousness breeds mistakes. We'll see how it goes :-)

#Nathan - You should look into the Basic Rider Course through the MSF. It is (typically) a weekend course and they provide the bikes. All you need is basic gear - over the ankle shoes, gloves, a jacket (any type, not a necessarily a motorcycle jacket), and a helmet. The first time you pick up your feet is the scariest, but if you like it the course will make you a competent rider. Riding with a passenger is scary the first time as well, you have to get used to the weight, particularly for braking, but it becomes second nature quickly. I am an even safer rider with the wife on the back, as you can imagine. As far as bikes go, any motorcycle is capable of riding two people. The wife and I are not the lightest pair of people in the world, and we do fine on the 500.

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