I recently had the immense pleasure to attend Harley Davidson of Charlotte’s Project Livewire event. Special thanks to Steve and Ken there, and Harley Davidson Motorcycles for inviting me to learn more and test ride this new motorcycle.
You guys have noticed I’ve been posting about cars and trucks and such a lot more lately. Probably it’s because I love cars and trucks – always have. My first words were – and I’m not kidding here – “Vooma-Vooma”. Those might not be words according to Webster’s, but they were my first words. I’ve avoided looking at bikes too closely because, well, it’s painful to me because 1, I don’t have one and 2, I can’t afford one. But let’s go ahead and look at some Bikes. Because I’m in the mood to do so and it’s well past time. I’m looking at a relocation soon and first order of business once that is done, is acquiring a motorcycle, even if I have to sell my car to do it. There are some specific machines I’m looking at… They are shown in No Order:
The KLR-650. Like a Jeep Wrangler, I’ve always wanted one. And like the Wrangler, when it finally came down to getting something – I always got something else…. And I’ve always kicked myself for passing on the chance. But I’ve been on a new kick lately – I call it “Finally Getting What I’ve Always Wanted”. Those things that I’ve always wanted… I’ve been getting them. One of these days – I’ll get my Wrangler. And In the Garage next to it will be a KLR-650. Because. I don’t know why I’ve always passed it up. Maybe it’s because the WANT is better than the HAVE. Or the fear of that being the case. The newest version though addresses my two considerations that have caused me to pass it up. 1 is the KLR Doohicky and 2 is the seat. That being said, the KLR is most likely going to be the bike I end up with next. But we’ll see.
The STAR Bolt R Spec. It remains in my mind as a bike I really want. If I was to get a new bike – this is probably the bike that I should get, as it represents pretty much what I’ve been looking for… A simple runabout for pure cruising enjoyment. Nothing fancy or special… Simple. But satisfying… it scratches that “I need to take a ride” itch. It has short legs… So not interstate travel… but around town on a nice day to run light errands and goof around… The Bolt-R is probably ideal. That and I think it looks just awesome for what it is. But I think really this would be a horse for the stable if I had other horses for more specific purposes of Sport and ADV.
This bike… The FZ-09… I was with friends when I first got my hands on this one. It’s the new style of “Standard Bike”. But Yamaha took Standard and gave it a mohawk. This bike would bring out the Hooligan in me. It feels like it’s as light as a Mountain Bike, yet has Big Bore Punch. That’s a wicked combination. I could ride it nice and sedately passed the cops, and then when I get out of sight – instantly Wheelie like a total squid. I could probably get this one before the KLR or the Bolt-R, it’s that likable when I see it up close. And if you throw a leg over it – You will want it. This bike also makes way too much sense. It’s like that friend of yours that is way too smart for his own good and comes up with Evil Genius plans that sound perfectly well reasoned and logical and then they get you in trouble.
Because one day I want to ride across Continents and screw BMW. This is my Hail Marry dream bike. Load it up with some luggage and a backpack and go hunt Orc with this bike. It’s name is Adventure. No, seriously, it is… the KTM 1190 Adventure. There are two versions… Adventure and the Adventure R. And I don’t care about the differences. Either one would make me the happiest man on Earth… and then I’d want to go around that Earth. Or at least Coast To Coast following back roads and exploring what needs to be explored along the way. KTM should sponsored The Long Way Around instead of letting BWM take the show.
This is the evolution of the concept that Yamaha’s FZ-09 was playing with. KTM’s Super Duke. If the FZ-09 was Dr. Bruce Banner, then the Super Duke is The Hulk. It got big, gnarly and pissed off. It’s a monster. It’s brutal. It’s a rage beast. And that’s what I love about it. This thing is all about aggression, making no apologies for it. It’s the 2 wheel version of a Shelby 427 Cobra, but with less manners or concern for what is socially acceptable or politically correct. This is a Dream Bike right here. Should Hollywood buy the Uprising Saga and make movies out of them… I’ll have one of these bikes. And I’ll take it to the California Super Bike School and have Keith Code teach me how to control this beast.
Keeping with the theme of taking a bike type and having a reasonable version and an dream version of it… This is the Dream Bike option for the Star Bolt R. That Cruiser bike just for the sake of Cruising. This is the Victory Vegas. I looked at the 8-Ball version and love it… a lot… And then other versions. There was one locally that was eyeballing before I left my job. Had I not left that job – I probably would have got it. The Vegas “FITS” me. Head to Toe. Or should I say Bars to Pegs? This is America’s Other Motorcycle Maker… Victory pretty much has everything you would want in a Motorcycle like Harley, but done better. Seriously – if you even THINK you might want a Harley – go to a Victory Dealership and take a good hard look. The Victory is a step up. It just is.
Okay, now this is a bike that is intriguing me. If I could find one. This is a US HIGHLAND “Viking”. It’s a Liter Class V-Twin. Very light weight, very compact. It’s what I loved about my beloved Honda Superhawk… without what I didn’t like about the Superhawk. (Side Mounted Radiators) This bike could replace the all the other bikes on my list save for the ADV machines. There is something about this… I really want to get to know US HIGHLAND better. They put out a bike… Read the Review from 2011 here. It doesn’t look like they are marking the Viking or the Enduro that they were also developing. I hope they enter the US Market as a serious production Bike Maker and not just Engine Builders.
Okay, so the KTM is so far doing just fine in the snow. Save for the small “Endurance” LCD dash/trip computer… which died on me. So I have no speedo or Odometer… which is no big deal.
The bike handles as I expected it too in the snow, or even a little better. This is what I like about the KTM, the stability. Other bikes, when they lose traction, just seem to say “Oh to hell with it.” The KTM seems to fight to find traction anywhere. Standing on the pegs, you can just let the bike squirm around under you, hunting for some grip. The cold didn’t even bother me. Thanks to the combo of the moose-ears and the long johns, it’s not so bad.
This is a case of “If it’s stupid, but works, then it isn’t stupid.” It looks stupid. But it works. Very well. Normally on my ride to work I’ll lose feeling in my hands even before half way there. Now, it’s not a bother. The Moose Ears are actually my name for them… they are actually ATV Handlebar Mittens from an outfit called “Classic” that makes lots of ATV stuff. Never thought I’d buy anything from them, as I don’t have an ATV. But I was lookinat the ATV area of Basin Sports and was straightening things out there and I had this set that was the last pair and kinda in the way. I thought “Hell, I should just buy them to get rid of them.” And then I thought, “Hell yeah, I should buy them!” The Mittens look like Moose Ears, so that’s what I call them. They are a huge help. I’d rather have a set of Hippo Hands, as they are made for Motorcycles. These Classics are made for ATV’s. There is a difference. But the Moose Ears cost me 10 bucks, so I’ll call it good.
I keep going back and forth between the KTM 990 Supermoto and the 990 Adventure R models. It’s not like I have any hard on for KTM, as I had one and blew the engine the first month I had it. Since I’ve sold the ZX-11, I am without a Long Range bike and this makes me feel like I’ve had my wings clipped. Reason I sold it is due to my knees, but the position on these 990’s is one that I can still do… I sat on a 990 Adventure R, and it’s doable for me. Some of the other ADV bikes, not so much. I’m not sure about the position on the Supermoto though, I’ll have to find one first. The peg position is the same, but the seat height plays a factor here too.
I’m also thinking about turning my 525 MXC into a Supermoto. Primarily for better On Road riding as this KTM is now my Daily Rider. I don’t need Knobbies for the Highway.
I got there a couple minutes too late. I wanted that sunset light on the cabin, but it went just a touch too low and the bike is in shadow instead of lit like I wanted. But that old cabin still looks cool.
This is just off Hwy 121 in Lapoint. If you are on Highway 40 and turn north to connect to 121, hang a Left at Shirley’s and this place will be about a half mile down the highway on the Right. It’s older than it looks.
I’m feeling myself being pulled more and more into Adventure Riding. I’m not talking Trials or MX… but being able to go anywhere. Especially out of my Comfort Zone. It’s been said that Life begins outside of your comfort zone, and I’ve found this to be true. Riding an Enduro type machine is liberating. The Max Velocity riding is cool on a Sport, but at any given moment Johnny Law could shut you down and lock you up and you aint riding anything anymore for a long long time. Last time I rode off of pavement I was sweating, breathing hard, and shaking because I was scared shitless. But then I stopped and looked around and saw where I was… how far I had come… and it was amazing.
I’d like a longer range Adventure Bike… a Twin instead of a Single. Something in the Liter Class, or around there. 800 or larger we’ll say. Such a bike would be the last one I’d ever buy.
I don’t know exactly what this is… But it’s a KTM dirt bike of some sort, rebuilt as Cafe Racer. I don’t know why I find this so appealing. I really don’t. I love Cafe bikes, but mostly those built on big brutal and thuggish engines. Not angry little Singles. I bet this would be an absolute blast to ride.
Cafe bikes continue to turn my head more than anything else. This is in spite of the fact that I couldn’t even put my feet on the pegs right now. My right leg remains uncooperative thanks to a knee that refuses to bend.
Speaking of KTM… My own is ready to be picked up again. I just have to wait till Tuesday because they are not open on Monday and I couldn’t get in there to get it Saturday. We’ll see. It will be very nice to have my Wheels under me again. While I can’t ride my ZX-11, I can ride the KTM thanks to the position of the foot pegs. I already miss my ZX-11 a lot. It’s parked in front of Ogre Ranch, sipping on a Battery Tender, waiting for me to come play. People who don’t Ride, just don’t understand this. “Just get a car.” They say. What they are really saying “I totally don’t get Motorcycles.” And that’s fine…. you don’t have to get it. Just please shut the fuck up then, okay? Riding is… like Flying. Next time you go to the Zoo take a close look at the Eagles there on their perches. They can’t Soar like they used to… they are Tethered. That’s how I feel when I look at my ZX-11. I feel like that Eagle that can’t fly.
I hate this. I seriously do love this bike but I’ve finally accepted that my leg is not going to let me ride it anymore. Last time I rode it to work, it hurt far too much. After a long day on my feet, the ride home and the cold combined to put me into physical shock from the pain. I have a very unusually high pain tolerance level, and this was beyond it. I made it home, got the kickstand down, and damn near fell off the bike.
I just can’t ride it anymore. I love this motorcycle and it’s going to kill me to see it go. But I just can’t do a Sports Bike anymore.
I will entertain reasonable offers for sale, but would prefer trade for another motorcycle such as a Cruiser with a fat engine and more importantly, forward foot controls.
There is no feeling like finding the perfect body position, leaning the bike over… you have the perfect entry speed… and you find that perfect line. You and your bike are one and you cut the apex like a Neurosurgeon. The aches and pains from a long day at work are far behind you. You don’t feel your age anymore. You just feel the Speed and the Road, and the Revs of the Engine as you look through the turn at what’s out there. The tires are gripping, but at that hairy edge… but you roll on the throttle and bust out of the curve like a Patriot Missile, just almost kissing the outside of the lane. The perfect line.
There is no other feeling like it. None.
I had that Perfect Line tonight. My God it was amazing! My knee had been hurting bad. But then suddenly… I didn’t feel it anymore. Lost in the unadulterated thrill of murdering that apex and I could feel the front tire raise off the ground at the exit. It was like a beautiful High that I wish you guys could have felt. I wish you could have been there!