As many of you know… I’m in the (slow) process of “bobbing” my Harley-Davidson Sportster and when I complete it, it won’t exactly be the most comfortable motorcycle I’ve ever owned. I’m not talking horrible, but I won’t be taking any weekend trips on it. So… I’ve been thinking. (A dangerous thing!) What would I really want for cruising or commuting to go along with the Sporty Bob? Certainly my interest in large touring H-D bikes is way-gone so they are out. I’d love to have a Sport Tourer such as the Kawasaki Concourse or Honda ST1300 but a daughter in college rules those awesome machines out on price alone. So what’s left? Of course, it would be the Sportbike family. But that’s a problem too. While I would love the performance and reliability of an R6 or CBR600, frankly… when I sold my Sportbike last year I vowed that I would never again own a bike that forced my body into a racing position. (Old age I guess.) But what if I could find that performance, reliability and wow factor in a more traditional riding position? Do those bikes exist? Yes they do… and they are commonly referred to as “Naked” bikes. These stripped down Spotbikes never quite caught on here in the US like they have abroad but there are some out there on the used market and they offer the ergos and performance I would be looking for at fairly affordable prices. Three in particular have caught my eye… The Ducati Monster, Honda 599 and the Suzuki SV. Here’s a look at all three in their 2004 versions.
2004 DUCATI MONSTER 620: Of the three, I like the looks of this one the best. Something about that tubular frame and racing red color seem to be screaming for my attention. Two things bother me about it though. I don’t know if I could ever get used to the clanky sound of a Ducati engine and my research indicates that maintenance on this bike is significantly more costly than on the other two. KBB Retail: $3570
2004 HONDA 599: Some people feel like this bike looks fat and bulky. I disagree. I like it’s looks and while I have never ridden one, just looking at it, the Honda seems like it would feel more substantial than the others. I also love Honda’s reputation for bullet-proof engines. Performance specs are good as well… the downside to this one? Hmmmm… I’m really not sure there is one. KBB Retail: $3120
2004 SUZUKI SV650: I owned the “S” version (lay-down with fairing) of this bike for a while, and while it performed well, it always felt a little squirrely to me. More than once I was not happy with how it handled when pushing through the curves. Still, I think the non “S” version here might be a good option for what I would want… and it is also the most affordable of the bunch. To bad it doesn’t look better KBB Retail: $2850
Of course, trying to compare these bikes without riding them is somewhat ridiculous but these are my initial impressions. Let me know what you think… and who knows… maybe one day soon I will be riding naked!
Finally! The weather actually broke here in Nashville and we’ve had two days of 60-plus degree temperatures. This morning I took advantage of what I’m sure will be a brief reprieve from the cold and clocked about 80 soul freeing miles on the SV. Can’t wait for Spring!
Yesterday I spent a large portion of the day doing things that had nothing to do with motorcycles. First I spent the morning completing the weekly yard work, then I changed the oil in my truck and in the afternoon I spent a couple hours working on the next issue of Grease Monkey (aka sitting in front of a computer). Well, by the time 4pm rolled around I was more than ready for a two-wheeled escape.
Since the SV is a lot easier to whip out of the garage quickly, I hopped on it and took off. In my haste to get going and given the 90 degree heat… I didn’t bother to put something on other than the sleeveless t-shirt I had been wearing all day… and about 5 miles into the ride it dawned on me that I was a “SQUID”.
squid (plural squids)
- (slang, motorcycling, pejorative) A motorcyclist characterized by lack of riding gear
It probably wasn’t too smart of me to ride like that but it sure felt great. But… since it is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month… I thought I would ask. How many of you “gear up” every time you ride? If you’re just going on a quick ride in the 90-degree heat, do you wear full gear? When do you not? Just wondering…
My Sunday afternoons are usually reserved for a quiet solo ride on the SV and today I kicked off the new season with an 80 mile loop through the backroads of Middle Tennessee. The weather was magnificent and the sky was as blue as can be. And speaking of color… I came across this abandoned building at one point that sported a cool red and yellow paint job. I thought it would make a nice backdrop for the SV so I stopped and grabbed a couple shots with the Canon point-and-shoot.
I do a lot of pissing and moaning about the winter weather here in Middle Tennessee but I guess if I really think about it… we don’t have it too awful bad. After all, today was Christmas Eve (as in December 24th) and I was able to get all of my summer toys out and take them for a spin. There was no snow like a friend in Oklahoma is facing and no bone chilling temperatures like another friend in Wyoming is experiencing so I guess I should just smile and shut up about it. But… I am just greedy enough with my riding to wish I had it as good as my brother-in-law in Florida and my nephew in Texas have it. Ahh… one day maybe I will join one of them!
Last weekend I went to the local car cruise-in to check out the hotrods and while I was there I spotted this way-cool Suzuki GS1100 in the parking lot. I didn’t catch the owner but looking at it I’d say it is an ’80 or ’81 model. It’s nice to see one of these older bikes in great condition… and still being ridden!
And since I was at the car show… I thought I’d show you one of my favorite 4-wheel sightings from the night.
Sunday afternoons are usually when I break out the SV and take off for the hills… and today was no exception. After church and a good meal with the family I was off for one of my favorite highways in Middle Tennessee. Highway 53 connects Liberty, Tennessee to Woodbury, Tennessee and it is an 11 mile, 55mph, curve-fest! It takes a while to get to it from where I live but several times a year I make the well-worth-it ride just to taste the fruits of the 53… haha!
Here are a few random pics… plus a video that proves you need to keep on your toes at all times. This moron pulled out in front of me and almost stopped he was going so slow. I had to break from about 65mph to 5mph in a distance of only about 50 feet.
A little Frosty-Mug taste to cool down before hopping on 53.
The top of the “curve-fest”.
The one-room post office in Readyville, TN.
Another break… for me and someone else out riding.
Stopped off at the local water hole on the way back home.
Back home in the driveway after another great Sunday afternoon ride!