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!
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…
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!
I’m not gonna lie to you… for the past several weeks, the weather in Middle Tennessee has sucked! We have had ridiculous amounts of rain and along with it very few days that have been suitable for riding. I feel like I have been on some kind of riding hiatus since about August and I’m not real happy about it! But, there have been a few days here and there when I have been able to get my face in the wind… like today. It was so nice this afternoon that I actually took both bikes for a spin and when I was done I grabbed a pic just to document that the sun does actually shine in Nashville on occasion.
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!
It’s true, I actually got to ride to the office today! It was my first commute since the Fall and man did I enjoy it… and take full advantage of it. The ride in was a bit chilli but really refreshing and just long enough to make me want to ride all that much more.
I did get a lot done but the KBC was definitely taunting me throughout the morning. So at lunch time I skipped the food part (I need to do that more often) and spent an hour cruising around. At one point I passed a Nashville music landmark, Cats Music, so I thought I would grab a quick pic.
But the real fun started when my afternoon of work was complete. The reason I love riding to the office is without a doubt the ride home! And today was perfect. I avoided every Interstate and took my time, enjoying a long detour. By the time I rolled into the driveway, my 18 mile commute had been stretched into 86.6 miles. Ahhhh… I love it!
This weekend was not a total bust. I received a nice presentation at a local Harley Dealership and of course today was special since I got to spend time with all of the mothers in my life… including mine, my children’s and my grandchildren’s… but as far as riding goes… there was not a lot happening, thanks to our ongoing rainy season.
Yep, we’re still waiting for April showers to turn into May flowers here in Middle Tennessee but so far, nobody has told mother natrue that April was supposed to be over 10 days ago… which is about how many days in a row it has rained!
I did defy the odds this afternoon and rode the SV to my grandson’s Little League baseball game. It was cold and the sky looked like it was going to spew it’s wetness on us at any time (see picture above) but I made it there, through the game, and back home without even a drop.
There is a term used among the sportbike crowd that you rarely hear in other riding circles. The term is “Chicken Strip” and it doesn’t refer to processed, fast food or pole dancing poultry! No, a Chicken Strip is the area on the outer edge of the rear tire that remains un-marred by asphalt. The further you lean your bike through the curves, the smaller your chicken strip becomes… and conversely, the less you hit the corners, the larger your chicken strip stays. You can see that my chicken strip on the SV is rather large… I guess I am pretty much a chicken!
Lazy, Sunday afternoons were made for one thing right? No… not naps! For me, they are the perfect time for random rides through the backroads of Middle Tennessee. Nothing is much better in my book than to hit church, grab a bite with loved ones and then hop on two wheels to meander aimlessly for a couple hours of introspective riding. I solve a lot of the worlds problems on these rides… (ha!) and I also rediscover why I love to ride motorcycles!
You know, it’s kind of funny… I keep thinking I may want to sell the SV but then I go ride it and change my mind. What a fun little bike! Above are a couple pics of the SV during a rest stop I made today (ain’t it cool?) and there’s also a pic below of one of the scenic views I got on my ride. Plus… I’ve included a time-lapse of one of my favorite roads to ride. It is 6 miles of Couchville Pike in about 14 seconds.
I had to run in to Nashville today to take care of a computer issue and on the way I spotted this Hyabusa… one of the fastest production bikes you can buy. That’s the Nashville sky-line in the background… approaching from the East.
While I was downtown I decided to stop off at Arnold’s for a bite to eat. Arnold’s is a Nashville landmark and serves the best home-style country food you will find anywhere. (Check out Arnold’s here.) After stuffing my face I walked out to find the 2 bikes below parked outside.
The Honda is an old GL650. I haven’t seen one in years and it was cool to check out the sideways V-Twin poking out from the frame. The other bike is a 2001 Suzuki SV non “S” version. Mine is an “S” version and the difference is that mine has a fairing and lower bars for a sportier look and feel. Other than that… same bike as mine.
I had been waiting for this weekend all Winter long! After enduring week after week of less-than-desirable riding conditions… the torture ended this Saturday and Sunday as beautiful riding weather prevailed and sunshine and temperatures in the low 70’s were the fashion in Middle Tennessee.
I took full advantage! On Saturday I hopped on the Electra Glide and lead my first group ride of the year. It was a beautiful backroads route and I completely enjoyed riding with 13 of my friends… some that I hadn’t seen in several weeks.
That afternoon I test rode the 2009 Buell SB12XSs (see RANT from 03/21/09) and on Sunday afternoon I escaped for a ride on the SV, enjoying some of my favorite curveys. Below is a short video from Sunday’s excursion. It was a great weekend of riding!
For the past few days we have had near perfect riding weather here in Middle Tennessee and bikers (other than me) all over the area have been taking full advantage of it. In fact, I counted 14 bikes yesterday afternoon just on my 18 mile trek home from the office.
As you can imagine, I was about to have a breakdown so I contacted my buddy from the next town over and we made plans to meet at the local Honda/Suzuki Dealer this morning for their monthly breakfast… and from there we planned to head to the not-so-mythical-land of “Idon’tknowwherewearebutIlikeit”-ville!
I got up early and made sure the SV’s tire pressure was good, checked the oil level and was on my way by 7:30am. About 3 blocks from the house I stopped and topped off with 93 octane and just as I put the nozzle back in the pump… I felt it. A fine mist on my cheek. In a fit of denial I headed on towards the meet-up location and before I hit 5 miles on the trip-odometer the heavens opened up and flooded me and the SV. I was bummed for sure (this was not forecasted) but reluctantly turned around and headed back to the house. Regardless of how bad I wanted to ride, spending the morning fighting wet roads and wet clothes trumped it all.
On a positive not though, I did grab a couple of pics of the SV before I left so getting it out wasn’t a total waste. And I did go on to the breakfast (caged) to meet my friend. We had a good time slamming a few pancakes and looking around the shop at all the bikes. BTW, he did make it there on his Kitana. I grabbed the shot of him below as he headed home.
A second B E A U T I F U L day in a row here in Middle Tennessee (see thermometer below) dictated that I must ride again… and since the Electra Glide got the nod yesterday, I decided to hop on the SV for today’s jaunt. I like this little bike but I am thinking more and more that I would really like to sell it. I’ve got the Sportster bug pretty bad… but I don’t know… we will see.
BONUS! Here’s a a little Stupid Video Trick I shot during a brief break from riding today. What can I say… I’m easily amused!