No not turtles. Oh that reminds me – I do have to sit through the latest one.
I test rode the Ninja 1000sx this afternoon. I really wanted to like it, it was smooth, plenty of power. Nice seating position and I can’t see it struggling with full panniers or two up. Brakes seemed good too.
But I found that the seat had two creases that I found quite uncomfortable after only a few short minutes. Even after I got off the bike I still was a bit uncomfortable for at least a half an hour. That really made it hard to like the bike.
The VFR moves back to the top of the list and I’m considering that the newer one is the better choice. Revised and refreshed with some better technology. And available at some reasonable prices second hand.
Commuting home on the Daytona the other day I finally decided that it was no longer the bike for me.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic bike. And I’m still super happy to have decided that my experiment into the sportbike world was on such a sweet machine. Its performance is amazing, handling is fantastic. It’s actually pretty easy to ride every day even in traffic. And I have travelled some distance on it.
It is the decision two years in the making, ever since the roo jumped onto the Hume and laid down my VFR. I didn’t enjoy the track day, I don’t have time or the real interest in putting effort (time, money and stress) into track day schools. I have also decided that I don’t really like heading out to the same road and just repeating it over and over.
I want to head out for a couple of hours (or days or weeks) and explore. Heck, this even sounds like my WoW interests, lol. The Daytona doesn’t really lend itself to that. I’m not out there wanting to shave seconds off time, I’m happy cruising along at the speed limit(ish) and eating miles looking around. A topbox would be great for work commute.
So I’m heading back to the Sports Tourer world
But no idea how I’m going to pay for it.
Sell the Daytona is the first step.
That should give me enough money to get a good condition VFR800, say 2010 or so. A known bike I would be content with.
So what else?
Well the new VFR seems an obvious choice. I have decided to loosen up my personal restriction and investigate the over 1000cc bikes. Otherwise, there basically isn’t anything to choose from that isn’t choked by Learner Approved restrictions. I may also consider the strongly road orientated “adventure” bikes, this opens it up somewhat too. I would like at least a windscreen (so no nakeds please!) and hope for factory panniers/topbox. LED headlights are a big plus having experienced that in my car now. The difference between normal halogen and LEDs is massive! Maybe I would have seen that roo???
So my list currently has
Honda VFR800 – Newer than my old one. Has LED Lights, same sweet engine and similar ergonomics. Almost a known factor, can get second hand too. Panniers/topbox, tick.
Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX – I step up to 1000cc. Plenty of power. LED lights, ABS, traction control. Panniers OR topbox, not both at same time.
Triumph Tiger Sport – LED lights, ABS, traction control. I presume options for topbox, panniers. More adventure tourer than sports tourer. 1000cc triple (triples are sweet). Heated grips etc etc.
Yamaha MT-09 Tracer. – LED lights, ABS, traction control. I presume options for topbox, panniers. More adventure tourer than sports tourer. 900cc triple (triples are sweet). Heated grips etc etc.
All four of those are improvements on the version before. Better suspension or better tuned engines, improved seating or some such. Ninja, VFR and Tracer should be available in good second hand versions, without some of the newer bits and pieces (LED lights mostly).
I can’t really think of any others. Possibles might include Suzuki GSX1000F (though it’s pretty ugly). Ducati Multistrada 950.
I’ve put the Daytona up for sale at work. I’ve tested a 2017 VFR800, and plan to test the Ninja on Friday. I think thats the strongest alternate to the two VFRs.
The Daytona went in for a service yesterday. 40,000km in 4 years. I’m almost running it exactly 10,000 per year as each service comes up about Easter time.
Overall everything was okay but they thought at one stage that they had found a birds nest inside it. They described a bunch of sticks and flower down the intake near the air filter.
Didn’t make a lot of sense as the bike is ridden almost every day and stored in a garage. I didn’t see how a bird would decide to nest there, and I thought it unlikely that a mouse would have enough time to set up. I have heard of mice and other such things nesting in bikes, and even being there for some time, but it usually bikes that spend a chunk of time off the road (such as laid up for snowy northern hemisphere winters), but not really heard of it in bikes that are ridden often. So it was initially a mystery, but I think I’ve figured it out.
At work, the bike parking closest to my office is under a big tree. A big tree that also has heaps of tiny pink flowers. And that’s a match – I’ll have to park somewhere else from now on. Not too annoying as the next closest parking is about 20m away.
So apart from a new air filter there wasn’t anything of not from the service. And that’s good.
Now and then again I see something that drives it home again just how lucky I was 2 years ago in my bike crash. Today I watched some of a YouTube video where a bike ran a red light and hit a car. These guys were being complete wankers stunting on the street and rode through the lights at speed. I don’t have a problem with the stunting, its when these riders are blocking traffic, running lights or on the wrong side that they’re just being dickheads and giving riders a bad name.
While the first bike made it cleanly the second collected a car and the rider and his pillion were thrown across the bonnet and down. The pillion’s foot is either completely torn off or hanging by a thread. I didn’t look too closely. If you’ve a stronger stomach than me go and check it out.
I hit the road at a higher speed than these two and was lucky not to get thrown off more violently. I could have gotten tangled in the bike or the roo or slid heavily into the fence. I might have landed differently and torn part of myself apart as I slid 100m along the road. I might have been run over.
I wore a mix of good and great gear. I had a kept a fair bit of space around me in the very light traffic. But when the roo was there – there was NOTHING I could have done to avoid it.
But I was also lucky. Very lucky.
And now and then there’s something that makes a cold chill run down my back and remind me.
Wasn’t because he loved me… it was because he wasn’t paying attention.
I was commenting in on the Daytona the other morning and had stopped at a give way. The car behind then proceeded to drive into me. Not hard enough to knock me over, but hard enough to bend things.
It looks like the other guy (and he’s someone at my work too!) has gotten away with about $100 in damage – a bent bobbin (the little knob that is used with a paddock stand) and a bent indicator. I’ll be replacing both of them.
He claimed the sun was in his eyes etc etc. Rubbish he wasn’t paying attention.
Something you can’t help but pay attention to while riding is other drivers. For obvious reasons, a rider’s life is much more dependent upon being aware of what the cars (and other vehicles) around you are doing.
So after a few years in traffic you get to pick up signs of what people are planning to do, often even before they even realise it themselves. The guy glancing to his right – there’s a strong chance he’s going to be changing lanes. The car slow or moving about in their lane – probably on their phone, all these signs are there and sometimes you don’t even realise you’re seeing them. But you’re slowing or checking your escape options.
So when the the guy in the ute next to me is driving along with his hand on his indicator I was pretty certain he was just waiting for a chance to change into my lane. I had only a car length a bit in front of me, so when the ute moved forward a bit and indicated right (into my lane) I was not surprised or very happy. I held my ground as there was plenty of room behind and there was no reason for him to cut in so tightly.
And I’m well glad I did, the ute dropped back and changed behind me. Immediately he then changed further right, slowing for a turn lane.
So if I had let him in, he would have immediately slowed with me less than a car length behind him, and changed lanes again. A good chance that I might have crashed into him.
It didn’t go how I expected at all. There weather was warm but fine, if a little windy. I didn’t crash and that was an excellent result. I also made it up to 195kmh and I am confident that the bike could go a lot faster, I wasn’t very good at fully opening the throttle as quick as I could.
But I hated it.
I was terrified the whole time. Not so much about the possibility of crashing or even of getting hurt so much.
I think I was terrified that my bike would be damaged.
I felt a lot of pressure from the other riders and I know that was only perceived pressure, not actual pressure and that didn’t help.
I kind of feel that it was a combination of all of the things I don’t like about group rides and the only positive was the lack of things to run into.
There were a couple of small niggles about my bike that could have been hurting my confidence, but if it had been a ride out the Putty or something they wouldn’t have bothered me so I don’t think they were a big factor, certainly apart from a single moment in one turn the bike was flawless.
But coming down the main straight at 190kmh looking at the turn that others were taking at probably 180kmh I was terrified, slowing ages before the turn to I guess something like 100kmh.
It’s even got me to the point that I am considering changing bikes – getting a VFR or something rather than having a supersport. I do miss the VFR terribly (yes silly I know, it’s just a bike).
Do I try a track day again? I’m not sure. If I did I would want to fix those couple of things and they’re easy fixes.