Brought home a 2008 Kawasaki Versys

Well I just couldn’t stand it. Wasn’t selling or trading the XR quickly enough and this nice Versys came along so now I’m back up to three motorbikes. Geez.

What’s the Versys like to ride? One word: fun! Happily it’s also useful and easy to ride in town, plus gets good mileage. It’s got the stock exhaust and enough wind protection that I don’t get beat up riding it aurally or physically. And I’m not sure I’ve ever had a bike with a much better chasis. It really really handles well.

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Tuono gone-O

I swapped the Tuono for a 2008 XR650L on April 1st. I’d had the Tuono on Craigslist for nearly two months and the only intest I’d had was the trade. I initially turned the XR’s owner away, but eventually contacted him again thinking that it would probably be easier to unload the XR than the Tuono in the log run.

Will I keep the XR650 or ditch it right away…that’s the question. I’ve put nearly 200 miles on the XR so far and just today (4-7-2017) I listed it on Craigslist and ADVRider for trade. I was right about it being easier to unload–in the hour after posting it, I had two trade offers–of course they were for bikes I don’t want. That’s still twice as many offers as I got for the Tuono in the 1.5 months I had it on CraigsList most recently.

I did manage to make a fair amount of the miles I’ve put on the bike so far–probably 35-50 miles–be dirt miles. That’s not bad. As expected, thee XR is great in the dirt and seems to get better the harder I push it. The thing is, though, I really shouldn’t be pushing that hard in the dirt…by myself. At least on the street someone will run me over and call an ambulance. Out in the dirt, the buzzards will come get me and that’s about the best I could hope for.

 

The SV is gone now, back to two bikes

On February 18, 2017, I sent the SV650 home with its new owner: to Idaho. Paid $3600 and sold it for $3000. And sold it quickly. Probably due to the fact that it was under-priced. Since then the least I’ve seen them go for is more like $3300. Still–for $300 bucks, being done with it in a week or so is not bad at all.

Why the sudden ditching of a perfectly good bike? One that I liked riding, was in good shape, was cheap to ride, looked good and did basically everything I wanted? The One Moto Show in Portland that I attended about a week earlier. As part of the trip, I visited the Triumph, Guzzi, Ducati and Ural dealers. Sat on lots of bikes and decided I really needed a new Triumph Bonneville T120 for $12k. To make matters worse, when I sent a photo home to the wife, both she and the kids were egging me on to just get it.

At this point in the narrative you might think to yourself…why didn’t you just get the bike? Or maybe you’d wonder what would make my wife say something like that. I didn’t get the bike because money. And I think my wife was telling me that because my Dad had just died a few weeks earlier–that and I was in the midst of being extra unhappy at work. I think maybe she just wanted to give me something to look forward to. But I’m responsible, so I didn’t do it then, opting instead to come home and try and sell off the SV.

So yeah, sold the SV650 thinking I’d use the money towards getting the T120 and then I did something extra dumb. I traded the wife’s 2015 Honda on a 2017 Honda. Added almost exactly the price of the Bonneville onto our loan and now I have no SV and no hope of getting the Bonneville. Sigh.

Let’s make things better, shall we? Once again, the place my wife works is unable to pay her full salary. She got all of $100ish dollars for her last payday. And she’s scaling her hours back anyway…so even though I got a good raise around the holidays, I now see no way of being able to afford that T120.

And if that weren’t bad enough–at my own suggestion, I think we’re going to use the money I got for the SV to do something other than buy me a motorcycle. Whether it’s a vacation–origianlly we were thinking of Europe–or loading up on riding lessons for the girls, the moto money isn’t going for motos again.

So to recap: dead father, cruddy work, no SV650, no T120 and no hope of getting one and no money from the sale of the SV650. At least I still have the Tuono and the Patrol. Of course, the T is on Craigslist as I type this because–why wouldn’t it be.

So many moto-related things since March

There’s been all kinds of moto-stuff since March. Everything from Ural valve jobs to selling the DR650 to rides on the Tuono to getting an SV650 to Spoken Moto and donut Saturdays to now trying to sell the Tuono. Basically par for the course for me.

The valve job was completed with help from my good friend Eric who also helped me put the forks on the SV back where they’re supposed to be yesterday. Valves were easier than I thought, but I was surprised to find that–unlike other bikes I’ve worked on–the Ural valves seem to loosen over time…which is better than having them get too tight, I suppose. Bike was much quieter after we adjusted them back in spec.

This is the easy side.
This is the easy side.

 

Also managed to ride the Ural over McKenzie Pass for a photo shoot–along with some other nice rides around here. I rarely get good pics with the Ural, so was thrilled to get it out and about.

I sold the DR650 due to my wife having to endure a pay cut for about three or four pay periods. I didn’t want the motorcycle payment anymore. Took some of the proceeds and started an electric bicycle project…which is now up and running.

One of the last canyon blasts on the DR
One of the last canyon blasts on the DR
Phatty McPhat bike in the house
Phatty McPhat bike in the house

 

Once things got going again, the wife–wonderful supportive person that she is–encouraged me to borrow from savings to get another bike. Originally planned to get another dual sport but wound up with an SV650 instead. I finally found out why it’s such a good little bike and it’s much easier to ride in most situations than the Tuono…which is why I have the Tuono listed for sale now. Only one real bite so far, but I don’t think it’ll go anywhere as the prospective buyer is–rightfully–concerned about whether the 12K maintenance was done. I can’t verify any of it since the previous owner did the maintenance himself, so may  be stuck with it a while longer.

What if I sell the Tuono? I want to put money back in savings and possibly get a no-kidding old school motorcycle. Since I won’t have a lot of cash, it’ll likely be Japanese. Probably partly due to the influence of Spoken Moto…a new bike shop in town that sells coffee, beer, moto goodies and has a cool shop in back where they do moto restorations. Between hanging out there a bunch and instagram, I’m wanting a bike of my own to wrench on.

Thunder in the canyon

Yesterday was the day. I wasn’t sure I’d do it when I crawled out of bed. Felt like a truck hit me the night before. I’m still not sure whether the time change earlier in the week, the continued head problems, the St. Patty’s Day revelry or the intense work most of the day Friday did it to me. Maybe it was none of the above. Maybe they all played a roll. Who knows.

Whatever the reason for the tire prints over my forehead, I was almost in a bad enough state of mind and body to skip ridinng completely. After several cups of coffee and a little ham and cheese croissant from East Village Baker, I chased away most of the yuck feeling and suited up for a ride.

The weather was mercifully dry leading up to my Day of Thunder. We’ve had a really wet winter this year with lots of moisture of all types falling from the sky. Plenty of snow in the mountains this year which will hopefully lead to lots fewer stories about how low we are on water.

Heading out to the shop, I wasn’t 100% sure I’d get to ride the Aprilia. I hadn’t started it for a few weeks, though it had been on the good battery conditioner/charger for the last week in the hopes that I’d be able to ride. Once I got the seat reinstalled, I turned the key, waited on the bike to go through its pre-ride checks and hit the magic button. Whammo–the bike roared to life and things got real.

After wheeling the bike out in front of the shop to warm up, I grabbed my helmet and pulled it on, found my gloves and closed up the shop. After throwing a leg over the bike, I realized I was a little nervous. It’d been a while since I’d been on a bike this powerful.

I wasn’t about to back down, nerves or not, though. After three months of sitting in the shop, I was riding the bike one way or another. I’d also been thinking I needed to sell it to pay off the DR650–so this one ride would need to tell me whether the wait had been worth it and whether I’d be CraigsListing again soon.

The bike didn’t want to idle without a bit of the fast-idle dialed in, so I left it there, put the bike in gear and putzed around our gravel drive. Having managed that without falling down immediately, I was encouraged and headed down the half mile dirt road and onto Arnold Market. I was pleansantly surprised by the suspension and fueling as I made my way down that dirt road. No herky-jerky throttle weirdness and the bike soaked up the bumps well enough for a sporting motorcycle. I was afraid it would be like that old MV Agusta I owned for a few minutes…err, months…several years ago.

With all the power in that Rotax motor, I knew I’d be taking it easy as I pulled onto Arnold Market, but was still surprised by the motor’s character and, even though it’s not a 90 degree twin like a Ducati, I do love the sound. There’s truly nothing like the sound of a sporting V-Twin.

Another thing I was pleasantly surprised about as I pulled onto Rickard Road heading east was the ergonomics. My knees fit perfectly into the tank cutouts, allowing me to grip the bike easily. The reach to the handlebar is sporty without being overly aggresive and the distance from the seat to the pegs seemed to put just the right amount of bend in my knees. The seat was even reasonably comfortable.

I slowly worked in more throttle, enjoying the very modern feel of the engine–especially compared to everything I’ve ridden recently: the Ural, DR650 and Guzzi all have motors with LOTS of history. The Rotax motor just feels modern in the way it delivers power and in general just the way it runs.

Everything wasn’t perfect, though. I did expect the fairing up front to divert more air than it does and was a bit surprised by the amount of buffeting when I sat up really straight. The reach to the levers on both sides is also a little more than I’d like–even with the levers set at their closest setting (they’re both 4-way adjustable). Minor stuff really.

The more I rode, the more confident I became. Since I didn’t know how much gas was in the bike I wanted to hit the gas station before going too far. I found some ethanol free gas on the north end of town and a friendly attendant who might’ve hopped on the back of the bike and gone for a ride with me if I’d offered her the chance. Instead I pointed the bike towards the airport and the Powell Butte Hwy. My destination: the four mile twisty road to Pronghorn. The Tuono did not dissapoint.

There’s a pair of long sweeping curves at the north end of the runway and I was amazed at how planted the Aprilia felt through those–so much so that I found myself a few clicks above my normal speeds before I realized it.

Once I hit the Pronghorn road, the Tuono really came alive. While I agree with the saying that it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast, it’s also more work.  Conversely I believe it’s just easier to be fast on a fast bike. While that may seem like a “duh” sort of thing to say, when you have a motor like the Rotax in the Tuono, gear selection is almost irrelevant–which allows you to just focus on picking your lines, setting the throttle and braking as necessary. No clutching and shifting unless you just want to–that’s two fewer appendages to worry about.

The Tuono feels so stable at speed and through corners that I don’t even notice riples and bumps in the road that normally fling me around on other motorcycles like the DR650. I was so amazed by the bike’s stability that I actually took the DR650 back to Pronghorn today. The difference between the two is even greater than I remembered with the Tuono staying comletelty composed through the curves and the DR bending, flexing and deflecting off of every imperfection in the road. I was able to manage similar speeds on the DR and it was exciting but not in the same way.

After the Pronghorn road, I couldn’t help it. I wanted more and the best place to get more wasn’t far away. First, though, I took a left out of Pronghorn and headed towards Prineville. Each of the big sweeping curves on the Powell Butte Hwy offered further proof of the Tuono’s abilities. The best part, though, was heading down into Prineville. The road winds back and forth around swippers and even a hairpin. Just before the descent I’d picked up a tail: a Ducati Diavel. Normally I can’t go around those curves very quickly due to their weird camber, but the Tuono slid around them so easily that soon the Diavel was well behind me and I couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear.

In Prinveille, I stopped at Starbucks for an Americano and a sandwich and sat outside to gaze on the lovely red motorcycle that was quickly working its way into my soul. A car full of tourists stopped and asked if they could take photos with the Tuono. None of my other bikes generate love like this–though the Ural does get attention.

Brain bucket, caffeine and andrenaline  machine
Brain bucket, caffeine and andrenaline machine

I did something at Starbucks this time that I haven’t ever done. I rushed through my coffee and lunch so I could get back on the bike and head up the canyon. I actually passed a couple of cars on the way–something else I don’t do much of. As you can see from the photos, though, I did stop a couple of times. The Red Bike does photograph well. Almost as well as it rides.

Since I hadn’t come down through the canyon on the way to Prineville like normal, I didn’t know the roads were actually in pretty good shape, so I took it pretty easy on the way up. There are a few sections with especially rippled road and the Tuono’s suspension soaked that up without breaking a swat. It was never too harsh, never deflected, just followed the road and let me get on with the business of setting up for the next curve.

After all the fun I felt a little beat by the time I got up to Reservoir Road and started heading back towards home. One thing was certain after that ride. I won’t be selling the bike anytime soon if I can help it.