Pushed it too far riding

Well last weekend was good right up until I pushed it all a bit too far on the ride Sunday and messed my head up again. I rode the bike over to Prineville via the Crooked River Canyon, then over to Smith Rock for pics, then hit Lower Bridge Road to Holmes Road to Hwy 20 and back to Bend. I realized at the Three Sisters viewpoint between Sisters and Bend that I might’ve gone too far. The next and following days confirmed it. Ugh.

The good news–if there’s good news–is that I’ve been able to continue to function this time. I even rode a little this weekend, but more importantly, I got the tools necessary to pull the Goose’s front wheel and then took it to the Motoshop in Bend and got the new tire installed. I’ve had it out a couple of times, riding gently to scrub the tire in, but so far so good.

Bandit-O Bye Bye

The Bland-It found a new home recently. I sold it on August 22–less than two weeks after buying it. That makes the Bandit the shortest-lived motorbike I’ve ever owned. I didn’t even consider shedding a tear as it left the shop–aside from the $300 a paid for my mistake (bought for $300 more than final selling price). Of course, I still have the Corbin seat to sell, so that number could go down some in the not too distant future, but so far I’ve gotten no bites on that and it’s been on CraigsList since the Bandit went bye bye.

Gone and good riddance. Wish he'd bought the Corbin seat along with it.
Gone and good riddance. Wish he’d bought the Corbin seat along with it, now I have to try and sell that…and worse, probably ship it.

 

After a little bit of¬†CraigsListing–well, maybe more like a little bit of CraigsList obsessing–and one visit to a cool but high-mileage BMW R1100GS, I emailed the owner of a 2002 Moto Guzzi California Stone to see whether he’d haul the bike down to me. The following weekend a special delivery found its way to me.

The new-to-me Moto Guzzi California Stone 1100 arrives courtesy of its former owner
The new-to-me Moto Guzzi California Stone 1100 arrives courtesy of its former owner

 

The first ride had me wondering whether I’d gotten a lemon when two problems surfaced: the gas cap wouldn’t come off…and then wouldn’t go back on…and the shift linkage came apart at the end of the ride. Both problems have been resolved as of right now–both are documented. Neither one was a deal breaker, not when the bike proved to be so enjoyable to ride. As of right now the main thing it needs is a new tire which I ordered the day after the first ride and am currently storing in the shop until I can figure out how to prop the bike up long enough to get the front wheel removed.

I’ve had the bike just over a week as of this writing and have put over 300 miles on it and am happy with it so far. It handles really well, the brakes are great, the motor has plenty of power, it has a big enough gas tank, it’s comfy and it sounds great with the stock exhaust. Could be a keeper.

I rode the McKenzie Pass on it today–both directions–and it was pure joy. Have also taken it up to Mt. Bachelor via Sunriver and out near Powell Butte and Alfalfa (first ride was out that way).

Here are some pics…the bike is very photogenic.

What a nice looking Stone in front of those rocks.
What a nice looking Stone in front of those rocks.
One of my first rides was up to Brasada Ranch which sits on Powell Butte. The view of the mountains is great from here.
One of my first rides was up to Brasada Ranch which sits on Powell Butte. The view of the mountains is great from here.
Nope...not part of the reality series. Just the ski resort near Bend.
Nope…not part of the reality series. Just the ski resort near Bend.
The windshield is nice when there's no wind...but I hate it when it's windy so have taken it off for now.
The windshield is nice when there’s no wind…but I hate it when it’s windy so have taken it off for now.
The Guzzi handles amazingly well for a cruiser--actually it handles amazingly well for any bike.
The Guzzi handles amazingly well for a cruiser–actually it handles amazingly well for any bike.

Meet my Suzuki Bland-It

Nope that’s not a typo. I meant to put the “L” in there. I did mean to call the bike bland. But let me explain…

I went on vacation a little while ago and came back and sold my 2008 WR250R the very next day. I was thrilled. Finally I could start shopping for my next motorcycle–a street bike this time. I was fairly certain I wanted a Yamaha FZ1…a bike I nearly bought back in 2002 but instead I got the Honda 919. Back then I test rode the Honda, the Yammie FZ1 and a naked Suzuki Bandit just like my new bike. I ended up with the 919–mainly because it just felt right…probably just good (Honda-esque) ergos. The Bandit was never a contender back then.

Anyway, I went and looked at several bikes this time: a cool 1983 Honda V65 Sabre, two Yamaha FZ1s, a 1997 Honda VFR and finally the 2003 Bandit. Even though the VFR is very close to the bucket list bike (the fifth-gen VFR…which I’m taking off the bucket list–more on that later) and the FZs were both really nice, I ended up with the Bandit. It was in much better shape, with low miles (8656 when I got it) and it was practically a single-owner bike that had been well taken care of. Oil looked new in the site glass and the bike is in mint condition. Best looking used bike I’ve ever bought. Period. Plus the owner was in treatment for cancer and a lung infection…which made me feel better about buying myself another bike.

Next day I took the bike on a 100 mile ride over to Prineville and back via the Crooked River Canyon. On the ride I discovered many things. First, I found the bike to be completely¬†bland to ride. It wasn’t fun in any way. It has power, but doesn’t feel fast like my ZRX1200R did. It has decent suspension but it’s not terribly confidence inspiring. It’s relatively comfy, but my shoulders, back and knees hurt before I even made it to Prineville (and I won’t even get into the high-frequency vibes at 65-70 mph that bugged the snot out of me). The reach to the bars felt really far for an upright, standard-style bike. The brakes are good, but not great, lacking feel and bite. Oh and it’s a five-speed. That bugged me a little on the test ride, but on the ride to Prineville and back it made me nuts…I just kept reaching for a 6th gear that wasn’t there.

Before I got close to Prinville I was already wondering whether I’d made a mistake and by the time I made it up the canyon on the way back, I was certain of it–I bought the wrong bike. Instead of being annoyed, I jammed…put on my headphones and had tunes the rest of the ride home. Since the bike is so quiet that worked out well.

When I got back to the house, I pulled the bike into the shop, lubed the chain, cleaned off all the bugs and put the bike back on CraigsList. Should’ve just kept the WR250R and put a bigger tank on it. The WR was fun, modern, useful and comfortable. The Blandit is none of those things. I don’t care if I ever ride it again. What a waste of time, energy and money. Hopefully I can fix this before the riding season is up. Not sure what I’ll buy as there’s not much out there I’m interested in, but am thinking about another 650cc dual sport–maybe a KLR.

I’ve done this before–with an MV Agusta Brutale. The biggest difference is the MV was beautiful, sexy, fun and charismatic. It was also brutal to ride–suspension was so stiff it just beat you up unless you were on glass-smooth tarmac…and the roads around here are not glass smooth. I kept the Brutale for more than a month before giving up on it. This time it took less than 24 hours.

And the VFR thing? This is the second time I’ve had a chance to buy one when I’ve had cash and I ALWAYS buy something else. I realized that no matter how much I like the sound of the VFR and all the reviews, I don’t want a bike with all the plastic.

Last but not least, a couple photos of the Bland-It from my one and only ride.

Not a pleasant place to spend any length of time.
Not a pleasant place to spend any length of time.
It's better the further I get from it.
It’s better the further I get from it.
Nothing snarky to say. At least it was quiet enough that I could enjoy my tunes.
Nothing snarky to say. At least it was quiet enough that I could enjoy my tunes.
That's it's best trick...looking good.
That’s it’s best trick…looking good.
I wanted to chuck it in the water instead of ride it.
I wanted to chuck it in the water instead of ride it.

Riding season is in full swing

Riding Season has been going full-bore here in Central Oregon. We’ve even had enough rain to keep the dust down lately, making for a great time to be hitting the fire roads around here. Unfortunately I haven’t been riding much. A job change about a month and a half ago–back to my old company–combined with work on my new project, a trip out to Raleigh, NC and maintenance around the property hasn’t left much time for riding. Couple all that with my wife’s new job that has her attending after-hours and weekend events frequently and I seem to be stuck at home an awful lot. Definitely not living up to my “ride more” New Year’s resolution.

That said, there have been a couple of highlights: a ride on the Ural out to Prineville and beyond with my buddy and a really good right last night that started nearby–Horse Butte–and ended with me riding clear down to Sunriver, up to Mt. Bachelor and through the Tetherow community in Bend. Was only an hour and change, but the weather, traffic and moment were all just perfect. Have also managed to get my wife to ride with me in the Ural several times this summer and that’s always a treat.

Here’s a few pics from recent rides.

This shot was taken coming back down from the hills. The Ural in the foreground is my buddy's 2004 Tourist. He's put a ton of miles on it--accompanied by a fair share of work keeping it running.
This shot was taken coming back down from the hills. The Ural in the foreground is my buddy’s 2004 Tourist. He’s put a ton of miles on it–accompanied by a fair share of work keeping it running.
This ride up into the mountains behind Prineville was awesome. Light rain and cold, but the Urals seemed right at home. Need to get back up there on two wheels.
This ride up into the mountains behind Prineville was awesome. Light rain and cold, but the Urals seemed right at home. Need to get back up there on two wheels.
There's a really nice winding road through the Tetherow development in Bend right now. One day it'll be too busy to be fun...like Mt. Washington Drive...but for now it's all grins.
There’s a really nice winding road through the Tetherow development in Bend right now. One day it’ll be too busy to be fun…like Mt. Washington Drive…but for now it’s all grins.
The WR worked well at altitude. Doesn't Century Drive just make you want to hang a left and run for the hills in this picture?
The WR worked well at altitude. Doesn’t Century Drive just make you want to hang a left and run for the hills in this picture?

And the two-moto dream was reborn

So it didn’t last long…me down to just the WR250R. Back in April I acquired my third Ural. This one is a 2010 Patrol with just under 10K kilometers on the odometer. It also has almost every farkle you can put on one of these things already installed. The Patrol is also one of two models in Ural’s lineup that has 2WD–and the second Ural I’ve owned with 2WD.

I’ll write more about it later but wanted to get a post up with a couple of photos. I’m already a giant hit with all my coworkers, but more importantly, I’m a big hit with my girls.

Ural and girls and me