For almost five years I enjoyed this motorcycle, but the day came today to say goodbye. Cathy was the one who talked me into buying it (no lie!), and I loved having it. But I no longer ride it for recreation; my bicycle gets all my fun time. Our van will need to be replaced soon, so the motorcycle money will return to the auto savings account from which it came in the first place. I am so happy I had the chance to own a motorcycle!
This is a video taken from the back of my friend’s motorcycle on the way home from church. The most fascinating thing to me has been driving around town and taking in everything going on here.
As much as I like my work, by comparison it just seems a little mundane. That’s good, because it means things have gone fairly smoothly and we’ve been able to make plans and talk to students here in this city.
Lunch today was at Osteen Diner with my friend, Dave. We got there on our motorcycles on a very warm Florida November day. Lunch was good. Travel was better. Dave let me ride his Harley Davidson back home, a bike twice the size of mine. Fun.
After my first unsuccessful attempt at getting the brakes on my 1986 Yamaha XJ700 Maxim motorcycle working a few weeks ago, I did more research and found out that Yamaha never intended for their brake lines (rubber hoses surrounded by steel spring guards) to be in use longer than 4 years. It had been 22 years on my bike, and since brakes are the biggest safety element on a motorcycle, it seemed wise to finally replace them.
While I was at it, I decided to rebuild the master cylinder, too. It wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be. Along with the replacement parts I bought a special set of ‘circlip’ pliers that made the job possible. Amateur Mechanic Lesson 1: get the right tools.
My friend, Dave B, helped me install these a week ago. It wasn’t too difficult, but making the new lines actually fit was a bit of a brain puzzler (as was the master cylinder job). Stainless steel brake lines don’t twist at all, so you have to figure out which position allows them to connect smoothly at the fittings.
Now I have a whole new lexicon of motorcycle brake terms, and I learned how to operate a brake bleeding pump and a torque wrench (not hard). Compared to the corroded, old, water-in-the-brake-fluid system the bike had when I bought it, the new brakes are incredible!
My friends, Dan and Dave, helped me rebuild the front brake caliper assemblies on my motorcycle today. The good news is that Dan really knows how to recondition brakes, and we got my 22 year old brake assemblies back into good condition. The bad news is that we never regained pressure in the brake lines, so these newly cleaned brakes don’t work. Good thing Dan lives nearby, because I drove home on just the rear brake. Something tells me the next step is rebuilding the master cylinder, but I’m hoping not.
Last night I became a motorcycle owner, and today I did my first commute to work on it. It was the first time I’ve enjoyed the commute to the office since when I rode my bike to work back in Budapest. It was really fun!
While we were away Cathy talked me into buying that Yamaha Maxim I had been riding. It was actually harder for me to find a justification for it, but I finally found one. I’ll use our auto savings for it until we need to buy another car. Then I’ll sell the motorcycle and put the money back into the auto savings fund. That’s the plan for now anyway. I get the motorcycle Sunday afternoon. Woohoo!
A friend of mine let me know of a motorcycle for sale last week; a 1986 Yamaha Maxim. I decided to take it for a test ride, as my friend had it at the office. It has a 700 cc engine, half the size of the V-Rod I rented but it was still a fun ride. It’s not something I was ready to act on, so I figured it was just another fun experience.
But then last night my friend called me again and said the same bike was available for me to ride this weekend if I wanted. The owner is certainly a smart man, providing opportunity for a potential buyer to get hooked on the product. But I’ll take that risk anyway.
Last night I did another night run around the neighborhood, and later today (after I finish my chores) I’ll take it out for another spin.
Included in the tuition for our motorcycle class was a free one-day Harley rental. Today was the day, and I am now completely ruined. Even though they’re way overpriced, Harley V-Rods ($19k) are really cool bikes and I REALLY NEED one now. I used to think our recently acquired Escort had good acceleration, but after dropping off the bikes tonight and driving it home, I was wondering why it felt like a school bus by comparison. It’s a good thing I have no money for such things, otherwise Harley Davidson would have it now.
Seven of us started out the day riding together and headed northeast on the back roads toward the coast. After lunch in Osteen three of the group headed home while the remaining four of us continued on to put our feet in the ocean at Harley Mecca, Daytona Beach.
Riding a motorcycle with no windshield at, let’s say, “highway speeds” is not unlike holding on to the side of airplane in flight. Pretty fun, but the faster you go the harder it is to hold on. That V-Rod’s 125 horsepower was smooth all the way through the gears and really easy to ride, other than the wind.
None of us had any close calls during the day either, but ironically I almost got hit twice (by cars) in the Harley Davidson store parking lot as I was pulling the bike around to park it at the end of the day.
This was certainly one of the funnest days I have ever had, and I’m hoping it won’t be the last of its kind.
Yesterday I borrowed a friend’s motorcycle and did some more learning-driving. He has a Kawasaki Concours (an older model), and it had plenty of power. After a few trips across the CCCI Lake Hart campus, I ventured out south down Moss Park Road and around Lake Mary Jane. Really fun. On the way back I opened it up on the straightaway to several miles an hour over 55. It rode as smooth at that speed as it did at 35.
Yesterday afternoon I got a new driver’s license; one that has a motorcycle endorsement. And we made reservations for our complimentary one-day Harley rentals for next Friday. I reserved a V-Rod. “Are you sure you want that much horsepower?” was the Harley salesman’s question. So now I’m shopping for full-face helmets since the Harley store only rents half-helmets. Maybe that will make up for the extra horsepower.
And the “shocked” license photo got shredded yesterday, too. It went out with glory. I asked the license clerk who took my new picture if I could see it before she printed my new license. “My last one got comments for ten years,” I said. “Ya, it’s the eyes,” was her comeback. “I saw your license and wondered what you’d look like in person.” D’oh.
Ever since moving back from Budapest almost two years ago I have wanted to get a motorcycle. Maybe it was all the big American cars around that made me want something opposite that; maybe it was that I owned one too many of those big American cars myself. Either way, when I found out that the local Harley dealership offered classes I decided to do it and got a few friends to join me.
We had classroom instruction last night and parking lot maneuvers today for six hours. Today was really fun! I get why people like riding motorcycles so much – and we never left the parking lot. This class includes a free one-day rental of a Harley. We plan to terrorize our neighborhoods on that day and are looking forward to it. (Not sure our wives are ready to be Harley chicks quite yet.)
Partly scary about the whole thing is that we fell right into the demographic they sell to: 40 – 60 year olds. Ouch. All the Harley promotional videos and safety films had middle aged men and women in them.