03 June 2011
A Day On Pizza Bike
Is there a Swiss Army Knife of motorcycles? If so, I want one.
The forecast for yesterday was spot on-
Mostly sunny, 92 degrees, relatively low humidity, chance of rain... almost non-existent.
I was looking at a day of driving here and there to cover necessary errands, culminating in attendance at a going-away party for a couple fellow workers. Sara Jean couldn't come along, so it was a good day to roll out the Italian Stallion and let its 90-degree V-Twin bark. At the end of the day I had spent over five hours in the saddle, covering a total of 210 miles.
Two days ago Sara Jean and I spent the afternoon touring the scenic countryside on the six-cylinder GoldWing. It was impossible to not compare the two machines.
The GoldWing is a two-wheeled automobile. Heavy and a handful at a walking pace, the heavy feeling disappears as soon as you can put your feet on the pegs. The full fairing protects you from the wind. The engine is butter-smooth and the exhaust note is nearly non-existent. The stereo has no noise to compete with, and AC/DC never sounded better on the newly installed rear speakers. The electronic cruise control works the same as it does in your car.
And there's the true comparison...
It's a wonderful ride. But is it motorcycling?
On the Guzzi my head is slightly above the windscreen and my face shield is exposed to the passing air. The wind doesn't batter my body, but I need to clean bug entrails from my face shield when I stop to refuel.
At idle the mirrors are useless...
Engine vibration makes them dance so badly you can't use 'em. That vibration mostly goes away above 2500 rpm...
There is always a slight buzz in the handgrips and footpegs. On Pizza Bike you can never forget there is a MOTOR on this motorcycle. It has a muted exhaust note... a pleasant staccato sound. Couple that with the fact that half my head is up in the breeze and you can see a stereo system would be useless on this bike.
At the end of the day when I finally swung my leg off the Guzzi I was a little sore and stiff in my saddle, but I had a smile on my face. And I can see why folks like Jay Leno and Billy Joel have a collection of motorcycles...
And the answer to my question at the start of this post is obvious.
No, there is no Swiss Army Knife of motorcycles. They are all compromises with different goals. GoldWings are called "slab burners" for a reason...
Heavy, comfortable, stable and quiet, the "two-wheeled car" description is exactly what they strive for. You're still "in the wind", but the rest of the experience is as car-like as Honda can make it.
The Guzzi is a motorcycle. It's crude in many ways, but the experience is much like riding a horse...
It snorts. It demands your constant attention. At the end of a ride you are saddle-sore. And if you're a true motorcyclist, like me, you'll have a smile on your face.
So how many motorcycles are needed to cover all the uses of that Swiss Army Knife?
For me, adding a couple more to the stable would do it.
I'd like a small, (250cc?) naked bike to use for zipping around town. (Maybe even one of these new scooters?) I'd like an enduro style motorcycle of 350cc's or so to use for off-roading. I think my bases could all be covered by those four bikes.
But I know that once I had those four I'd start thinking about refining each of the categories and there'd be a real temptation to add to the inventory. Licensing and insurance would be a problem for anyone without Jay Leno's income stream.
To my fellow cycle-crazo's out there...
What bikes would be in your perfect corral?