13 June 2012
The Value of Education
I'm calling him "Roswell".
We drove four hours to pick him up last week. The bike isn't exactly what I thought it was gonna be... stupid me. I was under the impression the Suzuki "VStrom" was a dual-purpose motorcycle, capable of going off-road if absolutely necessary. I didn't pay enough attention to the seller's photos on eBay... if I had, I would have noticed the clip-on handlebars and rearset controls. BUT... the bike only had 3400 miles on it, so I still might have bought it.
The bike I bought is a typical sportbike. I'll immediately look into the possibility of replacing the handlebars for a more upright "sit up and beg" seating position...
I'm sixty-five years old for heaven's sake... All scrunched over on this thing, I look like an idiot.
Like my Moto Guzzi "Pizza Bike", Roswell has a 90-degree V-twin engine.
But the bikes are worlds apart-
My 1993 Guzzi has a 1000cc air-cooled engine while the 2003 Suzuki is a water cooled 650cc. Water cooling dampens the mechanical noises produced by the engine. Water cooling on the newer bike also allows for the engine to be built with tighter clearances resulting in higher horsepower per cubic centimeter displacement. Pizza Bike has an overhead-valve pushrod engine. Roswell is a more modern overhead camshaft design... again, advantage Suzuki. But considering the two bikes have a similar engine configuration, I expected vibration levels on Roswell to be similar to those on Pizza Bike.
Two days after bringing the bike home I went to the DMV, transferred the title, and got new plates for Roswell. After attaching the plate to the bike I pushed it out of the garage to take it for my first test-spin. I pushed the starter button...
The starter engaged but didn't turn the engine over... the battery was almost dead.
I grabbed the charger and started looking for the battery to juice it up, and couldn't find it. It's buried in the bowels of this little bike somewhere. In the middle of my workweek, I had to hit the hay so I gave up on it and went to bed.
I got home this morning determined to start the bike. There's a considerable hill about a block from our house, so after checking to see the battery still had a little life left in it I pushed the bike to the top of the hill and started the downhill run. At about 25 mph I kicked the bike into third gear and popped the clutch. The rear tire skidded and the bike quickly came to a stop. I pushed the bike back to the top of the hill and, out of breath, found a shady place to lower my heartrate.
Downhill once again at 25 mph, this time I stood up, then plopped my butt down on the seat at the same time I popped the clutch. The bike fired immediately and the exhaust sang a beautiful song.
I waited until the water temperature gauge rose above 150 degrees, then set off on that first ride.
I HATE the seating position and gotta do something about it right away.
The vibration level on this bike is amazing. This engine is actually ALMOST as smooth as my six-cylinder GoldWing. How did Suzuki do that?
I LOVE the sound of the thing.
Perceptions can fool ya, but I think this 650cc machine is faster than the 1000cc Moto Guzzi. I'll probably get accustomed to it, but right now the acceleration of the little bike surprises me.
The tachometer is red-lined at 11,000 rpm. Boy does this engine sing!
So I've bought a machine quite different than what I thought I was buying, but...
I have learned several things:
I like the engine A LOT. The bike handles better than anything I've ridden before and I suspect it will get close to 60 mpg, so if I can set it up for me to ride comfortably it'll be a great commuter. Otherwise, I'll smile with my newly-found education, sell this bike and look for another VStrom with higher bars.
What's the value of experience and knowledge?
Surprisingly, one day of riding has given me quite a bit of both.