Friday, May 1, 2009

One Bear, Two Wheels

I have owned numerous two-wheeled vehicles over the years, and my path to riding a motorcycle as my primary vehicle has been quite an unusual one. I thought it would be interesting to take a trip in the way-back machine and follow my two-wheel evolution:

My first experience with two wheels was astride a red banana-seat Huffy. This bike provided quite a taste of freedom to a budding eight-year old. I remember attaching numerous gadgets (farkle?) to it in order to simulate engine noises. I even mounted a water jug in the frame as a faux gas tank, and poked a small hole in the bottom so the 'gas' would run out as I rode! Good times.

The early eighties ushered in the age of the chrome-moly, mag-wheel, BMX. Mine was a surprise gift from my Dad -- a silver and black beauty of a bike. I felt unstoppable astride its thick frame. This bike carried me through the eighth grade before finally being retired.

My entry into high school was accompanied by a brown Schwinn ten-speed bike given to me by my step-father. Sitting perched atop its narrow seat took some getting used to, but the ten gears made it all worthwhile. My mom started sending me to the store for milk and such (a 14-mile round trip).

A long two-wheel hiatus into adulthood and I bought myself the cadillac of mountain bikes: a 2003 Cannondale Jekyll 1000. 21 gears, "Lefty" fork, hydraulic disc brakes, and all the trimmings. I even rode it a few times.

A coworker of mine brought his GoPed to work one day and allowed me a test ride around the parking lot. My initial nervousness melted instantly and I had to have one for myself. I even commuted on it during the summer -- my job was only two miles away. Can't beat 140 MPG, too!

The first GoPed with a true seat and chain drive was the logical upgrade for me. I commuted on this wee death trap for about a year. The GoBike was the cause of my most serious crash to date: I gunned the throttle at a green light, but was leaning back too far. The front wheel pawed the air and I was thrown off the back. Unfortunately, I was still holding on to the throttle and the bike dragged me across the intersection. Shorts did not provide much in the way of protection. Lesson learned.

The same coworker brought his Vespa ET-4 scooter to work and generously allowed me a test ride. The leap from 50cc glorified skateboard to 150cc full-fledged scooter was awesome. I immediately began looking for my very own. I prefer a more modern aesthetic than the traditional "Vespa" style, so ended up buying a Piaggio BV-200. I got my learner's permit and practiced on city streets for about nine months before getting my license. I later ended up selling it to that coworker.

At this point I was completely smitten by scooters and lusted after something bigger. Of all the options at the time, the 500cc Aprilia Scarabeo had the best features and style. I loved the larger wheels, the larger engine, the built-in topcase storage, and the classy look. Unfortunately, a change in my employment situation necessitated that we part ways.

I have always been attracted to innovation, and that is what caused me to purchase a Piaggio MP3 scooter. Riding one is quite an experience -- the two wheels up front provide an amazing degree of stability and traction -- yet it still leans like a traditional two-wheeler. While it was an entertaining reentry back to the world of scooters, my ownership was short-lived. Just a few months later Aprilia released the...

...Mana 850. Holy cow! An 850cc V-Twin mated with Italian style, faux tank storage, and an automatic CVT transmission!!! My dream "scooter". The Mana was an absolute delight in and around the city. I happily commuted the seven miles to work on it. Technically I still own the Mana, though I have loaned it to my Dad who recently got his license.

My job moved from seven miles on surface streets to twelve miles on the freeway. At the same time, the lease on my car ran out. I was faced with a decision. And if you've read this blog at all, you know that I bought the first bike that replaced having a car for me: the Yamaha FJR-1300.

Who knows what the future holds?

No comments:

Post a Comment