Monday, July 20, 2009

Spice of Life

Variety. What a world we live in that we have the option of hundreds of different makes, models, sizes, shapes, and colors of two-wheeled entertainment! My Dad just bought his first bike: a Yamaha Star-950, and graciously allowed me the opportunity to try it out. Before getting into the meat of this post, allow me to caveat that I am much more of a sport/sport-tourer guy than I am a cruiser guy. But beyond that, I am definitely a motorcycle guy. So onward...

My first impressions of the V-Star 950 were of its excellent ergonomics. The bike was easy to mount, the controls well-placed, and the seat height pleasantly low. The mid-size weight of the bike felt very manageable. My Dad got the touring package, so it included the side bags and windscreen. One minor negative was that the voluminous side bags are not large enough to hold a full face helmet. The windscreen seemed excellent for around-town use; most will probably want something a bit larger for heavy-duty touring.

A turn of the key and press of the ignition was rewarded by a very nice exhaust note. The sound is beefy and low without being obnoxious. I snapped it into first gear and pulled away smoothly. The clutch required very little effort and had a nice wide friction zone. The throttle response was a bit jerky at the slowest (walking) speeds, but quickly became steady at anything above that.

I was a bit hesitant on turns because I had heard that cruisers in general, and the 950 particularly, do not allow for very deep lean angles. But what I found was that the bike actually handles quite well. I made some pretty sharp slow-speed turns without incident. I did not try to get a knee down or anything, but also didn't have a problem scraping the floorboards.

What I ultimately learned was how fun it is to ride something as different from my normal experience as a cruiser. If you are in the market for one, I recommend you take a peek at the 950. It offers a great selection of features at a rather economical price point. And the new engine is fuel-injected.

Now who has a Ducati 1198 that they'd let me try...

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