Saturday, July 28, 2012

Three Fat Guys, a Body Builder and a German Walk Into a Racetrack

Well walking into is kind of a stretch. It was more like, drove a massive Silverado dually towing a dual axel enclosed trailer that housed a golf cart. I want to ride down every year but am voted down by the swap meet majority in our group. I go mostly for the motorcycles and a bit of racing, they go to buy metric tons of motorcycle parts, hence the moving van sized transport. Now including Big Toe's jacked up golf cart, easier to tote all that swap meet booty back to the waiting cargo hauler and make fifty passes through the swap meet. It also carted our asses to places we had not been to around the track in the past.
Curly and Big Toe

The weather was in stark contrast to the lake of fire that was last years Vintage Motorcycle Days. I thought we would be in for a repeat of last years blazing inferno, especially with all the drought and triple digit temps most of the country has been suffering this year. Much to all of our delight, the weather was about picture perfect, mid eighties, low dew point and partly cloudy. But this post isn’t about the weather.
The 2012 Vintage Motorcycle Days event was kind of a blur this year. The golf cart mentioned earlier made getting around a breeze. It also made missing a thing or two like a ship passing in the night. I think I missed as many bikes as I saw. But one bike I didn’t pass by turned out to be a wicked CB750 produced buy the talented boys over at Café Fabrications. Much like the chopper boom a decade ago, café bikes have made a huge resurgence. I really don’t need to tell you that, if you’re into bikes this is something that is readily apparent to you. Out of all the builders I have seen over the last few years, Café Fabrications hit one out of the park with their well thought out and ultra trick CB750. The hair stood up on my arms the moment I saw this bike. It looks great from every angle. And I have seen countless custom CB café bikes over the years and none come close to this one in my opinion.
They took a beater ‘78 CB and polished it into a jewel. They have a beginning to end pictorial of the transformation on the Bespoke section of their website. They are whipping up trick parts that you, yes you, can buy and bolt onto your project. Of course the whole reason they created this stunning CB is to have a functioning tool to showcase their top shelf products. Swing arms, velocity stacks, exhaust flanges and engine covers are just a few of the tasty tidbits they are offering up for your consideration.
The highlight of this years event for me was getting to meet Surly after a bunch of years of reading his stuff and collaborating on a multi author blog for around a year. We have developed a blogging kinship over the years and it was great to meet him face to face. Although we didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking, about a half hour or so, he turned out to be every bit of the nice guy I knew him to be despite his moniker. Along with his Uncle John, we were supposed to go for a ride up the Western coast of Michigan last August. Unfortunately for me, I had to pass at the last minute because of a large project at work. This is a trip I am always going to regret missing because John is no longer with us.  The good part of last years trip is, Surly and John still went and Surly got to make a great memory with his Uncle that he will carry with him the rest of his life. Like John used to say, life is too short, don’t let it pass you by. I have a sneaking suspicion that Surly and I will meet again and go for more than a few rides

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's Time For 2012 Vintage Motorcycle Days

Well Surly and I are finally going to meet at VMD. Hope Y'all make it as well. See ya there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

1996 VFR750F

With the FJ down the road being enjoyed by a new caretaker, I turned my attention to finding a suitable ride to slip into the vacancy in my garage. I considered a few potential bikes that I have a thing for. First being a Kawasaki ZX11, I have always had a thing for these cruise missiles and found a low milage ‘96 model that ticked all the boxes that I look for when shopping for a new bike. Unfortunately the owner was out of town for a few days and the two others I checked on didn’t live up to their billing.

Next in line was a 2001 Triumph Sprint ST, this is the bike I really wanted. I love the looks, the sound of that triple, hard bags, it was RED and relative exclusivity in these parts. The owner would not answer his phone or return the messages I left. He finally answered the phone after four days and five calls to tell me that a man from Ohio just rode off on it ten minutes earlier. I almost chucked my phone through the window. My guess he already made a deal with this fellow had to wait a few days until he could make the trip from Ohio. And stayed true to his promise, can’t fault him for that.
There was a nice ‘97 Triumph Daytona in yellow pearl that struck my fancy, but the owner had an unrealistic price on it and we could not reach common ground. This bike is basically the same bike as the ST but with a thinner seat and lower bars. Actually the Speed Triple, Sprint ST, Sprint RS and Daytona are the same bike with bars, seats and body work switched around to appeal to a wide audience. Triumph and Harley have been using this marketing strategy since the beginning of time. It seems to work for them as they have no shortage of devotees.
I found a very clean low milage ‘04 Suzuki 1200 Bandit for good money, but I had already purchased the VFR by the time this gent got around to returning my call. This brings us to my new to me 1996 VFR750F. I almost deleted this ad from my list mainly because he was asking quite a bit more money than I was willing to spend. And I’m pretty much a liter bike guy. I love the extra power they afford especially on the expressway. They have the extra grunt to cruise effortlessly mile after mile. That same power can get you out of and away from some pretty sticky situations. Of course that same power can get you into some pretty sticky situations in a hurry as well.
After reading review after glowing review about the VFR, I decided it might just be the ticket I want to get punched. From what I was reading out there, this bike seemed like it might be some sort of magic carpet. It seems like no one has anything bad to say about this model, so I spent a dime and rang the owner up. He was looking to upgrade “his words” to a new ST1300 and was a motivated seller. I grabbed him by his ankles, turned him upside down and shook him till he saw that selling the bike to me at the price I was looking to pay was the best option for both of us. He had a wad of crisp hundred dollar bills to apply towards his new purchase and I got a great deal on a bike that I found pretty much lives up to the hoopla it was getting on all those web sites I was reading researching this bike. With styling lifted strait from the oval pistoned NR750, it looks just a bit exotic as well.
I have had the bike for a couple days now and can say that I absolutely love it so far. It is light compared to the bikes I am used to riding. It sounds awesome, has more than enough power for the freeway, and is comfortable to boot. It makes the FJ feel like a truck by comparison, there really is no comparison to be honest. This bike blows into the weeds in every category. With the purchase of this bike, it marks twelve years that I have used the same money to purchase six different bikes. The only bike I lost any money on was the 2001 Honda 750 Spirit I bought new. You tend to lose money on new vehicle purchases and is the main reason I don’t purchase too many of them. I have used the proceeds from the sale of that Spirit to buy every bike I have owned since then. The moral of this story boys and girls is, you make all your money on the sale of your bike when you purchase it. Buy well = sell well, it doesn’t always work out this way, but if you do your research and hone your negotiating skills, you will come out on top more often that not.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Looks Like It's Time For Me To Pitch Some Woo Again

The time has come to change custody of the FJ to another keeper of the faith. Yes I sold her, I really don't know why, I guess I just felt it was time. I know we never really truly own anything, we are just custodians of the material items that pass thru our lives. It is the care they receive while they are in our custody that counts. If you lavish love and attention on your bike, you will be rewarded when it comes time to part ways with her. If you neglect her and do not give her the time and maintenance she deserves, she will show you the error of your ways when you part company. Sure, you can ask as much for her as the guy treated her to all the luxuries she deserved. But you will not get near the money for her that her sparkling Cousin will bring.

When I am looking for a new dancing partner to pitch some woo at, it is the former qualities that I am looking for rather than the latter. When I see a tattered dirty bike, I don’t see a diamond in the rough, I see a arm long list of head aches. Although I do pick up the occasional turd that needs polishing, I am looking for a fully polished diamond for my daily rider. When I come across that diamond, I see value, I see a bike that I can care for just as the owner that I am buying it from did. Then when the time comes for me to let someone else enjoy her charms, I will get top dollar back on my investment.
Don’t get me wrong, getting my money back plus some is not my only goal when considering buying a bike. It does factor in, but ultimately, I am looking for a bike that is going to be trouble free, presses all my pleasure buttons and I am going to look forward to riding every day. So I am going to stay far away from the bikes that show a life of neglect. As much as I will be turned off by a neglected bike, I will be attracted to a well maintained bike like a moth to a flame. Follow this path and the rewards do come though, I sold the FJ for more than twice the amount I bought her for. This doesn’t happen with every bike I own, but usually get top dollar when I sell because of the care I put into maintaining them when they are in my custody. This philosophy also makes for a quick sale. Rarely are bikes I sell on the market for more than a week. The FJ sold in three days to the first person who answered the ad. And it is a twenty seven year old bike. I know this sounds like bragging, but I am just pointing out the value of lavishing a little care on the bike you have in your custody. You care for them and they will care for you.
I love looking for a different bike, I do it all the time, even when I’m not in the market for one. But when I’m in the market, it is twice as sweet for me. It means I’m not only going to be able to cast a admiring glance or two, like when a beautiful woman passes, but I am actually going to have a relationship with her. This is what I live for, the challenge of the hunt, finding that one beauty that I can pitch some woo at and not have my wife beat me with a frying pan. I have a couple of potential lovelies in mind that I think I can bring home without my wife filing papers on me.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth.
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