Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Final Drive Dilemma

Jade, my Yamaha V Star 650 has been my companion for five riding season. When we first met, the seller threw open his garage door, and there she was, all polished and gleaming, looking like he had just ridden her off the showroom floor. I heard the music of angels singing. It was love at first sight.

Jade came to me with 3500 miles on the odometer. The dial these days reads well over 42,000. I have put Jade through her paces and she has delivered. She is approaching her 10 birthday next season and is as strong as ever. My fondness for her has only increased with each passing year. Unfortunately, it seems we have outgrown each other.

It was our Western vacation that showed me the limitations of my 650. Keeping up with the 2000s and 1500s on occasion stressed Jade to her limits. In the Grand Canyon she blew a baffle from her pipe. At 14,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park, she coughed and sputtered as the carbs did not appreciate the altitude. In the Arizona dessert, at 110 degrees, an air cooled engine is stressed. Despite this, she still had spunk, and stretching it out on I-70 in Utah, after a bit of coaxing, she managed to stay to the back of the pack. At the end of the day, the GPS maximum speed limit reading was 91 mph. I was damn proud. This girl has moxie!

Despite my affection for Jade and like a child outgrowing training wheels, it’s time for me to move up. I have decided that a 1300 is just the ticket to fit the bill. I have also prepared a list of requirements that must come with the new ride. The saddle I next occupy will need beneath it, fuel injection, adequate suspension, be water cooled, have tubeless tires and be shaft driven. If a model lacks one or two on this list, it would have to appeal to me enough for me to forgo an option or two. This is where things get murky. Which am I willing to forgo?

The New England Riders are a great source when researching motorcycles, and even has a member guru. I don’t know what I’d do without all the advice I get here. Tim, the member guru, has in particular been exceptionally helpful. In reading my list, (and he is not alone here) he cannot understand why I would stick by the shaft driven requirement. He has given me much information to ponder. In fact he has raised his hand to be my personal final drive therapist, so to speak.

My initial inclination was for a Honda VTX 1300. With this model, I would have to forgo a fuel injected engine. The styling appeals to me enough, and the motorcycle has enough of everything else, where this might be the place I sacrifice. Then came the face-to-face introductions. There were not too many that called my name or said “take me home now!” When I sat my behind in a few saddles, put my feet up on the floorboards, I felt cramped. Hmmm. What to do?

We made the rounds of dealers. At one shop, my eyes fell to a Suzuki Boulevard. It was small, only an 800, but man did I find this bike pretty. Yes, I said pretty. I’m now hemming and hawing. Back to Tim I go. He is in agreement with the spouse. The 800 is not enough spread from the 650. I’m starting to let go of this idea. The problem is that there are few models in the cruiser or touring line that fit all the items on my list. Tim weighs in again with a beautiful photo of a Yamaha V Star 1300. The problem? It is belt driven. In steps Tim once more to lay out the facts of belt driven motorcycles. It all sounds good. Will the shaft drive be the item I forgo? Time alone will tell. My behind needs to sit in a few saddles, my feet have to be in the riding position, and of course, it will have to be pretty.


fasthair said...

Ms. Pat: Just found your blog, it's nice I like it so I will be back.

Can I make a suggestion for a new bike? How about a Yamaha FJR1300?? It has everything on your list and more. Plus it can keep up and even lead the pack with power to spare. Not to mention it is a damn sexy bike I think. A friend of mine has one and she loves it! If new is what you want it is priced well I think. But there are many used ones at a great price on Ebay.


fasthair said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'll check out your link.