Close one chapter. Open another?

A few days ago, I said that I was considering a big decision (for me) that would simplify my life.

After a bit of discussion, my wife and I have decided that we're going to sell our motorcycles (though we may replace them with off-road bikes). This is a somewhat painful thing to do.

Let me explain.

Way back in college, I drove a 1968 Citroen Safari station wagon. Citroens have a very interesting hydraulic suspension that is unsurpassed in ride quality. They do have a few drawbacks.

First of all, Citroen is not known for their horsepower, with the exception of the Maserati-engined SM.

The second is that they tend to have timing chain problems when they get high mileage. The timing chain runs from the crankshaft to the camshaft, and opens and closes the valves. At least it does until it breaks, at which time the pistons come up, whack the valves, break them, and then proceed to embed the valves in the tops of the pistons. All the while making a most horrific sound.

So, there I was in my senior year, and I need a mode of transportation, and I had $800 I could allocate to the effort. That would either buy me a pretty poor car, or a halfway decent motorcycle, so I soon had a Honda FT500, and was commutting on it.

That led to a bit over a decade of commutting almost every day (even through some snow), riding somewhere around 80,000 miles, and teaching a fair number of classes for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (if you're thinking of riding, make sure you start there). I upgraded bikes twice for me and twice for my wife, and we used to spend a fair amount of time riding.

Then, we bought a house in Bellevue, and commutting by bike no longer made sense. I still rode occaisionally, but over time I've gotten more busy, and the bike hasn't been out of the garage since last October.

It's sad. I still really, really enjoy riding - the power to weight ratio is far better than nearly all cars (at least those I could justify buying), but it's something that you need to do often to be proficient, and I just don't have time these days. Or, to put it differently, there are lots of things that rank higher right now, and we're paying for both depreciation and insurance on both bikes.

So, I put ads for a 1997 Honda VFR750 and a rare 1994 Honda CBR400RR Japanese home market spec in the MicroNews.

Comments (16)

  1. I have never owned a motorcycle but have no doubt that I will. My last car was a tiny convertable; little more than a motorcyle + sidecar with doors. I almost immediately realized that I could never own a car with a roof ever again. Some people (99% of the time, someone who had never driven a convertible) would act shocked when I said that. It was impossible to describe the exact reason why, but this is as close as I could come:

    The first thing he will do when he gets into a car, if you let him, is stick his head out the window and into the wind. And he won’t bring it back in. When I drove my convertible, I was that dog with my head out the window.

  2. Eric,

    It’s sad to give up something you enjoy so much. I have to say though, I am breathing a sigh of relief. Every person that I have ever known that has had a motorcycle has been in an accident, and I would hate to see that happen to anyone else. Granted, I think you have an edge in this area, but I think it is best to not tempt fate.

  3. Daren says:

    My sympathies – I have had to endure a similar loss…

    When I relocated from the UK, where I rode every day, to San Diego, I decided to give my bike (CBR600 – last edition of the old model) to my father rather than convert it for the Californian emissions. I was determined to buy a Californian spec bike ASAP, but driving around here is substantially different to the UK (it seems that everyone in San Diego looks only forwards, usually with one eye on their coffee and one hand on their cell) so I waited until I was more comfortable, and I waited, and I waited…

    Now I realise that all the habits and instincts that were developed over years of consistent riding have faded – to step astride a bike now in an environment that is going to be far less forgiving of a mistake is a risk I am no longer prepared to take.

    With age comes wisdom, I guess! BTW, ATVs a bloody good fun!

  4. Chris Kinsman says:

    Just recently suffered the same way. sold my 2001 CBR1100XX that had been sitting in the garage and picked up a CRF250X that I have had a blast riding with my kids. Different kind of fun but still fun!

  5. Jeremy Remington says:

    The Honda CRF250X is a great new off-road bike, although I haven’t ridden one yet. Depending on your size, an XR400R might make sense as well.

    If you can’t bear to give up the street thing completely, check out the Suzuki DRZ-400S. It’s a street legal bike that is incredibly dirt-capable. I have an XR650L that I am currently planning to sell and replace with the DRZ, which is a much better dual-sport bike, even with the displacement difference.

    No better way to move some dirt than to use a 4-stroke and some knobby tires!

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