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Technomancer and troubleshooter by trade. Programmer by choice. Creator of Deviant Paradigm, somewhat by accident.
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Friday, July 10, 2009
Well, the biggest single change in my life since I last was posting regularly is my recent acquisition of a motorcycle. I'm the proud owner of a Triumph Street Triple. And honestly, I couldn't be more ecstatic. I love the bike. Everything about her. The way she looks, muscular, with the broad shoulders of the gas tank and the clean lines of the naked frame an engine, the odd pair of headlights. The way she sounds, the throaty purr (which my cousin describes as "very British") with the harmonizing intake and exhaust notes like nothing else on the road. The way she rides, powerful and upright, like I'm a duke of the road itself. And of course, I'm sort of ornery and like to be just a little different, and the Triumph is not a common bike.
Most folks agree that she's a gorgeous machine. My uncle's complaint is that she "doesn't sound like a motorcycle." Which is pretty true -- the inline three cylinder engine doesn't sound anything like the Harleys or Hondas that you're used to. But you can't deny that she's a beautiful, beautiful bike.
The tale of me ending up riding a brand new, unusual, British, naked motorcycle is a bit of an odd and convoluted one. I started out very pointedly not making any sort of decision about what kind of a motorcycle I wanted. I'd never ridden a motorcycle before, and I didn't want to make uneducated decisions and set my heart on something I wouldn't like. So I waited until I took the MSF course, though I had my leanings, based on common sense and aesthetics more than anything. I didn't pass the driving test on my first try. (I'd set the bike down earlier in the day, and lost my nerve. Riding is mostly in your head, and if you can't focus, you really shouldn't be riding.) So I spent the next couple weeks preparing for a retest, riding my cousin's old Yamaha 650 Special, what he calls "the sacrificial bike." I decided I really liked the way that it handled, as a middleweight standard, and started to look more seriously at standard bikes. He dropped the name of the VMAX, Yamaha's huge, heavyweight naked bike, and I looked into it. To this day I'm not sure if the new VMAX is really pretty or just really strange. But the older models are very pretty. It was around then that I got really attached to the naked look. I thought it was attractive, the engines of that sort of motorcycle are all fun (quite powerful, but more focused on lots of torque rather than super-high horsepower), and, most importantly, they rode mostly upright, varying a bit around "standard." I started to look for other naked bikes, especially Ducati's Monster, which was a more managable size than the VMAX and was definitely pretty. When I talked about these with my cousin, he mentioned Triumph, so I started to look into their Speed Triple and Street Triple motorcycles. They were very pretty, and looked pretty impressive on paper. The more I read reviews, the more impressed I was -- everyone said that the Street Triple was the most fun of the middleweight nakeds, and it was almost universally considered the best of the class as well.
I was pretty hooked. So when I went to buy a motorcycle, I started out at the local Triumph dealer. I really didn't intend to buy a new bike. It's my first bike, and I was sure to drop it, at least once. But they didn't have any used ones (nor did the local Ducati dealer), so I finally let them talk me into it. I ordered a flyscreen and a set of frame sliders (for when she inevitably went down), though those parts wouldn't be in for nearly a month after I got her. :(
Sure, she's not really a beginner's bike, but I'm old enough now to be a fairly conservative rider, so I haven't had much trouble with her. I have put her down once. It was a beginner's mistake: I tried to take a turn too fast and couldn't manage it. I realized part way in that I wouldn't make the turn, so I straightened out and went over the median. I was fine until my wheel dropped off the median and the bike went over. Fortunately, God was looking out for me, and we got through it okay. I just got everything fixed up at the 500 mile check up, and we're almost 100% back. She's still got a few scuffs and scratches, but you have to look for them to spot them.