Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jersey Biker Takes Me Riding

The day started out looking rather bleak to me 40 degrees and foggy in the mountains over Asheville. Not my kind of perfect day for a motorcycle ride. Keep reading.

Jersey Biker and I exchanged comments on my preferred motorcycle website, ADVrider, and we had a couple of things in common. We are older riders, I have my family connection to Jersey Rider's adopted home town and we like motorcycles and scooters. I showed up at our rendezvous in my car, he was much cooler:

Breakfast was in hip West Asheville and we had biscuits the size of cat heads...I had mine with eggs, grits and local pork sausage. Beat that! I also had Ethiopian goat coffee which was better than it sounds.

Look at that ridiculous Russian contraption. 750cc of 70mph three wheeled weirdness.

Jersey Biker has his up for sale. I guess his figured out how to ride it and it's lost it's glamour. Or something. My wife thinks it's cute, but not cute enough to follow us home. I rode it round the parking lot and it was a blast. It's challenging and slightly scary so of course it's a skill I will need to master before I die.

In the sidecar I look like a more than usually crumpled circus bear.

What a grotesque view of the road. This thing is in my future. It will be a while but one day...

On a more traditional note I rode the bike that came into Jersey Biker's life almost by accident. I really enjoyed the Street 500, Harley's attempt to lure new, younger and female riders to their marque. They should have done this year's ago instead of mucking up Sportsters by cutting their suspension and making them overweight with rubber mounting to kill vibrations. This bike is small, vibration-free and oddly cramped. It wasn't uncomfortable but I felt perched on it with not enough room for my short legs. I found the rev limiter once and I wasn't going fast and the gearbox needs to be used to keep it in the power band. But the controls are light, the gearbox is smooth and running the corners is enormous fun. This machine would make a great all round ride customizable with all those Harley accessories. I like this bike, it's not expensive and it will do a lot of touring commuting and carefree riding for no cost and lots of fun. Harley know what they are doing, and it's retro competition for the Bonneville, especially in the 750cc version.

Then I tried the dreaded maxi scooter, which is like a recumbent bicycle with a 600cc engine and total weather protection.

Jersey Biker loves his Honda Silver Wing scooter, he's had three and they are his favorite ride. He has the world's best riding country in his back yard. I've ridden in lots of places and Appalachia and the Blue Ridge are fantastic. It's a mix of farmland, hill ridges, woods, rivers, villages, no traffic no people and extraordinary roads and views. We were riding not photographing so you'll have to take my word for it. This is a man with a great retirement plan:

I stopped us to grab a few pictures as we approached the Parkway. A sport bike approached and stopped. A young man said he was breaking in his new tires and brake pads and we chatted a bit before he took off.

Had I had a Honda 600 when I was 26... He did say he had fallen off once but he was still out riding. Good man.

We stopped at the top and talked about life and motorcycles and everything. For me, after 18 months of not riding the mountains here or in Italy, this two hour meander was a breath of fresh air clearing my head and my heart. I was laughing most of the way.

The Silver Wing. Much more capable than it looks. Comfortable, planted and with an excellent transmission with no lag at all. I only ride it a few miles but I got into it. I'm not yet ready to give up a geared motorcycle for the comfort and convenience of a maxi scooter but I'm glad I got a taste.

That little Harley, the minx! Windshield, saddle bags, time off and money. California here I come! Who needs a thousand pound monster to roll coast-to-coast?

What a great day.

Thank you Jersey Biker, till next time.