June 28, 2011

Needs and Wants

I did it. I test-rode the Bonnie. My first time on a Triumph. Not much introduction and explanation needed, the bike doesn't have much to play around with. A Spartan tachometer with some idiot lights, that's it. A board computer on a retro-classic wouldn't work anyway.
The choke irritates me a bit, that thing being fuel injected and all, but it obviously helps awaking the machine to life. Once warming up, the motor mumbles. I had almost forgotten how smooth two cylinders are compared to a single. Shifting gears is a pleasure, no clunk, just precise engaging.
The road behind the dealership leads me along an arm of the Fraser River, were I do some exercising. Low speed maneuvers? No problem with this nimble and lightweight bike. Speed bumps? The shocks could be a wee bit smoother. Acceleration? With 865cc and 67hp a non-issue. Ergonomics? I am in a comfortable and upright position, and feet rest in a relaxed angle on the pegs. Just the way I like it. The levers are easy to grab and to handle.
Some emergency braking show me the limitations of this bike. Used to the comfort of ABS I hit the rear brake too hard, and the wheel locks up on me. With screeching rear tire I paint black rubber on the road, and come to a halt, a little embarrassed I look behind me, a straight line, no break-out. I speed up again, and repeat. This time, I get it right, no lock-up. I would have to be much more disciplined in braking, if I were to buy this bike. The safety and reliability of ABS has made me a sloppy rider.

I compare the Bonnie with a well priced brand-new 2010 BMW F650GS, and I see reason and functionality in the Beemer. An on-board computer and tire pressure monitor, heated grips, ABS and center stand. The F650GS would make so much more sense.
My need is to get a (newer) bike with less vibrations, a two-wheeler that is good for zipping around, and still good enough for the longer haul. Something other than chain for a final drive would be nice to have but my acquired taste in bikes doesn't allow the switch, I have signed up for the chain gang, probably for good.

My want is two bikes. I want both, the Triumph Bonneville and the BMW F650GS. I like them both, I trust both brands and their reliability. My heart prefers the Bonnie but my mind says swap the Beemer for an upgrade. My brain hurts from thinking...

Nella is put up for sale, and meanwhile I am sitting on the fence...

June 26, 2011

My first Love

My recent excursion to the world of sport touring ended in disappointment. The ergonomics didn't agree with me. The bike was an example of technical perfection, but like all Beemer models it lacked of soul.

Aimlessly I strayed around and had a look at Yamaha, Honda and Kawa cruisers, because they are dirt cheap. I even paid Harley Davidson a visit. All models I tested are equipped with belt-drive, and come with ABS, yes even the HD model (some whatchamacallit Rod).
 Me, with limited enthusiasm
not the Rod but some other Low-Fat-Bob-Glide

Having ridden naked or dual-sport bikes and scooters for the better part of my two-wheeled life, I cannot seem to find the cruising position comfortable, and I am convinced that any low speed maneuver would likely end in a disaster.

Once again was my hubby who brought me back on track. He asked: Well, high-tech aside, what is the style you love the most? What is the brand that always makes you smile?
Take a guess!

Just look at my face as I mount a Triumph Bonneville! A motorcycle that talks to me. It is pure, simple and a classic, and as special feature: it comes with a soul.
And my better half says: Imagine adding a windshield and heated grips to make bad weather bearable, a luggage rack for traveling, and some engine guards for the unlikely event of dropping the bike, and you are all set. And yes, it doesn't come with ABS, so you will make sure to ride it carefully.

OK, now I am going to book a test-ride, to figure it out.

June 23, 2011

Vive les motards!

Thousands of bikers protest in France against ridiculous new traffic regulations designed to milk the two-wheeled population.

Manifestation des Motards en Colère le 18 juin... by r2087r
Mass demonstrations have a long history in France, and the motards obviously managed to paralyze traffic in France for the day.

June 21, 2011

A Nightmare from Munich

I got the name wrong, and the location is only half-true. Her ADV-Rider inmate name is Nightmarion, her blog is Maschinenbäuerin (translates somewhat along the lines of "Mechanical Engineeress", the wordplay is funnier in German, tho) and she is actually from the Stuttgart area, but she lives and works in Munich.

Initially on a business conference in Vancouver, Marion M. decided to extend her stay (who wouldn't) to explore the hinterland of BC, on two-wheels no less.

She rented a cute little Suzuki GS500 equipped with a touring windshield and saddle bags, and determined to see as much as possible in a short week's time the poor mule had to endure a distance of 2,700km.

Marion for sure got her adventure riding: She got lost (probably several times), dropped her bike (because a stop sign 'jumped at her' as she did put it, hence not her fault), had multiple bear sightings, and obviously met a lot of awesome people along the way. Canadians are just the nicest people and the landscape is breathtaking! she said. Yes, Marion, I know, that's why I came to live here ;-)
Coming from opposite directions I chose the convenience store at Dewdney Junction for a landmark and meeting point, and with the deemed precision of an atomic clock, the art of punctuality that only Germans master to perfection, we both arrived exactly at the same time, just as planned.

It was a little nippy, with low hanging clouds and it looked like it was going to rain, so we had a cup of tea before heading home.
 Wait a minute...Something is smoking...

We soon left HWY 7 to escape traffic, and took some smaller roads. Too bad, the weather didn't play along. There was almost no view of the mighty mountain ranges.
 However, the clouds made for a dramatic scenery.
I wished for Marion that the weather would have been better, but no such thing, this year it is cursed, but listening to her tales from the road, I am pretty sure she enjoyed her trip nevertheless, and will return one fine day.

Distance: 130km (80 mi)
Weather: cloudy, calm, 14C (57F)

PS: My bum knee hurts. Darn!

Did you ride today?

Ride-to-Work day came and went. And yes, I did ride my scooter to work, like I do (almost) every day. Today wasn't any different. There were more two-wheelers on the road than usual, but still not enough.

I filled up Paolo today after 200km (124 mi.), the bill was 10$ for 6.8 liters. In imperial language this means that Paolo gives me 69 mpg of Vespa-fun. Cool!

June 18, 2011

Sorry, boss!

Today at noon I got a call from a local dealership where I had signed up for a test ride on the BMW F800ST as soon as available. This motorcycle has everything my heart desires:
  1. Feet flat on the ground (and it isn't even the lowered model)
  2. Decent wind protection through windshield and fairing
  3. Just enough cc's to keep me grounded
  4. No more spokes!
  5. Belt drive - no more chain lubing!
  6. Heated grips
  7. ABS
  8. Nimble, easy handling
At 3PM I packed in and told my boss I got to go because I had a motorcycle waiting for me... besides we had nice weather and I had worked enough for a week (or two) anyway. I was gone before he could say stop.

The friendly salesman Stewart saw me arriving on Paolo and waved with the keys. After quick introductions he kindly requested to keep it a small loop, because the bike was brand-new with only 17km on the clock.

And off I went. The bike certainly loves to be kept in high revs. The throttle reacted a tad bit more aggressive than I was used to. Handling and leaning was easy, the F800St reacted instantly to the moves of my body. Gear shifting was reasonably smooth, but a little clonky into second. What bugged me was the distance of the lever to the handle. I could hardly reach the lever, and it required a lot of muscle in my finger tips to actually pull it. Unfortunately it is not adjustable.
After a few miles down the road I felt my wrists getting sore, I tried to shift around a little and played with the seating position but got no relief. Not much later my shoulder and neck started to bug me. Now stuck in rush hour the motor emanated an uncomfortable heat, something I never felt when riding the F650.
When I returned to the dealership I was a bit disappointed. I thought I had found the perfect next generation model to my current two-wheels, and technically the F800ST certainly is, but it is just not the right bike for me. I wish I could simply upgrade my Nella with a belt drive and give it a second cylinder. That would be the perfect ride.

June 16, 2011

VIP = Vespa Ideal Parking

Usually I don't bother with finding legal parking for my Vespa, but this park actually provides a designated motorcycle parking area, actually it is ONE bike parking spot.
The park is almost empty. The Stanley Cup final game is on. I find that the colours become Paolo.
I am not a gardener myself, I never owned one, but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate vegetation.

And while the Vancouver's population sits on the edge of their seats in front of their screens cheering for the Canucks I scoot along empty roads, for once safe and not constantly attacked or overlooked by cagers, and end up giving Paolo a well deserved wash.

June 13, 2011

Tough enough to wear pink?

Saturday night we met with these two pink-croc equipped gentlemen for dinner in Richmond. One is bobskoot, the other guy's name is Gary. The USA-Tour-on-a-Harley-Davidson-Blogger Gary France. Don't they look like twins?

As usual when eating out with the bobskoot family, the food involved lots of raw fish. Actually, if it weren't for Mrs Skoot, I would have never considered Sushi as edible, or would have learned to eat with chop sticks.

Needless to say that we had a fantastic evening, enjoying Gary's latest tales from the road, especially his particular experience with the Canadian border patrol.

As fellow Europeans we took the opportunity at hand and ranted about soccer or the next FIFA world cup destinations in particular, gushed about traveling in Europe and laughed about scenes from Top Gear.

Gary, we had a blast. Thank you for taking the time and visit us here in the great wide tundra.

On our way we caught this: A freshly graduated driver in a Lamborghini, the novice sign besides the licence plate proves it... only in Richmond.
Somewhat scary, methinks!

June 10, 2011

A Lady's night out, and a mishap

Phew, just back from a business trip to Ohio, I made it just in time for the gathering at Starbucks, before the Free Wheelin' women, eleven ladies, as diverse as their bikes, headed out to Crescent Beach.
No matter what the weather looks like up in Northern Vancouver, the sun always seems to shine around Boundary Bay. The beach was empty but the dames didn't feel like walking.
We were here on more serious business! This ride-to event was a club meeting, and so our group 'invaded' a fish&chips shack (me a little later, because I wanted to take some pictures...)
Ride to eat is one motto of the club, and it's a good one, so Vita's Bar & Grill catered to our needs. Baked halibut, crispy fries, and fresh coleslaw served in news paper, just the way it has to be.
Summer trips and weekend outings were discussed, planned and decided. At dawn we mounted our trusty steeds and headed home each in different directions.

The mishap was not motorcycle related... it was pure stupidity. Back home I stumbled, and hurt my knee again, the one that got injured last year, dead on in the same spot. Now I am lying on my sofa with an ice pack, and feel the swelling coming. Darn, now I can't ride, and I can't even drive (but maybe I can still scoot around?). I still have my crutches, maybe that's a good thing...

June 05, 2011

Day Trip to Bowen Island

We started off at 8AM to meet bobskoot and friends at Bon's off Broadway for a hearty breakfast before heading out on our scooters to Sea to Sky Highway with destination Bowen Island.

For the first time on the Vespa's we braved the rushed traffic on the motorway. Speed limit was 90 km/h, but we were probably the only ones actually pacing at speed limit, since Hubby's Bella is not yet fully broken in.

Another first was the Ferry ride, and for once in this four-wheeled world two-wheelers were given privileged treatment: first vehicles to board the boat, and first to ride when disembarking.
The 15 minute ferry ride seemed too short for my taste, as I love crossing the water. After landing in Snug Cove (cute name) we explored all the small, often one-lane roads the island had to offer.
Speed limit is 40 km/h or less, and the island becomes a perfect playground for the scooters, even on unpaved roads.
At the end of our path we were rewarded with breath taking views over Howe Sound. Here we stopped at Hood Point West.
When it was time for a break we followed the recommendation of a local and had taco's at Nancy's Taco place with - once again privileged - parking for motorcycles on the boardwalk.
We enjoyed our food and Mexican lemonade relaxing in the sun, while waiting for the ferry.
Other than fighting the afternoon cross winds (especially on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge spanning the Burrard Inlet), the ride back home was uneventful.
Day trip time including food intake, ferry rides and breaks: eight hours. Distance covered: 150km. The scooters passed the test, Vespa's are indeed made for travel.

June 04, 2011

Scootin' into town

Today is a first for riding the Vespa's into Vancouver. For once, crawling traffic doesn't bother us, we just go slow with the flow.
Neither is parking an issue. Where there's a bike rack there's a spot for a Vespa or two.
Stop and go around Stanley Park is so much easier on two wheels, and we get the perfect panorama view, bikes included.
Bella and Paolo looking good.
Enjoying time and ships go by.
 Life at the beach is back.
Let the Canadian summer begin!