Who Am I?
- Bob Barbanes:
- A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?
02 August 2007
See Jacob. See Jacob’s new motorcycle. See Jacob smile. We are behind a local Kawasaki dealership, and Jacob has just taken delivery of his brand-new 2007 Ninja 250R. Only, he can’t ride it home.
Jacob is 21. He’d never ridden a motorcycle before in his life, although when that picture was taken he was half-way through a three-day How To Ride A Motorcycle”course put on by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Pass the course: Get your license. Jacob, ever the optimist, assumed that learning to ride in three short days would be a snap, a piece of cake, nothing to it. Like I said, he’s 21. But since he could not yet ride his new bike, I assumed the task of getting it from the dealership to his house. Twist my arm! (P.S. Jacob *did* pass the course, did get his license on the following day.)
A 250cc engine is not especially powerful, and this thing is certainly no rocketship. In fact, the 250R is an entry-level motorcycle that is sometimes derisively referred to as a “Baby Ninja” because it bears a slight, passing resemblance to the bigger, more muscular bikes in the Ninja family (the ones that actually get raced). At least the 250R looks the part. At first glance, it’s hard to tell it from its nearest big brother. Kawasaki is the only manufacturer to offer such a bike, and it is incredibly popular. The beginner-bikes from Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha look like miniature toy motorcycles, making their riders look (and probably feel) silly.
Nobody really wanted to see Jacob buy a motorcycle. But his car was eating him alive in gas bills and repairs, so something more economical was called for. Enter the Kawasaki.
In the mere one month that has passed since he bought it Jacob has already put on over 500 miles. Not bad, considering his daily commute to work is, like, four blocks. He bought a good helmet, proper gloves, a rainsuit and a tankbag (a small, waterproof knapsack-like thingee that attaches to the gas tank with magnets). In other words, he did all the right things. And so far, he hasn’t so much as dropped it. So far. Fingers crossed, prayers said.
Me, I haven’t ridden a motorcycle since I sold my Harley back in 1996. Can’t believe it’s been that long!
Not that you forget how, but I had to reacquaint myself before simply blasting off from the dealership. Jacob was following in my car and I didn’t want to look like a complete idiot, or worse, crash his brand-new bike. So I was on my best behavior.
I’ve always owned large, full-size, “real” motorcycles. There are riders who consider bikes with little 250cc engines to be unworthy. They look at them with upturned noses. Such bikes are certainly not appropriate for the Interstate where their lack of power and light weight would make them easy-pickings for the first 18-wheeler with a sleepy driver rumbling down the road. I’ll bet he wouldn’t even feel the bump. A little too scary for me, thanks. And if you cannot take your motorcycle on the Interstate, what’s the bloody point? (Jacob, who’s either incredibly brave or incredibly dumb, has already had his on the Interstate. And he didn’t die.) As a matter of fact, he's turning into a very good rider already.
But on the way from the dealership to Jacob’s house, the little Kawasaki was surprisingly okay. Did I say okay? It was fine. In fact, it was more than fine, it was fun! Lithe and maneuverable in traffic, it also had “enough” power to suit any situation. Sure, I like the so-called “muscle-bikes” as much as anyone, but in town, how much horsepower do you really need?
I’ve got these two old bikes in a storage shed: Full-size 1000cc Kawasaki’s. Both are rare examples of the type, getting kind of valuable, not really suitable for driving every day anymore. Still, I’d like to break one (or both!) out and put it back on the road. Alternatively, I’d like a little bike like Jacob’s for “running around” stuff. Maybe not something as small as a 250 but heck, if the right one came along at the right price, I’d be sorely tempted.
It’s been a while since I rode regularly. That might have to change.
posted at or around 11:27 PM