Who Am I?

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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

Jacob's Motorcycle

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.


Aaron Ortiz said...

Nice, I'd smile too.

Hal Johnson said...

Yeah, I sold my Harley in '94, after twelve years. Still feel a little pang in the heart when I hear one going down the road.

Bob Barbanes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Barbanes said...

It's funny how people surprise you in pleasant ways. All of us who know Jacob raised our brows and rolled our eyes when he announced he was getting a motorcycle. Like, "Oooooookay, this really isn't a good idea" kind of thing if you know what I mean. The guy is just not mechanically inclined. Computers though? He can take one apart down to the silicon in the chips. Give him a computer and he kicks ass. As a biker, he'd probably get his ass kicked. But I gotta give him credit, he has taken well to riding. He is enthusiastic and safe and eager to learn (although, all the questions...oy vey!). And he rides the thing all over the place - never needs an excuse to jump on and go. Kind of reminds me of...well, me about a million years ago. Soon, Jacob will have enough confidence to start riding girls on the back. When that happens, that little 250 just won't cut the mustard. I see a bigger bike in Jacob's immediate future. Hmm, maybe he'll give me a good deal on a slightly-used Ninja 250?

Friend of mine just bought some sort of new Electra Glide. Big, loud, black monster. Gives me the burn for another Harley - but another Sportster, I think, not one of the big ones. I loved my Sporty. Best bike I ever owned, bar none. Not too big, not too small...well, a tad small for long Interstate rides but that just meant I opted for back roads when I could- more fun anyway. And I rode it all over hell. And back. I'm wit' ya Hal, I miss mine too.

Sharon Jones - sltmjones@hotmail.com said...

Hey Bob!
Great looking bike but isn't that photo of you a tad old?
I'm curious, don't you yearn to jump in a boat and power around not having to worry about traffic lights, road signs, road hogs, slow drivers and close roads? Well, ok, it wasn't all great - I mean those reefs are dangerous and when a boat engine goes and there are no parts and no other way to get around, it does not make for a happy camper. So, enjoy your bike(s) until you are back up in the chopper!

Bob Barbanes said...

Sharon, well yeah, that pic of me and the red bike *should* be old. It was taken back in 1996 when I had first bought the Harley. But you know, it's funny. When I scanned that picture last night I was looking at it thinking, "You know, I really don't look all that different." Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, eh?

Traffic is bad in Pensacola, oh yeah. And evidently there is some new law here in Florida that you *must* be talking on a cellphone while driving a motor vehicle. Probably enacted while I was away. Trouble is, I've got no one to talk to on *my* cellphone (...and I'm not complaining, either). So I just drive aroundd with it up to my ear. That way I can sing along with the radio and people don't think I'm a wierdo - they think I'm just complying with state law!

Ahh, but no, I do not miss driving a boat every day, no way. But thanks for asking.

Hal Johnson said...

"When I scanned that picture last night I was looking at it thinking, 'You know, I really don't look all that different.' Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, eh?"

Actually, I thought you didn't look so different either. Bastard.

Redlefty said...

Very cool insight into a world of which I'm completely ignorant.

Amara said...

Good post.