Showing posts with label buying a motorcycle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label buying a motorcycle. Show all posts

Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Potential of Emptiness: Honda Thoughts

The garage is looking pretty spacious this weekend.  The Concours sold yesterday so the Tiger is alone in the bike-cave for the first time.  I ended up selling it on if I could sell it for what I bought it for, which I did.  I owned it for five years, rescued it from retirement, doubled the mileage on it, had some great adventures riding around Georgian Bay and down to the last MotoGP event at Indianapolis in 2015.

I was ready to go in 2016 when the Concours wouldn't start.  With the Canadian motorcycling season agonizingly short I lost my patience, but then a Tiger appeared as if by magic and suddenly the Concours wasn't a necessity.  It's hard to believe I've had the Tiger for three years already; it isn't going anywhere.

With the money from the Concours set aside, I'm already considering my next project.  I'm aiming for a bike that is significantly different from the Tiger, which is a great all purpose machine, but it's heavy; a lighter specialist is the goal.  The guy I sold the Concours to already has one and half a dozen other bikes.  Having that many bikes would be a handful, I've always been about a functional garage.  Jeff, the motorcycle Jedi, has three very different bikes, that's the direction I'd like to go in.

In a perfect world I'd have the Tiger, a sports bike and a light dual sport.  A generalist, a tarmac specialist and an off-road specialist.  Time to peruse the Ontario used bike market.

There's a dual sport in need of some mechanical sympathy.  These typically go for twice what he's asking.  Parts are accessible and not particularly expensive.  There is a complete, virtually new head on ebay for about $760CAD.  If I could get the purchasing price down to $2200, I could have a virtually new Honda dualsport for three grand that would be worth twice that.

The worrying bit is this guy managed to blow a Honda engine, which are famous for being bulletproof.  If it has been abused (the dent in the tank suggests it's been dropped, though it's a dualsport that goes off road, so I shouldn't read too much into that) then the engine could have more major damage and require big end cranks and such, which could make this a money hole.

The fact that it runs is promising and it does sound like a top end issue - but I'm guessing it's a head replacement or major remachining situation.  It's an air cooled single cylinder, so after the complexity of  the water cooled, four cylinder Concours, this'd be lawn mower simple.  I'm tempted.

I've always had a soft spot for VFR Interceptors, and this lovely example is up for sale at a pretty reasonable price considering how much work has gone into it.  Hugo, the editor of BIKE Magazine recently got one of these and went on and on about how bullet proof they were, so even an older machine like this would be readily usable.

With this RC-36-2, last gen version you get a VFR at the pinnacle of its Honda evolution.  It's technically considered a sport-touring bike, so you don't get caned in Ontario's ridiculous insurance system, and it weighs less than 200 kilos, which would make it the lightest road bike (ignoring the KLX250, which wasn't really a road bike) I've ever owned.

If I could get it for $3500, I'd be able to ride it for years.  Rather than depend singularly on the now 16 year old Tiger, I could split duties between a generalist and a road specialist.  This too is tempting.

It'd be nice to have both, the XR as a project and the VFR as an immediate gratification machine; they would make for a very diverse garage.  I think I could have both on the road for just over six grand CAD.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Dreams and Realities

It's the bike on my bedroom wall when I was a kid.
As near as I can tell the '84 Interceptor is still for sale, though the owner isn't responsive to emails.  I'll end up phoning and see if I can get up there next week to look at it.

In the meantime, a Concours appeared nearby that looks like a good buy.  Mechanically good but a bit rough looking, it's priced to sell.

So here I am again at the intersection of fantasy and reality, wondering which way to turn.  The Interceptor isn't running, will need a complete rebuild (it's been sitting for a decade), and costs $700.  It's also a good couple of hours away and would need me to find/rent a vehicle to bring it home.  The Concours is twenty minutes away, roadworthy and is $1000 or best offer.  Price wise there is little between them.

Owning a bike at all is a dream come true, so the dream versus reality distinction is finer here.  The question now is which direction do I want to go next?  Last year I did a lot of miles on the Ninja.  This year I've been riding a lot of different bikes and the Ninja hasn't seen me as much.  I want to continue to expand my riding repertoire.  Both bikes offer bigger engines and variations on the sport touring theme.  The Interceptor would be my first Honda, the Kawi would introduce me to shaft drive.

The purpose of buying a fixer-upper is to have something to spanner in the winter months, so the idea of repairing the Honda isn't fearsome, it's something I'd look forward to, and parts seem to be available for it.  There are also a lot of information sites on the web about it.  I'd always assumed I'd buy a Honda bike, but I've been waylayed by Kawasaki's awesomeness.  I'm trying not to be brand specific but rather honour the engineering.  Having said that, I've always had a crush on Hondas and Triumphs.

She doesn't look like much, but she's got it where
it counts... If it worked for Han Solo, it'll work for me.
Is this my diamond in the rough?
That Concours needs some TLC too though.  The Concours is ten years newer with lower kilometres.  This seems like a no-brainer, but this is where emotion clouds the decision.  The Interceptor has been my dream machine forever, I've always wanted to own one.  The Concours is a much more usable machine.  My son and I could tour on it comfortably and do a lot of miles.

The Concours is also a gentler machine, and while I'm still an adolescent when it comes to riding a motorcycle, I'm 45 years old otherwise.  That the Concours is a big guy who can move with surprising speed is a much better fit for this balding, middle age guy than an '80s superbike.  There comes a time when you don't want to look absurd on a bike, or maybe that just doesn't matter.

In a more perfect world I'd have a big enough garage to get both.  The Interceptor would get stripped down and prepped as a vintage race bike.  I could then live out my dreams of riding it on the safety of a track.  The Concours would get fixed up and cover some huge miles, occasionally finding some twisties to show off its athletic prowess.

Buying a bike has been such a visceral experience that I think I'll have to see both in the flesh before I make a decision.  I'm hoping that the Kawi strikes an emotional nerve with me because if she can get under my skin I know she'd be a better fit than a feverish teenager's dream.

Saturday, 21 June 2014


A friend's daughter came by last night because she was interested in The Ninja.  I'm rabidly interested in riding as many different bikes as I can, so when they asked if I wanted to follow along on the Honda Firestorm she'd ridden over I quickly grabbed my gear.  With aftermarket everything on it, the Honda backfired loudly and took off like a scalded rabbit.  The steering geometry on it is very vertical and the grips small, making the bike turn in very quickly even though it feels heavier than the Ninja.  It was definitely a young man's bike, riding it for more than an hour would be agony, but I totally get it, it was a blast!

The test ride ended up not fitting the rider (she found the Ninja tall and the riding position too upright), but the possibility of Bike2.0 got me thinking...

They have a nicely-looked-after '06 Concours at Two Wheel Motorsport.  It's an athletic mile eater that easily 2-ups and is in its element as a long distance tourer.  This particular one is low kilometres (~50k) and well maintained, it would run for ever with no problems.

I'm pretty weight fixated after riding the Ninja and doing a lot of thinking about bike dynamics, and the Concours isn't light even if it is light on its feet for a big guy.  I was wandering Kijiji yesterday after suddenly facing the prospect of maybe being bike-less and came across another interesting choice.  I've been doing a lot of reading on the new VFR800f Interceptor.  This is another athletic mile eater that is at home in the twisties, and at over 150lbs lighter than the portly Concours it plays to my sense of what athletic means in a bike.  I've always been a Honda fan, I had a picture of one on my wall when I was a kid, it'd be cool to own one.

The VFR on Kijiji is an '02, almost half the miles of the Concours for sale and 'meticulously maintained'.  Not to be an English snob or anything, but the add is nicely written too:

Mint condition, meticulously cared for, very low mileage (28000 km) VFR 800 VTEC with ABS. The VFR 800 has the distinctive single sided swingarm, ABS and the legendary Honda Interceptor V4 engine that is famous for producing one of the most intoxicating exhaust notes of any motorcycle powerplant... it's music. This bike is just as comfortable eating up corners in the twisties as it is taking you on multi day trips in comfort. It comes with 2 seats, the stock one and a Sargent seat, 2 windshields, stock and a tinted Zero Gravity windshield, solo seat cover, PDF Honda VFR800 Service Manual and a set of frame sliders still in the box. Also installed are the 2006 VFR clear tail light and smoke front turn signal light lenses. $5700 or best offer.

There is something about a rider who knows spelling and grammar that gives an air of competence.  When this guy says it has been meticulously maintained I believe him because he knows the word meticulous (and how to spell it).

I've got such an itch for this bike that I'm tempted to give him a call and ride down to Hamilton to give it a go.  I only wish I had the money aside to snap it up if I liked it as much as I think I might.  The process of selling the Ninja means that the VFR might be long gone by the time I'm ready to pull the trigger.

That was quick.  I'm glad he sold it, but sad too...