Contect Warning: Petrol head bike post below!
Well I went for the test ride yesterday and noted two things...
1) After not riding since November due to the snow and ice I had forgotten just how much I love it
2) I always forget just how cold it is when riding in winter temperatures :)
I got my old bike going, always interesting in cold weather - it fires and then dies unless you get the choke *just* right; one mm too much and it doesn't start at all one mm too little and it fires for 1/2 a second. Rode it to the local jet wash to clean the gunk off of it and to get the tyre pressures correct and then set off.
It's so much fun! Even keeping legal, riding is just a fantastic rush. When I set off it was cold (tights, socks, inteligent suit (warm in winter, cold in summer) below and inteligent suit / t-shirt above) but quite doable under the leathers. Summer gloves (I hate riding in winter gloves - warm hands, but no feel) no neckerchief but it was fine.
Hit the motorway and decided that maybe lack of neckerchief was maybe not the best idea :) But nothing too bad. After riding for 30 miles or so the temperature suddenly plummeted and within a few miles I couldn't feel my fingers, seeing as the pain was starting to make in roads into my concentration I stopped at the next petrol station and swapped my summer gloves for the space tech winter ones. Instantly I could feel my fingers again, unfortunately instantly the heat pain started, I gave it a couple of mins before starting off again :)
Got to the garage looked the bikes over; I had my eye on two different ones, one was older with more KM's but was a much neater bike. After uhming and ahing for a few mins I settled on the older one. It looked cleaner, was stock and didn't raise any alarm bells. The newer one was covered in power stickers, had an illegal carbon exhaust that would have to be changed before I could take it and has tiny indicators at the back. All made me wonder how it had been ridden in it's life...
After trying to get what I could for my bike (half what I wanted) we agreed on a price. I could have gone elsewhere and got another 300 for my bike (I think) but the bike would have been a lot more than that so I settled. Then came the test ride.
OMG. At this point I should point out that I love sports bikes. My first bike was a little GPZ500S - looked a little sporty and was fun enough, but was a perfect first bike as it was gentle on the rider. My current bike is an SV650S. A Suzuki Ducatie imitation, quicker then the GPZ, but still a budget bike and still fairly sedate. I have decided though that at 33, and with 10 years of riding under my belt, it was time to get a bike I really wanted. Seeing as the servicing (and purchase) cost of real Duke was *way* out of my price range - I wanted a 748 Biposto, but that's a pipe dream - I decided a japanese bike was the way to go. Now I know that Honda's have a great reputation for reliablility but I find the CBR's just too chunky looking. They look like an IL4 rather than a twin. The only one that doesn't is the Yam R6. I don't know how they make it so compact, but it's no wider then my SV, and is such a pretty bike...
I was expecting a difference between the SV and the R6 (obviously) but seeing as there are not that many steps between them I was shocked at just how much difference there is. The clutch on the R6 is ultra light, and has very limited feel, the other controls work just so much sharper than the SV. The first 200 meters I looked like a fool in expensive leather, on a supersports bike trying to find the bite point of the clutch and a balance point of the throttle somewhere between 1000 and 10000 rpm. A bit of low speed riding and it started to come together, but it's going to take some practice before I become proficient at pulling off I think.
I was surprised at how easy it is (once you are moving) to ride at low speed - once you are actually moving. The engine only really works at high RPM, so keeping it between 3000 and 4000 it's such a laid back ride. It flip flops nicely in the bends and was really pleasent for town riding - something I was not expecting.
Then I took it for a quick blast between junction on the motorway. At 8000 the engine changes totally. You have to keep you eye on the speedo because it just takes off, keeping it at legal speeds is easy enough (the old adage that it's only as quick as your right hand still works here), but I had to conciously do it. I guess over the first few weeks I'll get used to it and it'll become second nature.
Got back to the shop, agreed to fix the issue I found (wear bar on the front tyre, so that's being replaced) and did the paper work. I pay for it today and pick it up on Friday. Can't wait!
Lastly... I want to know how people with new licenses possibly think it's a good idea to start with these bikes. With 10 years experience it was not 'easy' to start with it. I can imagine that you want the nice fast bike when you first pass, but surely after test riding it you would think 'hmm, maybe I should practice on something closer to the power I learnt with before taking this on'? I came across the term Squid in the search for the R6. It describes everything I hate about a certain type of new rider. Stupid, Quick ,Underdressed, Imminently Dead. It's a pet hate of mine - people who buy expensive bikes as their first bike. Talk the whole day about how they raced this that and the other on the way to work, and ride in jeans and coat becuase their budget didn't stretch to the leather suit. I prefer people who do it the other way - first bike budget = what you can afford - cost of good quality safety gear. Sorry rant over, these people just annoy me.