Scoot Commute

My new DRZ400SM

Posted in Bike Buying, Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa) by sbahn on 2010/02/20
Elsa & me in PVD

Elsa & me in PVD

Ahhhh, New England weather. About three and a half weeks ago, Erik saw a CL ad for a DRZ400SM in Massachusetts and sent it to me. I have been casually looking for this bike and was thinking I’d pick up something out west and do a fly-and-ride (alone). We’ve been saving up cash to finish the exterior painting on our house (by court order, thanks PVD!) so I was only very casually looking. There never seemed to be  a DRZ400 SM coming up on craigslist or in ADV nearby (say, closer than Jersey or Ohio). I had determined I would pay for the right bike and I really wanted an SM as I do live in Rhode Island where we have absolutely NO, NONE, NADA public lands for ORV riding.

We drove up on a Wednesday evening to look at the bike. It was perfect. Lightweight to throw around (compared to my monster CB750) and my inseam was loving the height (I’m 5’11”). The seller, Jesse, didn’t molest it too much and it was black which I really liked (albeit slower than yellow). The seller was a fireman, and that always counts for something in my book (yeah, yeah, I used to go to the Key Food on Sunday evenings when Ladder Co. 11 would go just to gawk). I told him I had to think about it as I hadn’t yet prepped my Honda CB750 for sale, which would free up the funds to purchase the DRZ. Plus, I had a Suzuki issue. I’m a Honda girl and Honda just didn’t make anything that was catching my eye.

Another DRZ400SM popped up on CL in Connecticut. I called the guy and he was pretty firm on his price (which was more than I wanted to pay for what the bike came with). He wasn’t a fireman, either.

That weekend I headed out to the Cape to spend the weekend with a neighbor who has a family house on the freaking water in Chatham. Seriously…I would be there every week! A bunch of us went out and I ran the bike by my trusted neighbor Beth. I always have money issues…to spend, to save, what should I do? I’m in the middle of exterior painting on my house (in a historic district which adds thousands to the final painting quote but gets me nothing in my for-sale assessment) and have been being cautious.

When I got back into town on Sunday afternoon (after being driven back by Beth in her Jeep without heat…we had to stop and get hand and feet warmers it was so cold!), I sent Jesse a message saying, “I want it.”

I went back up to meet him on a Friday evening, cash in hand. He signed over the paperwork, I gave him the Benjamins. Basically, all I got was a title and keys; the bike remained safely in his walk-out basement.

Keeping a keen eye on the week’s weather, it looked like Saturday would be a sunny, warm (for February in New England) day. I contacted Jesse asking if he’d be around on Saturday as I wanted to drive up and ride my sweet bike home. He said he would be around.

Because Rhode Island has this weird VIN check law (where every vehicle 10 years old and less must be brought to the local jurisdiction police to confirm the VIN to the title), I could only get a temp plate from the DMV (more on my wonderful trip to the DMV coming). It happens to expire on my birthday! With temp plate in hand, I scoured my house for my long johns to no avail. Having woken up early on Saturday, I just couldn’t find them. I dressed in a pair of cotton tights with a pair of SmartWool socks over my feet and flannel-lined trousers. I wore my TPG Escape pants with liner over top…I don’t think I looked too much like the Michelin man and I could still bend my knees. On top I wore a long-sleeved REI wicking shirt (I don’t know what they’re called but they work both for hot and cold) and an LL Bean fleece pullover (thanks Mom!). And finally my Olympia AST with liner. I forwent (can you even say that?!) my heated gloves for my Rev’It Fahrenheit gloves. I was plenty warm. Much warmer than I expected. Much, much warmer than I expected.

Jesse & Me with the DRZ400SM

Jesse & Me with the DRZ400SM

We pulled up to Jesse’s house and were met by him, his dad and his younger brother. They were all so very nice and very cool…none of the “a chick is buying my bike” crap. Dad was concerned I didn’t have a jacket (I had left it in the Fit) and I said, “Oh no worries…I’m a gear whore.” Jesse had located the stock mirrors which Erik and Jesse’s dad put on the bike for me as Jesse went over the starting procedure. The choke is idiot-proof.  Jesse also showed off what he replaced the DRZ with. Yikes! Not my cup of tea but it’s a Honda!

Erik took a snap of me and Jesse, and then pushed the bike to the top of the driveway. I learned my lesson when I got the CB750. If the driveway is on a major slope, start at the top. I threw a leg over and started the bike. Erik went back to the Fit and met me at the top of the driveway (seriously, it was really sloped!). I checked the road and went to head out. Stall. I always stall on the first try. I restarted and headed out. My first ride on the street on this bike…yeehaw! Oh my god, what fun!

GPS from Dudley MA to Providence, RI

GPS from Dudley MA to Providence, RI

I had picked my route ahead of time (even ghetto gps’d the route which got a big laugh from Jesse and family when I taped the directions to the bike) to be slow, backcountry roads that I know quite well. The route included riding across the Scituate Reservoir which Erik got on video (to come). I saw 4 other bikes out today (amazing for February). One guy, I swear I don’t know where he came from, all of a sudden was behind me to my right. Erik said he obviously wanted to catch up to me because he was doing some seriously illegal stuff on Plainfield Pike (in Cranston). I was just trying to stay focused on keeping the bike headed home. The traffic was stop-and-go and could Cranston put any more manhole covers in the streets? Seriously, wtf?

DRZ400SM at Rhode Island's tallest spot: Jerimoth Hill

DRZ400SM at Rhode Island's highest point: Jerimoth Hill

So the guy behind me was on a bike with a windshield. That’s all that registered with me. I moved over into the left of the lane and we were happily sharing. I knew I had to make a right turn and gave plenty of warning (with hand signal!). He sorta moved over and I made a sloppy right. Thankfully no one was coming! Traffic in Providence was crap, as usual.

As I came down my street, I noticed a bunch of people sitting on the stoop of the house that’s been for sale forever. I headed over to the garage, only to have Erik walk over and suggest I bring the bike back to our house to show off. Beth walked down (“I saw your screaming jacket out of the corner of my eye!”) and we all introduced ourselves to the new neighbors (Vance and Laura). I kept saying “Oh my god, this thing should be illegal! I’ve never had so much fun on a bike!”

We switched out the exhaust (swapped for stock). It still makes too much noise. I’m going to have to figure out what he did to the Yosh pipe because there is no way in hell I’m riding around making that much noise. I also removed the, *ahem*, inappropriate stickers (seriously, “freelance gynecologist” and “the shocker”? why not just plaster the thing with 69!). Erik found space in the garage (thankfully we have something to limit the insanity) and I’m headed for a VIN check on Monday.



One Response

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  1. Jeff Wilkie said, on 2010/10/24 at 3:19 pm

    Hey, fun read. I’m thinking about one of these for myself, hope yours is working out for you.

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