Scoot Commute

Insurance Money is burning a hole in my pocket!

Posted in Bike Buying, Honda Elite 250 CH250 (1986) by sbahn on 2012/11/04

The insurance money came through on Elsa (my beloved DRZ400SM), and I’ve been wandering around, literally and figuratively, trying to decide on what to get to ‘replace’ that bike.

So far, I’ve picked up a 1995 DR350SE which I’m absolutely loving. The thing weighs nothing and the ergos are better than the Dizzer.

Dinner at Aidan's on the first day return to Eastern Standard Time, 2012 - still life with Honda Transalp and Buddy St. Tropez scooter

Dinner at Aidan’s on the first day return to Eastern Standard Time, 2012 – still life with Honda Transalp and Buddy St. Tropez scooter

This weekend I went to look at a Husqvarna TE610. What a FUN bike, and the guy selling it was super-cool. Seriously, super-cool. Who else would let a girl just roll up, in a car, pull out a helmet, and jump on his bike to take it for a ride. Well, he did check my license to see that I had an endorsement (well, actually, an H restriction in little Rhody). He was pretty funny, ‘cos he musta said three times “this is a really powerful bike” before I hopped on.

My initial thoughts:

  • weighs NOTHING (for a bike that would be my ‘touring’ bike)
  • gear ratios are fucking brilliant
  • really easy to ride
  • ergos felt really good (I’m 5’11”)
  • it looks like a bike you’d buy at IKEA

The only reason I’m passing on the bike is because it’s a 2003. There were only 49 imported (so I read on the innernetz so it must be true) and that makes me nervous. The other issue is, being an ’03, it weighs 330 lbs. The later models weigh 308 lbs (these are wet w/o fuel weights I believe, but please do some real research to confirm) and I’m trying to find the lightest capable bike available that also looks cool and doesn’t cost a small fortune.

Now today, Sunday, I went to look at a 1986 Honda Elite 250. That’s right, a CH250. I have ALWAYS wanted a CH250. Who wouldn’t? They’ve got that great 80’s Honda look, a dash from the future, and, because it’s a 250, it can haul some ass.

The ad came up on the local craigslist on Friday. I sent it to the boyfriend, and he joked on Friday that we should go have a look. I actually took the initiative and emailed the guy (no phone in the ad) asking to see it this weekend. After a couple of phone calls back and forth, we agreed on a time today, Sunday.

I didn’t even bother doing any real research, ‘cos really, it’s a Honda. And I know about these bikes.

The boyfriend and I went to look at one listed on the local CL about 4 or 5 years ago, probably more like 5 years ago. It was in good condition but the guy wanted a bit more than we had to spend so we passed. That visit did turn into a good acquaintance relationship as he turned us onto the Honda Dream and we see him every year at Rice-o-Rama.

But I digress.

It boils down to, yes, I am going to be the proud owner of a 1986 Honda Elite 250 in the black & gold color scheme (John Player anyone?). The guy selling it is the son of the original owner, who moved to Florida. He took his Honda Spree (oooo yeah!) and left the Elite up here in little Rhody.

1986 CH250 Honda Elite 250 in Pearl Gold Black

1986 CH250 Honda Elite 250 in Pearl Gold Black

Everything about this scoot is a hoot and a half. The windshield, oh, that’s how a windshield is supposed to work?! It actually diverted the air over my helmet. My only complaint are the mushy brakes, but that’s what the scoot is known for. What can you really do with two drum brakes. And I like that the rear brake is applied by using the right foot, like a real scootah.

I’ll be reporting over the winter as I intend to make this beaut my wintah commutah scootah because it has a windshield and great body protection.


New-to-me DR350SE, or what to buy after the theft of your perfect DRZ400SM

Posted in Bike Buying, Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa), Suzuki DR350SE (1995) by sbahn on 2012/09/08
Riding the DR350 on backroads between Boston and Providence

Riding the DR350 on backroads between Boston and Providence

I’ve thought about it.

I’ve talked about it.

I’ve googled about it.

I’ve written up a spec sheet about it.

And what is “it”? IT is what bike am I going to get to “replace” Elsa, my delightfully customized 2007 DR-Z 400 SM that was so rudely taken by force by some punks in Providence, let them come to a very tragic (and preferably slow) end.

The decision? TWO BIKES!

Happy girl with her new 1995 DR350SE ... why the Honda girl keeps getting Suzukis is a mystery

Happy girl with her new 1995 DR350SE … why the Honda girl keeps getting Suzukis is a mystery

Well, at least I think two bikes. I finally got the paperwork together for insurance so I don’t know what I’m going to get for replacement value plus accessories. I don’t think “the investigator” was too happy with the delay in me getting him the paperwork (receipts for farkles and the stuff that had to be notarized), but really, could the folks who stole Elsa have done it at a worse time of the year, immediately before the start of semester.

The boyfriend has been dealing with the insurance folks and when he said that they’re going to pull credit reports, naturally I asked, “Why would they need that?” followed immediately by “Is this going to be a soft pull?” Apparently we are guilty until proven innocent. Like I would go through all this drama, the waking up in the middle of the night because I hear a bike, the incessant riding around and peering into every yard, abandoned lot, looking, looking, looking.

Last pic of Elsa, the DRZ400SM ... my pink & black perfect bike

Last pic of Elsa, the DRZ400SM … my pink & black perfect bike

I walked up and down Broad Street, handing out flyers in English and Spanish, walking into all the “men only” kind of places, the mecánico and barbershops, all by myself, with the saddest look I could muster, asking if they see the bike, call me. I just want it back. There’s nothing like 8 guys speaking Spanish at you, which I don’t understand, but I did get that they were angry for me. The one barbershop, for the black guys in the neighborhood, the main guy rides because I saw his Yammy outside and his gear inside. He actually stopped playing a video game with his friend to listen to my sob story. He was ready to get out and help me find the bike!

Ok, so back to the bikes.

I decided on a Honda NX250 or a Suzuki DR350 for the small bike, and a Honda NX650 (aka “the Dominator”) for the big bike. Depending on what we get from the insurance, it may be two, but it may be only one.

The only pic so far without a grin the size of Rhode Island

The only pic so far without a grin the size of Rhode Island

I did think about getting another DRZ400SM because I just loved that bike, but the prices!, oh my! They’ve gone crazy.

Which leads me to today’s purchase. I posted a WTB on ADV, wondering if there were any hidden NX bikes hiding out in New England. I was contacted by a guy who was thinking of selling his 1995 DR350SE, a bike he bought for his wife to learn to ride on and for him to do some trail riding on. He’s a street bike guy (um, Ducati anyone? as in “oh, I’d take that out!”), looking for a little fun on dirt.

Me & Dani, the seller ... doncha love his shirt?!

Me & Dani, the seller … doncha love his shirt?!

I think the DR would have been great for what he wanted, but his wife found it a little too tall and heavy. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I’m 5’11” because I can basically flatfoot anything. So enter me in the picture.

He's a Honda guy ... lucky for me, as this wee Suzuki DR350 hits the spot!

He’s a Honda guy … lucky for me, as this wee Suzuki DR350 hits the spot!

From a couple of PMs on ADV to me dragging the boyfriend out of bed on a Saturday morning at 7:15 to head up to just outside of Boston to take a look at the DR. It was perfect. Beat up enough so I wouldn’t feel bad beating it up more, but with good mods like the big Acerbis tank, Mikuni pumper carb and good handguards.

And uh, it’s blue and yellow. Purrrrrrfect for being turned into a Battenburg bike!

So yeah, I bought it. The guy was super-reasonable on price; exactly what I had in my head. So I was happy.

I found dirt on the way home ... a handful of miles outside of Boston!

I found dirt on the way home … a handful of miles outside of Boston!

My prep included bringing full gear, working out a backroads route back home, and having the boyfriend ready to add it to the insurance on the spot.

Off we headed back toward PVD, an uneventful, tertiary roads ride. It’s amazing how much undeveloped land there is 12 miles outside of Boston. I even managed to find a dirt road!

What is that dial thing on the right?

What is that dial thing on the right?

Mileage: 5539.3
Ride: 56.1
Mileage upon arriving home: 5595.4

Librarian boyfriend stopped at the Cumberland Public Library, which is in a former monastery

Librarian boyfriend stopped at the Cumberland Public Library, which is in a former monastery

I stopped just over the border in little Rhody to fill up and it was almost $10. I’m not used to this big tank business. My head almost fell off.

As for farkling this bike, I’m going to keep it how it is until things break. The only things I really want to add are a tank bag and some sort of rack that can handle saddlebags (keep ’em off the exhaust). But I will pay attention to weight, as this thing weighs nothing compared to the DRZ after I added about 40 pounds to her.

So, do I really need an NX650?

It's GPS ready!

It’s GPS ready!

The route home ... where would I be without my ghetto GPS?

The route home … where would I be without my ghetto GPS?

And finally …

it’s a HE and his name is …

Garda. Although the boyfriend wants to call him “Centipede“.

Happy Honda Household welcomes another Honda

Posted in Bike Buying, Honda Transalp XL600V (Kaiju) by sbahn on 2010/10/30
TransAlp getting ready for its move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island

TransAlp getting ready for its move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island

1) I hate the BMW F650GS Dakar.

2) So does the person who actually rides it.

3) He wanted a TransAlp before getting the BMW, but the Dakar was available, reasonably priced, and local.

4) Then we took the ride up to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada where he learned to hate the BMW.

5) And I took the Dakar to work a couple of times where I learned to hate it…why hate it? Because it’s like riding a steamboat, but not in the cute, fun way of the Honda Dream.

6) We both agreed. Sell the Dakar and look for a TransAlp or a BMW GSPD. He tried a regular R100GS because a guy in Rhode Island let us go down to his house and try out his bike. He wasn’t selling, and we just wanted to see if it would work. This is why I love the Internet and love bike people. Always open.

7) A TransAlp shows up on the innerwebs for cheap and not all that far way. He drives up and tries it out. I get home from work to find out he’s bought it.

8) We drive up today to pay the guy, pick up the bike, and do the paperwork. Original owner. Semi-retired orthopaedic surgeon (do medical people ever really retire?).

Original owner of the 1989 TA takes one last ride

Original owner of the 1989 TA takes one last ride

He had lots of crash stories. Like when a raccoon ran into his front wheel; the bike wound up in a ditch and he was in the middle of road with 10 broken ribs. He said to me that he had planned on riding the bike into his 90s (he’s 72 now), but his right knee is shot. He even had to get on and off the bike on the wrong side. I said to him, “He’s really excited. The bike is going to a happy Honda home where it will be ridden regularly and sometimes stupidly and garaged with many other happy Hondas.” He does have a Honda Elite that he rides for his 12-mile roundtrip commute. Once a Honda whore, always a Honda whore.


Honda Fit hauls Honda Transalp...Thank you Soichiro!

Honda Fit hauls Honda Transalp...Thank you Soichiro!

New owner with the 1989 TransAlp...what's the first adventure going to be?

New owner with the 1989 TransAlp...what's the first adventure going to be?

We got the bike home, towed with, oh guess what, a Honda Fit. I hadn’t had a chance to ride it and I’ve been thinking that it makes a lot of sense for us to have two of the same bikes for our long distance riding.

When we got back to Providence, I promptly pulled on my helmet and took off.

Oh my god! And I’m sworn to thumpers…but oh my god. What a freaking blast. The weight distribution is perfect. Gripping the tank felt as natural as when I’m on the CB350. Taking sharp turns was like a hot knife through butter. I sped up for each speed bump on my street and the bike was pulling for more, and this is a bike that hasn’t really been ridden in years and needs tune-up work, a new chain, brake adjustments, blah blah.

I never could figure out what is was about the F650GS I hated. Now I think I know. It’s too new. We’ve both always ridden old bikes [and old cars for that matter!] (except my Buddy scooter, but that’s for getting to and from work) and that’s all we know. Drum brakes. Kick starting. Not starting and giving up and taking another bike that is working. Snapped cables. Odd noises. Bad smells. Extra bits after doing maintenance. Difficult to source parts.

Well, I’m in love and it’s not mine.

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There’s something about Fridays that makes commuting just that bit more dangerous

The week of commuting was pretty good last week; no blatant moronic activity by those with whom I share the road.

However, Friday, well, Friday was a different story. It’s been a recurring theme, this summer, that something stupid or just plain weird happens on Friday.

It started in the morning at the Atwells/Eagle Square 5-points. Is this any surprise? It’s just too complicated of an intersection for people to deal with. I was at the head of the line in the “go straight” lane. There were no cars in the “left turn” lane next to me. I would say that there were about 6 or 7 cars behind me; that’s a lot for the go-straight lane at this time in the morning (I commute slightly later than rush hour). A minivan pulls up on my left into the left-turn lane. I look over and think, “hmmmm, he’s going to jump the light and go straight because he’s got that look; not quite ‘moron’, more like the ‘I’m more important than you so I won’t wait in line’ look.” Well, I know I have a lot off the line on the Buddy, so I decide I’ll out-run him.

The “go-straight” light turns green. I do a quick left-right look to make sure no cross-traffic is running the red, and then gun it. I easily get out in front of him, to the point where it appears he slows down, holding up all the cars that were behind me. Jerk.

On the way home, I had two interesting things happen. Apparently in Rhode Island, turning on your left indicator means that you want to make a right turn. I was approaching the River Avenue / Chalkstone Avenue intersection when the white car in front of me, which had been driving erratically since it pulled in front of me at Pleasant Avenue, slows down. The driver turns on the left turn signal as the car approaches the intersection, so I pull over to the right to go around as there are cars coming from the other direction, which will cause the white car driver to stop before making the left.

As I’m even with the passenger’s door, I see the right front tire start to turn…turn right! I twist open the throttle to get past the car before the driver turns into me. It happened so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to get any adrenaline going. It was just sorta like, of course they’re turning right with their left signal on. Because the driver is of the type, no license, no registration, no insurance.

As I got closer to home, I took my shortcut down a one-way street, going the correct direction down the street. This is the street that I can’t remember the name of, even though I ride it every day. The Guatemalan restaurant on the corner, which has gone through at least three name changes in the last year, has a new maroon and gold awning that says “Spanish and American Food”, so I’m thinking the Guatemalans are gone or they’re trying a new angle.

Anyway, as I come to the stop sign at the end of the street where I need to turn left onto Westminster, an old guy in a white car that is on Westminster drives slowly by me, screaming and waving his arms at me. I thought maybe he wanted to turn onto the street (the wrong way) as I could see the right blinker on the front bumper blinking. As he continued by, yelling, hollering and cussing me out (yes, he was staring right at me), I could see that he had his emergency blinkers on. The truck behind him came to a stop and motioned to me to pull out and make my left. I think he was afraid the guy might get out of his car and come after me. It was really, really weird. I opened the throttle and thought to myself, I just want to get home. Yikes!

BMW R75/5 and DRZ-400SM at Mews Tavern, Wakefield RI

BMW R75/5 and DRZ-400SM at Mews Tavern, Wakefield RI

Later in the day Erik and I rode down to Razees to pick up some parts that Brendan had ordered (new grips for the Buddy, some bolt for the BMW F650GS and a random new old stock bushing for one of the CT90s that Brendan tracked down from a Honda dealership in Wyoming). Erik has been wanting to meet up with a guy called Eric down in South County to try out his BMW R100GS as a possible replacement for the “soulless” F650GS. Erik had called him before we left for North Kingstown, but there was no answer. As we are parking at Razees, some guy walks up to Erik asking about the /5. Turns out it’s the Eric guy! He gives us directions to his house and we’ll meet up in an hour or so.

We get our parts and have a nice chat with Brendan, who takes us out back to show us his commuter bike. It’s a 1988 Honda VTR250. I’d never seen one (or even heard of one). It’s a crazy little sport bike with an even crazier front brake. It’s beat to hell and a perfect little commuter.

On our way to Eric’s house, we stop in at Twisted Throttle to check out the pink Barkbusters. I was thinking I would get another set of plastics to put on the DRZ for the summer, but the pink wasn’t quite right. Too Barbie, not fuschia enough. Saved some money!

We meet up with Eric who lets Erik ride the R100. He looked really good on it, and it turns out both Erik/Erics think the same way. Eric with a C even said “Oh, I don’t like square headlights.” It was a meeting of twins. I think Erik is liking the R100, but he still wants to try out the TransAlp. It’ll definitely come down to one of those, so he’s starting to prep the F650GS to sell.

As it was getting late and I was getting hungry, we stopped in a Mews Tavern for dinner. Mmmmm, quesadilla.

I’m all legal

Posted in Bike Buying, Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa) by sbahn on 2010/02/22

I brought the new DR-Z home on Saturday, albeit it with paper temporary plates. Why couldn’t I just register it properly as I had the title, bill of sale and tax form? Oh, because Rhode Island has some weird thing called a VIN check that requires the new owner to take the vehicle to the local police department to have someone confirm that the VIN on the vehicle is the same as the VIN on the title.

Having spent over three hours at the DMV last week, I didn’t want to have to go back again this week (many offices have closed so the wait at the main office is excruciating). The clerk gave me a “don’t have to wait in line again” card last week so I would be able to simply walk in and receive assistance. I went to the VIN check office first thing this morning (at 7:05 in the morning!). The old entrance isn’t the entrance anymore and I was riding around all over the place trying to find the door. A friendly DPW guy pointed it out (hey PVD, some signs would help, beyond the “this is not the door” that greeted me at the old door).

VIN Check Guy
Ok, let’s talk. This guy was exactly what I was expecting. Well, he wasn’t chomping on a cigar, but everything else was perfect. He opens the huge bay door (the place is a gigantic, hangar-like DPW warehouse) and has me push the bike up to a Jersey barrier. I take a seat on the other side of the barrier while he looks something up on his computer. I comment that the floor is wet and he said he had just washed the floor down. I then noted how it was pretty cool having a Jersey barrier as his cubicle wall. He then tells me a story about how it used to be plastic, but an older gentleman smashed through it when he was having his car checked. Use the other reverse.

VIN check guy says there is a bike with a very similar VIN that is in the database as stolen. He wanted me to know that my bike is clean but that I should hang on to the print-out he gave me if there was an issue at the DMV. I said I bought the bike from a fireman so I doubted there was a problem.

I then rode into work. Man there’s a lot of traffic in the morning (it was about 7:30 in the morning). I had an enjoyable ride in and parked in the Vespa’s usual spot. At midday I went back out to the DMV in Pawtucket. Again, uneventful ride.

I knew the DMV was going to be bad because there was no where, literally, no where to park. I slipped the bike into a sorta half spot and walked into the old Apex building. Unsure of how to use my “don’t wait in line” pass, I found the security guard guy who is always there and asked him. He told me to wait near the counter and when one of the two open windows was free, just go up to get help. The next number was called (I can be slow on the uptake) and a woman walked up with number. Then another woman walked up, holding the same number. Just like Thursday when I was at the office, the numbers looped. One woman’s slip was time-stamped 8:30am. It was about 12:45pm. The other slip? 11:48am.

The clerk who waited on me was very friendly and surprisingly cheerful considering how miserable it’s gotten at the DMV. She wanted me to be careful and commented that it’s not my riding I have to look out for, but all the other people. At least one non-rider gets it. She also thought it was good that the bike is “small…a 400.” If only she knew how stupid this bike can make me.

Back to campus…almost took the wrong route as I was heading home! After work I rode over to RIC for a class. No proper parking so I parked in the slashed section where I usually park my scooter (not a handicapped slash area). No one molested the bike.

I left campus about 7:00pm for my first night ride. I felt very un-hi-viz. I’m going to need some 3M reflective stickers. I took Atwells from Mount Pleasant toward downtown as I wanted to ride on Dean Street. Much better than the scooter, but still pretty crappy.

I was on Elmwood near home and I heard sirens and saw lights  in my mirrors. My heart was in my mouth (the pipe is very loud), but as I moved over, the police van went flying past me. Woo, got passed that one. Turned onto my street and pulled up in front of the garage. I pushed Elsa into the garage between Erik’s Honda Dream and my Buddy.

What freaking fun bike to ride!

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.


New Baby!

Posted in Bike Buying, Honda CB350 K2, Shows / Rallies by sbahn on 2009/11/22
1970 Honda 350

1970 Honda 350

We went to the big Bettencourt’s auction yesterday and now there’s a new baby that needs to find a berth in the garage. We met Brendan from Razees (in North Kingstown) and he introduced me to Gordon who said it’d be no problem to transport the bike to the shop (we had the Fit and there was no way we were getting the ape hanger handlebars in the back).

There were many, many beautiful bikes, mostly small displacement (yaaa!). The prices were off the charts and that’s great for the Bettencourt family (it was a charity auction). I really wanted a perfect 1970 Cub with 200 miles on it that looked like it came off the showroom floor but it went for $1900! There was a /2 with an attached sidecar that went for $9500. A V7 Sport Guzzi went for $8500. The most expensive bike was a Laverda 750 with 215 miles on it went for $12,500. It was gorgeous. The guy who won it covered it in bubblewrap and put paper coffee cups over the turn signals as he was storing it for pick up next week. I hope he is careful riding it!

I had an absolutely fantastic time. The garage was packed to the gills with vintage motorcycle enthusiasts…there was certainly a lot of testosterone going around.

Out Loud Laugh-inducing CraigsList Ad of the Day

Posted in Bike Buying by sbahn on 2009/09/11
Push it like you stole it

Push it like you stole it

Offensive craigslist posting of the day

Posted in Bike Buying by sbahn on 2009/08/19
August 19, 2009 CL listing for a Hondamatic - 'cos girls just don't wanna shift

August 19, 2009 CL listing for a Hondamatic - 'cos girls just don't wanna shift

On Vespa, On Trail, and other random things

Posted in Bike Buying, Campus, Daily Commute, Honda CT90 (1967), Parking, Vespa P by sbahn on 2009/08/07

I rode the Vespa every day this week save for Monday, when I had to go to Trader Joe’s. The Buddy simply has outstanding storage capabilities. I park the Vespa in a different spot than the Buddy, and I’ve now been called out twice on it.

Yesterday Jim, one of the physical plant guys who has ridden dirt bikes for 40+ years and gives me major respect, asked why I’m parking it with the cars. And today, when I was walking through the lot and up toward my building, the guard asked if I needed directions, and I yelled over, “I should hope not!”, and he laughed, as he didn’t realize it was me (we’re having in-service for the Providence school teachers this week so there are a lot of people of around). He asked why I’m not parking in my special spot, and I told him what I told Jim: this scoot has to be kick-started and I don’t want you guys watching. Well, that got as big a guffaw as I got from Jim.

The P on Campus

The P on Campus

So this is my new spot. I don’t think I’ll continue to use this space when the kids come back because the guards can’t see it. Not that I think the kids would mess with it, but you never know. I’d be a little annoyed if it was tipped or moved. Oh, and it’s been running great. I think I should replace the broken brake handle (I got a new one, just haven’t done the swap yet) because it’s annoying me. And I think the front brake needs some adjustment; it’s kinda mushy.

I had a cop behind me today so I had to go sorta slow on the only part of my commute that could get fast (down where Dean turns into Pleasant Valley) and I totally forgot I had put the ADV flag hanging off the back rack. I guess it’s not blocking anything because I didn’t get a talking to. My favorite part of the cop is that he eventually moved into the right lane (I always stay in the left) and then proceeded to go straight at the merge…just like all the other jerks who use the right lane as a way to cut off those who plan ahead at the light at the Coca-Cola plant. The new motto should be “To serve, to protect, and to cut you off”.

Sooooo, on to other things. Yet another Trail 90! We wanted two of them, but we really shouldn’t be spending any money right now (gotta paint the house). However, a CT90 popped up on craigslist in Marion, Massachusetts, which is where Erik’s grandmother lives. He called the guy (“what, you haven’t called him yet?”) and we went out last night. He had called his grandmother earlier to let her know we would be stopping by (we wanted to take her out for dinner), but we got the answering machine (so cute that she has a machine now!).

We go by her house and see her car, but we don’t stop as we have an appointment with the Trail guy. We get to his house (it’s really pretty where he lives, all these lovely tall pine trees…I don’t know this part of Marion at all) and the Trail is sitting right there in the driveway. The guy is called Steve and he’s really nice. He had the bike up at his house in Maine to ride around with his daughter, who, at 16, is now more interested in boys. But he did say that she’s still a gearhead, so that’s good for womankind!

The bike: well, let’s see. He had done some weird stuff to it. The left handle was an actual clutch. It’s a one down, three up. Finding neutral is a bit of a bear and there’s no neutral light. The right handle was front brake; back brake was right foot. There’s no key. He turns it off by opening the choke. There’s no battery. The headlamp works by toggle switch. The engine has been replaced with the Lifan (not a bad thing).

The idea was that I would get a yellow CT90 and Erik would take the red one we got on Sunday. I like yellow. I love yellow. I would only ride/drive yellow things if I could. I wish Honda had offered the Fit in yellow. You cannot be angry or sad or non-committed when you see yellow.

This bike is just too messed up for me. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a great bike. The engine is new. But the cool thing about the Trail is the ridiculous clutchless gearing. So we talked. I said, look, for the price, this thing is a great deal. But I want to keep the red one for me. I think that made him happy, because when he took the red one out, he had a difficult time with the clutchless stuff (in other words, he grabbed the left handle to shift and did a herky-herky swervy stoppie thing). Me, on the other, got on the red one and *bam!* I’m off, in fourth, flying over the speed bumps on my street. I looooove that thing. I think because I switch between the shifties and the twisties, it was easier for me to immediately adapt to both handles being brakes. As Mr. Shift-Snoot, I think he likes that he can continue to use the left handle as a clutch. A win-win!

The bad news: no paperwork. And because states are squeezing money from every source they can, the title service is now $145 for a bike of this vintage. Now, neither of us are very good negotiators. You’d think, him growing up right outside of New York on Lawn Guyland and me living 10 years on the Lower East Side, we’d have some skillz, but alas, we’re awful. From somewhere I don’t know where, Erik says to the guy, well, we really like it but we’ll want to plate it. I ask if there’s any old paperwork anywhere (all we need is an old registration or insurance card), but he has nothing. (We did find an Iowa registration sticker beneath the seat.) Erik says, “your price is very fair, but would you take…” and the guy meets us in the middle. I couldn’t believe it. Sold, done, here’s your cash, let’s get it into the back of the Fit.

Erik finagles the Trail to fit in the Fit

Erik finagles the Trail to fit in the Fit

Steve didn’t realize that we actually intended on shoving it into the back of the Fit and bringing it home that night. He didn’t believe us when we said it’ll fit. But it did!

Oh, and it included an extra gas tank and the skid plate which is currently not attached.

We stop at Erik’s grandmother’s house, and she had just returned from an evening meal with friends. As I was very hungry, we didn’t stay long, and she didn’t need any odds-and-ends done around the house. We did manage to leave with two mugs (#1 and #2) and the chocolate cake with white frosting that I love so much that she had in the freezer in the event we were to stop by. She was in great spirits. She’s 85 and lives alone, and we’re the closest relatives by location so I like to stop in every now and again. I’m jealous (yes, there is no better word) he still has his grandmother at his age. I lost mine oh so long ago.

We stop at the Gateway Tavern for burgers with native Marion blue cheese (yummmm!). The place was going off at 8pm on Thursday night. We had to wait for a table (not long).

at the Gateway Tavern in Marion, MA

at the Gateway Tavern in Marion, MA

We must have waited less than 5 minutes for a server to come over once we were seated (the place was packed to the gills with large group tables, the bar was bursting as I would have normally sat there, a guy was playing guitar and the Sox were playing the Yankees) when a manager comes over and apologizes for the delay in service and offers us the first drink on the house. I couldn’t believe it. We’re not known there; I’ve only been there a handful of times. We usually go to the Wave when we visit Marion. I couldn’t believe it. The food was great…the burger was nice and crispy black on the outside and warm and pink on the inside with dripping blue cheese. Ahhh! Erik had a side of onion rings, but I opted for the veg of the day because, well, I’m trying to be a little bit better with balancing food.

We finally get back to Providence and turn onto our street. Ron is sitting out on his porch with this blonde chick; we stop and Ron comes down and takes a peek. Erik parks the car at the house and I introduce myself to the woman. Turns out she’s Beth’s colleague. The woman says to me, “Are you the scooter people?! Beth is so cute on her scooter, and she said she lives next to scooter people.” I hang my head in shame and admit that, yes, indeed, we are the scooter people. The woman, Sarah, is moving into one of Ron’s apartments on September 1st so maybe I’ll make a new convert!

First run in Elmwood

First run in Elmwood

Erik and I drag the Trail out of the Fit. He tightens the handlebars and takes it for a ride. Then my turn. Finally, he locks it to the ladder and bbq in the backyard and I toss a cover over it for the night. We’ll have to figure out how to fit it into the garage tomorrow.

Me on the 1967 CT90...if youve never ridden one of these things, you simply do not know what youre missing

Me on the 1967 CT90...if you've never ridden one of these things, you simply do not know what you're missing