By Paul Berglund
I sold my Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans. I really liked that bike, but I wanted a bike with a more upright riding posture. I took a deep breath and let my brain wander for a week. My next bike could be anything. Perhaps it was time to go out and buy that dream bike I had been lusting over for nearly ten years, the KTM 950/990 Adventure. It would be more money than I wanted to spend. But gosh darn it we’re talking a dream bike here. I started looking in ernest. I had to because there were none for sale in Minnesota. A feeling of desperation fanned the flames of desire.
The closest bike I found was a 2013 990 Adventure in Illinois and the seller wanted over $12000 for it. I was looking at a serious commitment. I started to haunt ADVrider and other web sights where a used KTM would surface. I put the word out on the street and got a nibble. I set up a date to go look at the bike on Saturday. My friend Gus, who was lucky enough to own an almost identical bike, very kindly offered me his bike to ride for a day. I cleared my calendar and picked up his bike on thursday night. Friday found me riding my favorite roads in Wisconsin. Out of respect, I kept the off pavement riding to dirt roads. One tank of gas later I was dumbfounded. I didn’t love my dream bike. I had ridden the new Honda African Twin and I liked that better.
Sure the 990 is a nice bike, but it didn’t move me to my happy place. Certainly not $12,000 worth of happiness. Now what? The KTM Adventure had ben my dream bike for so long. I had to go back to the basics of what I wanted to do on a motorcycle. Off road was my number one priority, and I had that covered. What did I want want from a street bike?
I heard a loud groan of exasperation from that manly part of my brain. Much like anyone reading this right now is groaning. Do we have to talk about feelings now? Nobody wants that. Luckily, Man Brain suggested I write a rambling incoherent manifesto about what my next bike should be. Thats what you are reading now. My list of demands for my future bike.
If I got an Adventure bike the plan would be to ride to Colorado, ride around in the mountains and then ride back. The big problem with that is the ride there and ride back parts. With the dirt bike I haul it there, ride the good stuff and then haul it back. Sure my Man Brain calls me all kinds of unflattering names, but I’ve learned to ignore him. It’s a dirt bike for cryin’ out loud. It fits so nice in the back of my pickup. Any bike that would be comfortable for the soul draining slog across Nebraska wouldn’t be as fun to ride off road as the bike I already own. How often would I ride to Colorado? Once a year? Every two years? Do I invest a lot of money in a compromised bike that only gets used properly once a year?
Man Brain was silent now, pouting in the corner with a five day growth of beard. Where did I do most all of my street riding, I asked? “The twisting roads of south western Wisconsin”, was the belligerently mumbled answer. What bike would be the most fun on the roads I ride most often? I took it one step further, of all the fantastic roads I’ve ridden in the past, Lolo Pass, Bear Tooth Pass, The Dragon, etc, what bike would I want to ride if I rode them again? Not the 680 pound sport touring bike I road them on the first time. What bike would give the most happiness on these roads? It would be a light and frisky bike. I spun around to face Man Brain, remember I just bought a pick up truck to haul my dirt bike in.
It smelled of old spice and ozone as Man Brain did the math. “You could buy a bike” he began slowly “that is fun to ride locally…” Yes Man Brain! Go on!“…and if you did want to ride it in Colorado… you could put it in your truck and drive it there.” Well done my friend. How about a 400 pound standard or “naked” bike? I offered. (Man Brain likes the word naked.) Sit up ergonomics, light weight and a silly amount of power, comfort, nimble handling, does any of that sound interesting? How about riding highway 12 through Lolo Pass on a bike like that? Man Brain nodded sheepishly. This seamed like a great plan. Buy a bike that’s great fun day to day and should the mood hit me, put that bike in my truck and drive it to the roads that fill me with joy.
When next I met up with my riding friends I was very excited. I had narrowed my search down to two bikes, both of them by a fantastic stroke of luck where orange. My favorite color. The color by witch I was known. A 2008 Triumph Speed Triple and a 2009 Aprilia Tuono. Both a glorious shade of orange. I was going to talk about the merits of each bike and my good friends would help me decide which bike was the right bike for me. My good, fellow, rider friends. Sadly, I led with a brief summery of why I was buying a naked bike. Pickup truck, hate Nebraska, light weight etc. but before I could mention the best part about two orange bikes, I saw frowning faces and heads wagging side to side. No. Man Brain blurted out, “told you so”! Apparently, I had sold out. I had taken my He-man Motorcycle Club of Minnesota card out of my wallet, and tore it up right in front of them.
That’s where it stands as I write this. The look of disappointment in those eyes haunts me still, but I know what I want now. I’m certain of it. Must the joy of riding twisty roads in lush hilly places be forever linked with 500 miles of droning corn penance? Must I grovel across North Dakota before I can enter the temple of Montana? This manifesto says no! I will buy an orange bike and I will ride south western Wisconsin as much as I damn well please. Then, if I want to ride that bike up a twisty mountain road in Colorado…? I’m not sure if anyone will be riding beside me. First, comes the bike. Then Wisconsin and then, a world of possibilities. I’ll let you know what bike I pick next month.