179_hipBy Bruce Mike

From The Hip

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year for riding. All my bikes are air-cooled and they seem to run their best when the outside temperature is between 45 and 65 degrees. I think I run my best at these temperatures too. This is the time of year when I put the most miles on my bikes. I know the weather is a big factor but I think the sense of urgency caused by the impending winter plays a part too.

Cool mornings and cool evenings are when I get my best helmet time. There seems to be less traffic on the roads I like to ride and less people at the places I like to stop. Stopping to get a hot cup of coffee and a piece of pie is far more rewarding when it’s 55º than it is when it’s 85º. Gear is also a lot more comfortable in cooler temperatures. The only drawback I can find is wet leaves on the road and more deer at dusk. Neither of which will keep my bike in the garage.

For a lot of years now I’ve owned multiple bikes at the same time. I currently have three. I’ve always convinced myself that I need more than one. They each served a specific purpose. Riding off-road, riding twisties, riding around town, long distance riding and a bunch more I can’t remember. In reality, there was always at least one bike, that was rarely ever ridden. That hasn’t been the case for the three I have now. I don’t know if it’s years of trial and error or just dumb luck, but the bikes I have now seem to get pretty equal riding time. Not necessarily equal miles but equal time.

My current riding choices are a BMW R1200R, a Ural and a Sportster. The BMW is my touring bike as well as my twisty-road bike. It works great for both applications. The Ural is my around-town, commuter, off-road and hauling a passenger bike. It has proven to be even more fun than I thought it would. I haven’t done any serious off-road riding with it yet but I’m hoping to change that this upcoming weekend. The Sportster is a rubber-mounted 883 that has been modified to more than double its horsepower. My original plan was to turn it into a flat track replica but my nephew convinced me to hot-rod it instead. I have no regrets. It is “Harley fast” and great fun to ride in a straight line. The next round of modifications will be suspension. Who knows, it may be a flat tracker someday.

I know from experience that bikes I’m crazy about today can fall out of favor at any time. I went through a vintage japanese phase that I was convinced would last forever. After three or four years of pain and heartache, they were all gone. I have a few fond memories of my RD350 but they are only a few. I had a couple of scooters that I was excited about for maybe the first 20 minutes I owned them. I was smiling from ear-to-ear when the last one left the garage.

There will always be “bikes I’ve always wanted” and I’ve had quite a few. I don’t have them anymore which tells me I don’t always know what I want or my perception of what they are is a little off. The common denominator in the bikes I have now is I rode all 3 models before. My wife had an ’04 Sportster that I rode a few times and I really liked it. I reviewed a Ural for the paper and I had a ton of fun and I rode the R1200R at a factory demo and it fit me perfectly. Riding a bike before I go out and get one seems to be a good idea.

I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months of riding. Hell, maybe the next 6 months. The Ural has 2WD. My total miles ridden this year won’t set any records but my smiles per mile are way up there. Ride safe and don’t bump your head.


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