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.

MMM

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