By Paul Berglund
I drove for hours. When I got there, I was north of Alexandria. What I beheld when the seller opened his garage door was resplendent, a 2008 Triumph (Orange!) Speed Triple. In my head, monks and vikings and angels started singing softly. None of them wore hats, out of respect. We went for a short ride, the seller on his Harley and me on his glorious orange triple. There were some, issues. It shifted like a hot butter knife through a bag of marbles. The turning radius was the same as my pickup truck. The horn was much too quiet and the pipe was much too loud. One of the vikings had to shout to the monk standing right next to him “Odin! It’s so orange!” The monk shouted back that his name was Lester. No matter, the brief ride told me this bike would do.
Back at the seller’s garage I saw the stock exhaust gently wrapped in towels in a box with some extra parts. “You could make it quiet again” offered Lester the singing monk. The seller and I quickly agreed on a price that was fair for both of us.
Next came loading it into the back of my truck. I deployed my two folding ramps. One for the bike and one for me to walk up on. I rolled the Speed Triple out to the street and took aim at the back of the truck. The now former owner looked at the height of the tail gate and then at my gray hair and middle age paunch and a look of skeptical horror began to form on his face. But I’m a dirt biker. I know that the difference between making it and life threatening failure isn’t so much about skill, or youth or being able to walk without limping and wheezing. It’s all about confidence. If you know you’re going to make it, you’re going to make it. I jogged towards the ramp. The seller stumbled after trying to help, certain that his beloved bike was now in the hands of a madman. We sailed up the ramp and the front tire lodged firmly into the chock. The Speed Triple stood triumphantly on it’s own, anxiously waiting to go to it’s new home. With loving hands, I tenderly strapped it down.
On the drive home I had my iPhone jacked into the stereo and we all sang along. Not the bike, as it wasn’t running at the time. I mean the Vikings and Angels and me. I had a fun street bike again, and it was orange! I was quite happy, but I knew I had some explaining to do. I’m surrounded by riders who can be, somewhat hardcore. So the idea of owning a motorcycle for shear fun can ruffle their feathers. They don’t want to trivialize motorcycles or refer to them as toys. However, when I broke the news about the orange bundle of joy in the back of my truck, I had to remain composed. Serious and dignified, no jumping about or saying “Braaaaaaap”. In my heart I would know, the days of droning long distances on heavy “practical” motorcycles were behind me. Sunny days of whizzing down twisty river valley roads were ahead.
The prophecy foretold in all the happy singing came to pass. I’ve ridden those winding river valley roads. I’ve stopped in Nelson Wisconsin and eaten a brisket sandwich. I’ve even done a track day with my new to me, shiny orange Triumph. There are other bikes out there. Similar in purpose, nimble, fleet and fun. You can have one too.
Buying the next motorcycle can be a contemplative task. You can research the bike and what bits and pieces you simply have to buy for the bike to address it’s many short comings. How could you ride a bike in public that didn’t have the best farkles from the best catalogs? You had to find the online forum for your new bike and take the holy gospel from War Pony or Wrench Foot or who ever was the guru for your new bike. You HAVE to buy the side stand relocation bracket and upgrade the stator and the clutch slave cylinder, and so on and so on. I got so sick of buying thousands of dollars of parts because that was the prudent thing to do. Me, prudent.
Don’t tell anyone, but you can buy one hell of a fun motorcycle for not much money. Look around at all the poor bastards that bought a joyful happy Jack Russell Terrier of a bike when all their friends had bought mastiffs bikes. Those bikes are sitting in garages all around Minnesota, Wisconsin and lesser states, unridden because the owner got shunned and shamed for buying a light weight, happy fun time bike. Buy one of those bikes. Sure you may have to make new friends, but you’re going to save some cash. Then, save more cash by not buying any farkles and just riding the damn thing. Spend your money on maintenance and gas. When it comes time to buy some tires, don’t buy the hardest longest lasting ones and worry about wearing out the center of the tread. Buy the soft sticky ones and try to wear out the edges first.
If you spend your time and money on improving your riding skills and actually riding, you will get more fun per dollar than your motorcycle owning friends. Yes, it’s blasphemy to ride the wrong brand of bike or with a motor that’s too small. Your cruiser must have the best chrome and your sport bike the most carbon fiber to fit in with the in crowd. What has been forgotten is the riding. Is it better to ride grumpy in a pack or happy on your own? Part of being a motorcyclist is being a rebel. Being the best motorcyclist may mean being the best rebel you can be. Don’t look to me or some online guru or even your friends for permission. Take the bike of your choice down the road of your choice and have some fun.