Riding My Motorcycle
I commute to work on the bus and take the train. The University pays for the pass that I use, so I'm not out of any money when getting to and from work. But beacuse of the distance, it takes about one hour and 15 minutes (give or take a few minutes) to get from my front door to my office. When I drove my car (back when I had it), it would take me between 30 to 45 minutes. So I have about doubled my commute time to save money on fuel. The problem is, I have lost out on a lot of home time with my kids. I don't get home until late, and then they are eating and then getting ready for bed. I also run into the problem of needing to carefully plan out my commute when teaching at other campus locations than the main campus in Salt Lake. There are times when having your own vehicle of some sort would be nice. I've tried using a bicycle for a while, but it's very dangerous to ride in traffic because of it's size and driver's lack of attention for two wheeled vehicles. And it doesn't change my commute time much. Also, with fuel prices increasing and my desire not to have a huge car payment every month, I started looking for a vehicle. My wife has been against me having a motorcycle, because of an accident that her uncle had when he was young. It's taken me 12 years of careful suggestions and convincing, but she finally has allowed me to get a motorcycle of my own. They are great, providing you get the right one for you. So I started doing research on the right motorcycle. I started with Harley-Davidson, of course, because of their cultural impact on motorcycling. My eyes settled on the Iron 883. It looked great, was a "small" bike, and fit my goal of having a fairly basic bike. I didn't want a Sports bike, just more of a Standard or Cruiser. It's also a great price for an "entry level" bike. But I didn't like the fuel economy. So next I checked out the BMW G650 GS. This is Dual Sport or Enduro bike that can be ridden on the road or off. It's smaller, has great gas mileage, and would run well on the freeway (if needed). But the seat is very high, and I'm not very tall (just 5'8"). I didn't quite fit on the bike, being unable to put both my feet down on the floor while sitting. Just for fun I started looking at the very small bikes, the 250 range. Not long ago (back when my Dad was riding), these were your mid-range bikes. Now they are considered beginner bikes. Still, they generally have great gas mileage (around 78 to 84 MPG), so that was appealing. I checked out the Honda Rebel and the Yamaha V-Star 250, both of which are really nice bikes (I'll explain why later). But niether *should* be ridden on the freeway (engines are too small). The freeway took me back to the Harley-Davidson Iron 883. I had just about settled on it, when I read a review that compared the Superlow 883, Honda Shadow 750, and the Triumph Bonneville. I've heard of Triumph before, and had a lot of respect for the maker. The Bonneville has a great history (was once the fastest bike on Earth), and made a connection for me as I live in the Bonneville Basin. It also had very favorable performance compared to the Shadow and the Superlow. And finally, it reminded me of the old BSA bikes with which I fell in love years ago. It was my dream bike. So I got it, and signed up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's (MSF) Beginning Rider Course (BRC) over at the Salt Lake Community College, that luckily started the next day. When I brought my bike home, I couldn't wait to hop on and give it a quick ride. I should have. I went down in just 5 feet and did some minor damage to my bike. I was devistated. Was this really something I wanted to do? Did I spend a bundle of cash on the bike and equipment for nothing? I was discouraged as I did some repairs on my dream motorcycle. The next day, I was a nervous wreck when I started my course. I didn't worry about the classroom section, because I had already passed my written exam for my Motorcycle learner's permit. But when I got on my bike, I didn't know what to do. Luckily my instructors were very patient, and helped me through using the clutch (I didn't know you could ride it to control power to the engine, hence why I did a header on my bike the day before). By the end of the day I was making turns, stops, starts, quick stops, and weaving in and out. Granted it was on a smaller bike (Yamaha V-Star 250), but it did wonders for my confidence. That was yesterday. Today, I walked my bike out of the garage between two cars, and using the clutch started off without a problem. My intention was to take it slow, but I couldn't help myself. I headed out around the neighborhood, onto the main road into minor traffic, and then up and around several other neighborhood roads. I was a little nervous, and even killed the engine a couple of times (and almost laid my bike down), but by the second run I was feeling great! So now I feel I can say I am a motorcyclist, if only a beginner. And I can also say I love my Bonneville. It's quiet, quick when it needs to be, and doesn't intimidate the rider. Lots of people have written reviews of the Bonneville and have said the same thing, and they are right. It's a great all around motorcycle. I love mine, particularly now that I can ride it. So, if you are thinking of a new motorcycle, I can highly recommend the Triumph Bonneville. And if you have never ridden a motorcycle before, even if someone promises to "teach" you, take the MSF's Beginning Rider Course. Your bike and wallet will thank you.