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Old 10-29-2003, 11:39 AM   #21
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Default Re: Nostalgia and Capability

Great topic for discussion. I, too, have had many bikes and (generally) each newer one represented a technological step forward from the last. A trend that, until recently, I thought was a Good Thing.

I currently own two bikes – a Honda VTR 1000 SuperHawk and an old airhead BMW. I love the SuperHawk. It is powerful, stylish, comfortable, reliable as a hammer, and handles like it is plugged directly into my brain stem. What a rush it is to pilot the SuperHawk through my favorite set of twisties! My only concern is the velocity at which it reaches its limits. If I were to explore the weeds with this one, it would be at triple-digit speeds. Ouch! The ramifications of a high-speed get-off have kept me from exploring the limits of this wonderful motorcycle.

Contrast that with the old Beemer. Purposeful but even acceleration, hard parts that touch down long before you’re horizontal, weird shaft-drive characteristics that absolutely demand smooth throttle action through the twisties, and predictable feedback at the limits of (bias ply) tire adhesion. This bike demands – and rewards - your attention at 45 MPH through a curve that the SuperHawk can take at 70 without notice.

Maintenance-wise, I think itÂ’s a wash over the long haul. The SuperHawk requires less "fiddling," but it can be rather demanding when the time comes. I just finished the 16,000 mile service on the SuperHawk (with the shim-under-bucket valve adjust), and itÂ’s my guess that over a 16,000 mike period, the amount of time spent maintaining both bikes is about the same. The Beemer just takes smaller chunks of time applied more frequently. Both bikes are equally satisfying under the wrench.

And while the SuperHawk has the interesting characteristic of firing up every time you hit the starter, I didnÂ’t find anything mysterious under the tank when I did the 16k service. It looked like I could do a "side of the road" quick fix on the SuperHawk as easily as I can on the old Beemer, so I canÂ’t see any downside to "technology" here (this may change when I get a bike with fuel injection).

Motorcycling is about satisfaction. A quick look around on a sunny autumn Sunday will tell you that different people get their motorcycle satisfaction in different ways. For me, the satisfaction I get out of wringing out the old Beemer is equal to, or maybe even greater than, the satisfaction I get from piloting the flawless SuperHawk at 75% capability. Glad I donÂ’t have to make a choice....

How about that for a non-answer to your question! Thanks for the post.

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Old 10-29-2003, 11:42 AM   #22
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Default Re: Nostalgia and Capability

The ultimate sportsbike of all times is Kawa 750 H2 two stroke. White knuckled thrills without losing your license. Life or limb is another matter.

I don't think spending lotsa time tinkering with the bike is very intelligent though. Can't people really not imagine any more-fun-thingies? And the brain-deadest blow their money on "custom" parts.

- cruiz-euro
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Old 10-29-2003, 12:03 PM   #23
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My Tuono gives me my adrenaline rush;my Monster 1000 makes me feel really cool and my 600rr feels soooo cool laying it into a corner. I agree that bikes are all about different things. I cannot ride the Tuono near its capability on the street but I still love the raw power of it. I do agree with the basic premise of the statement however. If I had to keep only one bike it would be the Duc without question. My 2cents.
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Old 10-29-2003, 12:35 PM   #24
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What question are you really asking? On the one hand it seems to be regarding the value of over the top capabilities that many modern bikes have. On the other, it seems to be something regarding reliability.

Sure, many modern motorcycles have performance envelopes that exceed the riders wildest dreams of how good a rider he/she is, but whether to pay for that performance is up to the rider's discretion. Some people are pushed into buying more bike than they know what to do with by peer pressure, and some simply because they have delusions of grandeur. There does seem to be a pervasive opinion that horsepower, or at least displacement, makes the man.

Riders with a little more emotional maturity, however, know that horsepower (like money) is a tool. Nothing more. And, occasionally, the BIG hammer comes in handy. Most of the time, however, it just sits there in the tool chest taking up space.

The other point (reliability) is a different animal. While I don't think that triple digit rear wheel horsepower is absolutely required to make a motorcycle enjoyable, I wouldn't trade modern alloys, electronic ignitions, tubeless tires, improved suspensions, overhead cams, etc., for funky old school stuff just to feel more connected to the machine.

There are plenty of maintenance tasks that riders can perform on a modern motorcycle if they want to develop a bond. But, it's nice to set off on an extended ride without having to worry unduly about the electrical system going up in smoke, or holed pistons, or spun bearings...

Old tech is fun for tinkerers and nostalgia buffs, but I don't think an affinity for it makes

one a more authentic rider.

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Old 10-29-2003, 12:37 PM   #25
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I have a Vincent Black Shadow story of my own from a motorway stop in England. I owned a GB500, which was indeed worthless for anything over 50 miles. I've read ZAMM, a couple times, though I can't claim to understand it totally (or even at all). My goal is to putt the entire length of the Alcan on something making 42 HP. One thing I don't share with you is your excellent way of articulating the thoughts you did. My hat's off to you.

Your final QUESTION sums it up so well. "Which do you find more satisfying? The ability to rely on technology or the necessity to rely on yourself?"

My ANSWER: let's start an Alcan tour group, a rolling Chautauqua straight out of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," and see how many people show up to talk it over. Let's invite Johnnyb and Kevin Cameron and Robert M. Pirsig (author of ZAMM) and Guggenheim director, Thomas Krens (the guy who put The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition together) and Melissa Holbrook (author of "The Perfect Vehicle") and on and on. We could call it um, Rolling Thunder, no, that's been taken, um how about DISTANT THUNDER? We'll just keep riding until we sort it out or the snow starts to fall...

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Old 10-29-2003, 01:19 PM   #26
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So here's my dilemna. I am a relatively "young" or "new" rider. I've been riding for a the last...wow, 4 years now? And I'm only 23, but my largest challenge was just getting my foot in the door. These days, if you don't have a relative, or a friend, or someone to show you the ropes of motorcycling, you have a rather daunting task ahead! (I should know, I had to tackle that myself) Learning everything from the differences in engine layout, about clip-ons and tri-clamps and sport vs. cruiser vs. everything in between and under the sun... and I'm still learning.

So, with that said...I would LOVE to learn about older bikes...nostalgia? I'd love to have some. But it's hard enough to even learn about this year's models, much less those from a bygone age. My best bet was one of those coffee table motorcycle books, with all those beautiful Nortons and Enfields, bikes that look an awful lot like the new Dream Ducatis(read the news release?) or the Triumph twins. But I don't know where to start. Does anyone have any advice, or resources, or personal experience with this? Where would I start, in learning about the classics, learning about motorcycle's originals?

In looking for a bike, I'm looking for personality, I'm looking for not how fast it will go, not how light it is, but how it will make me feel. And sure, speed and wet weight may affect that, handling, and componentry...but in the end? When I look at my bike, I want to wonder why I'm not riding it at that instant, why I'm not out on an open road. And that doesn't necessarily mean the newest, or the oldest, but perhaps, whatever best fills my soul.

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Old 10-29-2003, 01:28 PM   #27
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Sounds like you'd like a ZRX1100/1200.
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Old 10-29-2003, 02:06 PM   #28
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tinkering with bikes may not be the "most-fun"thing I do but it is certainly one of the most satisfying. I race vintage stuff and half the fun is maintainung them----I cant imagine not fiddling with bikes,but each to their own
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Old 10-29-2003, 05:19 PM   #29
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I've owned many different bikes over a long period of time, and I usually assumed that my latest bike had the latest technology (the exception being a 1980 Harley Lowrider).

When I went out for a ride I expected, or at least hoped, the bike would work well. If something broke I didn't see it as opportunity for self reliance. You could take a 1957 Parilla into the shop for repair just as easily as you could take a 2002 998 into the shop.

Every time I bought a bike it just seemd like a good idea. Variety is the spice of life.
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Old 10-29-2003, 06:52 PM   #30
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For me, it's all about character. I am lucky and I have three bikes, and I love them all. The 92 Softail just feels right to me. It's like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. It's got character. The 95 Daytona 1200 is awesome, just awesome. Kind of a cross between a motorcycle and a locomotive (with the weight to match). Tons of personality. My favorite these days? The one everyone badmouthed and Suzuki dropped, the TL1000S. A real torque monster, twin-cylinder charm, and a surprisingly comfortable touring machine. The TL comes closest to reminding me of the bike I used to drool over, the 650 Triumph Bonneville.

Joe Berk

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