A few months ago, my 2004 Harley Davidson Sportster broke. Again. It’s a long and frustrating story, but the gist of it is this. I bought the bike new in 2004. I put a fair amount of money into it, and got it just the way I wanted it. Progressive shocks and springs, high-flow air intake and exhaust, Corbin solo seat, and numerous aesthetic and stylistic changes.
At 30,000 miles, my rear piston cracked, scoring the cylinder, and requiring a top-end rebuild. (I was told that it had a manufacturing defect — namely, the deck height was a millimeter or so too low. Too bad I wasn’t informed of this while it was under warranty, huh?) Nonetheless, I got it fixed, and I was back on the road within a month or so. Fifteen thousand miles later, a rod bent, and now my bottom-end needs a rebuild. This will not be a $1200 fix like the last problem. It will easily cost double or triple that. So I’ve donated my beloved Harley Sportster to my brother — who is far more competent with a wrench than I.
I’ve since been exclusively riding my old 1991 Suzuki GSX 1100G. If you’re unfamiliar with this model, you’re not alone. Suzuki only sold them in the US for three years. It’s basically a naked Suzuki Katana, with strong hints of old GS styling. Like the old 80s GS models, she’s heavy, and you have to muscle her around a little — but she’s just nimble enough for an experienced rider (though probably not for smaller riders). She’s fast, but not rocket-fast. And she sports a shaft-drive instead of a chain. Perfect for the rider who prefers low maintenance. I like the bike a lot, but she’s getting older, and really not well suited for long rides — especially if I’m riding two-up.
So I need a cruiser. Admittedly, my Harley was not a cruiser. I did her up cafe/street-rod style. And on long rides, she was not terribly comfortable. Especially for my poor passenger, who was relegated to a suction-cup b**ch pad.
So as I’m trying to replace my primary ride, and I’ve been looking around for months now. I go back and forth. My friends at Ducati of Newport Beach tell me to get anything BUT a Harley. My ABATE and patch-holder friends get offended at the notion of anything that’s not a Harley.
So all that leaves me where I started. I need to get something that works for me, something I’ll be happy with. But whether I go American, British, Italian, or Japanese, I need a long-distance bike. I’m narrowing down the search. Slowly.
To be continued tomorrow…