News by Richard Bleil
Call it a midlife crisis. Never in my life have I even BEEN on a motorcycle, but I’ve seen one once. All I know about motorcycles is what I learned on the old television show CHiPs out of the ‘70’s, so, no, I know nothing. Oh, and Happy Days, when the Fonz explained to Richie that one handlebar is a brake, and the other is the clutch.
And that’s it.
But I’ve often thought I would enjoy having a motorcycle, especially when there’s not a lot of traffic (finding that is becoming more difficult). Living in the Black Hills, I understand why it’s such a biker’s paradise, but with the number of bikers in the Hills it might not be so ideal. And I just don’t like noise. This is one thing I inherited from my father; apparently (or so we were told) he had very sensitive hearing, which I know I do. Because Harley Davidson is famous for being loud, I decided against it. But I’ve seen BMW bikes that seem to be significantly quieter, so I thought I’d start there.
With zero experience and being that I’m not a complete moron (semi-moron, maybe), I found a motorcycle safety course for novices with little or no experience that starts this week. It includes online self-study work, about three hours’ worth, followed by two three-hour class work, and two eight-hour practical experience. Perfect. This weekend, I completed the online component, and the learning has begun.
One of the things we learned about were the three classifications of motorcycles. There’s the street bike, the dirt bike, and the hybrid. The street bike is of course designed for street riding, dirt bikes are illegal for use on streets (in most states) and the hybrid bikes can be used on or off streets. Now, I’m an old fart, and frankly, I have no interest in dirt hijinks, racing, weaving, or anything crazy like that. I’m at an age where comfort matters, so I was thinking street bike. Now, street bikes themselves have several sub-categories, some for commuting, some for classic “roadster” styling (street racing), or the touring bike which I what I found most interesting.
Touring bikes are huge, heavy bikes, with large gas tanks, and many of the comfort features of vehicles. I stopped at a BMW bike store, and of course it was a good time because it’s off-season. They want their inventory to go, and are cutting deals, but I found one that was even better. A 2019 R1250RT with low mileage, exceptionally well cared for and all of the bells and whistles, many thousands of dollars lower than the starting price of just the bare basics equivalent in a new model. This one has stereo, “throttle assist” (which, apparently means that I don’t need to use the clutch except when just starting), and intelligent cruise control (automatically adjusts the speed to maintain a desired distance from the vehicle in front). Bluetooth to the helmet can be synced so hands free phone, music or even a passenger’s helmet can be linked.
Because it’s second-hand, though, it has additional features that have also been included. It comes with a GPS, extra footrests (which I’ll avoid using until I’m better experienced), and additional front lights. With the two partners, I kind of caused a little argument since one offered the bike to me for less than the other wanted from it. He seemed a little annoyed. Hopefully I didn’t cause a serious disagreement, but it does feel good to think that maybe, just maybe, I won one.
I may be blogging about my newest death-defying hobby a lot for a while just because I’m so excited, but being new, I did spring for all of the safety gear. My helmet is top-of-the-line with a built-in sun visor, ventilation, and Bluetooth. I have a riding coat with built-in protection for the spine and elbows, riding boots, and two pairs of armored ring gloves for cold and warm weather. All I’m missing are the protective pants.
I should have gotten them. They have padding at least over the knees, and if I’m not mistaken thighs as well. But that’s easily rectified. Next week at some point, I’ll head back to the dealership and buy a pair before the hands-on portion of the class begins. So, you might be thinking, “Bleil, you moron, what if you hate it?” Well, owning the bike (which was far less than I expected, but I’m guessing the expense to keep her running will be more than I will like) I can give it a good run without the need of giving up a rental too soon to decide, or settling for a bike I probably wouldn’t like anyway. Because it’s used, I can probably resell it, if I don’t like it, and lose maybe a few thousand dollars. I’m willing to take that risk on the bike. If I bought it new, it would have had that immediate “off the showroom floor” value drop. And if I love it, hey, I have a bike that should last for many years to come.