i bought a new used motorcycle and am not all that happy because i'm having second thoughts now. as much as i appreciate the power of the honda shadow spirit 750, it doesn't seem like it's a good city bike because of its size. the spirit packs an additional 200 lbs. of weight compared to my 300 lbs. honda rebel. the seat height is the same but the spirit is much wider. all my favorite secret motorcycle boston parking spots have been rendered obsolete since this new bike can't fit into any of them. 750cc is more powerful than i've ever experienced, and the bike seems wasted in the city when it yearns to be let out on the highway. the bigger size also means it doesn't get as good mileage as the lighter rebel.
i'm in a pessimistic mood right now because i didn't get enough sleep last night, i rode for more than an hour back from milford on route 16 with a sputtering ride that occasionally goes dead, just realized i spent 3 large today getting a bike i'm not 100% satisfied with, and my beloved honda rebel finally got towed. right now i just want to sleep it off and hopefully wake up tomorrow feeling better.
the whole circumstances of how i obtained this bike was a little awkward. the seller was in milford, we were originally scheduled for 4:00 but we got there at 4:30 because we left late. the lady owner came out with her husband who rides a harley and led us to their garage where the spirit was stored. it was a beautiful bike, near mint condition, but the first thing i noticed was how large it was compared to my honda rebel. i took it for a spin around the block (they lived in a private cul-de-sac), took some getting used it. the foot pegs were more forward, seemed to be designed for cruising than the constant shifting and landing of city riding. i noticed that even at 1st gear i could get around without any problems.
originally my father and i had a plan to do some negotiating, but decided the $2900 was a fair price and any less would be insulting for a bike in such near mint and low mileage condition. so we decided to buy it (or i decided to buy it, since it was my money), but the woman started to resist, saying that maybe we should sleep on it first, and that she was showing it to some more people, including a couple from cape cod who were en-route on their way to see the bike, and a man from maine who was traveling down tomorrow to check it out as well. i also got a sense that maybe she could read people and sensed that maybe i was all that comfortable riding it. but then my father pulled out the tough negotiator routine while i was good cop. he said we came all this way, and we already had the cash ready, that they should've told us they weren't going to sell it because otherwise we could've spared ourselves the hour-long trip, and that it should be on a first come first serve sort of deal. being good cop, i was more understanding, i told her maybe we could wait until tomorrow, maybe it was for the best that we think about it overnight, and she did promise those other prospective buyers she would show it to them. but i had a feeling that if we left, there was no way the bike would remain unsold by tomorrow, so by deciding to wait, we'd essentially forfeit on the opportunity to buy.
her husband and my father were definitely on the same page, and he was saying, "if it was up to me, i'd sell it to you guys, but it's her bike." they also weren't interested in a potential bidding war (and neither were we). so that's what made it awkward. we essentially guilted her into selling it to us, a bike that i wasn't 100% sure i wanted. all that i knew was it was a much more powerful bike, that it was bigger, and combined with all the accessories, it was a real bargain to be had for just $2900. even the woman knew she set the price pretty low, but did that on purpose to generate a lot of buyers, which worked, but kind of backfired, because she ended up breaking a lot of promises. while my father and her husband screwed on my license plate to the bike, i was inside the house taking care of the formalities. although she didn't seem like a good negotiator, the woman did have a knack for paper work, and besides signing the title, she also made me sign some other legal document (i wonder if she's a lawyer by trade?). i handed them my envelope stuffed with cash. with that taken care of, i rode off on my new motorcycle with my father following behind me.
because the bike had been in storage, it was sputtering a little bit. like the honda rebel i saw last night, it too could only operate with the choke turned on, which made for a louder ride. but because it had a windshield, i didn't get the loud rush of air i normally get with riding in my open-faced helmet, and all i could hear and feel was just the vibration of the bike itself. riding felt solid, and the brakes were excellent. this was obviously a real man's bike (though owned by a woman), compared to my rebel, which is like a boy's bike. there wasn't a full tank of gas and i didn't know where the fuel valve to engage the reserve tank so i was afraid i'd run out of gas before i could get back. it took us a while to get out of milford. we didn't know the area, i was still trying to figure out how to ride this new bike, and i had the extra pressure of trying to find our way home. i ended up stopping like 3-4 times to check the printout map in my pocket to get our bearing straight. once we finally figured out where route 16 was, it was just a straight-shot back to cambridge. the motorcycle did a few more annoying things. every once in a while it'd backfire, like a loud explosion coming from the exhaust pipes. i couldn't see it, but i could hear it, and it must've freaked out any cars behind me or any pedestrians nearby. every once in a while the engine would go dead, and i'd be gliding on neutral, until i realized what was happening and quickly restart the engine again while cruising.
my left hand was hurting from constantly pulling on the distant clutch lever. my torso and face were protected by the windshield, but the pant legs of my jeans were fluttering in the wind like flags. i like how the windshield protects me from the elements, but i don't like how it gives me a slightly obstructive viewing, like driving in a car. riding the spirit commands more respect, and i got waves of recognition from all passing bikers (something not always the case with the smaller honda rebel). i probably picked up a lot of bad riding habits from my many years with the rebel. things like turn on a pivot foot or squeezing between two cars, i can't do anymore because of the larger spirit size.
i lost my father somewhere in watertown (he went to the cafe to relieve my mother so she could go home). i stopped by belmont briefly (6:45) to let hailey out into the backyard to use the bathroom and to feed her some dinner. i went to the cafe to show my mother the new bike ("it's huge!" she said), but had to race back home because the salvage company was finally coming to take my "total loss" honda rebel.
a giant flatbed truck showed up on my doorsteps. it was funny how they sent this huge thing to come pick up a little motorcycle. but the guy told me he was picking up two more cars. he was a bit of towny, kind of abrasive and abrupt with his manners, but i found it kind of endearing. i helped him get the bike onto the flatbed. i also turned over my unsigned title. he told me these junked vehicles would be put out to bid in a private dealers only auction. turns out he rides as well, and we got to talking about motorcycles. he asked if i'd gotten a bike yet. "no, not yet," while i eyeballed my white motorcycle nearby. he recommended i check out the honda V65 magna before driving off.
finally my day was done and i spent a good of the rest of the evening wallowing in my new purchase. everything will be different now! no more stashing my bike in any old space, this new bike is more like a car. i do most of my riding in the city anyway, it's better to have a bike that's more maneuverable (like the rebel). if i wanted to go farther, i could always just borrow a car. the good thing is now i can travel to more distant places with the new bike. i'd been planning a day trip to new hampshire, western massachusetts, and rhode island for the longest time, but to get to any of those places would mean 2+ hours of exhausting riding on my old honda rebel. with the spirit, all that is within my reach. heck, a cross country trip isn't out of the question! i feel bad parking it on the street, like a thoroughbred being left in the gutters almost. this bike lived a pampered life sheltered in a heated garage, not the mean streets of cambridge! one consolation out of all of this is the bike seems to have a pretty good resale value, and if i keep it in relatively good shape the rest of the season (meaning no more accidents), i can probably sell it come springtime for the exact same purchase price. so if i really wanted to return to 250cc, that's still a possibility. i should enjoy the 750cc while i can.
"hey!" i heard ed shouting outside my house, trying to get my attention this morning. i knew what he wanted to ask me so i went outside and lied. "sorry ed, the insurance company said they won't give me my check if i decide to keep my motorcycle." he thought that was unusual, so i finally decided to get in touch with the insurance company for real. i could keep the motorcycle, they told me, but the claim adjustor would then amend the reimbursement check and give me a smaller payout. not worth it. i think ed was hoping they'd just give him the old bike for free (life lesson: you never get something for nothing). later i went to the post office and mailed off some toys to my norwegian friend frances, followed by a visit to the bank where i withdrew several grand in cash.