Experience: 20+ years
Facebook: John Cook
September 26, 2011
II too have had to return my Kawasaki Ninja 1000. It's funny…it’s not even yours but you take mental ownership of it anyway. You don’t think you’re going to have to give it back. You even delude yourself a little, hoping something will change; they’ll decide to let you keep it…something!
But no…the day arrived and I met Jenelle and Garrett from Cycle World, and Russ Brenan from Kawasaki over at Kawasaki’s office in Irvine.
So what’s it been like? I understand I was selected because I elected to accept marketing communications from Cycle World magazine. And I responded to the email asking why I should be selected…which was a little hard because I really wasn’t sure if it was real or a scam. Then I understand they picked the best looking, smartest, and nicest applicants from the large pool! Okay, maybe I made that last part up...
My decision was to take advantage of the Ninja as much as I could. I commuted on it all but two days over the next three months. I took it up to the Rock Store on Mulholland Highway, the Ortega, Palomar Observatory, all the way up through the Los Angeles basin on Highway 1, and all the way down to Mexico. I picked up groceries, took my wife with me a few times, and attended sport bike club meetings in various cities around here.
The Ninja was universally accepted everywhere I went. I mean it. I got thumbs ups (Yes, I’m sure it was their thumb) from Honda Cruisers, GSXR’s of all sizes, CBR’s, all other Kawasaki’s, and even at the more closed groups like the Ducati Club, Harley groups…the first comment was always about how good looking the bike is. Not OMG gorgeous or “That’s a weird looking bike”, just really balanced and good looking to everyone I talked to.
Okay, I admit I’m pretty big so maybe people withheld comment if they didn’t like it but I don’t think so. J And I admit that I didn’t get anything from the Harley Ape Hanger /Keds group. I know they wanted to admit say they liked it but were afraid their friends would give them the cold shoulder! LOL
Even when I could feel the resentment seething from a young punk at a light; they would ride along with me for a bit, lane split together, check the bike out, feel out its performance, and give me the nod, knuckles, thumbs up…because this bike is different, good looking, cool but not extreme…at first they think that maybe it’s just another big sport touring bike but it doesn’t take long to realize that’s really not it’s core purpose. Sure it can do it, but light this bike up and it can be brutal. It’s an old school sleeper. Its acceleration, cornering and overall performance are substantial, compared to just about anything out there.
Years ago I worked for Porsche and drove 911 Turbos for company cars. I realized pretty quickly that there were other cars out there that were quicker, like 5.0 Liter Mustangs, but they were embarrassing to lose to…so I learned the art of intimidation…I learned to beat those guys psychologically…they thought I would cream them so they didn’t want to embarrass themselves and by the time they realized they might have…it was too late.
So what the heck does that have to do with the Ninja? I’m not sure!
Maybe this…entering a tight road, lining up at the front at a light, I think the Ninja sneaks up on everyone; They think it’s something it isn’t…and the first time it leaves everyone behind they don’t really know what happened. But the nice thing is that even when they realize it’s a beast they then realize it wasn’t just because they didn’t expect it…this bike is fast and the power is usable. First gear full throttle I couldn’t figure a way to keep the front end down but every other gear was very controllable.
Now I know it’s not the fastest bike available, and I know that acceleration isn’t the most important thing, and Yes, I know I’m not in high school…but I think that these abilities are part of what many of us buy. We don’t have to always use them but they’re there. How many Ferrari’s, Porsche’s, BMW’s, Audi’s are driven like they are capable of…one of the luxuries of owning those cars is the capability and possibility…they just like to know it’s there.
The abilities of the Ninja 1000 are really that good. There is nothing embarrassing about this bike. It handles without surprises…I didn’t have one thing happen in three months that disappointed me.
If you are looking for a sport bike that is comfortable, where you don’t have to sacrifice your wrists or knees, a bike that can pull quadruple duty and take you on longer trips, give you some protection from the wind and weather, be an excellent commuter, and show up anywhere and be admired, then this is your bike.
August 13, 2011
I was just in the garage washing and waxing, and checking tire pressures on the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 for my Sunday ride and weekly commute. The 90 days of this experience are coming to a close soon and I’ll have to give the bike back or buy it. There isn’t any question in my mind that I want to buy it. The only possible reason I won’t would be financial.
I’ve been in the automobile business for almost 30 years and have worked with BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen, and now Hyundai. We all know Hyundai has been very, very successful in the past few years. Yes the product is incredible; Yes the quality is excellent…there are a lot of reasons for their success. But one of the most important things they did was have the guts to try, to do something, to try to do something unique…not just follow the herd. If you remember back to October of 2008 when business practically stopped, Hyundai went on the offensive, taking risks and spending marketing funds when they weren’t what the results would be.
Over the past year or so I was surprised to find manufacturers that were still selling 2009 motorcycles as new…and there was no 2010 or 2011 model. In my opinion, instead of being aggressive, trying to drive business, help their dealers, and improve the economy, they took the safe route.
So my hat is off to Kawasaki for taking a risk and trying something…taking a chance with this Ninja 1000 experience. It would be much easier, and easily justifiable, to sit back and say “The market is down 70 bazillion percent, we’d just be wasting our money to spend the money on an idea like that”. But they did - They tried: No guarantee how it’s going to come out; no guarantee it would go well; no guarantee of anything. (We were given zero direction on what to write about in our blogs…we could write about anything we want.)
I’ve heard recently that the motorcycle business is up 7% this year. Kawasaki as a brand has risen in my book, not just because I got to ride one of their bikes, but because they took a chance and tried something. They made an effort to stand out from the norm. They stepped up and took a risk when most others aren’t. So I hope Kawasaki benefits from this and all their other marketing and product efforts and hope that the result is increased share of the improving industry.
My favorite quote comes from a speech by President Roosevelt in Paris, in 1910. It’s now called “The Man in the Arena”. I’ve attached that paragraph below.
And thank you Kawasaki for stepping into the arena!
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
August 2, 2011
I'm back from a vacation to Ashland, Oregon. Every time I go there I wish I could have brought my motorcycle! The roads are beautiful, twisty, heavily cambered, and most are in good shape.
A few years back I made my two daughters suffer with two motorcycles in the back of our Van while we drove from Denver all the way out there with very little room left in the back for them and nice fuel and oil smells! It was worth it, for me at least! My Uncle Lance, who lives in Randle, Washington, rode a bike down so we could get some riding time in together. Lance is a lifetime motorcyclist, a motorcyclist’s motorcyclist, and rides or drives long distances just for a short visit without a second thought or complaint.
Lance learned that I was without a motorcycle about two years ago and agreed to loan me one of his motorcycles until I could afford to buy one again, so he loaned me his 1996 BMW R850R. So he sold it to me for $1 with the caveat that I would have to sell it back to him one day...pretty nice huh?
That year that we hauled my Buell and Ducati up to Ashland, Lance and I took a ride from up to Crater Lake and back. We started out in hot weather...but had to stop at one of the small stores near the Park and buy sweatshirts to supplement our light jackets. We still froze but...it was a great ride.
Sometimes it seems that those trips under less than perfect conditions are the great ones. They are the ones that create the strongest memories. Maybe that's part of the sense of being a motorcyclist is...going places, surviving rain, snow, or other difficulties...but still having a great time. Sure there are times when I was freezing, soaked, and miserable (obviously with the wrong equipment) or boiling hot and pouring ice down my shirt in the Sonora desert...but those are the times I really remember the clearest, and smile when I think of them.
I've travelled many, many days through beautiful sunshine, but on those trips I remember the one windy day in Texas where I was leaning (motorcycle and me) way to the right to keep going straight, or my detour to Ruidoso where I learned it was a ski resort when I was creeping through the snow...
I'm a Canadian (and No I don't say Eh?) I have always held a belief that adversity builds community. When a terrible blizzard blew through everyone was a little more helpful and a little friendlier. If you stopped in at Tim Horton donuts during a winter storm to get a coffee with triple cream/triple sugar everyone was extra friendly. If you were stuck in the snow someone always helped. My belief is that bad times...difficulties...overcoming adversity build comradeship (is that a word?).
So, when I pass someone on a sport bike, or a Harley with Ape Hangers, or an adventure rider on his BMW...it doesn't matter that they may not be as tough as me, or ride the same distances, or have gone as many weird places...they are all motorcyclists that choose to ride for some portion of their life out in the weather, exposing themselves to some degree of danger (instead of sitting in their car), and to me they all deserve a wave...I don't pooh pooh them because they've never been through everything I have...what's relevant is that we share one thing in common.
Some of us less than others...I admit!
July 7, 2011
If you remember from my previous stuff, when I first got the Ninja 1000, I was commenting on the drastic changes compared to what I was used to with twin cylinder motorcycles. I was constantly searching for another gear beyond sixth and felt like I was revving the engine too high. In hindsight, I also felt there was a lot more vibration than I expected.
Now that I’ve adjusted to the feel and sense of a four cylinder I’m surprised how smooth it is now, and I rarely feel like it’s revving too high. It’s funny to my how your frame of reference can change over time. Now I can’t even remember what I was complaining about. I ride just about every day, some days just commuting to and from work, and some trips just for enjoyment.
I remember my first ride down the 405 to the Ortega. It was my first decent length ride on the big Kawasaki and I can now admit that I was a little disappointed. I felt like I was getting blasted in the wind, always wanted to shift into 7th, and my butt was sore after only 30 minutes.
Now a month and a half later I can’t imagine what was going on. Every day I notice something else that I really like about the big Ninja. Entirely contrary to my original thoughts I am constantly amazed by the smoothness of the engine. There are some ultra sweet RPM’s but in general it’s very smooth. Once you crack the throttle wide open there is a different deep vibration that goes along with the freaking acceleration. So it’s a little of Jekyll and Hyde…cruising through traffic is smooth, easy to manage and control, and civilized so I’m not offending the women, children, and wimpy boys…especially when lanes splitting…Aaah (thoughtful sigh while reminiscing of my youth), an old quote from Conan (The Barbarian, not the talk show guy) comes to mind…when he was asked “What is best in life?” He responded “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”
Some of my old motorcycles were like that, and the performance of the Ninja can crush your enemies, but it doesn’t cause the lamentations part. It’s like what they used to call a sleeper…a car or motorcycle that looks stock, looks normal, but is a wolf in sheep’s clothing!
July 2, 2011
Okay, now no one else has to do it. Last night, Friday, I was washing and polishing my Kawasaki Ninja 1000 for the big Fourth of July weekend. I’d finished washing and drying it and was polishing the front fender when the bike suddenly hit the floor with a crash. I guess that somehow I’d moved it forward a little on the side stand and the movement from my polishing was the last straw. I tried to catch it but was in front of the bike and didn’t have the leverage. Great, now I have to explain this to Cycle World and Kawasaki!
If you recall from one of my previous stories that once I dropped my Ducati 999R in much the same way. The result was $9,800 in repairs.
The fairing had a lot more water in it than I expected and all that water drained out onto my garage floor. I just about tried to pick it up and could just imagine me or the bike slipping with it halfway up and dropping it again. So I called my daughter, cleaned up the water and hoped I could pick the damn thing up. I’ve never had a bike I couldn’t pick up but I am a little older now and was worried for the first time in my life.
The bike came up pretty easily and I started to look for damage. The left front turn signal had pushed through, the inner fairings were disconnected and looked crooked, and the mirror and snapped off. Crap. But no other damage was apparent. I started to attempt to straighten everything out and found that fairing removal was a little complicated and decided that I might damage more tearing it apart without a clue as to what I was doing. I searched the internet for some instructions somewhere but the bike is too new and I couldn’t find any posts.
So at 8:30 this morning, as soon as Champion Kawasaki in Newport Beach opened I was there waiting to talk to Steve, the General Manager. I showed my handiwork and he didn’t even laugh at me! What restraint! I order my new mirror for about $54, and copied the schematics from the shop manual so I had an idea how things were attached.
So with renewed confidence I started taking the fairings, excuse me, cowlings, off the bike. I got things opened up enough to see clearly what I was doing. I was pretty happy to discover that Kawasaki had designed the bike to absorb just such a stupid move. The turn signal is mounted on grommets that slide and release the turn signal through the fairing. The internal panels separate and the fasteners let go to allow the movement without breaking anything.
So with great relief I replaced the rubber grommets, removed the screws that hold them in place, and remounted the turn signal good as new…not a scratch. As I started to reconnect the panels with the little fasteners (none of them broke) everything slipped back together so perfectly that I ended the project with a feeling of satisfaction that nothing was damaged (except the mirror), nothing broke, and everything fit back together with such ease and perfection that it really impressed me.
The mirror is going to take a few days but…the miracle of super glue has temporarily repaired my mirror…it feels like it’s as strong as new although I know it isn’t…I’m just hoping it lasts until the new mirror arrives.
So now I don’t have to be embarrassed and explain to Cycle World or Kawasaki that I spazzed out and damaged the bike! I guess they’ll all know after reading this but at least I don’t have to call and explain all the damage.
And now I have one more thing to like about this bike. For it to have fallen like it did and for me to be out $54 for a mirror is a miracle. And I’m serious, the bike is beautiful. So I finished my polishing job and took a ride down the Pacific Coast Highway through the horrendous July 4th traffic and stopped by the dealer again to show Steve my handiwork! I’m really learning to like this bike.
June 27, 2011
Subject for today: Thrill rides aren’t for everyone!
This past Saturday we had our annual company picnic at Knott’s Berry Farm. After a couple of hours of burgers, hot dogs, airbrush tattoos, and face painting…no I won’t embarrass anyone about getting up and singing happy birthday…then we got to go to the Theme park for the rest of the day and evening. Now, with the size of my family any visit to a theme park in Southern California is a major financial hurdle, so my family was pretty excited. And my wife and two of my kids are from the Philippines so they have never been to a theme park like this at all.
So when we got into the park the first big ride we saw was the Ghost Rider old wooden roller coaster and everyone wanted to go on it! This is where I learned that everyone doesn’t have a desire for thrill seeking.
After the first hill I saw the look of panic on my son’s face, so I turned around to see what was going on behind me…the look of fear and unhappiness on my wife’s face made me wish I could stop the ride and let her out, and my other son’s face had gone pure white…made me realize that while I may might have the personality that looks for opportunities like that, everyone doesn’t.
I’ve always tried to be careful and considerate with someone riding with me on any motorcycle but somehow this experience on the Ghost Rider made it clearer to me that it’s not just safety that is important but also not being scared by the power and performance motorcycles are capable of. Part of what I like about bikes is their ability to accelerate, corner, and stop like they do. I had a Road King for a while and always thought I’d just cruise along on long distance rides and ended up going like a madman. I’d ask my dealer if there was anything I could do to reduce the wallow in high speed corners and he said Yes, slow down!
So the realization that my wife is not a thrill seeker at all is a bit of a lesson for me. If she’s going to enjoy our rides together I’d better find a way to quell my thrill seeking side and just have a safe comfortable ride with her with no dramatics. Most (99.9%) of my riding over the years has been alone so this may sounds like a stupid lesson to be learning at this point...who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
June 26, 2011
Lane splitting/sharing – just my opinion.
I’ve had several conversations about lane splitting around the office since I’ve been commuting on my bike. I’ve read different answers to the question as to whether or not it’s legal, many said there’s nothing in the drivers handbook, some say there’s nothing specific for it, there is just no law against it. I’ve watched police on their motorcycles do it, I’ve pulled up right next to police cars in between lanes wondering if I was going to get a ticket, and I’ve asked several if I’m allowed to. The answer has always been “Yes, as long as it’s done safely”, and some have qualified their response with a speed differential from traffic…like not more than 15-20 mph. The California DMV site says “Motorcycles may travel faster than traffic during congested road conditions and can legally travel in the unused space between two lines of moving or stationary vehicles, which is commonly called "lane splitting."” Hmmm…what do you know?
On autoblog.com, some guy wrote about his opinion that motorcycles should be banned altogether because they are dangerous…the funny thing to me was that everyone that wrote in was saying “What a moron that guy is, it’s not the motorcycles that are unsafe, it’s the people on their cell phones, doing their makeup, etc.”, so we should ban those things. Many of us can be very quick to be offended when someone attacks our liberties but we don’t see it the same way when we’re taking them away from someone else. And I would guess the guy was trying to say something extreme to get his article read and be famous!
Anyway, what the heck was my point…there is a percentage of riders out here in California, as there are everywhere, that abuse the lane splitting law and travel at high speeds between lanes of stopped or moving cars. But that’s not the norm. I realize I’m not going to convince anybody of anything either way here so…this is one of those issues (like motorcycles and their safety) that people tend to be pretty polarized about.
So what does this have to do with the Cycle World Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Experience? The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 is an excellent lane splitting bike! The mirrors are a great visual tool to help you make sure you have plenty of clearance. The worst vehicles to pass are two big SUV’s side by side with big mirrors! Some roads the traffic is just too crazy and the lanes too narrow to even attempt it. If it looks wide enough I check behind me first to make sure no lunatics are coming up at 500 mph preparing to split the same lane, then slow down to a 10-15 mph crawl and nice and easy slide between the cars…no engine revving noise, just trying to get through safely without scaring the poop out of everyone. More people tell me that the thing they like the least about lane-splitting is when the motorcycles scare the heck out of them roaring by or revving their engines so everyone knows they are there. I think I’d prefer my judgment over the average reaction of an average driver suddenly scared by a loud noise…just my opinion again!
One assumption I’ve always made was that, if you lane split and you’re sitting at the front of the pack (sometimes you’re still between two cars) when the light turns green you’re a little bit obligated to get going and get out of the cars way. Twice now I’ve followed someone through a lane split and then had to be careful and hit the brakes to keep from rear-ending them once the light turns green. Maybe I’m the moron, but the closest I’ve come to hitting someone was another motorcycle when they rode away very slowly. Yes, I’ve adjusted my own riding to make sure that never happens again but it seems to me if you’re going to lane split to get in front then you shouldn’t slow everybody else down! Just my opinion again!
There are lots of things to watch out for…arms, mirrors, passive aggressive drivers that drift toward the center of the lane…you become very, very adept at anticipating movement or something out of the ordinary, just like normal street riding. Sometimes, when I’ve decided it’s not safe some people will wave at me to go ahead and lane split…like they are mad I don’t go for it…maybe they think I’m a moron or something? I’ve tried to restrain myself sometimes but it is soooooooooooo nice when I’m travelling up the Pacific Coast Highway and I come up on a looooong line of cars crawling forward so they can get to the next light, and I get to slide quietly right up to the front! Life is good! California is pretty nice too!
June 24, 2011
Okay, I’ve been a little slow on the writing this week. Yes, I have been riding every day (except today) but I’ve been a little under the weather and the several different medications I have been taking gave me fuzz head every day.
I read an article recently that suggested you should only ride when you are alert, when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, stuff like that. So I thought it would be relatively wise to try to be a little extra careful riding for this past week. Probably a good idea but…easier said than done.
So I was extra careful but I discovered something interesting. I was faced with different events on my daily commute than usual. I know I already knew this but I’ve discovered that my defensive riding involves a degree of aggressive riding. So by being a little more defensive I was remaining in moron zones longer than I usually would, so I was encountering more morons than usual! That’s my theory!
So if I ride a little bit more toward the aggressive side, without charging stupidly into the breach, it actually seems a little safer. Go figure.
The Ninja is doing great and helps with the aggressive side very nicely thank you! The bike does actually seem to like more aggressive riding over pansy riding. If I ride slowly and take it easy of the shifts it seems like I’m not as smooth. If I’m accelerating a little harder my shifts are clean and I’m in the moron zone less time! Bonus! Driving a car to work today makes me realize that riding the Ninja to work every day is pretty nice.
June 18, 2011
Chicken Strips – Part 1
They always say that if you ride a motorcycle long enough it’s not a matter of if but when you’ll crash.
Now everybody at Cycle World and Kawasaki that read this blog is probably rolling their eyes right now, waiting for the news…but no…I haven’t crashed the Ninja. The reverse is true really. And as I write this I wonder why I’m writing about crashing when I’m about as pro motorcycle as you can get, but we’ll see how it goes.
Now, I’m not counting dirt crashes because those are too frequent to remember. With my big KTM 950 Adventure I figured I had a five crash limit, after that I was just too tired to pick it up again. Particularly in the Rocky Mountain passes at high altitude!
My first street crash was way back in 1977. I was riding a BMW R 60/6 from the motor pool up to our S-4 office in the 307th Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg. That bike was purty durn slow but I remember it going through corners well enough to catch up to my buddies. ( I always wanted a Kawasaki 650 back then) I was in a hurry and leaned it pretty hard left up a sidestreet and caught a flattened out beer can with my back tire. It spun me sideways and I was okay until I hit the expansion joint in the road…resulting in my first high side. I had just had my licensed revoked in North Carolina for various stunts involving wheelies and beer, so when my friends and others ran up to help I jumped back on the bike and got them to push start me because the starter wouldn’t work. Without the ability to file an insurance claim…or at least I was afraid to, I ended up selling that bike for what I owed on it to a lucky lieutenant.
Street crash #2. Okay, one more qualifier…I’m not counting all the times I fell over at stop signs because I had been drinking too much! Don’t worry… I know how stupid that was and how socially unacceptable that is today! I never drink and drive or ride today. Maybe it was the world I lived in bit it seemed much more common to drink and drive in the late 70’s. Maybe I’ll skip crash #2 now that I think about it. (Sorry.) It resulted in Larry Armstrong, my best Army Buddy at the time, running into a cinder block wall at about 70. He was wearing dark sunglasses as eye protection at night, ran from the police on his CB750 Super Sport and just didn’t see the wall. Poor Larry was never quite the same but he made it. Lesson: Don’t wear sunglasses at night and a few others.
Street crash #438 (Slightly exaggerated): I think the next big one was on my KTM in Mexico. Long story but the shorter version is this; I was on one of my rides to obscure places and crossed the border at Nogales. Thirty kilometers into Mexico I came to a little town where they had speed bumps on the highway and locals used the opportunity to sell fruit and veggies when the cars slowed down. A bee or something with a stinger flew into the unzipped leg on my pants and stung me…when I looked up from trying to beat whatever it was to death there was a small car stopped on the speed bump dead ahead. I smacked him and motorcycle and I ended up in the street in front of and to the left of the car. I was laying flat on my back, testing parts, trying to determine if I was still alive or not. When I sat up I saw at least a dozen people running toward me - that suddenly turned around when they saw me move and run the other way. I think they were coming to help but I’m not too sure about that. Lucky I got up fast enough! I know I have some photos of this crash so I’ll post them too. Everything was fine, my helmet was ruined and the bike sustained some pretty good damage but with a few guys helping to straighten out the front wheel I was good to go for the rest of the trip. I had fuel leaking on me for the next 3.000 miles but it kept me from smelling like sweat and kept me away from smokers!
Chicken Strips – Part 2
Skipping ahead, and closer to my point…the next two crashes hurt the most, mentally. I was riding a Triumph Thruxton that I’d traded the big KTM for because funds were tight. First Triumph crash I jumped on my bike, raced down my driveway, and cranked the gas…cold tires/leaning/too much gas equals hit the ground. I changed my torn jeans, took a shower, replaced the broken mirrors with spares and rode it from Aurora, Colorado to Las Vegas. After a few repairs and new tires, I took it out for a ride, was about a mile from home (cold tires again) and low sided the friggin thing when I lost the front end on the freeway access ramp. I couldn’t save it but had enough time to think “what the heck, I don’t believe I’m crashing again” and “this is going to hurt”. And Yes it did, but not too bad. It mostly hurt my confidence. When I crashed that time it took me completely by surprise. I thought I was going pretty slow, warming everything up and I wasn’t leaning very much. Just a nice easy turn that ended in a crash. I have several ideas…it doesn’t rain in Las Vegas very much so the grease builds up on the roads, the heat melts the tar strips, I weigh too much for the bike, the tires were new….you get it.
There’s another old saying that says if you fall off a horse get right back on it. I didn’t. Times were tough, I sold the bike and went without for a year. During that time my confidence was damaged, wondering why the crash happened, and a lttle fearful that it would happen again. Had I lost my touch? When I did start riding again I went into every relatively slow corner at intersections with paint strips, manhole covers, etc., with a touch fear I was going to crash again. That takes a little bit of fun out of riding.
So I look at my Ninja and see half inch “chicken strips” on the tires that I’ve never had before realize I still have a little twinge of that fear…but it’s almost gone. That’s how this very long series of stories relates to the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 I’m riding. The handling on this bike is so consistent and accurate, and the feel is so good, that I realize it’s helping me get through that trepidation. My other bike doesn’t have that feel and it’s suspension does not inspire confidence, so after several years I was riding it a little less every month. I hate to admit this but I was beginning to have thoughts in the back of my head that maybe it was time to give up street riding.
So the Kawasaki is the horse I climbed back on that is restoring my confidence and removing that twinge that was tainting my enjoyment of riding. I’m happy to say this bike is has been and is great enough, consistent enough, stable enough, no wobbles, no headshake, no wallows, to help me restore my own confidence and belief that riding a motorcycle well is really one of my talents, and one of the things I love about life. Thank you Cycle World, Kawasaki and my Ninja 1000! It’s good to be back. Those chicken strips won’t be there much longer
P.S. Chicken Strips, for those that don’t know, When you ride a motorcycle straight down the road the wear is all on the center of the tire. When you lean into a corner it shows wear on the tire further around that side of the tire. The more you lean, the more of the tires surface you use and it’s shows that it’s scuffed by the road. The “chicken strip” is the part of the tire that you can ride on but don’t lean far enough to ever get there. So if you’re “chicken” in the corners you’ll have chicken strips. If you’re “not a chicken” you won’t. I was going to say “brave” but realize that’s probably not the right word! I’ll try to take a picture of mine!
June 15, 2011
After my weekend ride up and back to The Rock Store my complaints relating to the seat on the Kawasaki 1000 are pretty much gone. I realize that two hours each way isn’t exactly an iron butt ride but I was very impressed that the trip was basically painless. If you’ve actually been reading my blogs J then you’ll know that I initially complained that my butt was killing me after just a short ride. Now I’m not sure what the issue was but I was actually surprised that about two thirds of the way through my trip that I was completely comfortable.
I’ve been riding back and forth to the office every day but that’s only a short 15 minute ride. The first videos and stuff I saw all talked about how supremely comfortable the seat was and honestly I thought they were all crazy…or maybe just sucking up or something! But now I have to mostly agree …the seat is pretty comfortable and a few butt shifts along the way made any discomfort go away.
Seats have never been my favorite part of my motorcycles. I’ve talked about the Ducati with the underseat exhaust that lit my heinie on fire. And I think I’ve also spent enough money to buy a new scooter just on my KTM seats trying to find a comfortable version but failed. And my manly man side sure didn’t want to admit I was becoming a pansy could that be possible??? Hahahahaahaha…no friggin way homies. I admit, I’ve always prided myself deep down inside for being a tough guy to some extent and I’ve always extended my days in the saddle to an uncomfortable level. No, I’ve never attained the 850+ miles on several long trips. And Yes, some of those days were friggin painful where I would ride standing up for a while, then sit on my left cheek, then my right cheek, then stop for coffee…you get the picture. (Sorry)
Okay, back to reality and the Kawasaki 1000. In the misting rain the windshield helped quite a bit to keep me dry. In the full up position and with the front fairing most of the drizzle seemed to go around me…and it kept me warmer in my stupid summer jacket!
And I spoke with lots of guys at the Rock Store…most didn’t believe me when I told them that Cycle World loaned me this bike but the comments from Harley Dudes to Sportbike lunatics were that the bike is really good looking. The older the person the more likely they were to tell me they thought I should use a heat gun and remove the “Ninja” from the fairing. And one guy felt that some of the components were a little “low end” but…he was one of those guys that buys a high end bike and then have to replace every lever, the brake discs, etc. etc., and complain that they are disappointed with the finish on their $1,200 brake discs. I had a really good friend in Denver with too much money that had all his bikes painted the same color…PINK…I mean light red. I think he changed out about 50% of the parts on his Ducati. (Okay…if he reads this he’ll know who I mean! Sorry Andrew!) But it looked good!
June 11, 2011
The Rock Store
Saturday, June 11th. I got out of the house at about 7:15 AM for a ride up the 405 North, down the 10 to Santa Monica, then up the PCH to Malibu Canyon and a visit to The Rock Store. It’s very common for it to be cloudy in the mornings down close to the beach here in Southern California; known as “June Gloom”, but it usually clears a few miles inland.
Not today. The forecast was for clouds, 0% chance of rain, becoming sunny as the morning goes on. So I figured the heavy mist on my faceshield was only temporary and my brand new Joe Rocket mesh jacket would be okay.
Anyway, the heavy mist and cool temperatures just continued all the way up and once I hit the twisties in Malibu the roads were a little wet.
Even with less than perfect weather, once I settled in the ride was excellent. An hour or so on a light traffic morning on the freeway (I think it’s about 10 lanes wide most of the way…maybe 8) and then back down to the beach. No matter how many times I ride up through all the beaches I still get struck with the visual impact of it.
The Rock Store is a really cool, very diverse motorcycle hangout that’s only open certain weekdays (like Wednesday through Sunday). I think they even close most days at 5 to 6 PM. It was originally a Stage Coach stop but has been a store since at least 1961. It’s famous for the roads nearby, for the sheer volume and uniqueness of the bikes you’ll see there, and for celebrity sightings. Many days it’s like the who’s who of motorcycle history sitting at the picnic benches.
Sometimes I stop off at motorcycle landmarks and most of the people are there in groups and you can feel a little dorky sometimes standing around by yourself. The Rock Store is a place where you have to work hard not to talk to someone. If you pull up and park and hang around a bit you’ll find someone to talk motorcycles with. And half the time you find out it’s the guy that invented motorcycles or something! J My plan was to video the place to give you and idea what it was like but after a couple of hours and two cups of coffee and still hadn’t videoed anything. So I videoed the ride out of the parking lot and up and over the road called “The Snake”. I forgot how nice it was. It’s really a great road. One thing I’ve only seen here are the still and video cameras set up in some corners or along the first upper straight. Sometimes the flashes can be a little distracting when you don’t expect them…I think it was probably because my bike is so beautiful…it’s amazing those guys stand there for hours just to catch me going by! One guy will even sell you your photo through the web…sort of like the log ride at Disney!
I miss that place and wish I lived closer!
June 8, 2011
The magic is in the details
I had my Ninja 1000 in for service at Champion Kawasaki in Costa Mesa on Tuesday. About four hours and 90 some dollars later I heard from Steve, the General Manager, that it was ready.
Everything was good on the bike but I had one special request when I dropped it off. The throttle seemed to have a too much play in it…maybe a ¼ turn. I assumed it was just the nature of the beast but when I got it back Tuesday afternoon the difference was huge. That’s why I haven’t written for a few days: I’ve been busy riding around smiling.
Before this adjustment, I was beginning to wonder if I was getting uncoordinated or something. I remember when my Dad got to be about my age he seemed to be really uncoordinated…especially trying to dock the boat. I felt like I couldn’t quite get the shifts right, and I was missing the downshift throttle blips. I was snapping the throttle off and on to try to smooth out my up shifts. I figured if I was fast enough I had to be smooth! The worst part was halfway through a corner, trying to bring the throttle on smoothly.
Something else that surprised me was that I didn’t adapt quickly and “learn” to use the throttle the way it was. Part of riding over the years has been learning to ride very different bikes, learning to compensate for their weird behavior in one way or another. In fact, their weird behavior was part of what I always liked about each one. That’s what gave them character. And I think that’s one of the reasons I love motorcycles. For me, it’s like my own little reinforcement that I’m different than the average pansy. Every rain storm we endure, those rides in freezing weather, trying to make a 1,000 miles in a day, riding a spitting/stalling/flame throwing beast, riding a bike that lights my butt on fire in traffic…all those things are a small part of what riding a bike is about. Just my opinion: I think some of the camaraderie we feel with other riders is knowing they have gone through the same stuff.
I picked the bike up and knew immediately the change was made. Suddenly, a small adjustment like that changed the experience for me. Now I’m back to my normal perfect self (Kidding…maybe?) and the difference was so profound I felt obligated to stop by the dealer again on Wednesday just to explain to the service department how much I appreciated it and how much of a difference it made.
Now it’s like a new bike for me. My up-shifts are smooth moist of the time, my downshift blips are right on (or close), and I’m not freaking out halfway through a corner feeling for the power to come on.
With this throttle adjustment I feel even more comfortable with this bike. The things that seemed a little strange at first have become normal. The minor complaints I may have had seem to have faded away. I don’t notice that the suspension is a little hard anymore because of the benefits of accuracy, consistency, and confidence is worth it.
Okay! One more thought! Another part of riding bikes that has kept me riding is the symbiosis between man and machine! Hahahahahah, I just had to say that. Part of the enjoyment of riding is controlling so many elements and doing them well, and the more I ride this bike the more I realize just how good it is.
It’s funny how such a small detail can change your perception.
June 7, 2011
Motorcycles and the gang. (Not Kool and the Gang)
Saturday morning I decided to get up early and go for a ride. I left the house at about 7:00 AM. My planned route was to hit the Cycle Gear store in Fullerton, CA to look for a new jacket. Then head into the hills through Orange, California, stop at Cook’s Corners (Not named after me) and try the old “leave the camera on the bike to see what people say” trick!
Cycle Gear opens at 9:00 and I arrived at 8:00! What the heck. Where is everybody! So I took a little spin around town and found my favorite coffee shop, McDonalds! They do have good coffee! I had to swear off the Sausage McMuffins though. (See stupid diet in previous notes). P.S. I’m down 30 pounds from diet start, 40 pounds since my all time high! Hey, I’m the biggest loser…Wait a minute…the mediumest winner!
The assistant manager of Cycle Gear was so proud of his store he gave me a tour of everything they had! I didn’t buy anything because I had no luggage capacity!
My next stop was Cook’s Corners, kind of a famous local motorcycle hangout. I pulled in and set my camera up to catch everyone standing around talking about the bike!
Lesson 1: Turn the camera so the picture is right side up.
Lesson 2: That place doesn’t really get going that early in the morning. There were only about 20 people there, tops.
So my plan was foiled once again! One of these Sunday’s, maybe this Sunday, I’m going to ride up to the Northwestern side of town and will try the semi-hidden camera trick at the Rock Store on Mulholland. The roads up there are great over the hills to the beach and the crowd at the Rock Store is pretty big.
I’ve heard about the Rock Store since I was a youngun and finally had a chance to go there quite a bit in the mid-90’s. For me, it has a long history steeped in motorcycle stuff, the crowd is mixed (Sport bikes/Harleys/Ferrari’s/the occasional Stutz Bearcat or Stanley Steamer), and you can sit down at a table and sometimes talk to people you’ve read about for years…racers, designers, movie stars, swimming pools. (Reference: Beverly Hillbillies.)
Okay, the bike. This weekend was exceptional because I’ve passed beyond my skittery phase I was going through, thanks to the consistency and feedback this suspension gives. Manufacturer to go unnamed but…I had a 60’s style bike that I crashed twice, once in Denver and once in Las Vegas. Both times leaning into a corner…I think at reasonable lean angles…and low siding before I even know what was happening. Now, I know I’m no Cycle World writer or professional racer but…to crash without feeling the slightest warning or knowing I was at the limits scared the heck out of me. I haven’t been riding much because I became uncomfortable with my own bike. Every corner caused a twinge of fear that I could be on the ground again. And Yes, I’ve crashed several/many times over the years but I ALWAYS knew why (besides stupidity).
But the Kawasaki is different. It’s suspension consistency and feedback are so positive that I’ve learned to trust it. I can feel any slip, paint strips, metal covers, which builds confidence. If I know what’s going on I can adjust and be confident. If I don’t I’m freaked. Without gushing, this bike handles extremely well. No Surprises.
June 3, 2011
I was going to write about the moron drivers out there today but don’t want to be negative on a Friday night, so I won’t! I snuck out of work early so I could get home and wash the Ninja 1000 before the weekend.
I’ve decided that I don’t really know a bikes quality and finish until I wash it. Tonight was my first time to really clean the Ninja and, besides a few busted knuckles, I really enjoyed and appreciated the quality of everything. The paint finish, especially the red is really deep and washes and waxes up beautifully. I’m sorry to say I’ve managed to scuff the fuel tank with my jacket so I polished and removed most of that. Tomorrow I’ll see about some plastic.
Washing my bikes has always been a favorite for me, early on a Saturday morning or late Friday evening, to get the bike ready for the weekend, inspect it for anything wrong, and get the tire pressures perfect. I have about 10 tire gauges and now use an oil bath unit from Jegs that I think is ridiculously accurate. My $5 digital tire gauge is probably the most accurate but this one makes me feel better.
Please understand this when I talk about this is that I’m not trying to sound pretentious or “special”. I had a Ducati 999R when I lived in Denver…it took insanity and trading two of my favorite motorcycles to get that bike but it was just within financial reach and when I walked into my favorite store in Denver…there it was… and I just had to have it. Now that I think about it, that’s how I bought my MH900e at the same store.
Anyway, I loved washing and cleaning that bike and, while I know the Kawasaki doesn’t have carbon fiber fairings, I enjoy the process just as much and can feel the quality of components on the Ninja. There were no disappointments, nothing that I thought was cheesy...it’s a really nice bike. And an extra bonus…if I spaz out and drop the Ninja in my driveway it’s not going to cost me a bajillion dollars. True story: One day I was washing the Ducati and I somehow backed into it and knocked it over. It fell on the right side…Progressive Insurance did a great job with the repairs but it cost them just under $10,000. That’s almost enough to buy the Ninja.
And that’s one of the best parts about this bike. I’ve hard my share of hard times in the past five years and expensive bikes are out of the question for me. Whether I like them or not doesn’t matter, I can’t justify buying one. For me, this Kawasaki has the high pride of ownership level that’s important to me. I sit in the garage looking at it, I admire it in the parking lot…it feels really good to ride this bike. Even if someone doesn’t like Kawasaki’s, they respect this bike. I guess I’m trying to say this motorcycle is cool, confidence inspiring, very powerful motorcycle, and a lot of motorcycle you can really use for everything (except the dirt) for a really great price.
May 31, 2011
So, here we are again! It’s Tuesday night! They’re having the street party/festival in downtown Huntington Beach tonight but I’m watching the kids tonight so I can’t go! Waaaaah. Maybe next Tuesday…it’s a big crowd and if I can get there next week I’ll pull my video cam left on the motorcycle trick to see what happens…hopefully something besides someone stealing the camera!
Today was a normal commute to work day and I was lazy so I decided to try riding in my dress shoes! Besides looking like a total nerd boy I learned several lessons:
If you have cuffs on your pants they will get caught on your footpegs and make you look even more like a moron.
My white legs showing in the gap between my socks and my flapping dress pants didn’t win me any new friends.
Actually that isn’t true. I was riding back from lunch and came up beside some guy on a Honda Cruiser. I turned to wave and he was giving me the thumbs up for the bike and smiling like a madman! Then, sitting in my usual Malibu Fish Grill for lunch (See my stupid diet in previous blogs) I had a window seat and was admiring the bike in my front row parking space. Guy after guy (no women regretfully) stopped to look and most commented when they came in and saw me with my helmet on…not really…I meant my helmet on the table. Most comments were “nice bike” and “cool”. I was feeling pretty good but when I got back to the office the guy that delivers all the big packages and stuff said “You’re too old for a bike like that aren’t you?”
They’re tearing down our building soon so hopefully they won’t find where I hid his body! Just kidding! Really! But I did give him a dirty look!
So tomorrow I’m back to the boots!
P.S. How am I supposed to follow the stupid motorcycle break in period rules? It’s almost impossible! And I’m supposed to take the bike in for service at 600 miles! No bike for a day! What!
P.P.S.S I have also noticed that I get much better parking spaces on this motorcycle. Right in front of the door at lunch! Right near the front door at work! Okay, here’s another stupid story for you: If you get to work at my office between 7:00 and 7:15 you can park in the parking lot that’s right next to the door (if you’re driving a car). The stupid part is that sometimes I would even skip lunch because if I leave I’ll lose my primo spot. My old boss used to wait for some of the “early” people to leave at 3:00 so he could go out and move his car into one of their up close spots. I’m embarrassed to say that we actually worry about that.
* See Megamind.
May 25, 2011
Did I mention the mirrors work? I have had one or two bikes in the past where I could actually use the mirrors without leaning out and squeezing my shoulder in so I could see around it. Now, I should probably admit that I wear a size 54 jacket but still…most of my sport bikes I could barely use the mirrors. On some I’d use the hole between my body and my arm to peak through. The mirrors on this bike work pretty well, I can see just by looking, and there is no vibration.
I’ve been commuting for the past few days and it’s a bit more work to get ready. I have to wear “business attire” so I wear my boots, jacket, gloves, helmet, with dress pants which is weird and not the safest, then change my shoes at work. Maybe a riding suit would be better but that costs money. I’ve also realized I live too close to work. Luckily they’re going to tear our building down in a month or so and we move to temporary quarters for two years. It’s only 10 minutes further but gives better access to Hwy 55 and the PCH for a nicer ride home. The only other issues I have with commuting are that I’m friggin too hot; that can be fixed with a new jacket; and I have helmet head all day at work! Now, those of you that have seen my photos or know me in person know that I don’t have much hair to have helmet head with but it still happens!
I think I’ve become mentally accustomed to the higher RPM’s of a four cylinder and don’t feel like I should shift at 5,000-6,000 RPM’s all the time. I’m gradually settling in to this bike and I’m liking it more and more each time I ride it. (That’s also normal for me). I have to learn the idiosyncrasies of a bike over a few weeks.
Messing up the suspension (See previous blog) has helped as well. The bike is always stable, always planted, and I’ve reduced a bit of the harshness over bumps. Now it’s much better and feels like a compliant but precise, high quality suspension. No wallowing on this bike!
Can I complain about anything? My throttle and clutch skills need some work! I still manage to stall at lights once in a while but that seems to be getting better the more I ride. It’s really nice when you sneak up to the front and then stall it when the light turns green! That makes you very popular around here! I am having a bit of a hard time going on throttle smoothly and getting my shifts perfectly smooth but I think that’s also just getting used to the throttle/clutch. Oh, and my butt hurts! Hmmmm…that’s all I can think of!
This bike is growing on me more and more daily. Its greatest strengths are precise and predictable handling, excellent power, and a more comfortable seating position. Oh, and good looks, nice paint, nice screaming sound…okay, I’ll stop.
I just realized that I don’t have any issues with hand or wrist pain…that’s abnormal on a sport bike isn’t it? I hadn’t even thought of that but it’s nice to ride without the pressure on my wrists and hands. It’s really nice to be mostly sitting up.
Talk to you later!
May 23, 2011
I’m sorry to say that I only got one ride in this weekend but I did get to spend some time checking the bike out. Of course, I have to keep it clean too!
Several times in the past I’ve assumed my bike was set up properly only to discover that lots of things were out of whack! So I checked things out and discovered the bike was set up very well…suspension, tire pressures, all were good.
So, what did I do? Mess them all up of course! So I started from scratch, read the manual, checked out some forums for some ideas and tried to figure out if I could improve things.
My nickname when I rode bicycles all the time was “JumboTron”, and when we were in our cycling outfits we looked like a stuffed sausages…so I’m trying to say I’m a pretty good sized hombre. On previous bikes I’ve had to change out springs and other fun stuff to get things right for me. But on my first ride on the Ninja 1000 I was impressed with the stability and balance. I brought all the adjustments back to normal and then stiffened them an extra click, an extra ¼ turn, scientific adjustments like that.
Tomorrow morning I get to ride to work and try it out and I’m really looking forward to it. And I’ll be sure to take my video camera along for the ride!
May 21, 2011
Day Two: I know I’ll lose track of these days eventually but it sounds like I know what I’m doing!
I took a nice ride by myself from Huntington Beach, California, down the 405 and the 5, so I got some freeway riding in, then up and over the Ortega Highway to Lake Elsinore. After that I went south I think (I was lost), wandered around for a while but somehow found my way home. I had planned on stopping a few times along the way but somehow I was too busy! I did stop for about 5 minutes at Hells Kitchen but decided to stick to my stupid diet and keep going.
The bike: This bike is vastly different than any other motorcycle I’ve ridden...I’ve never had a four cylinder before for one thing…so I’m going through a learning curve. It wasn’t until I found out about this experience that I realized that 100% of my street bikes have been twins. I was sure I had something else in there, but nope! Here’s the short version of the brands: Buell (1), Harley-Davidson (1), KTM (3), Ducati (4), and Triumph (1).The bike is solid and the feedback is excellent. I’m one of those morons that actually follow the break in “suggestions” in the owner’s manual. And yes I’m also a dork and read the owners manual last night. Oh, and now I have enough mileage on the tires too! I didn’t realize I was such a nerd until now.
So with all those qualifiers: The bike is solid and the feedback is really excellent. I’m short shifting through the gears (because of the break in period) and feel like I’m always in sixth (and searching for seventh)! I’m used to slower turning engines so the feel and sound of this bike makes me want to up shift. Another preconceived expectation was that it would be weak from a stop and all the power would be in some crazy wail at the top… but that’s my first surprise. The bike feels strong down low and you don’t have to rev it and ease the clutch out to get going, or worry about stalling it every time. I can sense and feel the power up higher but haven’t really pushed anything yet. What limited amount I’ve experienced tells me the engine might be what I was hoping for.
And that’s the expectation I have really been hoping for with this bike. The suspension I already know is very confidence inspiring and I really like it. I’ve never owned a Kawasaki before and never even ridden one. In the 70’s it was Kawasaki that turned me into a bike lunatic. First it was some poor guy named Pete Conti that owned a Z-1 and lived on my way home from school in New Jersey. I’d stop any time that garage was open and bug him. Then there were the print ads for the Kawasaki 500 and 750’s. Those images were somehow indelibly burned into my brain. So what I’m expecting and think this bike has is power! I’m pretty big so I need a lot of horses to go fast! And that, to me, is what Kawasaki has always stood for…more output than anyone else…even when it was politically incorrect.
Okay, I promise to make these shorter! See you tomorrow!
May 20, 2011
Day One: I’ve been anxiously waiting for today to arrive. A little anxious, a little excited (Okay-a lot excited!), and a little bit of me not really believing this was all going to happen. You know the old saying…if it’s too good to be true…
I’m one of the lucky 10 that have been given the chance to ride a Kawasaki Ninja 1000 for 90 days and all I have to do is write about the experience? Huh? Before today I had to stop talking about it because everyone thought it I was crazy…they kept asking “Did you have to give them your Social Security Number?” with a skeptical look on their face.
So today at 3:00 I arrived at Champion Kawasaki in Newport Beach. And Yes, I admit I’ve been there about 5 times in the past week talking to the guys and sneaking peaks at this bike. By the way, this store is one of those you can go visit all the time and they don’t even get tired of you or ask questions like “What can I help you buy today?” I’ll write about them again later but they really are a great motorcycle store.
Yesterday I received an email from Jenelle at Cycle World saying that Steve Rapp would be there to deliver the bike and take a short ride with me…and give me some riding tips. Now I was getting nervous; Cycle World would be there, Steve Rapp, a Kawasaki Exec., photographers, and cameras!!!
Now I’m a pretty confident rider but my first thought was, Jeez, I hope I don’t fall over in the parking lot with everyone watching! (I didn’t but I did manage to stall it) It was very cool, they were all really great people and I made it through the photo ops and video stuff.
Okay finally about the bike…I’ve read all the tests and seen all the photos. This bike just kind of blew me away. Visually it fits the half sport bike, half sport touring bike perfectly. The paint and fit and finish are really nice. Walking up behind it was a surprise at first. I’ve never had a four cylinder before and I didn’t expect to see those cool upturned exhausts are on both sides...and they don’t burn my legs or butt like some of my other bikes.
I am in the market for a bike right now and can only afford one. I’ve got lots of financial responsibilities (kids, ex-wives, current wife J ) I’ve always let my ego get the best of me on my past purchases and just can’t afford to now. I’ve been really struggling with the decision, knowing that if I make a mistake I have to live with it. I want a bike I’m proud of that I can ride every day, one with the capabilities to take short trips and still have real fun in the twisties…and have a suspension and feel that I’m comfortable with. Today was a great day and I so far I’m really impressed with this bike. Maybe I should keep it!
One thing for sure, I’m glad I took tomorrow off!
May 16, 2011
I'm an experienced rider...as many others did, I started in the 70's on dirt bikes in New Jersey, then in 1976, while in the Army I purchased my first street bike...the powerful and handsome BMW R/60/6 - my dad worked for BMW so I bought it at a discount. Suffered through the 80's without a bike with marriage and kids and was finally able to buy a bike in 2000. Since then I've owned a Road King Classic, Buell XB12S, Ducati MH900e, Ducati 999R (Stolen at a bar in Denver), KTM 950 Adventure, a Vespa, a Honda Metropolitan, a Triumph Thruxton, and a BMW R/80. Suffice it to say I have experience from bikers rallies during the 70's in Myrtle Beach to the Rock Store on Mulholland and riding in LA. I know you've heard all that "I've owned 50 bajillion bikes before" as I have, but I wanted to give you some history. My motorcycling history is diverse, mostly sport and adventure riding, I choose to ride only with small groups of friends or alone, and read everything I can find about motorcycles. I've moved more than 40 times in my life, from Canada to Australia to the United States, and have lived all over the country, giving me an open mind and perspective on what it's like to ride in many different cities and states. (I've been in SoCal about 2 years.) I love to travel alone, exploring small towns, talking to locals, the more obscure the better. Did I mention I talk to everyone everywhere I go? I'm friendly, funny, very unpretentious and will talk bikes with anyone...even Harley riders (well, most of them)! I'm a motorcyclists motorcyclist. :) Any motorcycle is a good motorcycle. I'm actually considering and agonizing over the purchase of a new bike right now. I can only afford one so I have to choose carefully. I've never owner a Kawasaki but my short list includes three; a KLR 650, the Ninja 1000, the Concours 14, and one Yamaha, the Super Tenere. I imagine you guys might understand how a completely weird list like that makes sense in a twisted sort of way! Should I be selected, my intent is to ride to and from Huntington Beach my office in the South Coast mall area daily...I want to see if I really am enough of a motorcyclist to ride one as a commuter every single day...and explore the roads and places I read about in Cycle World every month. I just sold my BMW R80 back to my uncle for $1 (He sold it to me out of pity when I had to sell my bikes a few years ago) so call me soon please!