"Machines of Escape"
I have been sort of shopping for another bike (pretty much a permanent condition for me) and had settled on some sort of used and abused Kawasaki Concours 1000 as a likely candidate. I had purchased a new Concours in 2001 and enjoyed it a great deal before ill health forced it's sale. The Concours 1000 survived twenty years in Kawasaki's line up primarily because it did so much so well for so little money. The engine is all but bullet proof, the handling is decent, and the assorted bits and pieces generally work well and are reliable.
I had found a slightly used (ok, beat up) '90s edition Concours on Craig's List for a sum that was within reach and had resigned myself to buying a beater touring bike. I figured there was nothing wrong with it that some hot glue, JB Weld, and a rattle can of black paint couldn't fix. Kawasaki Concours "bobber", anyone?
I was a bit late getting my taxes done this year and had to file an extension with those nice folks at the IRS. That is the first time in my life that I have ever had to do that. It just goes to show how lazy I am getting since I retired from VW.
I expected to get a few bucks back from the tax man, we usually get back some reasonable amount but when the tax accountant told us how much we were getting back this year my "Pavlovian Motorcycle Response" kicked in and I turned immediately to the wife and said "New motorcycle!" In the blink of an eye she replied "What sort of bike can you get for 50% of that amount?" Apparently in the nanosecond of time it took me to think "new bike" and get the words out of my mouth she had already thought "Money for vacations!" She's quick, I'll give her that, and she knows that my dear ol' mum taught me to share as a gentleman should.
In due course the tax money arrived via direct deposit and I began checking Craig's List more diligently and with a bit larger budget in hand. Happily, it only took about a day for decent 2003 Concours to turn up. I went and looked at the bike and it had been well serviced for 25k miles, just not kept clean and orderly the way I like to keep a bike.
The previous owners had upgraded the suspension, added assorted goodies that are popular with the Concours crowd, and generally looked after the bike decently except for the cosmetic issues. By my standards the bike was a diamond in the rough, it just needed some polishing. Money changed hands and the Concours came home with me.
The ride home, about forty miles, reminded me why I liked my '01 Concours so much. The bike is fast enough, comfortable enough, and competent enough that Kawasaki could have kept building it for another twenty years and it still would have been a great bike if it were not for changing tastes in motorcycle styling and a degree of corporate pride. The trusty Concours, always a steady seller for Kawasaki, was looking pretty dowdy when compared to the much newer, sexier designs of the Honda ST1300 and Yamaha FJR1300.
I spent about eight or ten hours over the next two days really cleaning and detailing the bike, attending to some minor issues, and making it look it's best. It's not perfect but for $3k I think it's a pretty solid ride. Today I took it for my familiar ride out to Coolidge Airport. Very nice. Good to feel more than 14 horsepower again, ya know?