~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"and the flames got higher.."

Do not test ride this bike.

Well, I did it. I walked into two motorcycle shops, looked a bikes, test rode three of them and didn't buy anything. This is very weird. What's happening to me??

First stop was the Aprilia dealer to look at the Futura all flame red and Italian. Oh yes, very nice. I sat on it, loved it, I talked to the nice dealer about it and then with visions of owning two Aprilias dancing in my head, went off to visit the BMW dealer and look at BMW's new sport tourer, the R1200ST, because it was the sensible thing to do. Uh huh.

The dealer, Iron Horse Motorcycles in Tucson, had a nice selection of ST's in stock including the silver/dark gray color combo I liked best on the 1200ST. John, the owner of Iron Horse asked if I would I like a test ride on one. Do Bavarian bruins do their business in the Black Forest? You betcha!

The 1200ST was set up with the low seat and the handle bars at max height. This is good for me as I'm only 5'8" on a good day and there have not been many of those this year. So off I went with nearly carte blanche to be gone and hour on this wonderful silvery missile of a bike. I was gone about 10 minutes.

The new generation of Boxer twins is the best ever, the shifting is clunkless, the clutch is light, the bikes are light, the 1200cc edition of the oilhead twin revs easily but the 1200ST got the best of my aging neck and wrists in about 5 miles. Sheesh! Comfort-wise I REALLY wanted it to be better than the Falco I had last year and it is but not enough. And worse, if the ST was like this, the Futura would not be any better. Gloom. The fires of moto-lust drew down to a mere glow of coals.

When I returned to the shop so quickly John asked me what was up. I replied simply "I'm too old for this bike, not too mature, just too old." "Ah" John said, "You haven't lived that long!" Says me sadly: "But my young friend, you don't know HOW I have lived or what things I have done to this old body. We must now consider the 1200RT."

John was ready to roll out a new R1200RT for me to try but at $18k+ it was beyond my budget so why bother? "A man's got to know his limitations." John had a very clean and low mileage R1150RT sitting there so I asked to ride that just because I wasn't ready to give up too easily. The 1150 was decent, definitely a BMW right down to the clunky shifting. It was ok but uninspiring. It reminded me of a newer version, a descendent of my '92 R100RT airhead. Makes sense of course since it is. Back to the shop after 20 minutes. Upon returning, John (evil man that he is) asked "Ready to try the 1200 now?" "Well...if you insist..." I have little will power sometimes when it comes to motorcycles. You are shocked, I know.

The 1200RT was a revelation, an order of magnitude above the 1150. It was the same feel as the 1200ST but with a bolt upright riding position and a wonderfully protective and electrically adjustable windscreen, and cruise control, and ABS, and Electronic Suspension Adjustment (Normal/Comfort/Sport). I did some big figure 8's in the parking lot and headed out on the road. Oh my...oh...it shifts like a Japanese bike...it handles as nicely as my Caponord. The wind protection is superb. In my mind's eye I could see me on a red RT motoring across vast distances with nary a hint of fatigue in me or the bike. I went down some back roads and it was a piece of cake to imagine being a 1000 miles from home on that bike and not being tired. I felt ready to travel again.

This isn't me. But it should be. And with the girl too as long as I'm dreaming.

Back at the shop I motored up onto the sidewalk by the front door. The evil John came out with an angelic smile on his face, "Well?" I imagine that in the Garden of Eden the serpent said something that simple after he conned Eve into eating the apple, knowing full well what mischief he had wrought. I rambled on for a minute about how astonishingly good it was over the 1150RT. Two entirely different machines in feel and rideability. The 1200RT was the best BMW I've ever ridden.

I looked at smiling John and thought about the blank check in the glovebox of my car. At least I'd been smart enough to not keep it in my pocket. I'd have to walk across the broad, hot parking lot, unlock the hot car and fetch the check back to the shop if it came down to it. There might be time to come to my senses. I told John to give me his best shot on the price because he had a red RT sitting there and I love red bikes.

So off we went to the little office, John to peck at his computer for a minute and come up with a price and me to ponder whether or not I'd finally gone completely mad. I'd swear the music over the ceiling speaker was playing Paul Simon's "Still crazy after all these years..."

When John was done with his number crunching, even with a very reasonable price reduction because the '06s were coming and I'm a charming fellow, the 1200RT would be a full $4000 more than I'd thought of spending. And the payments, oh my...a full $100 a month more than I had in mind when I rolled out of bed this morning. Visions of open roads, red BMW's, me, and a very, very flat bank account danced slowly in my head now. I thanked John for his extreme courtesy and generosity in letting me test ride no less than three bikes. I'd have to think about it over the weekend.

I hope I'm not getting sensible in my old age. Getting old is bad enough, getting sensible about motorcycles would take a lot of the fun out of life. If I suddenly decide to take up golf just call the vet and have me put down as I would not want to live out my last days in such and undignified way. I'm still thinking about the red RT. I've got it stuck in my mind so much so that I'd sell my beloved Caponord to get it and I know I would regret THAT the minute it was done. As Johnny Cash sang "and the flames got higher.."


Damien Corbell said...

Have you checked out any Triumphs? I recently got a 955i Speed Triple and that bike is so much better than I expected. Great power, very comfortable, sick suspension, etc. The Sprint ST and the Tiger both use the liter triple motors and look pretty damn comfortable. Anyway, they're probably worth a look. You can arrange demo rides with Triumph dealerships pretty easily I hear...

Doug Klassen said...


I've looked at the various Triumphs for a while now but the riding position on the ST is probably still a bit too forward for me. I like Triumph's general look and their quality seems excellent but I'm also inclined towards a shaft drive bike for touring.


-jeffrey- said...

There's nothing bad about being sensible and it wouldn't be commonly associated with old age. But if you do get that 1200RT I would most envy you!It is indeed a superb and powerful bike!

NOPCKL said...

Buy it!

Someday, trapped in a rest home muttering senselessly to the invalid in the next bed, you'll be able to say, "Glad I bought that red bike." Rather than, "I wish I had."

I am not a good role model.

Popular Posts

Search This Site

"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison