Saturday, August 20, 2005

Sometimes Two Wheels Can be More Fun Than Four

That's what I discovered a lot of years ago. This is my 2003 Suzuki Bandit 600S on the cold January day in 2004 when I brought it home from the dealer. My previous bikes were two decades ago, including a 1982 Honda CX500 and before that a 1979 Honda CM400.

The CM400 was a starter bike. It was an early example of the cruiser style that has dominated motorcycle sales in the U.S. for years. It was a great little bike, which I kept for almost two years and rode frequently. But I had only had it for about a month when I realized I really very much preferred the standard or sport bike configuration to the cruiser.

The CX500 was a sweet bike. I bought it used with about 12,000 miles on it. I loved that bike, especially the mellow exhaust note of the unusually configured vee-twin powerplant. It stayed with me almost seven years and I put a bunch of miles on it.

But then came a divorce and I sold it in 1989. By then, I had been racing a Formula Ford in SCCA events for several years and the bikes had been eclipsed in my consciousness. It remained that way for a long time.

About September of 2003, however, I started noticing bikes more often. After a couple of furtive visits to a local showroom, I finally started looking seriously, comparing models and trying to figure out what I wanted for my re-entry. It came down to a choice between the last version of the venerable Honda 750 and the Suzuki.

I got the Suzuki because its ergonomics fit my 5'9" frame more comfortably, plus I figured it would handle better than the heavier Honda. It has been a great bike to get back into the sport. I have put nearly 3,000 miles on it in a year and a half. Nothing serious, just weekend rides, usually 50-75 miles on back roads in the north-central area of Maryland.

Claudia rides with me occasionally but the Bandit is not really set up for two-up riding. I think the next bike will be something like a Honda ST1300 with ABS. Might be a few years before that purchase is possible, though. In the meantime, the Bandit is just fine for this 55-year-old "biker."