The Second Motorcycle Search
Here’s the situation: for several years I had the pleasure of owning two motorcycles. It was a subtle joy to enter the garage each day and decide which one to ride, depending on the distance, type of ride, and my mood. But beyond that, I enjoyed merely seeing them. So much so that I gave away a motorcycle cover so both bikes would be on display.
Life and circumstances changed, and I ended up living happily alone in a duplex with a one car garage. Since the garage is long and narrow, with shelving and cabinets, a mower, and various stuff on both sides, the garage is not really suitable for my one car, but lovely for my 2020 Triumph Rocket 3. Half way through 2020, stuck at home most of the time due to the cursed virus, I began scheming to put a second bike in with Merlin the Beast – something smaller and lighter and more tossable for daily rides.
Then life got more complicated. Nancy came into my life. A wonderful woman who lives with her young adult grandson and two dogs in an apartment. An apartment with no garage. Decades ago, Nancy spent a few years riding a motorcycle to work nearly every day. She was eager to spend time as my passenger, but also wants to take a refresher riding class and eventually return to riding her own.
Living together with two dogs and her grandson and my cat is not a workable fantasy, (until I win a humongous lottery) so my plan has been altered to find a motorcycle that I can enjoy riding that is also a motorcycle Nancy can fit on and handle.
Thus begins the quest for motorcycle #2 in my garage. We have considered and rejected many ideas.
The good news: although short and light, Nancy does have long legs, sporting a 32-inch inseam. I commented on Facebook that we were off for a look but not buy expedition to a nearby Cycle Gear store, where I purchased a great textile riding jacket for her (thus violating the stated intent of the trip), because it fit her, looked great, and the price was too good to pass up. And Christmas was coming up, after all. Then two women I rode with years ago chimed in. Both of them have had to retire from motorcycle riding due to medical issues, and against all odds, one of them was virtually the same size as Nancy. She and her husband dropped by on their way to relatives just before Christmas, and in short order Nancy had a black Alpinestars leather riding jacket to go along with the textile jacket I’d purchased, two pairs of black leather riding pants, and a virtually new helmet. With an old pair of boots I quit wearing because they were a tad small and one of my many pairs of gloves, Nancy now has more riding gear than I do. Some of the items my friend had offered did not fit Nancy, and I sold them all in a day and I sent my friend a check with the results.
The bad news: I cannot fit three motorcycles in my garage, so what I want to find is a motorcycle that Nancy can ride when she visits, and I can ride when she is not here. That is where it gets tricky.
Humans often want what does not exist, and I am no different. If Triumph made a sport touring version of the Speed Triple, with low pipes and perhaps the same semi-hard bags I have on the Rocket 3, I would make the trade in a minute. I owned a Speed Triple for eleven years and 50,000 miles and loved it. Then I would purchase a used Triumph Thunderbird. I rode one in 2008 and it was the first cruiser I’d ridden that I could see owning. Ample power, comfy, good brakes, and reasonable ground clearance. I loved it. Then I would have a sport tourer and a cruiser I would enjoy either by myself or two up, or both bikes ridden by the two of us. But Triumph has not seen the genius of my plan…
A good friend argued strenuously, and with logic, in favor of getting a small and light bike that Nancy could handle easily, arguing that if she dropped a larger bike that I owned she would be stricken with grief and guilt. Sound reasoning, except I would not ride such a bike. He recommended the BMW 650, but as the owner of 6 BMWs (!), he is biased. I have ridden several of the BMW 650’s, and with apologies to my former employer, I thought it was a terrible motorcycle.
A Ducati 660 Monster appeals, as it is light and small and packs a lot of performance. I loved the one I rode on a test ride at work, but it is physically too small for me and the maintenance costs would be a consideration.
A Honda 250 Rebel would do, but again, it would take up space and I would not ride it.
There are a lot of mid-size cruisers for sale at reasonable prices, and they have low seat heights, but again, I own the best cruiser made, so when would I ride the other?
Another consideration is that Nancy and I are not married, and not planning to change that status. I doubt we will break up, but what if we did? I need to be sure the bike purchased is one I want to own and ride.
So, let us think about me, me, me! I’m going to be the owner, after all. Although I’ve ridden over 500 motorcycles, most of them in my second career in the motorcycle business, the last four motorcycles I have purchased with my own money have been Triumphs. A Sprint, a Speed Triple, a Bonneville T 120, and now the Rocket 3. All have been purchased from Triumph of Seattle, the first two when they were part of the Cycle Barn empire and I worked for them. I know many of the employees, and they have an excellent reputation that is well deserved. I also sold them a 5th Triumph, a Thruxton 1200 I owned for five months that is a bizarre story in and of itself. Another time, perhaps.
When I first started scheming to obtain a second motorcycle, my thoughts turned to another Thruxton. As I began searching online, as Nancy did at her place, I recalled that with the Bonneville, Triumph has done what Ford has done with the Mustang – release a special edition of some sort every year or so. There are a ton of them! I do not need this second bike to be the 1200cc model, but would not mind of course, but we are spoiled for choice. Street Cup, Newchurch, various models labeled SE; it goes on and on.
What are your thoughts? Are you, or do you know a woman who rides a Bonneville? What has the experience been for you?
Nancy and I will drive to Triumph of Seattle on Tuesday with her boots and jacket and helmet, and try on several different Bonneville iterations. The results of that will guide us to the next step.
To be continued!
Ride Safe, Ride Fast, and Ride Often
Copyright 2021 David Preston