I’m in love with two wheeled transportation.
The love affair started about 7 years ago on a bicycle. I’ve commuted, raced, and gone on some really memorable adventures on my bikes. I could sit here and wax poetic about how zen and liberating it is to ride a bicycle, but I’ll keep those stories for another time.
Six months ago, the concept of a motorcycle was a totally foreign concept to me. To be honest, I was under the impression that most people who rode around on motorcycles were reckless d-bags. I was a purist when it came to things two-wheeled. The only fun you could have was by pedaling yourself.
My friend Renee is the reason I started to fall in love with these things. She recently got her hands on a 2003 Monster 620. She sent me an email saying “lookie what I got.”
I immediately started lusting after it.
All of a sudden I find myself googling Ducati Monsters. The original “naked” bikes, they oozed italian cafe racer style. I started falling in love with its shape and lines. This is exactly what I had done with I lusted over italian bicycles.
I didnt want a japanese sportsbike. It seemed like most people that rode Gixxers where darwin award candidates who would split lanes at 80 mph on the FDR drive in a t-shirt and shorts.
Harleys are heavy and un-sexy. They’re loud in a clunky, gurgly sort of way. I also wasn’t about to start wearing tassled leather chaps.
I stopped by the Ducati Dealership in soho and almost bought a new 696. That would have been a terrible idea. Used would be a better way to go. As I browsed over a few craigslist ads, I came across someone selling a 2002 Monster 620 Dark. I met up with the guy, brought a friend who actually rode motorcycles, and came with cash in hand. The owner was a nice guy who wanted to sell his duc to make room for building his own chopper. The bike was beautiful. Matte black, clean lines, and Loud, in an angry, well-tuned sort of way. it only had 5100 miles on it. It was in great shape. I paid $3,500 in cash for it, and that was that. I bought a beautiful italian bicycle for less than I paid for my last Italian bicycle.
So now I had a motorcycle. Funny thing is, I didnt have a license yet.
I quickly signed up for a Motorcycle safety course (MSS). If you’re even thinking about getting a motorcycle, you should take this. It should be a requirement for anyone getting their license.
I soon realized that the years spent riding a bicycle came in very, very handy on a motorcycle. Riding road and mountain bikes gives you a great sense of balancing at speed. Cycling in the city, which I contend is more dangerous than riding a motorcycle, helps you become a defensive rider. You know what the dangers are and where they most likely come from.
Once I got my license I high-tailed it to Brooklyn to pick up my motorcycle for its maiden voyage. The bikes we used at the MSS course were 250CC Suzuki cruisers. The Duc’s engine was over twice the size. I remember being a bit worried that it would be too much bike for me.
I started up the bike and eventually made my way across the Williamsburg bridge. The engine produced such a satisfying rumble whenever i revved it. It never gets old.
I remember riding it across the bridge feeling simultaneously thrilled and terrified. It was the perfect mix. With a twist of the wrist you converted gas and air into speed. Its satisfying in a childish way.
A few weeks later Renee and I rode up to Bear mountain to carve out turns on some twisties. I have semi-fond memories of riding around that area on my bicycle, suffering up 10-minute long climbs and hating myself for being a chunky meatball. I can tell you that those climbs are infinitely better on a motorcycle.
Since then we’ve been in the midst of a long winter. I can’t wait until its warm enough to escape the city on a whim and find new twisties. Weekends in New Paltz will be frequent. A summer road trip to Montreal is in the works.
That’s why I love this thing. Its an adventure enabler. Every time you look at it you think of what you could be doing on it.
I’ve also resigned myself to the fact that I probably look like a D-bag to everyone who doesn’t ride one. And I’m pretty ok with that.