Recently it occurred to me, 100,000+ miles and 8 bikes later, I’m still evolving as a motorcyclist. Looking back at all my bikes, I can definitely see how I arrived here today. But it was a slow process as I figured out my riding style over the last few years. Now I ride a dual-sport, a sport-touring bike and sport bike, but what will I ride in a few years?
I didn’t start riding motorcycles in order to tour on them. As a matter of a fact I rode for a couple of years and never even considered doing trips on my motorcycles.
2006 Yamaha XT225
My XT225 has close to 3,000 miles on it, I've been riding it since October 2006 when I bought it new. After a year, I’m still learning to ride off-road, there just isn’t that many opportunities to ride off-road around here.
For me, the biggest difference between riding pavement and dirt is the mileage. I’m a high mileage rider, I ride far and I ride often. My longest day on pavement so far is 1,021 miles, I did that in 21 hours. On dirt a 100 miles is a long day of riding. And depending on the road conditions, sometimes even 50 miles can tire me out. To this day, the most miles I have put on in a day on the XT225 is 350 miles - 100 miles of those being dirt, the rest pavement.
It’s fun exploring the less traveled dirt roads, that’s pretty much why I wanted to start riding a dual-sport. There are just too many places I can’t go on my street bikes and to me a dual-sport bike is a nice addition to a sport-touring bike. Now there are no roads that I can’t explore.
2005 Ducati ST3
My ST3 now has 22,000 miles, I've been riding it since September 2005 when I bought it new. I can honestly say that this bike has transformed the way I tour now. I sport-toured a lot before getting the ST3, I did that on my sport bikes, but the ST3 allowed me camp on my trips, since finally I had the space for camping gear. Not only could I take all the stuff with me, but the ST3 carries the extra weight well. Sure, the bike feels heavier loaded down with luggage and camping gear, but not so much that the ride is no longer enjoyable. All the sudden I’m able to do multi-days trips and bring everything that I need, and everything is locked away in the hard bags, which means I can do some sight seeing off the bike and I don’t have to worry about my stuff getting stolen.
2000 Ducati 900 Super Sport
I really like the 900SS. I liked the way it sounded, the way it looked and the way it fit me. I bought it used and rode it for exactly one year, June 2006 through June 2007. I only managed to put 3,000 miles on it in that one year.
Even though 900SS was fun to ride, it just didn’t fit the kind of riding that I was doing. First, it wasn’t all that comfortable on the long rides, even though it had Heli bars and a Sergent seat. Second, most of my rides were long rides, so the 900SS sat while I was riding the other bikes. I don’t regret selling it, but I do miss the rattling sound of the dry clutch, my ST3 has a wet clutch, and I miss the way the carbon fiber exhaust sounded. Too bad I installed the new exhaust so late and really didn’t get to enjoy it. I really need to get new cans for my ST3.
2002 Honda CBR 954RR
I have about 32,000 miles on my 954RR, I bought the bike new in July of 2003, but I didn’t really start riding it until September. I needed to get an adjustable lowering link for the bike and no one had one in stock for months. The bike was just a bit too tall and it being my first liter bike, I was too nervous to ride it with out lowering it first. Can you imagine having a brand new bike in the garage for a couple of month and not be able to ride it. It was rough.
The 954RR has all the modifications for sport-touring now. It has a tall Zero Gravity sport-touring screen, Converti-bars, Dual-Star heated grips, an electric accessory outlet so that I can plug in my heated vest, and hard luggage - a GIVI monokey rack and E36 top case. This was the first bike I started using a GPS on and a camera mount on.
I added the taller windscreen when I added the top case in 2005. I needed more storage space for the longer touring trips, I also wanted the top case so I could have a place to lock stuff up on my bike. The top case is awesome, the only thing is the 954RR is just too light of a bike and I’m also too light of a rider, to have weight up high and behind the bike upsets the bike especially in tight turns and slow maneuvers. It’s something that you eventfully get used to, but the 954RR without the top case is a much more fun to ride then with the top case. That’s why since getting the ST3, I have not used the top case on the 954RR, the top case does not upset the ST3, maybe because the bike is heavier.
954RR in Colorado in 2004
Before getting the top case, I used soft luggage on my 954RR. This picture above was taken on my first long ride with the 954RR, it was a 9 day - 5,ooo mile ride out to Utah. By this time I had completed all the sport-touring modifications on the bike so I could be comfortable riding long distances. It is also this bike that I did my unofficial iron butt ride, the "Saddle Sore 1000", I rode 1021 miles in 21 hours. Unofficial because I never turned in the receipts to the Iron Butt Association for the certification.
The 954RR in it's stock form
The clip-ons on the 954RR were pretty low compared to my F4i, my neck would hurt on the longer rides from holding my head up tall to see the road. I guess my arms just weren’t long enough for this bike. I rode it this way from September 2003 to July 2004, but I realized that I would not be able to tour on this bike if I didn’t get after market clip-ons, so I bought the Converti-bars. This was the most important modification for this bike, after the Converti-bars I could finally ride long distances.
2002 Honda CBR 600 F4i
I had 33,000 miles on my F4i when I sold it in August of 2005. I bought the bike brand new in March of 2002 to replace the F4. I did a lot of trips on this bike, but all were short trips of 4 days and less. The bike was pretty comfortable from the start, so I didn’t need to make any modifications. Back then I didn’t use a GPS, didn’t carry any electronics, didn’t need a lot of luggage space. I traveled just with a tank bag and a tail bag.
F4i at the track in 2002
The F4i was the only bike that I’ve done track days with. As a matter of a fact, I signed up for my first track day when I still had the F4, but by the time the track day arrived, I already had the F4i and I was still braking it in. I finished breaking in the bike toward the end of the last session. I did 5 track days that year, the F4i was fun at the track but I got bored with track days, I wanted to travel and see new places.
After I modified the 954RR I only used the F4i for day rides, I did all my touring with the 954RR. But I liked the 954RR so much better then the F4i that after a while I stopped riding it. On September of 2005 my friend bought a ST3, I sat on it and realized that was the bike for me. I sold the F4i and two weeks later I used the money for a down payment on a ST3.
2000 Honda CBR 600 F4 with make-shift luggage
I had 13,000 miles on my F4 when I sold it in March of 2002. I bought the bike brand new in March of 2000 to replace the GS500. The day I sold the F4, I went to pick up the F4i. There was nothing wrong with the F4, it was a great bike, but it had one thing that didn’t fit me, the seat. The F4 had a very wide seat, so it was hard for me to reach the ground. I lowered the bike significantly to be able to ride it. But after lowering it, I had clearance issues, the bike would bottom out and scrape on railroad tracks and bumps. The F4i has a narrow seat, so I didn’t have to lower the bike as much.
I caught the sport-touring bug on the F4. In 2001 I towed the bike to Pennsylvania for a bike meet and realized that twisty roads were a lot of fun. There was no twisty roads near Chicago, so I rode the F4 to Kentucky for 4 days. Then a few weeks later to Minnesota. I was hooked. I now wanted to travel on the bike, I wanted to see this whole country.
All geared up on my F4 in 2001
I had my F4 for two years, but the first year I didn’t ride it very much, I only managed to put on about 1500 miles.
The second year I put on 11,500 miles. I rode the bike to work, and rode it after work. I rode it on the weekends, and did a few small trips with it. I went from not wearing much gear early in 2000, to getting some gear by the end of 2000, then getting better gear in 2001 when I really started to ride more.
Spring 2001, my first real motorcycle jacket
In 2000 before getting real motorcycle gear
1998 Suzuki GS500
I had 2,400 miles on my GS500 when I traded it in on the F4 in March of 2000. I bought the bike brand new in July 1999 after not riding a bike for approximately 7 years. Unfortunately in the 7 years I forgot how to ride. The first month was the most difficult. I dropped my bike a couple of times and questioned if I should even continue to ride. But I kept riding and by the time fall came, I felt confident and wanted to move up to a bigger bike.
Although a good starter bike, I never really liked the GS500, so once I got my riding skills back I wanted to get another bike, a sportbike. Looking back, I’m glad I started on the GS500, sure, I could have started on the F4 and been OK, but the GS500 gave me a lot of confidence in a short amount of time. The truth is, my F4 was easier to ride than my 500GS, but it would have been a lot more expensive if I dropped it. Starting on a naked bike is best.
1982 Suzuki GN125
May 1992 I bought my first motorcycle, a GN125. I’ve wanted to ride a motorcycle since I was 17 years old, but for many years it was just a dream. For some reason I never thought I’d be able to ride a motorcycle, so I never pursued it.
In 1992 I found an ad in the newspaper for used motorcycle for $300 and I bought it. I didn’t know anyone that rode, so I was going to teach myself how to ride. I also didn’t know about the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. I figured the bike was cheap, so if I couldn’t ride it, I’d sell it.
I had the guy selling it ride it home for me, since I couldn’t ride it. I read the manual cover to cover and the same day I started riding it. I rode the alleys and side streets for two weeks and finally got enough courage to venture on to the main roads. I rode the bike until fall. Not having a garage, the bike stayed outside in the parking lot all winter. The bike didn’t run very well to start with, the following Spring it ran even worst and I got rid of it. I was hoping to get a newer bike, but with school, work and lack of money, it took 7 years for that to happen.