I don’t know when, but sooner or later, the Sporty’s gone. I don’t hate it, of course. I still ride it every day. And I’m gonna keep on riding it. But, she’s on her way out. Whenever I can, i.e., as soon as it makes financial sense to do so I’m getting rid of her.
Because lately, when I crack the throttle open all the way, I’ve started thinking, “Really? That’s it?” When I hit the curves, I think, “If I could lean just a little more, I could attack this curve even faster…”
I find myself walking into other motorcycle dealers, and looking at the Honda ST1300, the Yamaha FJR1300, the Kawasaki Concours14, and the BMW K1200GT. I’m not even looking at cruisers. And yet, when I walked into the Honda dealership to look at the ST1300–which they really wanted to sell me–I just couldn’t pull the trigger.
I’m the first guy to defend anyone’s right to buy a UJM bike, if that’s what they want. But I really don’t want to ride one myself.
The trouble is, no one makes the bike I want. If I was designing the perfect bike for me, it would have the following items:
1. Good performance, By which I mean loads of torque, great acceleration, good ground clearance and lean angle for cornering, effective–and adjustable suspension, excellent braking.
2. Comfort for a passenger. Chris hates the Sportster, because it just doesn’t give her enough room and the seat isn’t comfortable. I need a bike she can ride for a while in comfort.
3. Full bags, preferably hard ones. because I use the bike for everything, including trips to the grocery store, I have to have capacious luggage capacity.
4. Light weight. Yes, a big bike is more stable on the freeway, but in all other conditions, I really have no interest in lugging around 800 pounds of Road Glide.
5. Weather protection is important, because I ride all year ’round. Cold doesn’t really bother me that much. I have a full suit, so I can ride comfortably in the 30s–as long s I have good enough weather and wind protection to give me a cocoon of calm air in the cockpit. Also, fighting the wind on the freeway is a bit tiring.
6. A frickin’ stereo. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so, if I want to spend less than $18,000 for a motorcycle.
By my counting, I can get more or less 4 out of six of my requirements on most bikes. I can get all 6, but only if I want to pay $22,000 for a BMW R1200RT. I really don’t want to do that, however. Cost of ownership on a BMW is simply outrageous, as is the cost of simply acquiring one.
It comes close to meeting what I’m looking for. Signifigantly better performance than the Sporty. Very comfortable and spacious seating for both rider and pillion. Full bags and heated handgrips are standard. The weight is more than 100 pounds less than the Sportster. That leaves us with two shortcomings. Poor weather protection, and no sound system.
For less than $200, Parabellum, Cal Sci, and Cee Bailey make full-sized windshields for the Ulysses. That would give me weather protection equal to or better than what I have now, when you consider that the Uly also has handguards and heated grips.
The Uly also comes standard with two standard auto 12-volt outlets, one of which is right in the dash, and the other of which is under the seat. With that, and the capacious storage under the seat, I can put together a decent stereo system, install the speakers on the handlebar cross-brace, and plug the amp into the under seat 12-volt outlet. And I can run all the wiring under the faux-tank “airbox” cover.
And, of course, it’s an American bike. I’d prefer that.
I’d really like to test ride one, though, to see if it’s something I really want.
But, as much as I have enjoyed her, I’m thinking that I want to move one from the Sporty. And not to something bigger, heavier, and slower, either.
But it’s extremely hard to find what I want.