Decisions have Consequences

In this case, it’s the consequence of financing a motorcycle, with the terrible first-year depreciation that motorcycles have. The NADA Book gives my Sporty a trade-in value of $6,000. I owe 14k. No matter how you cut it, thats bad math for any hope of a trade-in.

There’s a glut of second-hand Sportsters on the market right now. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t care about that, but I went to the local triumph dealer for a look-see at a brand new 2006 Rocket III Classic they have on the floor. because it’s a 2006, they are really motivated to move it.

So, I rode the sporty over and told them that if they could get me a payment at $300 per month or below, and take my Sporty in trade, I’d buy it. Well, they tried. Their first pass, though, came out with a payment $485 per month. That was a no-go, so they went back, slashed another thousand dollars off the Rocket, and offered me $7,000 for my Sportster ($1000 over blue book) and the payment still came out to $404. So, naturally, I declined.

They are willing to go pretty far to get that 2006 Rocket out of their showroom, though.

Still, I’m about $7000 upside down on the loan for my Sporty, so it’s pretty much a no-go on any sort of trade-in. However…

Next month, I’ll have about $3,000 in cash I could put into the deal. If that 2006 R3 Custom is still there at the end of October, I may try to run those numbers again, and, when they get to th lowest payment they can, I’ll ask what the numbers will be if I drop another three grand in cash on the deal. That might ed up being a nice monthly number.

If that 2006 is still there, of course.

Jumping to the Dark Side

A lot of people are Harley enthusiasts. They wouldn’t cross the street to spit on a Japanese bike. Whatever else you may think of the MoCo, they certainly inspire customer loyalty. I like ’em myself, which is why I bought one.

I’ve been thinking about getting a Road King, maybe next year, when I’ve paid down the sporty enough so that I won’t take a bath on the trade in. I was all set for it, expecting to ride my Sportster daily for the next 6 months, then trade her in for a Road King. I was looking forward to it. Even had a big pic of a Road King on my computer desktop.

Until I sat on one of these.

This is the Triumph Rocket III Classic Tourer. It weighs 40 pounds less than a Road King. It has 140 horsepower compared to the Road King’s 65. And I love the art deco styling way better.

It certainly looks like a beast, and, guess, if you punch it, it really is, with an 11-second quarter mile at 118 MPH, and a 0-60 speed of about 2 seconds.

Now, in the general scheme of things, I’m not all that interested in using that rocket-like performance. I’m just not a speed demon. But it certainly has all the horses you’d ever want, which would come in handy in passing situations, and riding two up won’t affect the performance at all.

The thing is, it’s really well balanced. I could pick it up off the kickstand in the showroom without even using my hands, and simply nudging it with my left leg. It’s heavy, but very well balanced. And I can still flat-foot it when it comes up. Oh, and it costs about $1400 less than a Road King.

And, there’s a few things that are starting to irritate me about the MoCo. If Triumph can produce a touring/monster bike like this for hundreds of dollars less, why can’t the MoCo? well, actually that answer’s easy. The MoCo doesn’t want to.

I was reading an article earlier this week about how Harley is taking a hit because sales are slumping. when asked why Harley wouldn’t consider some price cuts or incentives to help stimulate demand, the exec replied that the company wanted to be really careful about “protecting the brand”. That’s the kind of attitude–though I understand it–that can protect the brand right into Chapter 11.

Friday, I decided to get a bandanna or two to wear under my half helmet, and soak up the sweat, so my helmet doesn’t get all funky. Bandannas at the local dealer’s boutique: $15.99. Bandannas at Big 5 Sporting goods: $2.49. I bought four of them at Big 5.

There is, of course, an argument–a fantastically good one, in fact–for selling products at whatever price the market will bear. At least, until people stop paying all that extra money just to display the Bar and Shield.

And, frankly, I am bothered by the number of mechanical problems that Harley’s seem to have. For instance, my bike sprang an oil leak at 2400 miles. When I pay more than ten grand for a product, I’d at least like to go a few months before dropping it off for repairs. And when I look through the Harley forums, I sure do see a lot of people asking about problems on their relatively new bikes.

It seems to me that if you want to charge a premium price for the brand, it should be accompanied by premium quality.

So, next year, instead of a HOG, I might just end up being a Rat.

My "Girl’s Bike"

I don’t think the Sportster is a “beginner’s bike”. In fact, I don’t think any Harley is a beginner’s bike. They’re all too heavy, for one thing. Even the Sportster weighing in the neighborhood of 580 pounds is a pretty hefty bike. A beginner will certainly drop it in situations where they could hold up a Rebel.

The Sportster has the additional level of difficulty in being top-heavy. My chick can pick up a Glide off the kickstand, but she can’t budge an 883. She even finds balancing it a bit scary, because it becomes too heavy to hold up at a much narrower angle.

I think the reason behind the bigger bike/chick’s bike deal is purely because the sporty has the smallest engine in the Harley line. I think people just assume that the smaller engine means its easier to ride. I don’t think that’s true, because I think the weight distribution actually makes the big twins easier to ride and handle, especially at slow speeds, despite being significantly lighter. I don’t have any peer-reviewed evidence to support it, but I also assume that the bigger, heavier tires of the big twins also impart gyroscopic stability at a lower speed than the Sporty’s does.

I just think there are a lot of people who equate size with “manliness”–whatever that is–and see 96 cubic inches, and don’t think any further.

Back in the saddle!

I finally got my Bike back today. They even washed ‘er up for me. And, since they fixed the bent tail-light post, she looks as good as new. The problem with the oil leak went farther than the oil pump, however. They had to replace several hoses, clamps, and O-rings to stop the leaking.

But it was great to ride for an hour bringing the bike home. tomorrow, the truck stays parked!

Still No Bike

Yeah, it’s still in the shop.

On Friday, they replaced the oil pump, then ran the engine for a while, and set it on some cardboard to be sure it didn’t leak. Unfortunately it was still leaking. So they had to crack her open again, and this time found a seal that had to be replaced.

But, of course, they didn’t have a replacement part in stock.

So, I’m still on hold, waiting for the bike to get fixed.

I’m missing out on some really great riding weather.

No Bike

For a couple of days, it’s back to the truck for me. I noticed the bike had developed an oil leak, So I called to see if I could get it into the shop.

Biggs Harley couldn’t schedule an appointment for me until 12 September. I called San Diego Harley, and they told me they just had a cancellation, so I could bring my bike in today.

As it turns out, it was the oil pump. So, hopefully, if they have one in stock, they can fix it, and I can pick it up tomorrow night.

Ride Like a Pro DVD

I got the Ride Like a Pro IV DVD a few days ago, and watched it that evening. It’s a pretty good instructional DVD.

First, though, a negative point. Cops are not funny. If they were, we’d pay them to make us laugh. That isn’t what we pay them to do, though. We pay comedians to do that. So, I could do without the lame attempts at humor. I’m sure Jerry “Motorman” Paladino provokes howls of laughter from his fellow deputies in the squad room, but on DVD, for the rest of us…not so much.

The other thing I’m sure of is that he certainly has the techniques down for controlling your motorcycle through slow speed maneuvering. He goes through each of the exercises, demonstrates them, then shows both experienced and new riders doing the exercises. They are also shown from a variety of angles, in regular and slow motion, and even from the rider’s point of view via a head cam.

I’ve been practicing the techniques on the road, and I’ve overcome my fear of maneuvering the bike at slow speeds, turning, maneuvering through parking lots, etc.

The techniques are just amazingly helpful, and make you feel like you really do have much better control of your scoot.

If you really want a challenge, the DVD also includes all the exercises contained in the Florida Motorcycle Patrol officer’s course, too. Although, Motorman warns you quite strongly that it will take at least 8 hours of solid practice to do them without error, and that you will drop your bike a few times when you do them. Also, at least one of them will injure or kill you if you screw it up.

One of the things about the exercises is that you really need cones to mark out the paths. I went to Big 5 Sporting Goods, and picked up these Nike soccer cones. They’re made of soft PVC, and are about 8 inches wide and about 3 inches tall. They look like little, round, hollow pyramids with a hole on top. The great thing about them is that they’re very visible, and are designed for doing agility drills with your feet without turning your ankle if you step on them, so if you run over them, they simply flatten out, and pop back up. They’re perfect, and they only cost $10 for a set of ten cones.

I highly recommend the DVD. Also, if you live in the LA area, they do RLAP classes in Los Angeles, so for those of us who live all the way across the country from Florida, we have a chance to actually take the RLAP course, too.

Turn, Turn, Turn

Well, it’s been nine days since I made an entry, here, thanks to the press of other business. I suppose I should catch everyone up.

After dropping the bike, then having to wait a few days to heal up a bit before getting back on, I found that I was building up a real fear of turning. Not all turns, you understand. Just turns to the left. (That was the side I fell on week before last.) It was getting to the point where I was refusing turns, and going straight, or going so wide I had to stop the bike before hitting the curb.

Then, three days ago, at the left turn right in front of my house, I was going really wide, hit the brakes, and low-sided. The bike scraped along the ground for about a foot. It scratched up the crash bar-noticeably this time, scratched up the left edge of the windshield, and bent the pylon and bullet housing for the left turn signal.

100 feet in front of my house, and I wrecked. I picked up the bike, and rode it to work anyway. Then at the next left turn, I went wide again, but this time I stopped the bike, and walked it through the the turn.

OK. It’s clear that I’m just psyching myself out. I’ve become gun-shy of turns. I’m refusing turns I’ve been making a couple of times a day for over a month!

That can’t stand. I have a brand new bike. I certainly can’t stop riding it and paying for a bike I’m afraid to ride.

Well, one of the commenters to a previous post advised me to get the Ride Like a Pro DVD. He said it contains a wealth of information about slow-speed, tight maneuvering, and lots of exercises and techniques to use. So I ordered it, and it should be here in a day or so.

Meanwhile, at the website, there’s a brief exercise guide you can download. That guide gives you the basics of making slow, tight turns using the friction point of the clutch, throttle, and rear brake in conjunction to retain control. It’s a very brief explanation, but at least it was something I could try.

I downloaded it during lunch yesterday, an read it. After work, before I went home, I went to this parking area on base that’s always empty. And started to practice. There’s a small building in the parking lot that actually has traffic lanes painted around it. So, for a half hour, I drove around that little building, first going to he left, then to the right, practicing the one technique the exercise guide has in it, making turns over and over again.

On the way home, I practiced some more. Then, instead of gaing home, I went to this new subdivision they are building a few blocks from my house. There aren’t any houses yet, but all the roads have been put in and finished. for another 40 minutes, I went around and around the block–again, both ways, so I could turn each direction–and to make each direction change, went into a cul-de-sac to make a U-turn to change directions, again, U-turning to a different side each time.

Today, during lunch, I went back to parking lot, and spent the entire lunch hour driving around the building, turning, turning, turning, never going faster than 15 miles per hour. I just used the friction point to control the power to the rear wheels, and feathered the rear brake.

Driving home today was just 1000% more comfortable. I hit all the turns–even gong through a residential section instead of my regular route, simply because I knew there were some tight turns there on narrow roads.

I hit all the turns just fine, and felt way, way more comfortable.

Now, I don’t know what else is on that 2-hour DVD. But, I can say that just exercising for an hour and a half on this one technique has pretty much stopped me from psyching myself out about turns. If the rest of the techniques are as useful, then this DVD may be one the best expenditures of thirty bucks I have ever made. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing again at lunch tomorrow.

None of this stuff, by the way, was covered in the MSF basic course, although I am reliably told by a friend who’s been through it that the Advanced Course teaches this technique, among others.

I wish I had known this technique a month ago. It probably would’ve saved me some grief–and pain.

I expect I’ll review the DVD when I’m one watching it, and poviding further riding reports based on my experience with it.

Back in the Saddle!

My arm felt well enough to ride the bike today. It still twinges a little bit when I twist my wrist in a certain way, but other than that, I can grip the clutch level with no problem, and steer the bike properly. It felt great to take the bike instead of the truck.

Anyway, I’m on the mend, and riding again, so all is well with the world.

Dropped It

Well, I guess it had to happen sometime. I dropped the bike, and sprained my wrist in the process.

I was in a parking lot–again–and was turning into a parking space at a very slow speed. Too slow, i guess, because, without any warning, the bike just low-sided me. My arm got caught under me when I went down, and twisted my wrist.

Although I didn’t really know it yet. I picked the bike up, and went over it for damage. As slow as I was going, there wasn’t much. The crash guard got slightly scratched, as did the tip of the clutch lever. The clutch lever got bent slightly, too, but I was able to fix that. The rear turn signal cover popped off, but didn’t break.

On the way home, my wrist started to get a bit sore. By the end of the night last night, I had an ace bandage on it. This morning, I was in a lot more pain, and my wrist was stiff and swollen. So I had to get a wrist brace and an Icy Hot sleeve to wear under it.

I guess I won’t be riding for a few days.

The lesson I learned–and should’ve learned after the last incident, was simply to not try and do really low speed turns. Stop the bike and walk it into parking slots. It’s a top-heavy bike, and at walking speed, it’s safer to walk it, not try and turn it sharply.

Dang, my wrist hurts.

1000 Miles

Actually, it’s 1,124 miles. This weekend, I took the bike in for it’s 1,000-mile service. It only took me 20 days to rack up those miles, even though I’ve really only taken the bike to work and back. Putting those miles on the bike, by the way, only cost about $80. In the same amount of time driving the truck, that would’ve cost me over $200.

But, let’s not get all giddy over the cost savings just yet. As it happens, my 1,000 mile service cost me $275. So, that’s pretty much what it would have cost me to drive both the bike and the truck to work over the last 20 days.

Fortunately, my next service is due at 5,000 miles, so, hopefully, the cost savings will now begin to kick in.

Except for Wednesday. They’re forecasting scattered thundershowers that day, so I’ll be driving the truck in for that. Since it hasn’t really rained here since January, I suspect that rain will make the roads extremely slippery that day. So, better safe than sorry.