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I first started riding back in 1982 when I was in college. Many of the guys I hung out with had cycles, partly because Madison, WI had the most draconian parking policies I'd ever encountered, and it was pretty easy to park a bike under the porch of the apartment building, frat house, etc. My first scooter was, well literally a scooter - a Honda 125cc 2-stroke. Even though it had automatic transmission it was licensed as a motorcycle, and I had to get the motorcycle endorsement. Of course like an idiot I took a girlfriend for a night spin on it the first day, while I still had temporary tags and a temporary license. I got about two miles before I got pulled over by a cop. He must have taken pity on me, 'cause he sent me and my friend home with a warning.

The little Honda scooter took me too and from work and class almost year round. It also took me on some amazing road trips - including a 300 mile round trip to Evanston, Illinois. This was back in the days when the natl. speed limit was 55 - but the top end on the Honda was about 50 on a good day. You don't know what a "white-knuckle" ride is until you try riding a bike like that on I-90 at night, with trucks and buses zooming past you.. just thinking about it today gives me the chills.

After a year or so of the little scooter it was time to move up. I bought a year-old Honda 650 NightHawk. This was an amazing bike - hydraulic adjusted valves and shaft drive. It also had a nifty electronic gear indicator - something I must admit I miss on my V-Rod from time to time. The ease of maintenance and reliability of this bike was something I had a great deal of respect for. I don't remember having to do much on that bike besides replace the odd burned out bulb, change the oil, and buy some new tires.

The NightHawk lasted me through college pretty well. At that time I was somewhat cavalier about helmet use, until one day I got clipped on the ear by a piece of debris thrown up by a truck as I pulled onto the freeway. The shock almost made me lose control of the bike. I've never ridden on public roads without a helmet since.

After graduating the cycle was sold, and I went through a succession of sports cars; until I got tired of the attention such beasts receive from the local constabulary, and got a black Honda sedan. I did however keep the motorcycle endorsement on my license - it only cost a few dollars and I always thought "you never know.."

About five years ago I started a very challenging period in my life. My stepfather died and I got stuck with managing a struggling manufacturing company, while trying to make sure my mother would have enough money to retire comfortably on. Soaring health insurance costs; seemingly endless product liability lawsuits (Did you know you could be sued for something you didn't even make?); legal battles with huge corporations; and a union that just didn't seem to understand that a company that loses money isn't good for job security; were just some of the things I contended with. Finally in early 2000 I could see that we were headed for another recession in the industrial manufacturing sector. Fortunately we had been approached by another company interested in buying our company. I negotiated the best deal that I could and that was that. I went from being the boss to being the third banana in a dysfunctional sales department; with a boss who had some very strange ideas about acceptable business attire and no ideas whatsoever about selling industrial machinery. On top of this my father, who lived in South Africa and I had seen very little during the preceding 25 years, died of colon cancer. I quit one year after selling the company. I haven't regretted it for one second.

In the meantime I had met a very special lady who had been going through a very unpleasant divorce. She also happens to work for the Motor Company here in Milwaukee (not telling where, or what she does.) After going with her to some of the company events I began to get the urge to ride again. As a Company employee she would have been eligible for a 20% discount on a new bike - but it turned out that there were no new bikes available - and more importantly I wasn't very comfortable with the ethics of riding a bike that legally belonged to someone else. Also, employees can't get the discount on V-Rods and the day I walked into the dealership they just happened to have three of them that had just arrived from a dealer in Texas who couldn't sell them for $7000 over MSRP. (I paid MSRP plus the freight from Texas to Wisconsin - not unreasonable, I thought).

I've put about 1200 miles on the V-Rod in the past month. I was glad to have the 500 mile break-in period as an excuse to reacquaint myself with riding skills that had become somewhat rusty. I also have made a pact with myself about safety - no alcohol and riding, no riding without protective gear, and a commitment to build my skills one challenge at a time.

Owning and riding the V-Rod has been incredible. Every time I stop for gas, or park it outside a restaurant I get asked about the bike. No vehicle I've ever owned or driven in has inspired the sort of enthusiastic response from such a wide variety of folks. Porsches and Ferraris may be fancy cars, but I suspect that their owners are often viewed with envy that borders on resentment. The V-Rod is an attainable luxury for most working guys. One group that has been less than enthusiastic is the traditional Harley rider. Maybe it is the water-cooled engine. Maybe its me - I've gotten some cracks about wearing a helmet, jacket and gloves in 90 degree temperatures. Of course, five minutes after hearing these remarks I noticed these guys consoling a buddy who had nasty-looking road rash. He'd dumped his bike in a corner, wearing shorts and a t-shirt; and was off to check on his ladyfriend who was in the hospital. I'll ride my own ride, thanks very much.

On the road the V-Rod is everything I could ask for. There is torque aplenty if you know where to look for it (i.e. north of about 4500 rpm); but if you keep the revs down it is easy for a learning rider to control. Passing in any gear is as easy as a little wrist flick and you're gone. Braking seems sure footed and smooth. The bike also leans nicely in corners, although I doubt I've gotten close to scraping my pegs yet.

The V-Rod ain't perfect: in addition to a virtually useless passenger pillion and total lack of stock storage space, I find myself back at the gas pump every 100 miles. The pump tells me I've got a gallon and a half left in the tank, but I'm not prepared to push that limit either. The polished disc wheels look fantastic, but they also are kinda squirrely in crosswinds. And a windshield is pretty much mandatory if you are going to be doing much sustained riding above 60 mph or so.

Sorry for the long story - but its mine and I'm sticking to it.

· Registered
555 Posts
That was some good reading, I rather enjoyed myself Ole' Boy, Chip-Chip Cherrio and away we go.
Your story makes me think about some of my 125 cc two stroke bikes I had when I was growing up. I remember a trip I made on one of the from San Antonio, TX to Langley, OK It's funny thinking about that stuff now, buzzing along out there on the highway with a huge pack on that little bike.
Thanks for sharing this good story and welcome. I've enjoyed reading all your posts "so far". HA!

· Registered
529 Posts
Welcome to the board sounds like things are starting to look up for you after a few rough times in your life and I sure hope you enjoy your V-Rod they are a lot of fun. You may also want to consider a basic riders course, it's a great course and may help kick a few cob web off any forgotten riding skills you haven't practiced yet. Good luck and enjoy glad to have another V-Rod with us.
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