Surprise, Surprise

As the saying goes, “Well, that escalated quickly.” I bought another motorcycle last weekend.

I’ve been casually browsing the local selection of V-Strom 650s. There haven’t been many, but one at RideNow Powersports in Surprise, Arizona caught my eye. It was a 2011, new enough to have all the features I wanted (fuel injection, anti-lock brakes, etc.) but old enough to have depreciated significantly since it was sold new. It had just 7,391 miles on it. It was worth taking a road trip out there to see it for myself. If it was as good as it seemed, this might just be my next bike.

Everything was, in fact, as good as it seemed. The bike is in excellent condition. It’s mostly original, the only additions being a set of SW Motech crash bars, a Givi tank bag, a throttle lock (basically cruise control), and a set of new-looking street tires. This was the one. I spent the afternoon wheeling and dealing. In the end, we came to a deal we were all happy with. I bought the bike, loaded it up in my trailer (I’d left my KLR with a friend since two bikes will no longer fit inside), and drove back to Quartzsite.

So what about the KLR? It’s going up for sale. It’s served me well and has plenty of life left for a future owner. I’ve gotten what I need from it, and it’s time to move it forward. I spent a bit of time yesterday removing anything I want to keep, like the GPS mount and my DoubleTake mirrors. I also drilled a couple of new holes in my top trunk and bolted it to the V-Strom’s rear rack. This gives me a bit more storage, and just as importantly I get to keep my sticker collection.

Perhaps most importantly, Lister approves of the new ride. He was a little bit hesitant at first, but soon he realized that it was the same color as him, and he can perch nicely on the V-Strom’s contoured seat, rather than the flat one of the KLR. And, of course, he can stand on top of the trunk for even more height when he wants to. It’s good that he accepts this new bike, even if he doesn’t ride it. I don’t think the dealer would let me return it because the cat doesn’t like it.

It already has a name: Vader. If you squint hard enough, the front fairing, headlights, and windshield vaguely resemble Darth Vader’s helmet. It’s black. And even with the stock exhaust, it has an evil rumble, which sure beats the KLR’s lawn mower sound.

I took an extended test ride on Vader yesterday. I rode up to Parker, then crossed over to Earp, California to visit Amy, who’d camped with us in Quartzsite for a few weeks. She’s doing well, and is about to start at least one job in Parker, if not more. She went where the opportunities were, and made them work. I’m happy for her, even if I don’t get to see much of her or Chase, her Pomeranian service dog, anymore.

After that, I rode along the California side of the Colorado River up to Parker Dam. Finally, I got to lean the V-Strom into some turns, and I was not disappointed. It’s not as sporty as my friend’s SV650 I once spent a day tearing up western Massachusetts on, but it has the same engine and is plenty sporty for me. Finally, I have a vehicle that could actually be considered fast.

I crossed Parker Dam, then rode back into Parker for gas and a couple of groceries that I can’t get in Quartzsite. Then I beelined it back to camp before my frozen food unfroze, and before the sun went down and I froze. I made it back with no problem.

What’s next? I’ve already ordered an SW Motech engine guard. There’s zero protection down there, and the exhaust, oil cooler, and oil filter are exposed, vulnerable to any rocks the front wheel might kick up. While I have no plans to bash it up the way I abused the one on my KLR (which suffered no damage whatsoever), I’d at least like to protect those exposed components from flying rocks.

Beyond that, I’d like to add some soft saddlebags at some point. I may upgrade the lighting to LED, and add some driving lights at some point. The tank bag and top trunk are enough for most of my needs, but now that I can make a quick grocery run to Parker, I’d like to carry a bit more than I can right now. But I’m not doing any serious touring, either, so I don’t need a pair of enormous hard cases, either. I’d rather be a bit narrower for the forest service roads, or for lane-splitting LA traffic (or even in Arizona, since filtering is now legal here).

The only major item I’d like to change eventually is the tires. It does not have its original ones, which is good since the bike is 11 years old. But the Pirellis it has right now are strictly street tires. It makes sense, as this bike is clearly set up for the road rather than dirt. They have a lot of life left, so I imagine I’ll enjoy many miles of street riding this winter before replacing them with a more dirt-capable street tire, like the Shinko 705s I ran on my KLR before. That and the engine guard are pretty much all I need for the kind of riding I want to do.

But for now, I’m enjoying it as-is. There’s a lot to enjoy about this bike.

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