When is it Time for a Different Motorcycle?

If it hasn’t been overly obvious, I am absolutely slammed at the office and at home right now.MotoADVR_TriumphSpeedmasterLola I’ve unfortunately not been able to spend nearly enough time “adventuring” as I would normally. Along with that, I also suspect that the time has come that my trusty Speedmaster (Lola) and I part ways. Under different circumstances, I would probably keep her, but as I’ve mentioned, I have a one horse stable at the moment, so any inkling to keep the Speedmaster simply gets trumped by lack of real estate.

 

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That said, at what point does a rider make the decision to switch? I find myself as somewhat of a non-traditional motorcyclist (in so many ways…), I didn’t start riding until I was almost 30, never rode a dirt bike, and I also started out on a 150 cc scooter so my first motorcycle was technically a 900 cc two-cylinder. I won’t say that “most riders” start out on 250 cc bikes, but I’m sure a fair number do. Similar to the scooter, I imagine most folks are ready to jump ship off their “learner” bike in about a year. My non-traditional story includes the caveat that my scooter couldn’t do freeway speeds, so my riding habits were severely limited by capability. That considered, moving to a manageable 900 cc bike was a no-brainer at the time, considering I spent two years (and about 3,000 miles) on my first ride. I guess the first to second bike transition is pretty cut and dry (for many), but what about “the next bike”?

 

Undoubtedly, many prospective buyers probably make the switch when financially prudent, especially in the U.S. considering that motorcycles are viewed as toys. The financial side is obviously a private ordeal, but that topic also spurs the whole “new vs. used” argument. Similar to deciding what and when, new bikes vs. used bikes is heavily debated.MotoADVR_TriumphScramblerNew Some folks just love the “new car” smell, while others are frugal and recognize the premium you pay for a “new” motorcycle and its warranty. Without getting into a dissertation about “opportunity cost”, I see pros and cons to each, so it’s really about what you’re shopping for. In my case, I have somewhat a “niche” taste; which means that sometimes new and used prices aren’t that far apart, so paying a bit extra to avoid inheriting someone else’s “problems” has value. At the same time, purchasing used typically means you’ll have more cash in your wallet to spend on all the fancy farkles you may want. As it stands right now, both offers are on the table, but that means doing a lot of homework, potentially traveling to buy a bike, dealing with out of state titles, and in all likelihood, some haggling.

 
When the time is right (and there’s cash burning a hole in your pocket), are you “upgrading” to a “bigger” bike? If someone told me that they love riding motorcycles, but didn’t really enjoy the “power” I would be stunned. “Power” is not everything, it’s not hard to ride beyond your ability on a 600 cc 4-cylinder, but there’s no denying I love the feeling of being pushed back in the saddle when I roll on the throttle.IndianChief I However, assume I’m getting old, I don’t lust after a liter bike or a big bore “Bagger”; in my case I assume I’ll either be in jail riding a Panigale (if not dead), and just don’t feel the allure of the big bore V-twins (there’s a lot more to that, maybe I’ll explain some other time). At an rate, in recent days I’ve been asked if I plan on “upgrading”; I’ve told most people that I’m “transitioning” to a different kind of bike, not necessarily “upgrading”. Again, this may be an American thing (is bigger really better?), but it seems to be a given folks get larger bikes as they gain experience.

 

MotoADVR_HarleyMiniBikeAt some point, do you just get bored with your current ride? I’ve been debating another motorcycle for probably the past year. I can think of many reasons why “it’s time”, but initially I didn’t consider “boredom” a reason. I suppose that after putting thousands upon thousands of miles on a bike, you feel as though you’ve mastered it. That’s probably why you sold the first bike right? Writing this, thinking about it just now, yeah, boredom probably does play a small role. I do however, have a healthy fear of the “grass is always greener” effect, so I like to think that boredom alone is not a prudent reason to buy a new bike, but I have a strange feeling it happens every day.

 
Do you ever just see a bike you “have to have”? Passion is, without fail, a concept that motorcyclists understand. I don’t think that, at least in first world countries, riders would be riders if not for passion.MotoADVR_ThruxtonRright What sane individual would forego safety for the open-air thrill of riding an internal combustion engine with wheels? Despite all other logical reasons to switch bikes (or purchase another), at some point a given machine speaks to your soul. Like a true engineer, I even plotted out a pro-con matrix on the back of a napkin for what bike I really need. Over some beers my buddy Jeff, we considered maintenance, brakes, performance, and he says, “don’t forget a category for soul”, and “that category will probably carry the most weight”. The engineer in my head says that’s silly, just buy a motorcycle like you would buy a tool, every bike has a job. Easier said than done; meanwhile I’m plagued with the fear that  sometimes “wanting is better than having”.

 

MotoADVR_TriumphTiger800XCaDo you find that your taste in riding changes over time? “It’s a great bike, you’ve just outgrown it”, I honestly never believed I would hear those words. In the beginning I lusted after the matte black paint and the subtle chrome effects. My wife says the Speedmaster is simply “voluptuous”, I couldn’t agree more. To this day I am undeniably in love with the way my bike looks, I still stare at it parked in the lot. I am not however in love with its lack of ground  clearance and lean angle; therein lies the rub, form and function are almost diametric opposed. What did you learn from selling your first bike and buying your second? Never in a million years would I have imagined putting over twelve-thousand miles on a motorcycle in one year; if it’s your first motorcycle, knowing nothing about your taste, how do you plan for that?

 

I guess in the end, I’m fishing for wisdom from the masses, when is it time to move on? What did you learn from your first (ish) motorcycle? How did that effect what you chose as a replacement? And lastly, do you wish you still had a certain bike?

MotoADVR_SpeedmasterForSale

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15 Responses to When is it Time for a Different Motorcycle?

  1. Steven Davis says:

    Another interesting topic Drew. And one close to my heart at present as I just swapped motorcycles. My Speedmaster is gone and a beautiful matte black Indian Chieftain is in its place. I wish I could have kept both but space is limited to one motorcycle.

    The decision to “transition” to a new bike was tough. I enjoyed riding the Speedmaster as it’s a great sporting cruiser. But considering my commuting and riding is within SC, where the rural roads are largely straight or sweeping curves, sport bike handling takes a back seat to comfort. And the older I get the less I ride “hard”. I wanted conveniences like large locking saddlebags, wind protection, and a stereo. I also want to do longer “touring” rides where the Chieftain excels.

    I’ve never owned such a large, heavy motorcycle so there’s been an adjustment period. After 1,000 miles I’ve gotten more comfortable (and the bike broken in), so the throttle is getting twisted further, the brakes squeezed harder, and the lean angle increasing. I’m (very) slowly beginning to trust the Chieftain like I did the Speedmaster. And the rumble of the Thunderstroke 111 is addictive.

    But different areas and riding styles could lead to diverse decisions. If I lived and rode near the California canyons or the Montana deserts, my choice would likely be much different. Which is why there are so many great motorcycles on the market these days and the purchase decision(s) so difficult.

    Hopefully my switch from Triumph to Indian will not get me booted from the Iron Horse Lodge in September during Triumph Raid. (My reservation is in place.) As long as I wear my Triumph riding jacket maybe no one will notice. Hope to see you then.

    Steve D.
    Summerville, SC

    Liked by 1 person

    • MotoADVR says:

      Thanks for reading Steve! “Where am I right now” is really the question. Mostly proverbial, but definitely the question. Honestly answering that question is the challenge. Regarding the Dragon Raid, there will probably be some teasing, but I think it’s all about riding. If you can ride you can ride. Besides, I love the new Indians, even if they’re not for me right this moment.

      Like

      • Steven Davis says:

        I’m sure I’ll get get an extra dose of ribbing since I plan to trailer the Chieftain to NC. My wife is accompanying me and we’re extending our vacation in the area at Watershed Cabins. The farthest Arlene usually likes to ride on a motorcycle is the local tri-county area (and heaven forbid it rain), so Black Betty will have to be content pulling up the rear as we roll up the interstate. But we’ll look forward to some two-up riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fingers crossed for good weather!

        Liked by 1 person

      • MotoADVR says:

        BRP is my favorite down there. I love the Dragon but tge ride quality on the BRP is much higher. While I’m not a big fan of the trailer, it’s an inevitably for many. If the Minister of War and Finance was joining me for the whole week, trailering would probably be the way I’d be commuting as well. Looking forward to checking out Black Betty. Cheers!

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  2. I went the bigger is better route for my second bike. I started with the Suzuki Boulevard c50 (800cc). After a few years, I started researching. You and I sound like brothers in this aspect! I landed in the C50’s big brother – the C109. Found one used, 3000 miles. It wasn’t the color I wanted, but I jumped. I’m glad I did. I shopped function first. I wanted something that would work on short commutes and longer trips while keeping me comfortable and happy. It has done much more. I’m not sure where I’ll go for the 3rd, or even if there will be a third. I do lust after Indians. Um, the bike, not … you understand. I can’t afford them, but I drop in the dealerships occasionally. Without telling my wife. Until she finds the brochures.
    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MotoADVR says:

      Much appreciated! Glad you found more than you anticipated. I don’t think a new Scout is in my list, but I’ve seen enough new riders put them in the ditch (literally) I can see picking one up cheap from Craigslist someday!

      Like

    • Steven Davis says:

      Good looking bike you’ve got Hillbilly. As a SC Gamecock, I think the garnet color is perfect! I look forward to reading your blog posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ry Austin says:

    It’s funny, Drew, our motorcycling origin stories are remarkably similar: I was 30 when I bought a Vespa GTS250, my first motorbike and first motorbiking experience. My good intention then was to save money kicking around town and commuting. (Ha! So much for that.) Three-and-a-half years and thirteen-and-a-half-thousand miles later, after pushing that scoot to its camping gear-laden and max speed limits, I figured it was time for a change. The step up to an F800GS proved challenging and discouraging initially, but fortunately I’ve grown into it well. Now, three bikes and ten years later I’ve yet to realize any $avings, but—damn—has this pastime / activity / necessity (whatever) enriched my life!

    Regarding some of your statements and questions: Wanting—anticipation—often is the best part, but one must ultimately get some satisfaction 😉 ; abstract nouns such as “soul” tempt us to attempt their definition, but that’s like chasing snowflakes, for they are essentially indefinable, and their meanings vary from perceiver to perceiver; and no, I do not wish I still had the GTS250. That Vespa was a great machine, and it served its purpose, but it would just bore the hell out of me now. (I can, though, envision myself raising ‘round-town hell on a beat up, noisy, smoke-belching vintage two stroke.)

    Your remark about foregoing safety for the open-air thrill of riding an internal combustion engine with wheels reminded me of something I saw a few years back—maybe you’ve seen it too:

    Motorcyclist
    noun, singular (moh-ter-sahy-klist)
    : A person willing to take a container of flammable liquid, place it on top of a hot moving engine and then put the whole lot between their legs

    I look forward to seeing what ride you decide on, Drew. (You know you wanna grab that Tiger by the tale 🙂 .)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ry Austin says:

      *tail
      (sigh and eyeroll)

      Liked by 1 person

    • MotoADVR says:

      Fantastic story Ry, I obviously had no idea our early riding experiences were so similar. My logical mind is greatly ad odds with my love of motorcycles. My mind says a Tiger is the best tool for the job, but my Soul is obsessed with doing more with less and wants to build a Mad Maxian Scrambler to terroize the town and the dirt roads. Great quote by the way… exactly! Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. curvyroads says:

    Lol, when i started reading this post I immediately thought “doesn’t one just NEED that next bike like me?” Then I read the passion part, check. Then I thought back on my experience and it is sort of similar to yours and Ry’s, but longer and higher numbers. 😀
    My hubby and I bought a Honda Helix 250 cc scooter 20 years ago, when I was 37. We rode it together a few months, then I rode it alone a few more months when he got the first of his 5 motorcycles (to this day!). Then I got a 600cc Honda cruiser, then an 800, then a 1500, then a Nomad bagger, then the first of TWO Valerie Interstates (color, ya’ll), then a BMW RT, and finally in 2010 my soul mate (9th) bike, the 1200 GS. I simply needed all those bikes, apparently in that order. LOL!

    My advice, get it because you love it, even if not for a lifetime. And buy used…

    Liked by 2 people

    • MotoADVR says:

      Lynne as always, thanks for reading! Don’t let me fool you I “NEED” a Tiger, my wife is about sick of hearing it from not only me, but pretty much every riding associate I have. It’s been really awesome getting some much feedback from everyone about their own experiences, and if nothing else, reassuring that it’s not just me that reaches the point… it’s just time for a change. Which leads to, good call on “buy used”. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: 8 Things No One Tells You Before You Buy a Motorcycle | Moto Adventurer

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