The hunt for a new machine
Thursday, 2005/04/21 - Tuesday, 2005/04/26
Well, new to me. After deciding I shouldn't go too big, or too new (in case I drop it I don't want to trash its resale value too hard, so I should buy a well-used bike, though perhaps not a crummy one), I got a copy of a month-old CycleTrader from one of my favorite bartenders, and a copy of the Motorcyclist Magazine Buyer's Guide from the grocery store (good timing; maybe they know something about Spring Fever), and because that Nighthawk was such a pig to shift and stalled a lot (stalling before the first curve in my test was what made me angry enough to almost blow the second curve) I decided I didn't want to go there again.
The books were good to familiarize me with the range of bikes available (there are very few standard bikes, and few cruisers between 250 and 750, which were the extreme limits of my desired range) and prices (they're about 50% higher than I was expecting, at every size and vintage). Tons of sportbikes, and plenty of oversized, overpriced custom bikes.
I also had a list of dealers given to us in the goodie-bag at the end of the BRC. These were dealerships that had donated bikes or other things to the program. So I took a day and went around kicking tires and schmoozing salesmen. It didn't take long to whittle the list to what, I later found out (from the TotalMotorcycle website's fair-use embellishment of the Motorcycling Magazing guide, in fact), are widely regarded as some of the best bikes for beginners: The Honda Shadow, the Yamaha Virago, and the Suzuki Savage.
If I were a small woman instead of a big guy, I would absolutely have kept to the 250s. But I felt underpowered on the Nighthawk 250, so I thought something in the 400-600 range would be right. You can't find the 400s that were the staple retail bikes when I was a kid. And very few 500s (though most 600s are actually in the 550-599 range).
Partly because the first bike I actually touched at a dealer was one, I focussed on the several Mid-90s era Honda Shadow 600 (actually 583) models available around town. I learned from the Kawasaki dealer that because of Arizona Bike Week earlier in the month, there was a major shortage of used bikes. Which helped, ironically, because if there'd been a larger selection it would have just taken me longer to choose one. Instead, I made a command decision and plunked my ducats on the bike I feature in my avatar (and here
, and many other photos to come, I have no doubt).
I like the color, sort of a dark teal blue with black accents, although I liked the Diamondback Purple on one that was at a pawn shop on Scottsdale Road a lot better; but they wanted an extra $1k for a bike with 2.5 times the miles and major cosmetic damage including deep turn-scrapes on the pipes and what appeared to be stilleto heel marks on the pillion... probably owned by some skanky biker-chick who liked to show off by standing on her seat...
The only delay was for the helmet shop
to get in the lid I ordered (an HFC AC-3 three-quarter hat with a face shield instead of a visor), but they weren't open Sunday or Monday, and by the time I got there I'd changed my mind and wanted black instead of pearl, because it'd go better with the bike. I bought a couple of spare face-shields as well; they're easy to clip in and out, and only about $18 each. That will save a day when one breaks or gets too scratched-up to salvage.
I paid $2400 ($2750 with tax, registration, etc.) for a '93 Honda VT600C Shadow VLX (review
) with 17K miles and only minor cosmetic flaws (a thumb-sized dent in the tank; a burned hollow on a hidden part of one sidepanel that had apparently come loose and lain on an exhaust pipe for quite a while on some ride; a scratched spot on the right-front corner of the fender, and scratching on the end of the same-side handbrake, both indicating that the bike had been dropped at least once; moderate longitudinal scratching on the lower exhaust pipe, clearly due to sharp cornering; and the obligatory scrapes on the ends of the footpegs...) Clearly it was garage-kept and maintained by someone who gave at least as much of a damn as I would have.
Admit it, you're envious. Hell, I'm envious right now because I'm keyboard guy instead of shiny cruiser guy, until they deliver it.