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My Self-Imposed Exile From Motorcycle Ownership Lasted Just 27 Days...

When I decided to sell my '04 V-Rod I had conceded that my days riding motorcycles, which had begun in 1972, had finally come to an end. I'm 65 years old and with a little push from my wife, I rationalized it was time...

On July 10th I thought I sold my last motorcycle, but as soon as the guy drove away with my gorgeous bike tied down to his U-Haul trailer, I felt a deep sadness, a void, one that was not only about motorcycles but more about facing my own mortality. It made me wonder what was next, a cane or a walker? Would I soon start drooling involuntarily?

In the days that followed, I found myself searching Craigslist and fantasizing about buying another motorcycle. I looked at cruisers, sportbikes, even dirt bikes, testing my willpower, which I immediately realized was pretty non-existent, at least when it comes to motorcycles…

This is the 2004 Ninja 500R I sold after I bought a new '09 Suzuki M50 Boulevard. The Ninja handled incredibly well and with close to 60 horsepower and weighing in at only 388 lbs. dry, it was quick and had a top speed of 118+ mph…

The first bike that caught my eye was a 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 500R, a model I had previously owned. The owner had ridden very little and priced it like it was a brand new bike at $4,295. I emailed back 'n forth with him, trying to convince him that although it only had 2,500 miles on it, it was still 15 years old and the tires he boasted about in his description as being "like new", would have to be replaced because they were old tires and potentially unsafe. He fired back, "There's an ass for every seat! I don't need the money!" I wasn't about to be an ass and he did need the money or he wouldn't have been trying to sell it. After our conversation, he lowered his asking price to $3,995 and then to $3,795, but in my opinion, the bike might've been worth $3,295, tops. I moved on…

I continued searching while my wife walked behind my PC and repeated, "You're not buying another motorcycle-" I'm not sure women understand that when they tell you not to do doing something, you immediately want to do it even more…

This Craigslist photo caught my eye…

I decided that IF I was going to buy another motorcycle I wouldn't buy a model I had previously owned, I needed something totally different. Then I saw a 2011 Triumph Speedmaster with low miles… It looked pristine so I messaged the owner. After some back 'n forth I made a lowball offer to test the waters and the seller responded kindly, "Wait till you come to see it. It's like a brand new motorcycle". I agreed and we set up a time. Before my wife left for work on the day we scheduled, I dropped that I was going to look at a motorcycle. She shook her head side-to-side, put on a wry smile, and left without saying a word… 

I went old-school and decided to MapQuest the directions instead of using my GPS. I drove to Glocester, RI which is less than 40 minutes away. The final part of the trip included a dirt road and a narrow causeway, but it seemed simple enough. I got there without a problem.

It was love at first sight… The Cranberry Red paint is gorgeous!

The seller was retired, his house was right on a lake, and he had a couple of boats, his passion. The bike was parked on his lawn in front of his detached garage. It looked great, just like it did in the Craigslist photo. After we talked the seller suggested I take it for a ride, which surprised me, a lot of private sellers won't let you take the bike for a test ride. I once saw a Sportster on the National Powersports website and my wife and I drove to Pembroke, New Hampshire to buy it. The deal was you complete the paperwork, pay for the motorcycle, then ride it. If you don't like it, they'll rip up the paperwork and refund the money. On the ride home, I wasn't sure if I wanted it and just before I went through the toll booth and entered Massachusetts I motioned to my wife to pull over. I told her I didn't like the bike and I was bringing it back. She was shocked. I called my salesperson and when I got there he had everything ready for the return. It only took a few minutes. He said they didn't want to pay the expensive insurance fees to allow test rides and that very few people return motorcycles they've purchased. I was one of the few. 

Mom's in Foxboro lets you test ride any motorcycle as long as you have a current motorcycle license. One afternoon I test-rode four motorcycles, completing an 18-mile loop on each ride. I did not buy a motorcycle from them. When I sold the V-Rod I only let the buyer take it for a spin around the cul-de-sac after he handed me the cash and took ownership of the bike, understanding there were no refunds.

I brought my helmet and gloves with me to Glocester and although I wasn't crazy about taking the Triumph on a soft dirt road and across a narrow causeway, I did it. Once I carefully navigated through the dirt and onto pavement, I felt more comfortable. The bike accelerated nicely, but the steering felt heavy and sluggish. Even taking it through some slight turns was difficult and when I pulled into a side street in Scituate to turn around, it wasn't easy to turn it.

When I got back I told the seller about my experience. He seemed surprised. I told him how many motorcycles I had ridden and that this one handled worse than any of the others. I admitted to liking everything else about it, but that the handling was very important to me. Before I left the owner said he had another guy coming the following day and he wasn't holding the bike for anyone. We shook hands and I thanked him for his time.

On the way home I started thinking about why the bike handled so poorly. All the things I'd read online indicated 2011 Triumph Speedmasters handled great, maybe a little deficient in suspension, but nothing indicated a problem with turning…

Was it seized steering head bearings? Or, was it something as simple as low tire pressure? The following night I texted the owner to see if he had sold the bike, and he hadn't. The guy who came to look at it was tall, 6'2", and felt cramped sitting on it. Realizing the bike was still available, I asked him when he last checked the tire pressure because other than bearings, that was the only other reason the bike would handle so poorly. I check tire pressure before every ride and I should've brought my Milwaukee mini cordless compressor with me for the test ride, but I didn't. He said he'd check and get back to me…

He texted me back early the next morning to say he was embarrassed to admit the pressure in both tires was only at 20 psi… He said he filled them to factory specs and even parked, there was a very noticeable difference turning the front wheel. He thanked me for the catch… I knew the problem was solved and so I made the same offer I originally made. He upped it $100, which was more than reasonable, and I told him I'd be over Friday morning with the cash. I had just bought my tenth motorcycle and maybe because it was half the price of the one I just sold, my wife was perfectly okay with it, no arguments.

Weighing in at 550 lbs., with an 865 cc fuel-injected parallel-twin engine that produces 61 horsepower, and an 8,000 RPM redline, it cruised at highway speeds without any problems and no vibration at idle or at speed.

Early Friday morning on August 6th, just 27 days after I thought I sold my last motorcycle, my wife drove me to Glocester, took the spare parts that were included in the sale, and after I paid, had my old plate mounted, title and bill of sale in hand, I drove the Speedmaster 35 miles home. It rode incredibly well. I love it. It was every bit as comfortable as my '09 M50 Boulevard, as sexy as my '08 1200 Sportster, and down low, it accelerated not too unlike my '04 V-Rod. I pulled the bike into my shed and parked it where I had parked all my other bikes, and then left early Saturday afternoon for a week-long family vacation in Chatham. The vacation was a lot of fun. Dylan, Lexi, and I went to the Cape Cod League Championship where we saw the Brewster Whitecaps defeat the Bourne Braves 10-6, but even a great baseball game couldn't prevent me from thinking about my Triumph. I have long admired Triumphs and now I'm the proud owner of one, but I had to wait a full week before registering it.

The '11 Speedmaster couldn't compete with my '04 V-Rod, which had 115 ponies bone stock, but that's not what I was after. The Speedmaster has a very unique personality and I'm looking forward to discovering it as I start putting on the miles…

When I returned home from vacation, I immediately started filling out the online registration form and I realized I needed the insurance companies stamp in order to complete it. I went with GEICO and the insurance for the year was only $99 and it covers up to $2,000 worth of aftermarket parts. They emailed me a partially completed RMV form with their stamp and signature. Registering it and getting a new MA title is now a little more challenging due to Covid and I did the "drop-off registration" in Taunton on Monday. The clerk handed me a clear plastic license plate sleeve so I could mount the temporary paper license plate on the bike and she told me in seven to ten days I'd receive the metal plate. I received an RMV "payment request" via email that night and made the payment online. The new title fee was $75, the registration was $20, and the sales tax was $218.75. Everything came to $313.75. The RMV should be emailing my temporary paper license plate today or tomorrow. 

Everybody has their preferences. I like K&N, Motul, and Pig Spit works great on the black stuff. And, I'm all in on magnetic drain plugs too… I polish all my chrome and aluminum with Mothers (great stuff!)

Over the next couple of days I'll be performing some basic maintenance, oil, filters, and chain, and I've got some serious detailing to do as well. I've already called my longtime riding buddy Steve, who I began riding with at 16. He's recently retired and more than ready to take a ride to Plymouth and have lunch at CabbyShack!

My regular UPS guy knows me all too well. When he delivered an adjustable wheel chock stand on Tuesday he smiled and asked me like he already knew the answer, "You bought another motorcycle, didn't you?" I told him 27 days in exile was long enough. 

The cane, the walker, and the involuntary drooling have all been put on hold. I'm back!