Thursday, February 12, 2009

'The' post

Background:  Because of an epic, epic tragedy... my mom and dad have two motorcycles parked in their garage for the time being. Last sunday, during Jill's birthday party there, me and my dad went out for a ride on the bikes... around the neighborhood and a little further. I rode a Suzuki Bergman 650 with trike kit, and he was on a HD Softtail. They're selling both for the owner, and were asking if I wanted / would be interested in the Bergman.. which kind of took me by suprise.

 Background to the Background:  I've wanted a bike since, well, birth.. but have never had one. There's always been disagreements as to safety / responsibility  / maturity.. etc, and despite having the financial means to buy one, I've never bit the bullet and done so. 

So now that we've got some background out of the way... Sunday was amazing. It's kind of hard to describe, and if it's not your cup-o-tea.. then you're not going to see eye to eye on it. Some people like to sew, some like to ride cars around the countryside, some like to read books, mountain climb, backpack, ski, boating... I like a world without cages. There's just something ultimately-freeing about riding on a motorcycle / Jet Ski... its just, boundary less.  I think if you've ever heard me drone on about my Sea doo.. or about wanting a motorcycle, or about knowing the specs of all things sea doo / motorcycle, then you'll kind of get the idea that... yes, I do love them. 

 I've never gotten one though. This is primarily due to my family's stance against their safety...Everyone doesn't want to see me get hurt, or worse. And, would I have gotten one previously... I would have essentially ostracized myself from them, or at least partially. It looks like though, with Marriage / Maturity and time that has changed for the most part. Sure, there *are* legitimate safety concerns; I'll be the first to say that they are dangerous... but, I'm not going to do stupid stuff on one. 

 Me and Jill are still talking this over and running it through the mill. We've talked about it several times in the past though, because she knows how much I'd love one... but we've both got some things that we have to talk out about it first though. 

 Speed - Everyone, in the past, has typically thought I'd be a speed freak on one. I've always argued against it, saying I wouldn't be.. but ya know, maybe I would've been, had I gotten on earlier. I've matured a lot in the past year, and have learned a lot... a whole lot. While none of it may have been about a motorcycle or speeding... the maturity still applies. I'm not out to buy the biggest, fastest bike on the road (Read: RXP of Motorcycles)... I don't want a 1400cc Turbo Ninja or 1300cc ‘busa.... I'm not stupid, and I don't have a death wish! 

                The problem comes with "the look" of the motorcycle I want. It's kind of like assault rifles... even if a rifle is a .22, if it 'looks mean' then everyone assumes it's some crazy assault rifle / people killer that needs to get banned. I like the look of Sport bikes... the lines, the frame, the over-the-tank positioning... they just look better than Cruisers and touring bikes to me. I want the bark of a Sport bike, but not the Bite. And I don't want to be an idiot either, and get a 1000cc starting bike, or even a 750cc Super Sport. I want a bike that is a great starter bike and has enough power to not grow out of it too quick, but not be too much to handle… and I don’t want to spend $3,000+ on a bike that I don’t really like, just so I can say that I have one.

                The bike I’m looking at is a Honda CBR F3 or F4i, it’s basically the 4-cylinder of Mustangs… It’s a Sport Bike look, but it’s got the same engine and gear-ratio’s as Honda’s line of cruisers (except 3rd and 4th gear are a little ‘longer’). I’ve read the reviews online, and they’re great starter bikes; they’ve got good low-end torque for starting easy, good throttle response, not too high of top end and not too much power to handle for a beginner. They’ve still got enough power to be a main-stay driver though, and not like a 250 or 500EX where you grow out of it in 6months because of a lack of power.

 Safety -  This is a huge area of concern for both me and Jill. Lets face it, Motorcycle’s are inherently less safe than a car. No ifs, ands or buts… they’re just not as safe, you don’t have a half-ton of metal surrounding you from collisions. Typically, a motorcyclist accident is going to be ‘laying it over’ either at a stop, not negotiating a turn correctly, or avoiding another car; so the biggest opponent is person vs. asphalt, or Road-Rash. If I get a bike, I’m going to invest in really good safety equipment, and wear it every time I’m on the bike. Its 100 degrees outside in the middle of June and I don’t feel like wearing the jacket, pants and gloves because it’s so hot? Tough stuff, don’t ride that day then. It’s my body, so this is my biggest area of concern.  I’m going to buy a Spine / Kidney pad as well, it’s like a belt that wraps around you to protect organs with ‘Snake Plates’ (interconnected metal plates, for movement).

                Road Safety and situational awareness is another thing, and pads don’t really help with that. If I do end up getting one, before driving it I’m going to enroll in the HD Motorcycle Safety Course. It teaches you the basics of learning to drive a motorcycle, how to negotiate dangerous situations, and passing the course grants you your license. Also, because you’ve taken a safety course, it’s a discounted rate for insurance purposes. In defense of Situational awareness and safety, I’ve had only 1 wreck on the road since turning 16, that was about a year ago now, and it was due to someone coming into my lane… I’ve been fairly safe, driving-wise… and I don’t really speed any more (the escape is a speed demon!) so I really think I’m responsible enough to handle one maturely.

                NO BLACK COLORED BIKES. Statistically speaking, Black bikes are the most frequently hit, because they’re harder to see at night and from an angle. There are fewer accidents with brightly colored / painted bikes than any other color (Google that stuff), so I can’t get a solid black bike, and I can’t wear solid black gear.

 Risk – This is the biggest point of contention because I’ve got no ‘real’ argument to offset risks… I’ve just got collateral damage control. Riding a bike is risky, like I said in the safety portion… there are safer ways to get to work, school and joyriding. The risks with the associated dangers are really big, because I’m not the only one who will be truly impacted; Jill is very dependant on me, and something happening to me poses a great risk to her, and the only ‘offset’ I can offer is financially controlling the fallout; you can’t do anything about risking emotional dependency.

                Financially, the risks are really mitigated. Through my insurance plan at work I have disability coverage, medical and life. Disability, I’ll have to double check, is something like 90% of your salary for.. 6 months? Or a year… one or the other. Life is three times my annual salary, and medial covers everything. If something truly tragic were to happen, we have mortgage insurance that would pay the house off in the event of my death, so the combination of that plus life insurance would ensure Jill’s financial stability; but if I do end up getting a bike, then I’m going to get additional life insurance, as further assurance. Life insurance doesn’t cover emotional dependency, unfortunately… and Jill’s very emotionally dependant on me, and if something were to happen to me, it would devastate her. This is my own personal biggest point of contention with getting a bike, because I don’t want to leave Jill alone. Marriage changes a bunch of things, and I put her first above everything; so the idea of having everything taken away because of a hunk of metal, bolts, and gears is very hard to justify the Risk vs. reward.

 Rules – This kind of falls into the same realm as Safety… but if I ever do get a bike, there are going to be some ground rules for driving it, mainly as an assurance to me driving it safely. First of all, no matter where I go, I’m going to call or text Jill letting her know that I get there safe every time; just so she won’t worry if I made it to work OK or not. Two, I’m going to wear protective gear every single time… running down to Publix or going out on a 3hour drive; safety safety safety. Third, Interstate driving is going to be kept to a minimum, and I’m going to use back roads whenever possible… that’s just putting yourself at more risk than necessary. Fourth, night driving will be limited to a bare minimum and I’m going to always check the forecast prior to going out... If there’s a moderate chance of bad weather, the Escape will get the nod. Fifth, If I’m running late for work because I woke up late, I’m taking the escape… if I’m going to have to hurry to work, I’d rather do it in the escape than end up making a bad judgment call and getting myself hurt. Sixth, no adding crazy !@#)* to the bike… cosmetic enhancements, maybe (finances permitting), but performance mods are a n0-no; Slip-On exhausts or a tinted windscreen  are ok, but no upgraded spark plugs, carbs, ‘kits’ or anything like that; “Stock Rocks!”.

 Finances  - I’m still working this one out on my massive spreadsheet, but I’ve got to be cool with an increase in insurance premiums and make sure that we can absorb that kind of financial burden. Me and Jill are working very hard at paying down / off our debt since we have the tool (my job) to do so. So far, for 2009, we’ve paid off 2 Bills completely, and are working on the 3rd.  Adding a bike to the mix will set our plans back a little, and we’re going to have to be OK with it. If me and Jill agree that a bike is the thing for us, then we’ll go about getting more specifics in this area…. I’m checking on insurance numbers, but since I don’t definitively know the year model and make of the bike I’m looking to get, it’s hard to get firm figures.  As for price of the bike, I don’t want to sink a lot into it.. because I plan on getting rid of it whenever we have kids, so there’s no need to drop $17,000.00 on a Harley, just to offload it in 3-4 years. Also, if something changes between now and then and I get rid of it early than expected, I don’t want to have to deal with having a high minium price.. etc.

 So, that’s pretty much it I think…. There’s a lot of thought going into this, I really don’t want it to be an impulse buy, and I don’t want to go into it not knowing what could possibly be a result of buying it.  I feel like I’ve offset / mitigated the fears of me getting one fairly decently… but it all boils down to 1) am I mature enough to handle on responsibly  2) Is it a good decision for Jill and I, and do we agree on it. 

If you’re curious as to what I’m looking at:   It’s a 1997 CBR F3, Burnt Orange with 10K miles and completely stock and just serviced.  It doesn’t look like it’s even been downed, and it’s being listed at just  $2975.  It’s not a Super Sport / RR… like I said, it’s the 4cyl. of the Mustangs. It's a Honda too, which are typically not know for being the speed / acceleration leaders of the pack... If I remember right, my dad started on a Honda (I think).

F3 Starter Bike Recomendations:  Yahoo ,  Fireblades , , Thumper 

 **DISCLAIMER** This post is in no means, way, shape or form saying that I’m getting a motorcycle today. It’s simply a post about how I feel about the Motorcycle Debate. It’s in no way a ‘Beagle’ argument and it’s an attempt at displaying that I am thinking out all possible outcomes of owning said motorcycle and showing that I’m approaching it a responsible, reasonable manner.