Friday, April 4, 2008

Learning a New Motorcycle

Yamaha V-Star 1300My friend Tom just bought a new motorcycle a couple of weeks ago. He got himself a 2007 Yamaha V-Star 1300.

He says he got it for free. But in reality, he traded in two of his motorcycles, a 2002 Honda Shadow Sabre 1100, and a 2003 Honda VTX1800, which apparently the dealer accepted for a straight up swap.

So today, when he showed up on this new 1300, I said "Where'd you get that piece of shit bike"?

He said, "Hell yeah it's a piece of shit! I'm thinking of taking this shitty mother fucker back!"

I said, "You mean you really think it's a piece of shit?"

He said, "Yeah, I don't like it at all."

He went on to explain that he loved the performance of the motorcycle, but he hated the ergonomics. He didn't like the foot placement, he didn't like the body placement, he didn't like the handlebars. The handlebars were the biggest problem. He said many other V-Star 1300 owners change out the bars, according to posts he read on various forums.

He also said the way the bars are designed, combined with the seating position and food placement, is making his back hurt.

I have to admit, as we rode off to get some lunch, I pulled up next to him and looked at his body, leg, and arm positions. He looked like someone holding open a newspaper, sitting on the toilet, with a case of burning diarrhea.

I remember when I first got my Electra Glide, I had some problems getting used to the ergonomics after having ridden a Yamaha Road Star for a couple of years. My left arm and shoulder would get sore. But since then, I've gotten used to it, and don't feel any soreness.

I figure that's largely what it is.

I did sit on his bike and tried to get a feel for the handlebar placement. I agree with him, it's a little awkward. But I imagine it's something my body could acclimate to.

On the other hand, Tom had back surgery just a little over a year ago. He's not as flexible as I am.

His other problem is that he couldn't manuever this bike as well as his old VTX. He used to take that VTX hard into the twisties, and just burn the crap out of the roads. It had been as if that bike was designed for his body, and he could crank the throttle and hang on for a good ride.

But he looked lost on this V-Star 1300. He didn't know how to lean. He didn't know how far he could lean. The bike wasn't reacting the way he was expecting it to. He was learning a whole new bike.

After having lunch in Idyllwild, CA, we headed north along Highway 243, towards Beaumont. I watched his brake lights come on in places where I wasn't used to seeing his brake lights come on. I watched him misjudge the curves and stray across the double yellow. 20 miles later, we began our descent into Beaumont, hitting the tightest part of the twisties. I was now watching him manuever like he did on the VTX.

I saw him approach the curves with precision, cutting into the inside on a hard lean, and accelerating out like a sling shot. It was as if he stopped fighting the bike, and heard the voice Obi Wan Kanobi, "Trust your feelings Thomas!"

At the bottom of the mountain, he pulled over to the side and stopped the bike. He said to me how much he loved riding the 243. He recounted some great memories of riding it before, and that it was one of the best roads in SoCal. He didn't say anything about his new bike, but it was clear he was having fun riding it.

I think the V-Star 1300 is a fine motorcycle, and I think he's going to love it a lot. He still says he's going to change out the bars.


  1. Sounds kinda like a new pair of boots... They suck until you get used to them... And get them broke in. Then they're better than tennis shoes!
    Doing any riding this weekend?

  2. Yes, Sunday I"m heading out on my road trip through AZ, UT, and NV. Be back Thursday.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)