I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the question “what is the perfect motorcycle for me?” In the past the answer was usually whatever was on offer. As an avid fan of cruising the classified ads (I know I am showing my age) I have always found bikes that matched both my enthusiasm and my wallet.
Looking back the bikes that found me were bikes for their time but also bikes that matched a general criteria that holds true to this day. Personally I want a bike that is three things, comfortable enough to tour on if I want to hit the road, fun enough for when the road goes all curve and light enough to be parking lot friendly. I found such a bike in my Honda VFR800. For now, and at this time of my life it is my perfect ride but your perfect bike might be completely different.
There is nothing wrong with being enamored with a certain style bike. Years ago, as a middle school student, I fell in love with the bikes from a now defunct British motorcycle manufacturer. I saw some pictures in a glossy brochure and they looked like pure adventure to me. I have always liked the retro-styled bikes and have to admit admiring the new Yamaha SCR 950. It too looks like pure adventure. The best thing about today is there are motorcycles for every taste, riding style and budget.
At Maxim we have showroom full of bikes that can take you to work or to the arctic. We have bikes that you can win on Sunday or ride with your buddies over a long weekend. We have entry level bikes for the new rider and expert level sport bikes. From cruiser’s with attitude to full touring rigs with lot of luggage space Maxim can help you decide what bike is perfect for you.
I once took my mom for a ride on my motorcycle. You must understand the enormity of this feat because my mom was a huge motorcycle hater. She was risk adverse as a matter of principle but she was also convinced that my riding those awful machines would lead to a life of homelessness and dependency.
My dad convinced my mom to let me keep my first motorcycle only because I bought it in non running condition. It didn’t stay that way for long and if nothing else, my need for parts money stirred in me a new appreciation for industry. I would work any job to get gas and parts money. By the time I convinced my mom to go for a ride I had graduated from college and I had a real job. I suppose, in her mind, I had avoided motorcycle gangs and incarceration so the pressure was off.
On this occasion I ask my dad if he wanted a ride, he refused but my mom got a funny look on her face and she said, “I’ll go.” I gave her a helmet and got her installed on the back seat of my 1976 BMW R90/6. We took off down the street at a heady 15 miles an hour. At the end of the street, there was a large open area where two streets converged at an angle and I was able to make a smooth turn back in the opposite direction. I cannot stress enough the ultra-slow, parade like pace, of this short ride.
Ever one for drama, my mom climbed off the bike, beamed at me and said, “now I see why you love it so!” Years later, I recounted the story to her because she had forgotten. I told her how proud I was of her for taking that risk to experience something I enjoyed. She was genuinely pleased at the memory of her little adventure. It seems that most of my best memories have a motorcycle associated with them.
Almost all of my best memories have a motorcycle in there somewhere. My first bike was a Honda SL125 that became my magic carpet. My family lived in north Dallas but our house was two blocks from a big power line easement. All I had to do was push that bike a couple of blocks and I could ride for miles only stopping to push the bike across streets. I didn’t dare ride it and risk a run in with the law. Granted, it was not very exciting terrain but it was my first taste of the freedom that a motorcycle could provide.
My son learned to ride on a very well used Honda XL100. It was a typical kid’s bike that had been ridden into the ground. This unfortunate model had also been spray painted blue with over spray on the seat, the frame and the engine. I reworked the engine while my son, with great care and armed with cleaners and steel wool, cleaned all that blue paint off the bike.
We live in the country, with access to some land, and he rode that little bike all over. He rode with friends, he rode by himself and he rode with me. Once, when he was first learning to ride, I went with him down to the land. I turned my bike off and just sat and watched him race around the field. Finally, he rode up next to me with concern. He said “Dad! What’s wrong? You are not riding and having fun?” I reassured him that I was indeed having a blast watching him tear it up. It remains one of my top moments in my life.
Throughout my life, I have had motorcycles, of all kinds. They all have stories. There were cross country rides, severe weather, camp outs, racing, and good friends. There was the time I took my mom for a ride around the block. All in all my fondest memories all have a motorcycle in them. Ask anyone at Maxim and they will tell you the same. We never lose sight of what we are about. Every product we sell, from our Waverunners, our ATVs, side by sides and, of course, our motorcycles are the start of some great and lasting memories. What could be better than that?
Honda invented the fun bike with the introduction of the 50cc Monkey bike. It was brilliant. They put a proven little, over head cam, four stroke motor in a pint sized bike and magic happened. At least every kid in the world wanted one. Many of us are riding today because of these bikes.
Just because they are small does not mean they don’t need respect. They are a little like Shetland ponies. They are small, fun and cute but they can bite you. Case in point, I had just gotten the bike you see in the picture below running well enough to take it for a spin around my ample yard. As I headed for a stop I grappled with the shifter and I got my rather large shoe caught between the foot peg and the ground. The toe of my shoe was dragging the ground and it trapped my foot on the peg.
As I slowed it became evident that I was unable to put a foot down. I did the only thing I could do. I stopped and as I did so I fell over and just layed on the ground for a second taking stock of the situation.
A tiny sense of fear began to take hold of me. “What if I had broken my arm? My wife would kill me and on a toy bike too.” I pulled myself out from under the little bike as quickly as i could. No broken bones. That was good and the fact that no one witnessed my crash was even better. The moral of this story is a little play bike can get you hurt so treat them with the same respect you would a big bike and, by all means, have fun.
A friend of mine sent me this little tidbit and I had to share it with you but first some background. Way back in high school I was the owner of a red Honda 600 Sedan. It was a fantastic car, fun and quick but not very fast. It had a 600cc vertical twin motor much like a bored over CB350. It was so light that my class mates would pick it up a put it in impossible places.
This 1972 Honda N600 is highly modified. It is powered by a liquid cooled V4 from a 1998 Honda VFR800 Interceptor. The car is setup for fast road and autocross use, and the owner spent several years dialing in the build. It features four wheel independent suspension based on shortened Miata components, paddle shifters for the sequential transmission and a 12k RPM redline. This is a quick N600 that is said to be capable of 127MPH and very nimble.
Nimble is the word. At higher speeds, the steering is so quick that I would have to hold the steering wheel steady with my knees to stay in my lane. My little 600 would run a honest 80mph and that was truly frightening. A speed of over 100 would be terrifying. Sounds like fun!
I used to work for a now defunct motorcycle dealership filled with now mostly vanished brands. We used to close up shop and take off on Memorial Day for a three day weekend ride. We would ride all night Friday to Clayton, New Mexico and then spend Saturday and Sunday riding around Colorado. Monday would find us in Albuquerque, NM where we would pick up I40 for the long slog back to Oklahoma City.
On one particular ride we ran into rain while riding across the Panhandle of Oklahoma. It was pretty flat and featureless. The highest points for miles around were the fence posts to our right and the tops of our helmets. It started to rain and the lightning began to rip across the sky. Rex was in front of me by two bike lengths and the rest of the group were some ways back behind me.
All of a sudden there was a bright flash off to the right. I looked and saw a lightning bolt hit the ground less than 20 feet from our position. It looked, to my eyes, to be the size of a small oil drum. Big clods of earth kicked up and at the same time there was a fierce and shocking BOOM. We both wobbled involuntarily. A little way up the road Rex turned into a closed gas station and we drew up beside one another under the awning. I have to say that we were a little shaken. “Did you see that?” he cried. “See it? I couldn’t miss it” I said. Then I asked the question “Rex, have you ever heard of anyone getting struck by lightning on a motorcycle? We are riding on rubber tires.” All he said to me was “Our tires were wet.”
I am older and wiser now. Yes, you can get struck by lightning on a motorcycle. You can even be hurt by lightening striking close to your bike. The rubber tires have no effect on insulating millions of volts from seeking ground. It would be like trying to stop a speeding semi truck with a stick of butter. It is best to get off the road, get inside somewhere until the storm passes. Sometimes this is not always practical but it is best practice.
The rain has moved out and the weather has warmed up. That’s a good thing. Riding is becoming more comfortable when it’s warm but too soon we will be faced with the truly hot days of summer. We spend so much time gearing up for the cold that we forget that it is just as important to be properly covered for hot weather riding.
The human body cools by evaporation of sweat. When water evaporates, it cools down. This cools the skin which cools the blood, which cools down the whole body. In hotter weather, with a rider blasted by hot air, this cooling becomes very inefficient. The higher the temperature, the harder it is for the body to shed this excess heat. Riding in a summer weight jacket aids cooling by slowing the flow of air over the skin. Covering your skin insulates it from the harsh summer sun and traps moisture that aids cooling. It also keeps your skin safe in case of a fall.
A wet bandana around the neck aids cooling of the blood that runs through the major arteries in the neck. Gloves protect your hands and good, sturdy but light weight boots keep your feet comfortable. Above all, drinking plenty of water. Your body can’t stay cool if it doesn’t have the proper supplies. Ride smart and cool this summer.
Whether you are a first time watercraft buyer or an old salt, there are some things you should consider when shopping for the perfect personal water craft. The first thing you will be drawn to is the style of watercraft. Maxim has watercraft from sporty runabouts to family fun type craft.
Seating is important in both comfort and in how many passenger can be carried in safety. Make sure that the boat fits you properly. You will be spending a lot of time in this spot, so if anything feels awkward, that feeling will be magnified later.
Check out the handlebars and ergonomics. Do the controls feel right? Have one of our sales people to show you the adjustments so that your get a good feel for the controls. Also, make sure you take the time to stand up in the footwells. It should feel natural and comfortable with your hands on the handlebar.
Your choice of watercraft will depend on how you will use it. If you’ll be using the watercraft to tow a tube or wakeboarding, make sure you have plenty of horsepower and a good aft-facing spotter seat with grab handles.
If you’re looking for transportation out to your cottage or to get to your favorite camping island, your top selling points might be fuel capacity and storage. Also be sure to ask about convenient amenities like cup holders, easy-to-climb boarding ladders, and soft non-skid decking. At Maxim we want your summer lake experience to be the best. Come in and talk to us. We can show you the wide range of watercraft to make great memories on our Texas lakes.
Last Wednesday I purchased a new Olympia riding jacket from Maxim. I have wanted one of these ever since I saw a group of riders wearing a high-vis yellow jackets. I could see these riders literally from a mile away but the other riders in the group seemed to get lost in the background. I thought “if a jacket makes you that visible I want one.” So yesterday I rode the VFR to Sherman to have lunch with my dad. After lunch I rode over to my mom’s assisted living place to check on her. I walked in and I walked to the dining area to check and see if she is still at lunch. (She was not.) As I walked by a table and one of the inmates asked me “what kind of uniform is that?” I had on my Olympia two piece riding suit with my newly acquired high-vis yellow jacket. “Uniform” I asked? He said “you must work for the highway department or somethin’!”
It has come to my attention that there are motorcycle riders that have never taken their bike on a road trip. There are few things you can do with a motorcycle that are more rewarding than a motorcycle trip. You don’t have to spend weeks in the saddle headed to exotic locations and you don’t have to rough it, unless you want to. Weekend getaways, that include an overnight stay can be just as rewarding as a cross country jaunt especially if it is your first time. Here are a few tips that can make touring by motorcycle safe and rewarding.
If you plan a long day’s ride and aren’t accustomed to riding for more than just a few hours a day, don’t jump right into a road trip. Try taking some practice rides to get used to being on a bike for longer periods of time or cut your travel time down to more manageable bits. The more prepared you can be for how endless six or seven hours is going to feel, the better. Wind protection goes a long way toward making your ride a pleasant one.
Fighting the wind for two or three hours at highways speeds gets exhausting. Five, six, and seven hours into riding, it’s even worse. A windshield helps cut the wind and fight fatigue. Make an investment in comfort. On my VFR I have added a comfy aftermarket seat, raised the handlebars and lowered the foot pegs. These changes do not take away from the handling or the fun of the bike but they make the “sport” riding position a little more neutral. The result is a bike I can ride hour after hour.
Prepare for the weather. You may think it’s hot at home when you leave but will it be the same in the mountains? Clear skies have a habit of developing clouds and dropping rain. Be sure to take something warm along with your riding gear. Layers are best. Also pack a rain suit. A cheap rain suit is better than no rain suit. Trust me on this one. Not only will a rain suit keep you dry it will also keep you warm by keeping the damp frigid air at bay.
Wear ear plugs. Nothing saps your good mood and ruins you hearing like the wind noise droning in your helmet. Rest is as important as riding and making good time. Take some time and stop. A motorcycle trip is not a marathon (unless your are riding the Iron Butt.) Stop and smell the roses, pull over for interesting attractions or just to stretch your legs. Frequent stops will keep you fresh and riding longer.
Technology is your friend. A helmet equipped with Bluetooth, for example, can link you to your phone and not only play music but receive calls, follow GPS directions, and allow rider-to-rider communications. If you have never been on an overnight ride make this the year you go. If you haven’t been trippin in a while make plans to get out there again. You will be glad you did.