I have not much experiences with riding different motorbikes. Up till now I just rode the BMW 650gs, Honda Nightwing, Triumph Speed Triple and my Suzuki Intruder 700vs. So Hass encouraged me to borrow a couple of bikes and see what I might like.
I was able to get my hands on 3 different bikes. The holy grail, a Harley. Not the 883 I actually am interested in buying, but darn close to it, Kawasaki’s in between sports and chopper machine Vulcan S and a Kawasaki’s sports machine. Z800e.
I was so glad, I was allowed to take out a Harley. Every Chopper rider dreams of a Harley at one point or the other. So did I.
My dream was a slightly modified Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Dark Edition.
Standing in front of the Harley Davidson shop, I felt like I just had found the holy grail and was allowed to take a sip from the cup. The store assistant explained a few buttons and the electrical key, that just needed to be around the bike to unlock it. Neat feature. I did feel, that the Superlow 1200t was a bit big for me and I was a bit nervous as I manoeuvred the bike from the sidewalk into the traffic. Doesn’t help, that Malagas traffic is slightly insane to begin with and the insurance policy of the bike was: ‘what you break; you pay for’.
Being able to only crawl at 40 through the streets of Malaga, the Harley actual felt much more nimble than it initially looked. Getting out of the city though, I started feeling uncomfortable. Above 60 the machine started vibrating amazingly and at 120 I was unable to distinguish a line between heaven and earth since my field of vision was entirely mixed up. By now i resembled more a James Bond Martini – Shaken!
It was impossible for me to drive the Superlow safe. The vision impairment meant, that realising someone does something wrong, and acting on it would be 2 times more delayed than on a normal chopper. I am still hoping it has to do with the windscreen being on the wrong height for me or some other odd reason, but I am afraid I am just not a Harley girl.
Another characteristic of the bike is very unhandy in the hot south of Spain. The pipes and, through that, the entire bike gets hot as hell. With days, that are already too hot to ride, where you swim out of your safety gear, this ‘feature’ is very unhandy.
Next on my day was the Kawasaki Vulcan S. In my opinion not a sports bike, but also not the normal custom bike.
This one has the foot pegs very far in front, which is just a fact you have to get used to, and actually you do quite quickly. After the second corner, the bike felt already natural. It is easy to handle and reacts exactly like you would expect. Though it has abs and a few more infos on the instruments, this bike is not as loaded with gimmicks as the Harley.
The looks of the Vulcan are not bad if you would customise a few little things to make it less scooter and more motorcycle. I guess there comes my issue with the bike. It looks like it is much more difficult to customise this bike on your own. With my bike, everything can be taken apart myself (with the right do-it-yourself article and tools). The Vulcan looks much more compact and one pice with loads of electronics. Not sure if I would want start ‘cutting’ into that. However I am sure, you could make one mean looking bike out of this one, if you hire someone that can help you with the technique.
Positive to mention here is, that the bike nearly didn’t get hot at all, what gives it a plus point over every other bike I rode that day.
And last for today, I rode the Kawasaki z800e. Not my sort of bike at all, but Hass and I talked so much about his choices, that I had to ride one comparable to the ones on his list , so our conversations could maybe get an extra dimension.
To start off, I am just about tall enough to tiptoe on traffic lights, but the salesman assured me, there are lower seats available. So I took off in – for me – an unnatural riding position. The first, second and third corner felt odd and uncomfortable, but then I adjusted to the riding position and started to be able to appreciate the bike.
In traffic it reacts nicely but I liked the Vulcan way more. On the highway however I started understanding all those insane hobby riders that fly by regular. It is so easy to accelerate and give yourself to the rush of the speed. That doesn’t mean, that the Vulcan was no fun or difficult on the highway, but this sport machine seems to bring you more close to your inner speed demon. I don’t know if it is the extra power, or the changed sitting position, but it was fun to experience.
My conclusion up till now is:
New bikes have a lot of gimmicks and comfort and are fun to ride. Even the sound is nice, if not slightly better than my good old iron steed. But considering the price I am not sure if I wouldn’t rather update my good old Suzuki Intruder 700vs at this point.
If not, out of these three, the Vulcan S actually impressed me the most. It felt so quickly so natural to ride the bike, that I definitely would love to rent one, to see if it can keep its promises on a longer ride than 40 minutes.