THE PERFECT BIKE
by A Guy Called LULU 6/29/2011 – 1:36 am
A bicycle is an extremely efficient way to transform human energy into human motion. It has been developed and refined to the point that its design is a beautiful expression of functional simplicity. It is a simple machine that takes advantage of modern technology and infrastructure and melds them into an enjoyable way for a person to move from A to B economically while benefitting their body through low impact exercise. I truly believe that there are psychological benefits too. Whenever a person is able, within the varying parameters of distance, weather, and physical ability, they should ride a bicycle for their around town trips. They would be a better person for doing so and the world would be a better place for them having done so.
I haven’t ridden a bicycle in over a year. I am not a very good person. Shoot me if you feel the urge and get the chance, that should be quick, but please watch for my headlight and understand that there is a breathing pain-averse body behind it as I ride my motorcycle down the public byways and complicate your life’s mission of never moving a mile that does not include jabbering with someone on your cellphone. Driving stupidly is the most likely way to turn you into a killer and as one who likes to give everyone the benefit of any doubt, I am going to assume that you don’t want to be forced to find alternate transportation out of necessity while your radiator is being replaced.
If you are a failed human like myself and have been sucked into the easy addiction of covering short or long distances with almost no effort but would still like to pretend [or maybe its even true] that you give a big rat’s ass about doing it efficiently and with as small an impact on the environment as is reasonably possible, and you still get a bit of thrill when feeling some contact with the elements as you pass through them, and you might even get an adrenalin rush [big fun, try it if its been a while] by giving a simple twist of your hand like maybe you once got by spurring a quarter horse and signaling it with a touch of your knee to cut right or left and then thrilling at the response, then you need to go right out this very minute, or early tomorrow at the latest if you like to pretend that you make your important decisions after due consideration, and buy a motorcycle.
Don’t be afraid to buy a Harley. They are made in America, after all, and they are remarkably good bikes. In-depth study verified by my own bias has shown that 90% of all the Harley’s ever sold are still on the road. The others made it back home. Seriously, though, I think Harley’s are pretty good bikes nowadays, even having never ridden an old one or a new one, but I have passed a lot of the older ones that were sitting by the side of the road looking like a tombstone. They are all quite expensive though and use a lot of gas.
So, now you might ask yourself, or you might ask me since it is my chosen subject of the moment and I am chock full of opinions , what is the perfect bike? My answer may come as a surprise, but here it is in as much honest specificity as you will likely get from me on any question. The answer: It depends.
If you are a true adrenalin junky you might want a Suzuki Hyabusa. Hyabusa is Japanese for Peregrine Falcon and the name was chosen because when the bike was first built its mission was to surpass the Honda Super Blackbird as the fastest production motorcycle in the world. Peregrines eat Blackbirds and the Hayabusa was successful in out running the Honda which could only go 185mph. The Hayabusa could do 195, almost as fast as a real peregrine stooping on a real blackbird. Shortly after that record was set the Japanese manufacturers voluntarily agreed not to build a bike that would go faster than 188mph and the newer Hyabusas are not quite as fast as the older ones. One hundred and ninety-five mph is about the terminal velocity of a Harley dropped off a cliff. As long as that restriction is upheld there will never be a faster stock bike built than the Hyabusa. The Japanese did not restrict how quickly that speed could be reached though so their super bikes have continued to get more powerful. If you get the urge to run out for a pack of cigarettes or a cold beer you can get be to the corner store a quarter mile away in under ten seconds.
The Italians are making truly beautiful and truly impressive Ducatis which do not have the brute power of the straight line dominant Hayabusa but could easily leave it far behind in a race up a twisty canyon road.
None of these bikes just mentioned are that great of a replacement for your trusty ten speed mountain bike for getting around the city cheaply or for hitting the trail and, in my opinion, neither are the scooters that are catching on with so many people. I say this after putting about a billion miles on a Lambretta when I was in my early teens and currently owning a Bajaj 150, which is an India built Vespa clone that is a good scooter. The trouble is that a good scooter does not approach the utility of a small motorcycle and they are not as safe because of their small wheels and very short travel of their suspension. The better ones like Vespas, Hondas, or Yamahas are quite expensive and the Baja is no longer available in this country.
My nomination for a small, fun, extremely utilitarian motorcycle is the Yamaha TW200. It handles the road quite well, will haul a big load, get seventy to eighty-five mpg, is quite durable and easier and thus cheaper to service and repair than a scooter, and has the huge added benefit of being quite capable for off-road riding whether on jeep trails or single track technical riding. Scooters are dangerous driving carefully on a decent gravel road. Tdubs have huge knobby tires and even handle deep snow pretty well. One was ridden to the North Pole. They only go about sixty five mph topped out but feel pretty happy to run fifty for ever and are plenty able in city traffic, just not on the interstate. Guys think they look unique and functional and women think they are cute. They have been the most popular motorcycle in Japan for quite a while. Spankin’ new they push $4000. but used and in very good condition they run $1500 to $2500 where I live.
Tmccarthy, this is you. Sell that Vespa.;>)