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Spring Around the Nation
Things are looking a little different from behind the frosty glass windows of my favorite coffee shop of late. Although ice still gathers in white mounds along the window sills and the air temperature outside manages to suck the air out of one’s lungs after several hours of coffee swilling, we are heading down the final leg of the off-season. Winter’s days are numbered, and what an effect that seems to have on the psyche.
Yes, change is in the air, my friends, and with it a ritual presumably dating back to our Neanderthal ancestors: Spring cleaning has been in full effect of late. Only, unlike the traditional ideology of dusting cobwebs out of corners and sweeping up dust bunnies, I’ve been reducing my mechanical collection at a frantic rate. Two motorcycles (a Yamaha YZ125 and an FZR600R) and one sports car (a Pontiac Firebird) have been recently removed from my collection: Off to new ambitious owners with hopes and dreams of turning this Spring into a memorable one. And while my stable is suddenly eerily roomy, the process of shopping for something new is building momentum.
Whereas once upon a time before every human being on the planet carried a cell-phone/video camera/MP3 player/personal computer/GPS tracking device, riders such as myself were quite limited to purchasing a new (by new, I mean used) motorcycle via the easily smeared ink of the local newspaper classified ads. It was a much simpler time, when isolating a potential purchase meant having to actually get up and walk to the phone, sometimes clear on the other side of the room, dial, then pace nervously, being careful to avoid becoming entangled in the now antiquated phone cord. There were moments of extreme tension whenever a busy signal clicked in on the other end-call waiting was yet a luxury-in the hopes that the bike in question wasn’t already (or in the process of being) sold. Timing was critical, as was having cash and very understanding parents.
As the snow melts, it’s time to dust off those machines and riding skills. Hitting thawed spring trails is a muddy ritual performed religiously across the nation.
My, how the times have changed. It is thanks to the internet that my FZR and Firebird have found new owners. It is also due to the information superhighway that I was able to browse a Californian Ducati dealership’s showroom from the luxury of my desk, while eating popcorn. With a click of the mouse, once exotic, rare breeds of motorcycle are instantaneously accessible from the furthest recesses of the planet.
I’ve just delved deep into the Bavarian Motor Works R1200GS adventure-tourer without so much as a flight to Germany, then zipped over Japan to check in on Yamaha’s new R6. Browsing Ebay I located a couple of Triumph Daytonas from the Midwestern United States in need of a good home, and even had time to get up to make a cup of coffee. By dinner time I had managed to get two Honda dealerships to price match a leftover CBR600 F4i. Even more impressive is that, thanks to companies like PayPal, all I need is my handy Visa card (flash burnt like the barrel of Jesse James’ six shooter) to make purchasing any of these machines as simple as clicking a button.
Honda and the rest of the manufacturers out there are benefiting from increased exposure on the Internet. Not only can buyers search for and find specific bikes, but the electronic medium provides another avenue for massive advertising.
Gone are the days of being limited to hoping and wishing someone in the neighboring city not only had the bike of your dreams, but had taken perfect care of it, was willing to sell it, would take less than it was worth, and give you the chance to look at it first. Of course, on the flip side, a potential buyer today has far more options to consider and choices to make.
As for me, I’m savoring the nearly limitless possibilities technology has allotted in the bike purchasing process. After all, since a rare March snow storm worked its way into the area, dumping three feet of snow onto the ground, there is still time to enjoy the hunt. Besides, I’m still getting used to the whole “not having to worry about getting wrapped up in the telephone cord” stuff.
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