Suffering Through Sportbike Abstinence
The absence of the R6 from Giacchino's garage has left a void the G-Man longs to fill with new Inline-Four blood.
With the warm weather finally and officially upon us, I've been increasingly guilty of studying the daily classified ads with intent to pull the trigger. Whatever resistance I had been able to build during the off-season to the charms of the modern day sportbike is quickly deteriorating in the warm spring breeze.
Further complicating matters is that just across the street from one of my daily coffee shop stops there exists an exaggerated rest area on the sandy shores of Lake Erie commonly used by sport riders looking to escape the city for a few hours. Picnics of sandwiches and cans of soda served from warm backpacks are a very common sight as the weather takes its annual turn for the better. I've been doing my fair share of looking away from the shiny fairings and carbon fiber bits that obstruct a majority of the restaurant's view of the Lake Shore.
Strong-willed as I am, I've been caving in at the whooping blast of a Yoshimura-tuned exhaust note as these city slickers explode off toward the silhouetted metropolis skyline they call home. As much as I appreciate the charms of a smooth sport-tourer, the rumble of a mighty Twin, or the insane hit of an off-road bike, to me there are few sensations that define the onset of summer quite like the zing of a well tuned Inline-Four.
About a year and a half ago I had parted ways with my own dressed-in-black Yamaha R6 with intentions of replacing the ol' girl with a younger model of either British or Italian heritage. Initially, the task seemed to have been going according to schedule but, alas, distractions do have a way of crumbling even the best laid plans. Those first few post-sale weeks were spent with an abundance of dealership literature. Triumph earned the lion's share of my attention with the Daytona 675 Triple.
Giacchino was almost to the door of the nearest Triumph dealer with his eyes on the Daytona 675 Triple until a yellow Duc 999 rolled by and nixed that decision.
Not restricted by AMA engine classes, I was more than free to explore cubic centimeter configurations and number of cylinders in direct relationship to factors as trivial as cosmetics and dealership proximity. While I came close on two occasions to financing the balance of a new Daytona, the timing of the venture just never seemed to fall into harmony. The first occasion was pretty late in the season and nothing deters motivation quite like the thought of loading your new bike onto a truck only to park it into storage for seven months (months with a corresponding payment coupon at that). The second occasion was early in the riding season when the hand of fate again steered me clear of the purchase just shy of taking a deep breath and entering the dealership.
The only Triumph dealer I'm aware of for many, many miles had a slightly used 675 on the floor that supposedly came to them from a Buffalo Bill (that's our Rambling man's local NFL team - ed
), who purchased it, never bothered to register or insure it, then decided it was too small (or uncomfortable) for him and traded it in on a cruiser.
As I was about to enter the shop, some nameless stranger happened to roll by on a yellow Ducati 999, which froze both myself and my entourage in our tracks. These bikes never fail to make a lasting impression, even to those who have poured over still-shots and magazine tests for months on end. The sound of that Italian-tuned Twin coupled with its serious-as-a-heart attack profile manage to do more in two seconds than two years of reading about it. Ducati should consider including an audio CD containing nothing more than the sound of their engines with their sales brochures - I'm convinced Italy would have a shortage on red paint.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Triumph or Ducati. What about the Japanese manus? While the final verdict won't be easy, at least there's plenty of power-packed supersports and superbikes to choose from.
Anyway, feeling like the guy about to test drive a used Camaro at the back of the Ferrari lot, the plan instantly shifted to spending the rest of the day attempting to locate a Ducati dealership. When that failed, my friends and I ended up going to the movies instead.
And so the fever had subsided, for a year anyway. Readers of recent columns will certainly attest to the fact that I've been busy busting berms and providing priceless assistance in helping family members and loved ones downsize their fleets: Distraction from the taunting call of the sportbike as it were. Unfortunately for my savings account, the distractions are wearing thin in direct relationship to the days that last longer and the nights that simply beg to take a meaningless ride to get ice-cream. The final nail in the coffin of resistance came last week when a buddy of mine called to offer me a test ride on the R1 he's thinking of parting with; almost the equivalent of offering a recovering alcoholic the chance to go on a wine tasting. The trap is baited and I'm sure it's only a matter of time until I can leave the coffee shop to go have a soggy sandwich on the beach across the street.