Recently I purchased my first ever, sport bike. The choice is so outside my typical tastes, and is the last type of bike I thought I would ever want. The decision came in waves. Little by little, I found myself snooping around the classifieds for a more modern bike, until one day…
First, I have always been intrigued by the engineering of a more powerful bike. The fact that manufacturers continued to develop technology that would push the limits of the power 2 or 4 cylinders could offer, has always excited me. I never thought I would want such power…but here I am.
At first my search focused on the “naked” style bike, that have become so popular in the past few years. Bikes like the Ducati Monster, Suzuki SV650, the Honda HawkGT, and even the Honda 599. These are basically bikes similar to my 1976 Honda CB550K, but MUCH more updated. They have a more upright riding position than a sport bike, and a clear line of lineage between the standards of the 70’s to the modern day.
Then I went on a 1300 mile trip on my CB550. While the trip was amazing, and the bike performed admirably, most of it was done on small roads, at low speeds. Then I found myself hightailing it home for the last 2 days at about 85 MPH, with not a hint of wind protection. The buffeting from the trucks on the major Interstates beat me up, but good! I found myself craving some type of protection, a place to hide from the battering I was taking. If nothing else, I wanted to be able to twist the throttle and leave these horrific trucks behind…
The more research I did, the more I started leaning toward a sport bike style. As I dug deeper, I realized that most manufacturers have a line that is somewhere between a naked bike, and a full superbike style. A bike that bridges the gap between full forward race lean, and an upright riding position. I came to learn that these bikes are called “sport touring” bikes. Clearly not as comfortable and equipped as a BMW adventure bike, but not as crouched as a race bike either. Perfect! Turns out, these bikes are cheaper when purchased used.
I finally settled on a 1993 Yamaha FZR 600. These bikes were considered cutting edge in their time, and were made virtually unchanged for almost 10 years. The parts are available, and the purchase prices are a good value. Found one in NJ, and one afternoon, I arrived back at the shop with it. Needs some work, but so far, the experience has been good.
In the coming months, I will be digging into this new segment of the motorcycle world. Already, I have recognized a vast difference between the riders of the vintage bikes I am accustomed to, and the riders who find themselves drawn to the latest race technology. I guess I am straddling the two, and it should make for an interesting trip… Stay tuned.