I’ve been thinking about tools and I can’t figure out why. It’s not because I’m starting a big project or a random bag of money fell into my lap, but sadly I think I’m simply addicted to new tools.
Like a meme about dads seeking refuge in a Home Depot, I can’t seem to stop looking at unnecessary additions. The most expensive window browsing so far has focused around a motorcycle lift. Yes, a Harbor Freight lift is “only” $470, and it would take care of my casual needs once the wheel-chock is upgraded…BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT PAPA WANTS.
Now the above two options are what my dreams are made of! What you see here is Titan and Black Widow lifts that far exceed my budget and occupy my head. Both of these lifts included extended sides because why not and the all-so-important wheel drop-out. Also, they carry a price tag of $1,500 so I wouldn’t describe them as budget friendly. While the logical side of my brain knows that this purchase is far in the future, the inner five-year-old in me knows no such logic. So what can I buy to sooth my silly needs?
T-Handle EVERYTHING is far more attainable! This is a piece of equipment that the all-knowing Emma from Misfits Motorcycle Podcast told me (well not just me) are essential for the home-mechanic. Also, if your are obsessed with pistons and the sensation of straddling an exploding motor, follow that podcast, it’s fantastic. BACK TO TOOLS.
I can grab various sets from Motion Pro or Klein at under $50 brand new and believe me I’ll put them to work. Now since no tool set should be left alone, I could buy friends for this set in socket, torx, and SAE because WHY NOT. This can be the answer…but what about wrenches.
I already have a fair amount of wrenches/ratcheting wrenching but obviously I need some offset ones right? Once again, this is purely practical since who likes fighting with a straight-angle wrench behind a frame rail that’s hellbent on removing all the skin off your knuckles! This is highly specific but you get the picture.
Here is a beautiful set from Teckton which also comes with that sweet sweet pouch. I’ll be honest, any set that comes with a pouch is immediately better regardless of quality. To me, $100 is a perfect amount of money for this bent metal and they’ll soon find their way into my drawer.
The last pieces of equipment I’ll mention are actual needs for a motosexual person and that’s the air compressor/power-washer combo. I actually have no idea which models to look at but check out this 2000PSI Electric Ryobi washer:
A model like this would allow any rider to shoot that sweet foam wash all over their ride and that’s what I need…I need it. Also, as a homeowner this is just a practical investment right? Now follow that up with this gorgeous Husky air compressor for $300!
This investment is needed for the lift but also the air-ratchet I have yet to buy or even hooking up a little spray nozzle so I can clean dust out of things. I might be spinning that last point but I’ll justify this any way I want.
So what tools am I forgetting? A tabletop grinder/sander? A collection of various torque wrenches? Maybe a pinstripe brush? Gosh, I think I really am addicted to tools.
Three years ago, I rode my dad’s 2009 V-Star 1300 Tourer and got off the saddle impressed with the “budget Road King” experience. At that time, I was riding a 800cc 2005 Suzuki M50 so anything with more motor and weight felt nice. Little did I know that almost two years later I would be purchasing a V-Star of my own.
Fall 2019 hit me hard with the urge to upgrade. While Selene (my M50) was a great beginner cruiser, 10,000 miles of various types of riding had put a spotlight on her shortcomings. What I needed was more comfort, highway passing power, and more upgrade options. However, I also needed to keep it cheap since I was still putting money away to buy a home. So I decided that whatever I sold Selene for, I would only put an extra $1,500 down to purchase the next bike.
After some casual searching, I found a 2012 V-Star 1300 Tourer with 9k on the clock. I was obviously very familiar with these and the seller’s pictures were pretty good so I made a bold decision. He was asking $3,000, which was fair, but it needed a little love so I messaged him saying,
“As long as nothing unexpected pops up when I come down, I’ll bring $2,000 and ride it away.”
Three days later, I was riding home on my very own 1300 V-Star. A couple weekends of re-conditioning/general maintenance and Betsy was (almost) looking new. That was 15 months and 12,000 miles ago, so what I think about her after all these saddle-hours? The simple answer is quite happy.
I knew from riding my dad’s 1300 that the bars needed to get replaced for my comfort. The stock bars (pictured here) were just too low and made my wrists feel pinched after 30 minutes. Also, the stock seat needed to go because it’s simply awful in every way. With those issues addressed, here is my review on the 1300 V-Star Tourer.
As a light-tourer, the 1300 V-Star is a great bike. Since it “only” weighs about 650lbs, the 1300 feels pretty nimble around town. With the new bars, I can flick this bike around at low-speeds and really can’t feel the weight. The biggest gripe while around town is down to Yamaha’s lean OEM tuning which result in low-RPM jerkiness. I solved this in a cheap manner by purchasing an 02 sensor bypass. Up at speed, the 1300 is incredibly smoot! Let’s compare the 1300 to a Road King to understand how that’s possible.
The 1300 is down a gear (5-speed vs 6-speed), 30 cubic inches, and roughly 30 ft-lbs of glorious torque. However, it is close to 100lbs lighter which makes a huge difference. 30-60mph is effortless and the weight balance makes curvy roads a lot of fun. I can’t say that I would win many races against a Road King, but it is close at speed due to that weight savings. Where you notice the 1300’s true downsides are up at highway speed. While it will sit happily at 70mph, anything faster is a struggle for an extended time. Also, the stock plow of a windshield coupled with the “light” weight means you do end up wrestling this motorcycle down the highway if any sort of wind hits you. Now a different windshield/fairing helps this, but I’ll get to the mods later.
As for convenience, the V-Star is 12-year-old design at this point so you do miss out on some modern comforts like ABS, better suspension, or cruise control. Yamaha has fitted the newer model with a GPS but it basically feels like a Garmin from 10 years ago so keep that in mind. There is one convenience feature that these V-Star’s nail compared to so many other bikes: THE GODDAMN SADDLEBAGS. They are in all-caps for a reason, and that reason is they are awesome. They are a leather wrapped hard plastic bag that has a ton of storage space.
Check out the pictures above to really get an idea. Now they do have a sloped shape so you might not get the same items (aka a case of beer) in there, but a medium sized dog can sit in there pretty well! Also, they are locking and open away from the frame which is very practical when packing down for trips. To be honest, the only manufacturers that make saddlebag designs this good are H-D and Indian. I didn’t count the ADV bikes simply because they are a different style, but you get my point. I did have to replace the original set due to the previous owner keeping her outside and clearly never conditioning the leather, but luckily I found an OEM set on Ebay for cheap(ish).
Now for the extremely short and subjective part of the review when I discuss the design. I think these bikes are extremely good looking from most angles and adding a batwing fairing, like my dad has, only makes it better.
I occasionally take my windscreen off and she looks awesome stripped down too, the only gripe here is the massive brackets for the saddlebags are an eyesore if you ride without them.
Up until this point, I would rate the V-Star 1300 Tourer an 8.5/10 Happy Helmets, especially when you consider the cost and reliability. However, there is a massive BUT that has to be mentioned: Upgrades/Parts.
I can easily rant about this for 1,000 words but I’ll keep down to a couple short paragraphs. Let’s break this down by category:
Performance: Forget any internal upgrades, you are stuck with swapping air cleaners, exhaust (basically five options if you have the Tourer trim), and a couple tuners. In order to get the best performance bump, there is only one setup with two intake options. You buy the Cobra PowerFlo intake ($350, Cobra 2-1 Slip-on ($300), and the Ivan’s ECU flash ($350). With these upgrades you can expect the gains listed below. While this performance gain is great, the idea of building the exact bike you want is out of the window.
Exterior Luggage: This is specific to the Tourer model with OEM saddlebags but I feel like Yamaha made this model deliberately difficult to mount luggage and luggage accessories on. Let’s start with the luggage rack, just look at it. I cannot understand what this upward-turning design achieves? You can’t mount a trunk or Rik-Rack type system to it and you can’t just buy and aftermarket rack because Yamaha built a specific mount just for the Touring model brackets that a Cobra style luggage rack won’t mount to. The one alternative I’ve found is the Wompus Rack, which is made to work with the OEM brackets but it’s just a flat steel metal design which doesn’t work with all types of luggage. Just throwing it out it there Yamaha, this design is terrible.
OEM Parts: I could talk about the lack of aftermarket parts that plague many metric cruisers, but the real annoyance is just how damn expensive OEM parts are. While it’s easy to joke about the Harley Davidson tax, Yamaha has managed to stand right next to Harley while gouging you for dollars. Let’s talk about those awesome saddlebags. Here is a set of similar style Harley Davison branded locking bags that you can buy for $850. Here is a similar set of leather-wrapped Viking bags for $600. While the Yamaha OEM saddlebag is currently unavailable, my past research showed that I would have had to pay roughly $600-700 per bag for the OEM part. That is crazytown, and while I love the bags, they are just leather-wrapped plastic with a basic lock. These are not custom painted or loaded with speakers or any electronics for that matter. All of Yamaha’s OEM parts have this premium.
While I have other tiny complaints, these are things you can bring up about many other motorcycles. It’s the previously mentioned issues that really hamper what is otherwise an excellent light touring bike, and bring my score down to a 7.5/10 helmets. That being said, the 1300 Tourer can be the perfect bike for someone who doesn’t care about modifying their bike and has no need for an ultra long-distance tourer. That person is my dad actually and really has no complaints about this model, especially since he has installed the batwing fairing. He has told me that the only reason he’d replace this 1300 is when he decides to get the Street Glide he has always wanted, and that’s mainly just because he has always wanted an HD.
For me, the 1300 is exactly the bike I was trying to buy after the Suzuki M50. I can throw 300 miles down in a day without blinking an eye and also bumble around town with no effort. Highway speeds are easy to maintain while backroad pulls remain satisfying. Also, my investment into this ride is very low! I purchased Betsy for $2,000, upgraded to and Ultimate seat with a backrest for $500, slip-on Cobra exhaust for $275 plus the new handlebars and grips for $300. The smaller parts add up to about $400 which include the phone mount, charging port, SAE port, and cruise lock. All added up, I have $3,500 into a bike that I can easily sell for around $3,500 in current condition. I call that a financial win.
And that’s the best way to sum up my experience with Betsy so far: A financial win. I wish I could really customize this bike to make her feel special, but that’s not what this ride is for me. I can throw miles down on this motorcycle and never had to worry about it. Betsy is as reliable as a hammer and since there isn’t too much value for these models, I have zero guilt about throwing down the miles. That last fact is oddly enough what makes her the perfect bike if you can only have one cruiser in your stable, and for that, I love her.
Check Sean’s review from Srkcycles to see another opinion!
It’s no secret that COVID-19 turned 2020 into a mess of a year. While the virus and subsequent quarantining certainly effected our daily lives, it also hindered our ability to travel. For us moto-obsessed folks, traveling is less of a hobby and more of a mental pressure release valve. A necessary part of life to help quiet the crazy voices and anxiety that circle around us.
The real gut-shot was having to cancel every idea of a long weekend trip due to safety. Ideas of riding up to the Finger Lakes in NY and freely traveling to scenic views and wineries were squashed and even the quick moto-camping trip had to be halted. The only riding that was safely achievable involved localish loops with the occasional takeout meal. Yes, I was riding which was the most important part, but it just wasn’t the same! The memories I hoped to gain and new experiences of long-haul runs were shoved to the back-burner while trying to find masks that didn’t fog my glasses up took precedence. Clearly, 2020 was a let down.
Now, it’s a halfway through February 2021 and I don’t know what to do. Normally I’d start picking destinations or routes to visit and soft-plan the timeframe needed, but it all feels a bit pointless. While vaccines should bring about us back to a semi-normal life, it’s still a big question of when that will be? Can I finally plan my trip to the Tail of the Dragon in June? Will me and some buddies be able to book a campsite in May without worrying about eating and socially-distant attractions? Will I break down and buy that DRZ-400… oh wait that’s for a different post. It’s just a bummer that many of us can’t plan ahead to a more exciting year.
Yes, these thoughts and concerns are relatively small in the big-picture of COVID-19 safety. While my adherence to CDC and physician guidelines have hampered an important part of my life, it’s all for the sake of remaining safe and healthy. However, that doesn’t mean I have to refrain from complaining about it here and dreaming of the day where I can take a spontaneous trip across PA without have to plan COVID-safe stops.
As for 2021, who truly knows when and how we can all plan our two-wheeled adventures? Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later because Betsy (my V-Star) is very tired of staying in Jersey. Soon, Betsy, soon.
The perfect second motorcycle must be a universal questions that any moto-sexual fool ponders late at night.
“Should I get that beater dual-sport on Craigslist and discover my inner explorer”?
“Oooooo maybe splurge on that big-daddy Road Glide and travel the country in recliner-like comfort”?
“Unleash the demon, grab that Dyna Low Rider and yeet myself to shaky Twin Cam heaven”?
These are the questions that run through my head while surfing CycleTrader after consuming at least one whiskey. However, what is the perfect second motorcycle to buy? Everyone’s requirements/needs will be different, but let’s go through my personal conundrum.
My current ride is Betsy, the 2012 V-Star 1300 Tourer that I’ve already logged about 12k on since buying in 2019. I consider Betsy a great medium tourer for the money and have no intention of selling her since the everyday-rideability of this bike is fantastic. Which leads me to the ascension of true motorcycle obsession by adding another bike to the stable.
Since Betsy can handle the everyday stuff well, this left me thinking about what what specific role do I want for the second ride? After much thought, I was left with a few areas that Betsy certain can’t do: long-distance trips, off-road adventures, or silly noises/big torque fun. For the sake of saving time, I then found my favorite bikes in those categories to drool over.
For long-distance trips, the Road Glide has all the comfort (especially with upgraded suspension) and storage I would ever need. I’m still in the middle of if I like the Shark Nose or Batwing fairing better, but I’ve heard enough about the high speed advantages of the Shark Nose to lean in that direction. I did choose the M8 engine over a more affordable Twin Cam due to the smoothness the M8 provides and overall reliability/performance upgrades. That being said, the Twin Cam is precisely why I picked my next option.
Everybody has heard the term DynaBro at this point. The cult following is huge and it’s possible that club-style builds are being a bit too common now. However, this does not change the fact that I drool over a built Twin Cam sitting in a Dyna Low Rider. While I would love the M8 in a touring application, the sound of cammed TC chugging around town is V-Twin perfection and you have a million ways to customize your build. In an oddly perfect situation, I would find a higher-mileage Low Rider S and build that 110 into a fire-breathing demon. We can dream cant we?
Last on my list is the most practical, but potentially the most rewarding option: the mule that is a DRZ 400. Over the past six months I’ve had uncontrollable urges to veer off the pavement and tackle some single-track paths. I’ve heard about the challenge it is to take on off-road riding and also how freeing it can be. Not worrying about potholes, texting riders or the unavoidable Prius of doom sounds amazing. Plus, with a DRZ 400 or even the larger DR 650, I would have enough streetability to get to places outside my area and do some camping trips. As a side-note, a simple design like the DRZ is just so easy to wrench on that if a part fails, it’s no big deal. Not to mention the cost is a fraction of my other two choices.
So here I sit, on a snowy Monday morning, wrestling over a purchase that I am nowhere ready to make. The practical side of my head is all over the DRZ path, but my lusty side is pawing at the DynaBro life. My crumb of comfort is knowing that a vast majority of riders are/have had this same conundrum and hopefully made the right choice. I guess the only correct choice is finding a bag of money and buying all three right?
Of all the issues I’ve faced while riding through winter, finding winter riding gloves has proven to be the ongoing battle.
You’d think that after investing in a set of REV’IT! Trocadero gloves in 2018, I’d have found the answer to my frozen fingers. Between their Thinsulate G (wut), tri-fleece (k), and hydratex (sounds fancy) liners and gauntlet design, anyone’s paws would be able to handle a ride around town at the very least…but no.
If you can get past how these gloves inhibit any feeling of your controls, they only remain effective for a substantial time at sub-35mph speeds. Did I mention you cant feel what’s attached to your handlebars. Why is it so hard to find a relatively affordable glove that keeps my potato fingers thawed while allowing me to feel if I’m touching my turn signals or a friendly caterpillar?
Can I spend more on the next set of winter gloves? Sure. Could I also invest in heated grips/barkbusters to help the performance for any glove I wear? Also yes, but there is an option that most touring riders are shouting about at this point. The best option left is Heated Gloves.
For the squids yeeting around in Mechanix gloves, heated gloves are wired directly to your battery and act just like the heated seat in a car. I think back to skiing and the world of difference a heating pad in your mitten makes on a windy morning. The problem with a heated gloves is mainly the cost. Looking over Revzilla’s product page will show most of these gloves averaging $150-175. Not too crazy compared to other winter gloves right? Wrong. Unless you want to have a dangly wire going to your battery or take the time to wire a new connector closer to your handlebars, it’s a pretty safe assumption that you’ll want the corresponding jacket or shirt to make the wiring easier and aid the effectiveness of the heating system. Let’s put it this way, a heated hand can only provide so much comfort when blood is being pumped through cold arms. This is why controlling the heat in your core is the most effective way to keep your extremities warm.
The last issue is really not an issue at all but more of personal choice: I love riding in the winter. Despite my frozen taquito fingers, I love the feeling of cold, crisp air running around me as I trundle down the road. Plus, I’m wearing my safest gear on these rides since they happen to be the warmest. All the armor, all the coverage, all of the Michelin-Man visuals for passerby’s. Also, if you’ve never taken a ride down a woody-backroad with snow surrounding you, it is a very special experience.
While this is more of a rant to vent some returning frustrations, I have no desire to stop my winter rides do to this discomfort. If anything, it’s another obstacle to overcome which fuels the moto-obsessed soul that I am! It’s like the person who purposely pushes their bladder for 30 more minutes because the twisties keep calling.
Will I stop riding in the cold because of this? Nope. Will I complain a bout it until I splurge on a heated system for my bike? Absolutely.
In my great state of New Jersey, bikers are doing a ritual dance of joy as Spring finally shoves Winter out of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I love the beauty and peacefulness that snow can provide. However, my addiction to riding means I itched for every passable day to strap on layers of warm clothing to ride. Maybe I will have the extra cash next Winter to grab some awesome heated gear, but I digress.
The days of riding like an Eskimo or over and I was finally able to commute to work two weeks ago on Selene. My new position is located in Trenton which provides me a solid ride up 295 before entering the lawless city of my employer. Seriously folks, people in this area must have passed the express drivers education course because lane-discipline and proper following distances need-not-apply.
This was the second day that I was able to ride up since most mornings have still been around the 30 degree mark and I would rather not have Popsicle hands upon arriving to my office. The ride up was fantastic and luckily the traffic gods were on my side. The highway may not be a fun and twisty back-road, but there is something wonderfully ‘Murica about a v-twin motor rumbling down the highway. After sitting at work, counting down the time until I could saddle back up, 4:30 hits and I fly out of the door. All my gear is on, earplugs and Sena headset are connected, and I roar away from the office…for a few blocks.
Down the street from my building, I hear a PANG and I feel my rear wheel start to skip. It felt like something in my driveshaft has seized, Selene is broken, and poo is now vigorously firing from my underpants since I am traveling at 30-35mph. Due to my immense skill, thousands of miles under my belt, but mostly my MSF training, I bring her to a halt and quickly find the problem. Plastic pins and two bolts in my rear light housing had failed which dropped the whole assembly, including my license plate, onto the rear tire. More of my immense skill and craftsmanship enabled me to botch it together together for my 35-mile ride home. Note to any new riders, you would be surprised what some duct tape and a gym towel can do.
When I arrived back home, I realized how lucky I was that no severe damage was done to Selene and how light I felt after the mass poo evacuation that occurred just an hour before. After I cleaned myself off though, I had a sense of pride wash all over me. It was a right-of-passage that I had cleared and was one step closer to calling myself a “real biker”. I had faced a mechanical calamity, all by myself, and remedied the problem to a point of safeishly getting back home. While my lovely metric bike rarely has a breakdown, most riders of Harley’s, Eurobikes, or anything vintage will attest that dealing with mechanical issues is something you must be comfortable with. Now I can proudly say I jumped one of those hurdles.
To wrap up my triumphant day, I would like to shout out my shop. Mt. Holly Motorsports has been my go-to shop since I started riding/bought Selene. I was going to go to DHY but after my father had an issue with his Yamaha during a carburetor service, I found them after an extensive Google search and also found out that they are a licensed Suzuki dealer. This made it an easy choice for my precious first motorcycle.
I strapped up the fender again and rode over on Saturday after speaking to Scott in their Parts department. I was having trouble identifying the replacement bolts on Suzuki’s OEM diagram so I needed to take it them to verify what I needed. After Scott checked out the damage, he went back into the shop as I started talking with fellow riders Scott (who had a Suzuki C50T), and a funny German obviously named Klaus (who had a new Ninja 650). A few minutes later, I noticed Scott had come back to my bike and was replacing the bolts right there in the parking lot. Afterwards he said I was good to go, and would need to replace an inner fender piece to be 100% perfect, but the bolts that were replaced will hold everything just fine.
I was happily surprised he did this and as I was saying thank you, I asked how much for the repair. Scott insisted there was no cost since it was pretty easy for him to do right then and there, but that would not do. I gave him $20 and told him that he not only saved me the few bucks in buying the bolts, but the time of squeezing my hand inside the fender to re-secure them. That’s what awesome customer service should be, and now I know who my go-to guy is over at Mt. Holly Motorsports.
Moral of the story, Selene is great, I love my shop, and I feel like real biker, happy Spring everyone.
I am a faithful man, the idea of cheating on Selene is not something I really think about, but something has recently been creeping up on me. Before you ask, the Street Glide pictured above is by no means in my financial spectrum, but damn it’s perfect.
My 2005 Suzuki M50 is perfect to me. I found her with 15,000 miles and currently she has a little over 18,000. Three thousand amazing miles and my first bike still makes me grin like an idiot every time I climb on to her…take that statement as you want. While I have long thought about getting a second bike to compliment Selene’s downsides, I really haven’t thought about replacing her.
While she is only 800cc, Selene only weighs about 500lbs and can be shifted around with ease. No, she is not superbike fast but almost no cruiser is so I could care less. She is quick enough and the Cobra Drag Pipes make every mph scream forward. She is not a high maintenance gal. With fuel-injection, shaft drive, and proven Suzuki reliability, there is no hint this bike is 18-years-old. Plus, under “normal” riding, she even gets 45 miles-per-gallon. Under my “spirited” riding, I still have no issue returning around 40. Add all of this to a sleek design and a Mustang seat which was worth every penny, I don’t want to believe there is a logical reason to part ways.
However, it’s a funny thing once you realize you are properly obsessed with motorcycles. What you do not understand until it happens first-hand is just how connected you become to your motorcycle. It is because of that I almost hurt thinking about upgrading Selene to something that covers my needs a little better. A larger engine will give me needed torque to make highways less uncomfortable. A little more weight and a better suspension setup will provide a more comfortable ride. As of now, Selene rides tight and can cause some pains after a prolonged ride. Also, the M50 in general does not have the aftermarket supply as many other motorcycles so customizing is very difficult. For all these reasons, Selene and I may part ways towards the end of this year. My brain knows it, my wallet knows it, but my heart is finding every reason to fight it.
I remember the first moment I realized I loved Selene. I decided to ride to Atlantic City for no reason and it was a hot day. I will admit to not wearing my jacket but to be honest I didn’t care. It was a perfect day to ride to the beach. While once I got down to the shore, all clouds left the sky and a great breeze hit the island. Everything was perfect, it was honestly like a date. I was just bobbing around with me visor open, having the salty air brush my face, Red Hot Chili Peppers playing in my Sena, and the roar of Selene in the background. Since it was during the week, there was no traffic and I was able to zip around as I please. I even did some minor off-roading near the Golden Nugget casino when I made a wrong turn and jumped a few curbs. I pulled over on a beach-block and just looked at Selene, realizing that she was perfect for the trip, no other bike would have given me the same experience.
Even moments that I thought would be scary turned out being enjoyable. I rode to work thinking I had clear weather for the whole day. Turns out my app made a mistake and it was torrentially down-pouring by 12PM. As I geared up to leave work, it became clear that the rain was no letting up and I was going to have to ride home. To some experienced riders this might not sound that challenging, but at the time I had only rode through light sprinkles before. While my journey home is only 15 minutes, I was pretty nervous. What happened as I started riding still confuses me, I started laughing. The entire ride home I was laughing and making all my best Jeremy Clarkson noises. I HAD FUN. When I got home I specifically remember patting her on the tank and saying good girl. If I have not made it clear, Selene and I have a bond.
As I type that, all the memories I have with her are coming back and I am kicking myself for thinking of getting rid of her. Maybe once I have a larger budget, I can get a bigger cruiser that fits my needs without needing to get rid of Selene. Throw a batwing and some hard-bags on her to make the perfect light-tourer. Who knows, but what I do know is I’ll be wrestling with this every time I decide hop on the old Craigslist and browse my heart away.
Truth be told, this is not a new bike, and maybe not the most exciting bike, but for my uncle this is his awesome new bike. Until last week, old man Rubinson rode a black/olive-green 2005 V-Star 1100 which was his first bike since the dinosaurs roamed the earth, aka the 80’s.
The “olive” was a nice bike for him. Being that he is 5’9″ and roughly 200lbs, the V-Star physically fit him well and was an overall good bike to get him back into riding. It wasn’t crazy powerful, had a extremely comfortable riding position, and a host of accessories for him to choose from. However, as any rider knows, there is always something nicer out there so he recently decided that he wanted to upgrade to something that fit his needs a little better.
What he was essentially looking for was a bike that could mimic a Harley Davidson Street Glide without costing anywhere near $20,000. Sure, he could have bought one used, but the year-range of H-D he could afford isn’t exactly known for their reliability he didn’t feel like having a tinker-toy. This essentially left him going back to metric cruisers. Through talking with myself and doing his own research, he even found a great range of bikes that fit that requirement right around the size of the Street Glide, but then I found what would become the perfect bike.
The black & blue/purple 2009 V-Star 1300 wasn’t a model he was initially considering mainly due to the 1300cc motor. Even I was trying to find something in the 1600-2000cc range to best mimic the Street Glide, but I pulled up this V-Star for him to look at for a couple key reasons.
Old man wanted hard-saddlebags. After having a nice pair of soft-bags on the 1100, he realized that in order to maximize storage, durability, and security, hard-bags were the way to go. This model came with them out of the factory and look great on the bike, not all accessory saddles can say the same.
Old man doesn’t want to tinker. The 1100 V-Star ran like a Civic, and by that I mean nothing ever went wrong. While metric cruisers in general are very reliable, V-Stars are always at the top of those click-bait articles about reliability. With the 1300 having fuel-injection, liquid cooling, and belt-drive, these bike is meant to run for years without inconveniencing the owner. Granted, the 1100 was shaft-driven and even more reliable, we realized that belts were more common on the larger “CC” motors.
Old man isn’t exactly a big man. Probably the most important reason I sent this to him to check out was actually the size. The 1300 has the same seat height, floor board spacing, and almost the same weight of the older 1100. This means that het is getting just about every upgrade he wants without riding a monster. This consideration doesn’t mean much for someone who is six feet tall and can easily flat-foot a bagger, but that gets sketchier and sketchier as your height drops. During the ride home, he even said how it feels great since it just feels like the super version of the old V-Star, which he really enjoyed riding.
Obviously, old man Rubinwrinkles liked the bike and it is now in our garage as the jealous old V-Star get ready to go up for sale, but what do I think of it? In short, very nice light-tourer that doesn’t quick fit my riding style.
The first thing is that I noticed was that it does pull decently hard. At roughly 630lbs, the glass-smooth V-Twin will pull down the road with ease and you can’t comfortably pop it into 5th gear until over 60 mph. This tells me that you can comfortably sit at 75+mph on the highway all day long. Also, the seating position is very standard with you legs not stretched out at all. Now, I personally like a little stretch but my uncle does not, this position fits him great since his legs aren’t that long so I get it. The same can be said for the stock handlebar. It tucks back towards the rider with the grips angled in as well. Your arms, like your legs, are not extended at all which adds to the everyday comfort of the V-Star.
The styling is nice too. This is not trying to copy an H-D but has very nice lines that don’t force a certain style on you. It is actually a tad on the under-stated side which for people like my uncle, is preferable. Going along with the styling, because this particular bike only had 5,000 miles, it really does look and feel brand new. This is a bike that he can ride until that brand new Street Glide becomes a reality. There are a few smaller upgraders he wants to do but the two major ones will be a lighting system for night riding, and a batwing fairing. Once he gets these upgrades bolted on, this unassuming Yamaha will be perfect for him.
However, there is a downside when it came to bringing this bike home. It’s a big one really. I now have to itch to buy a new bike. Why are the motoring gods so cruel!
Just yesterday, my uncle bought a new bike. Now it isn’t new, it’s a 2009, and although we were at an H-D dealer, the bike was a Yamaha V-Star 1300. While I will go into details about the bike in another article, the point of this is to show how Chris from Lakewood Harley Davidson made that buying experience a pure joy.
The reason this surprised me is the experience I had at Barb’s Harley throughout taking my MSF course there, and being at the dealer for various events/rides. I guess it makes sense to start with Barb’s right? I generally like going to any dealership just because window-shopping is a blast, but also it is nice to feel-out the people that work there. Both me and any given sales rep know that I am not in the market for a $15,000 bike at the moment, and I don’t expect to be treated special for just stepping foot into the dealership. However, I want to be able to talk to someone and LEARN about the bikes, and by having someone casually tell me about the new Milwaukee-Eight 114ci motor makes me want it and the expensive bike it’s bolted to.
While at Barb’s, I was generally ignored or immediately tried to be sold on financing a Street 750…no. It was almost like the saw this young guy without tattoos, for now, and immediately consider I’m just a dingleberry who doesn’t bikes so just get him on this plastic learner and get him out the door. Nobody tried to just be normal and shoot the shit with me and get a relationship built up, because of that, I really never had a desire to consider buying a bike there. My dream of having one of four Harley’s was just that, a nice dream to have years down the road.
That all changed yesterday thanks to a cool dude from Shamong.
My uncle had talked with Chris on the phone before we drove an hour to look at it so he was already set to deal with him. I am like my uncle where if we are going to take the time to see something in person, we are serious about buying it and he made sure Chris knew that. So after a lovely lunch at Whole Hog Cafe and many conversations about the bike, we arrive a Lakewood. The dealership itself it very nice, and like Barb’s, there are plenty of bikes outside to wet your whistle before walking through the door.
We see the V-Star outside and take a quick look before going inside and she looks great, old man is happy thus far. We go inside and meet Chris, as it turns out, I have seen him at Barb’s for some rides and he worked there for awhile too. Without going through a transcript of the entire time with him, Chris did the perfect thing any sales rep should do; leave the B.S. at the door. H-D dealers don’t like having metric bikes on their lots and all three of us knew it. This was about makes a quick dollar and trying to move it out. There was no attempt to up-sell to an H-D, there was no mention about financing until he physically had to ask during the paperwork, and he even brought the bike into their service department to get the clutch tension inspected at our request.
More importantly, when my uncle did confess to his desire to save and buy his dream Street Glide, Chris didn’t even talk about pricing or new features or anything of the sort. Now you may ask why this is important, so I shall tell you. My uncle (and mostly me) research bikes and cars before buying and know our stuff. He also has me, the walking encyclopedia of motors, to tell him about anything related to bikes and cars. Chris, I assume, picked up on that in various conversations and realized that we know about the Street Glide, we both want a Street Glide, we know about various features and specs on the Street Glide, we know. There was no need to sell us on one since we already are drooling over them and have made it clear that we cannot afford them for ourselves which is why my uncle is buying the V Star.
He is the type salesperson who can read is clients well and is only interested in making us happy while making a quick dollar. We also already know he made his money off the previous owner of the V-Star since he traded this bike in on a brand new H-D and knows him personally. He even called him on his cell to ask a few questions we had about the bike. Once again, you might think this is silly, common sense, why am I still reading? What Chris did, and I am dead serious about this, is ensure that when either my uncle or myself are ready to get our first H-D’s, we will be coming directly to him and Lakewood Harley.
What makes this extra warm and fuzzy is that people like Chris are exactly the type of people we need in motorcycle dealerships in order to get more people buying and riding bikes! If you do a little research, you will find that while more people are currently buying motorcycles in the U.S. of A, they are buying used bikes. That is simply due to people my age who want to ride but cannot logically afford a new bike thanks to student loan debt, higher cost of living, and Candy Crush. I say logically because that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t buy a new bike, there is just little reason to since we aren’t seeing the benefit and that is the fault of every dealer out there.
When I was at Barb’s H-D, I felt like I was ignored for a variety of reasons and I partially get it, but at the same time I have no connection and reason to spend my money at a dealership 20 minutes from my house. At Lakewood H-D, Chris made me feel welcome. The way he helped my uncle buy a relatively cheap metric bike told me that I should really try and get my savings in order so I can buy one of the many H-D’s I want from him.
So to Chris, thank you. In about a year or two, expect my call about a flat white Street Glide or 114 Heritage Classic. You are my H-D hero and thank you for getting me excited about buying an H-D…eventually….someday…we’ll talk.