Three hundred miles, 3 dealers, 1 awesome tiring day

I was up at 7 at Dad's house with one mission for the day--Bike shopping. So, Joey, Dad, and I piled into his 2008 GMC truck and headed for Gateway Cycles in Mt. Sterling.

As I'd learned earlier in the week, Dealers just don't give Test rides. Well, pish-tosh--Gateway DOES. Worked with Robert and he set me up with three very interesting cycles that I tooled around the parking lot for the better part of an hour.

First up was the Kawasaki Versys:

This bike was a real sweetheart--lithe, responsive, fuel-injected, and balanced. It's a 650, so there's enough oomph there. Dad hated it after his test-ride, but I thought it was GREAT. Great to the tune of $7000. Yay.

Next up was the 650 Ninja. Same engine, just wrapped in a true sportbike chassis and tuned for more high-up power:

I liked it, but I didn't like the sportbike positioning much, and Dad DEFINITELY didn't care for it.

The Ninja 500 felt like I was riding a toy--no torque down low and the bike was just physically much too small for my frame.

The Versys really had me, though.

Next, we traversed to Richmond and went to the Yamaha dealer (I-75 Yamaha) and the Honda shop, but neither allowed test rides. The Honda shop had 2 Rebel 250's that I'd have liked to ride, if for no other reason that to let Dad comment on how ridiculous I looked on it :-)

Alas, no joy--arrange financing, sign all the paperwork, and the test ride is the "acceptance" test. Yeah, no thanks. Why couldn't these guys be more like Gateway Cycles?!

So, the icing on the day was coming back to Jackson and getting a prolonged test ride on my uncle's Yamaha V-Star 650:

As my Dad said: "Now THIS is a bike."

Yep. Aside from the mal-adjusted clutch (engaged in the last 1/4" of travel!), the bike was tons of fun, with plenty of power as I rolled onto the throttle. I did manage to find neutral more often than I'd like, and my left foot often mistook the forward footrest for the gear shifter.

The V-Star didn't want to handle at low-speeds very well, but I chalked that up to there being ZERO friction zone in the clutch. I couldn't ride the clutch, so I couldn't use that big v-twin's gyroscopic motion to balance the bike at slow speeds.

Oddly, at the end of the day, I felt disappointed. Seems like (per usual) I want something not in the traditional crotchrocket/cruiser dichotomy.


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