Computers may be a fascination, but motorcycles are a passion (ever wonder why this site is called 'openroad?'). My current bike (and previous two also) is a 1996 Yamaha VMax, a 1200cc 'musclebike'. Things are different on a bike. People talk to you, kids stare and wave, and you just get more of an outdoor feeling, when travelling. Not all stories have a happy ending though.
The VMax (with selling hype nicknames of "Mr. Max", and "Mighty Max") weighs 579 lbs., and produces about 118 rear-wheel horsepower. My bike has some additions: A SuperTrapp exhaust pipe, and a Stage I Jet Kit (it's an adjustment to the carbeurator, not a real jet!). According to my mechanic, it produces 125 horsepower now. The stock bike has a top speed of 147 MPH, and does the quarter mile in about 10.8 seconds. The exhaust and Jet Kit don't make the bike faster, it just gets it to it's top speed in less time.
When people ask me "When would you ever need to go 147 PMH", my answer is always "When your racing someone doing 146". I'm the first to admit that I lose all sensibility while riding, usually. (Isn't this supposed to end with age?)
The bike is comparitivly heavy, and can be hard to steer. Few bikes beat it in a straight line, and there have been plenty of times when I've started to feel the rear wheel slipping going into turns fast. Take the bike on a real twisty road at a decent speed, and your body will be tired at the end of the road. The bike will lean into turns, but it sure doesn't 'flick'.
My love of bikes started around 14 or so, and I was immediately captivated by the thought of a cross-country motorcycle trip. At that time, my bike of choice was a Yamaha FJ1200, which is pretty comical, given my lack of an allowance. Maybe it was the promise of speed and adrenaline, maybe it was the girls (I think everything I did at 14 revolved around girls), or the promise of some real freedom.
But, as time went on, I got myself a job, and admittedly, the bike fell to the wayside, as more important things occupied my thoughts (uh... girls). It was always in the back of my mind. Riding a friends moped, just about any car trip over 20 minutes, riding my bicycle, my thoughts always wandered to what the trip would be like on a real bike. Then one day, I realized I was an adult, with a job (it just kinda snuck up on me), and I decided it was time.
Within a couple months, I had a motocrcycle license, and my first real bike: a Yamaha Radian 600. A bike that I would love dearly, while thrashing severely at the same time. The Radian set me free. Growing up in the city, without much money, New Jersey was as far as I had ever gone. Suddenly, everything seemed open to me.
I was constantly taking weekend trips. PA, upstate NY, MA, CT, VT, NH, VA, DC, little towns, trees, farms, mountains. This was all like another world for a kid who grew up in Hell's Kitchen. I can remember the first time I saw the fall foliage of New England, and thinking I had discovered something incredible. I had.
The trips got longer, and eventually I took my first vacation on the bike. I took my girlfriend on a 3-day ride, then brought her back, and then turned right back around to spend the next 9 days riding the back roads in New England. That trip, was a blast.
But, nothing can quite compare to my cross-country trip, in 1995. But that's a story in itself.
For now (winter '97), it's just used for commuting (talk about overkill). Not many people seriously ride bikes in NY. Even fewer do so in the winter. But as long is there's no snow or ice on the road, I'm there. hell, anyone can ride a bike in sunny california, but it takes someone truly obsessed to ride in 14 degree weather through the taxi-filled streets of NY.
There's a couple things I'ld like to do with motorcycles now. One, is to rebuild a project bike. I was hoping to do it this winter ('97), but my class load has been too intense. I was thinking of an '89 Kawaski GPZ750 which my mechanic has. A cool part of owning a bike, is working on it, and having a real project of this nature is right up my alley. Whether I restored it to original condition, or suped up condition (I don't think an 89 GPZ can get too suped up) would probably be a dillema, but I'ld be willing to bet I'ld go for the suped up.
I also want to take a road racing course. There are several motorcycle racing schools that follow the racing circuit around, and they often have meets in Glenns Falls, NY. For about $250 for the day, you get some instruction, a full leather racing suit (you can't keep it!), and a 500-600 cc racebike to whack to death on a professional race track. I'ld even think of taking the VMax to amateur quarter mile races.
The Yamaha site for the VMax has some pictures and specs on the bike. But in all honesty, Ingo Ullrich of Germany has the best VMax site, though I've never emailed with him.
All the pictures on this page, are from my bike trips. Most are from the cross-country trip, and shot on Velvia slide film with a Nikon FM2 camera.