(Sorry, it's a long winded tale but scan ahead, I really do get around to asking for help!)
It all started when the BF's (boyfriend, known in these parts as "Hesaid") workplace built a fancy new building and relocated directly nextdoor to our local Suzuki/Honda dealership.. and within site of the Yamaha dealership.
Every spring, he would come down with "motorcycle fever." --And who can blame him?
Then, toward the end of last summer, it got the best of him. By September 2012 he had his heart set on a dual sport. He was eyeing that DR400 a little more lustfully than a girl likes to see her guy look at anything other than her, y'know?
Then we had a few heated "conversations" regarding the subject: For starters-- I had long since outgrown my lust for a vehicle that has only 2 wheels, no heat/ac, and no cupholders. I love a road trip, but I have come to love doing them in vehicles I can nap in, that keep the rain/snow on the outside if I choose to keep slogging through it.
Also, I like cruisers. Low, slow, throaty, sexy beasts-- did I mention "low?" I'm 5'5" with a 31" inseam. And although I do love me some off road in 4 wheel drive-- tackling that type of terrain while trying to balance as well has never particularly appealed to me.
But Hesaid was adamant
about dual sports. He insisted that he knew himself well enough to know that he would never be satifsfied with not being able to check out what's down that road, and that he would certainly destroy an ill-capable bike if he settled for one; and, I admit, there was no way I could argue with that kind of logic. I don't want to have to bypass an opportunity to explore either.
So, once I stopped thinking of dual sports as dirt bikes that I could ride on the road, and started thinking of them as adventure/touring creatures that I could put paniers on and pack with all my backpacking gear and set off to see the world on-- I caved.
THEN we went through several "conversations" about how much on road vs off road each of us envisioned for our futures. (I still think he misrepresented his intentions in order to get me to agree.)
THEN I explained to him in no uncertain terms that I was NOT in a current financial place to go out buying a motorcycle! So if he wanted "US" to have motorcycles, HE was going to have to pony up for them!
Then he dragged me to every bike dealership in town to sit on motocycles.
Then it became it became apparent that he was actually going
to buy us both motorcycles! Oh crap.
And that's about where we started having serious conversations about whether we should listen to what everyone says and start with small bikes, or buy with an eye toward the long term.
Now, I already warned you in the title that this would be a long story long-- but I won't go off on a tangent and include the whole thought process that led us to become the owners of 2 2012 Suzuki DR650s. Suffice it to say that the BF is a frugal man, and the idea of spending $8-10K for two 200-250cc "starter" bikes that wouldn't give us sufficient power to ride at California freeway speeds safely (central CA where the limit is 70 and you're a traffic hazard if you're going less than 80, no lie) so that we could turn around in a year or two and spend another $12-15K on bikes that gave us more oomph did not seem like a sound notion to him. And since these would be his first bikes, he was not keen on the idea of picking up anything used.
So we got DR650's last October. October 26, in fact. I know because I shattered my wrist on October 27th (Reminds me, I should go post in the "heavy metal" thead.)
Despite our ultimate decision to completely ignore the sage advice of those who said we should start on smaller bikes-- we are not impulsive, still-think-we're-immortal, kids who thought we would get bikes on Friday and take them on a 300 mile round trip adventure on Saturday. We had a very mature, and completely boring, grown-up plan: Hesaid brought the bikes from the dealership to his work place on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, we went to his workplace, closed on Saturday on the industrial side of town where everything is closed on Saturdays, and spent an hour or two just riding around the lot where he works (auto sales and repair biz-- big lot) until we (I, mostly) felt comfortable enough with the bike to get out on the deserted side street which would give me enough to room to work through gears. After much time doing this, the plan was to wind our way slowly through back roads to the BF's parents' house where we would be able to stash bikes in the barn and practice riding on the private road until we'd had plenty of practice and a chance to take the safety course and finally venture forth onto the rural roads outside of town-- literally days worth of simple, low-challenge, riding practice before we started thinking we were adventure riders.
Instead, what happened was, we started off on the side street with me in the lead. Halfway across the road I realized I was not going to make the turn from the driveway onto the road. I decided to just stop and start over. I pulled in the clutch but my foot didn't find the rear brake, my glove slipped on the front brake, I coasted to the other side of the street, hit the curb going all of 3 miles an hour, came to an abrupt stop, stalled the bike and lost my balance. Jumped clear of the bike as it went over-- took two steps back, tripped, fell, landed on my arm and broke 3 bones.
And I thought I wasn't in a good financial place to buy a bike before!! SHIT! by the time I met my health insurance deductible I could have just gone ahead and bought one of the two bikes I'm (no seriously, I really am getting there) asking about!
So, I got to have a fancy ORIF surgery on my wrist and spent 2 months not riding my new bike, not working, and building a healthy terror of getting back on the bike.
I have been back on the bike. It has been lowered and I'm much more comfortable on it physically. But suddenly aware of just how big and heavy it is.
MEANWHILE-- Hesaid ended up buying a Fatcat from an acquaintance and the Fatcat now lives in the barn where we had planned to stash the DRs. And it turns out that riding the Fatcat is an entirely different experience for me from our DRs.
What I love about the Fatcat: It has this electric, centrifugal clutch. I like not clutching before shifting-- but I realize I'm not going to get that from another bike. I can clutch and shift, not a major challenge. But once you shift the fatcat into 1st gear, it just idles there, it does not take off. It just idles nice and patiently and waits for you to twist the throttle and you can decide how fast you are willing to go.
The DR650, you shift to 1st, you let off the clutch even a smidge and you're traveling fast enough that you'd better get your feet up...seriously, I don't see myself ever being comfortable enough with the 650 to get offroad. Even at the lower height, I just don't feel I have the leverage in my legs to balance the taller, heavier bike on iffy terrain if I need to do anything with my feet off the pegs.
With the Fatcat (which is still about 300 lbs) it's low, slow, and I am unspeakably confident with it.
So I got to thinking that maybe I need to take a step backward. Put the DR650 on hold and find a smaller, lighter, slower bike to start with. Learn to love riding, then move back up.
HERE! I get to the point HERE
And so I'm torn between the DR200 and the TW200.
Ultimately, my research brings me to the thought that the DR200 will essentially be much like the baby bear version of the 650: lighter, smaller, slower, but essentially the same bike. Everyone seems to love them and the price (yeah, I caved-- I'll spend the money) is good new.
BUT the TW200 seems like it will offer a different riding experience. It will be a different type of bike, not just a baby version of the one I already have. And EVERYONE says they are HELLA FUN. I read through threads about the TW and it tickles! If the Yamaha dealer was open on Sundays, I'd have gone out and got one today!
But before I go do such a thing, I thought I'd explain my longass story about how I got here, so you know what frame of mind I'm coming from.
I'd like to get an idea for how slow I can go. Everyone talks about top speeds on bikes, but what's the slowest I can realistically go on each of these bikes? It turns out, I would like to do some off road stuff, and that means being able to put my foot down for balance over obstacles and rough terrain without worrying about the bike being too heavy or going too fast.
I also want to be able to ride on the street. Both of these bikes will do that-- but I'll stay off the freeways and enjoy the challenge of backroad adventures.
Also-- we have neices and nephews. The 15 year olds love that Fatcat more than I do. And now that I'm struggling with becoming a rider in my 40's I have in my mind that the kids should learn how to ride long before they get to this age! So we would both like to buy our next bike with the kids in mind too-- what will be good for them start off on, what would be good for them to ride on forest roads and trail in Sequoia/Sierra Nat'l forest and on desert trails in Mojave?