Thursday, February 1

The countdown begins!

That Yamaha FZ1 is a beautiful machine!

Cycle World’s International Motorcycle Show will be here Friday, February 9th through Sunday, February 11th. My “must sit on” list is completed. It includes the entire new line of BMW 650s (the Xchallenge, Xcountry; Xmoto). (Photo of the Xchallenge from BMW_AG)
I definitely want to feel the thrill of the F800ST and the F800S to compare the two. Of course, I will check out the highly acclaimed BMW R1200R, which takes the place of my former dream bike, the R1150R. The R1200R
is lighter and supposedly a better bike on all accounts than the R1150R, which I thought was simply perfect. Of course, I’m salivating over the 2007 Suzuki SV650--I owe it to my '01 SV650 to check out its new sibling. The remaining list includes the Kawasaki KLR650, the KLX250s—I’d love to get dirty with these dual sports, and the popular Ninja 650R.
Yamaha’s FZ1 is a two-wheeled jet that I once had a ride on and loved every minute. A safety instructor took me on a ride on his and to this day, I don’t know why we didn’t take flight! It is too much power for my riding style—and skills—but I sure like its standard/naked looks. The new one has adjustable front forks and rear shocks, which means (to me at least) that this bike is ready for all kinds of riding be it on the track and streets. At the Honda pavilion, it’s the 599 that I want to sit on and daydream. The reviews always describe it as a great bike but they never fail to point out that it is way overpriced for this category and hard to justify buying when compared to the ton ‘o fun SV650, the Kawasaki Ninja 650R, and the Yamaha FZ6—bikes in the same “budget” middleweight category.

I’ll attend both Friday and Saturday although Sunday might be the best opportunity to snare some deals. The less vendors drag back with them, the better they like it, which means savings for the consumer. Last year, I picked up a 3/4 comfy Nolan helmet at a great discount. Good thing the USA distributor is in IL because I ended up having to travel to a far suburb to exchange the helmet, which they had to "rush" order to me. A loose seal in a critical area would have surely unraveled after a few trips. An excellent, comfortable helmet but I ended up rarely wearing it, feeling somewhat under-protected in the chin area. Instead, my HJC Sy-Max HJC became the one I wore all the time. The Sy-Max has served me well but I’m afraid it has sustained a few too many drops for its integrity not to be compromised. My third helmet, the first one I purchased, is mediocre at best and will be worn only in the event that a thief steals the other two and I need to wear it to a dealer to buy a new helmet! The sun visor on the late model Nolans eliminate the need to change visors—not to mention the great light feel of the helmet.
On my longest trip, I wore the lightest smoke visor on my HJC but even it was too dark after the sun went down. I took the clear visor with me but removal and installation are more tedious than necessary. It takes time, concentration, and a bit of yoga breathing to keep the frustration at bay. I thought of wearing the clear visor the whole time but then I would need prescription sunglasses, which I don’t own (that I can actually see with). The Nolan is a perfect solution to end fiddling with and carrying an additional visor. I’m going to take cash with me and the cheapest online price quote and hope that the Nolan folks will either beat it or match the price.

I will be on a mission for earplugs. Most of my friends know about my microscopic ear canals. Even the tiniest plugs are unable to enter my ears easily. When slightly forced inside, my ears accept the intruders but for seconds only, just long enough to trick me into thinking that they are cooperating this time. But soon my ears will pop the plugs out. The only thing I’ve not yet done is duct tape them in, which I have considered. Last year, an audiologist was at the show fitting riders with custom earplugs. I’m going to splurge to protect my hearing. I slacked off from wearing plugs at the end of last season because I nothing I purchased worked I tired of fighting with my ears. They remained sore and tender after these battles. I believe that relentless ringing I now experience in my left ear is probably related to my earplugs issues.

Finally, I’m hoping that the Road Runner magazine folks will be present again as I’m hoping to buy some back issues and talk to them about submission guidelines. I love that magazine!
The ride reports are consistently excellent, the pictures always seductive, and of course, the colorful maps are awesome. This is a mag I’d love to write for when I grow up. Eight days and counting…