I was in Ohio last weekend. My parents are getting older and my wife can’t rest until she does her own assessment of their health. Deb (my wife) and I drove up on Friday, she suggested I take the bike but I was afraid I wouldn’t have time to ride and, if I found the time, I would be accused of ignoring my family. So, after visiting the folks and putting our collective minds at ease, we decided to drive over to visit Deb’s mom and dad. Her parents were fine and it was decided that we would stay for a family cook-out on Saturday evening. By 4 o’clock Saturday afternoon, I was getting a little bored. The weather was beautiful, the Midwest sun was shining and a cool breeze was working around the paved country road that ran in front of my in-laws home. It seemed like every five minutes or so another motorcycle or two would thunder down the road leaving me even more bored and wishing I had taken the time to load my Honda Shadow in the back of the truck.
About 4:30 p.m. I heard another bike buzzing down the road except instead of roaring past the drive this bike started gearing down like it was going to turn in the drive that circled the in-laws home. I was surprised to see my oldest nephew pulling into the drive on a shiny red CBR600. Now I’ve been riding since I was 9 or 10 years old—mini bikes with Tecumseh lawnmower motors, screaming dirt bikes that were at home crashing through rocky creek beds and climbing up hills in southern Ohio, and road bikes ranging from Hondas CB350’s to my current favorite ride, a Honda Shadow. But I’ve only ridden two or three true sport bikes, and then it was only to test them out after I’d done some work on them for their respective owners. A friend of mine dropped his Suzuki GSXR600 and I replaced a few pieces of fairing and the handlebars. Another friend of mine had a Suzuki Bandit and I ended up doing all the service and tune-ups for him. My rides on both bikes were really not much more than a trip up and down the road to make sure the fairing wasn’t going to rattle and the tune up had the desired effect, i.e. no hesitation while accelerating and a smooth idle and no leaks. My experience on this type of bike was limited to say the least.
My nephew pulled onto the garage approach and put the stand down on the CBR.
“You didn’t ride up Uncle Jim?” he asked with a true look of surprise.
“Not this time,” I must have sounded depressed as I answered.
“Well, take this thing for a ride and let me know what you think,” he said as he tossed me the key.
I climbed on the CBR and the first thing I noticed was the bike had been lowered a couple of inches, the stand had been cut off so, when parked, the bike still had a little lean to it. I turned the key on and hit the start switch. The CBR sprang to life and I pulled out onto the two-lane road in front of my in-laws home. I wasn’t in love with the riding position, my feet were back behind my hips and the flat bars had me leaning much further forward than I am used too. I took my time for the first five or six miles just to get the “feel” of the bike. It was very responsive and I forgot all about the riding position as I was buzzing down the road. As I got more comfortable with the bike, I started opening it up a little. This bike ran like a new one, the throttle response was immediate and the bike rolled through the curves with almost no effort. I worked my way around a “country” block, which totaled about 15 miles. I stopped and figured I’d really see what this little red beauty would do.
From a dead stop, the CBR lurched forward like a rocket. I worked the throttle and watched the tach as I worked the bike through the curves that would take me back to my in-laws house. As I started leaning into a tricky curve, I shifted into forth gear and noticed that the speedometer was reading 102 mph. I eased up on the throttle as I got closer to the drive that led to my destination. I must have been smiling as I pulled into the drive and my nephew was standing there with my wife. He was smiling and she was looking at me like I’d done something wrong.
“Well, what do you think?” my nephew asked.
“This is really nice,” I replied.
“Did you get a chance to open it up a little bit?” my nephew questioned me.
“Oh yeah, I’d be anxious to see what this thing would top out at, I got just over 100 in forth gear before I shut it down.” I spoke before thinking, because Deb had her hands on her hips and was giving me that look of disapproval. My nephew smiled and headed back towards the house after I handed him the key.
“What are you thinking? You’re not 20 years old anymore.” At least she waited until our nephew was out of ear shot.
“Relax”, I said, “no harm no foul”
Deb just shook her head and headed back towards the house. I stood there and looked at the CBR for a few minutes before I headed back in. My mind was turning around trying to figure out a way to convince her that maybe we should invest in one of these. Well, even if I can’t talk her into the necessity of having a sport bike in our little collection, at least I got to experience how well bikes like this handle, and I’m all the better for it. Now I just have to work on Deb’s attitude.