Friday, June 2, 2006

Get on your Bikes and Ride!

All of a sudden summer has arrived here in Minnesota. As recently as May 22nd the low temperature was 39 degrees F in MSP, and by the next day we had highs above 80 and lows above 60 (and even hit 97 by the 28th). Motorcycling season for the wimpy is finally here. I love to ride, but have no interest in bundling up to keep warm - part of the joy is being out in the open as much as possible. If it isn't above 60 degrees or so it is hard to keep warm, and so it isn't much fun to ride to work until winter's icy grip has finally loosened and the days start out at a comfortable temperature.

My bike is nothing too special, but it is not your typical crotch rocket either. It is comfortable and smooth and quiet, and since my wife thinks it is 'pretty' she likes it too (and it has a trunk, so it is actually useful for commuting, rather than purely fun). It is an '89 Honda Pacific Coast:


One of the reasons that I was especially anxious to get on the road again this spring was to try out my new helmet. I have always had an open-face helmet, which works quite well behind a giant windscreen, but had been thinking I'd like to try a full-face helmet. They provide more protection, which is the only reason to put up with a helmet in the first place, and I was hoping it would cut back on the wind noise too. My wish came true last Christmas when my wife got me a spiffy Arai Astral-X helmet, and I've been impatiently waiting for a chance to see how it works for me. Nothing says luvin' like a premium brain bucket for your sweetie!


I've only been able to put on around 200 miles with it, but so far it is working out great. It is comfy and quiet, and not even too hot (it has great ventilation). At first I thought that the vents might be making a fair amount of wind noise, but eventually I figured out that there is quite a lot of ambient turbulence and noise, and with the helmet generating so little of its own, I can hear that ambient noise.

Now I just need to find some time to ride other than on my commute so I can get out and enjoy a peaceful traffic-free country road.


wunelle said...

It is with profound regret that I announce that my beloved BMW has been sold to some fella from Canada. I will be riding it a final time this upcoming week to make a rendezvous in Detroit. He gets the bike, I get a check. This is intended to ease the sting of an unexpected car payment, at least for this year. Next summer will almost certainly see a new bike (which I was trying to get this year before the Buick showed its colors). I'm ready for a new one, but this current BMW has been my best of the 11 or 12 I've owned.

My dad still has a Pacific Coast and loves it! (My jealousy begins to boil and I'm not even bikeless yet!)

Jeffy said...

Sorry to hear that you'll be bikeless for the summer. At least you are not one to get too emotionally attached to your vehicles (given the 11 or 12 bikes you've owned to my 1).

I've often debated whether it makes sense for me to keep a bike around when I get to use it as little as I do, but the old PC isn't really worth that much, and now that I am not always on kid transport duty I do find more times when I can ride it to work.

So, what are you hoping to replace it with when the finances allow?

wunelle said...

Well, it's all about finances. If contract stuff is done and we're caught up, I may splurge a bit more; otherwise, there are several really great less expensive options (tho I'd probably buy new).

I put up a post in January about my front-runners, and they're still the same, but with a couple additions: the BMW R1200ST, and the new R1200S (tho I think the latter is too sporty for long-distance riding, but given that the K1200S is actually quite comfortable, I won't judge until I ride one).

I have a thing for BMW, as their machinery seems just finished off so beautifully. Plus, there's always a lot of innovative, but solid, engineering for a machinery geek to get wrapped up in. Having said that, I'm really VERY impressed with Erik Buell's Ulysses. At the moment, tho, (post Buick) I'm rather put off of American machinery--especially Harley's homage-to-the-'40s motor--but swing a leg over that bike and all reservations vanish. Job well done. But it has to be said that BMW gets a good $3-4G over a comparable-performance Japanese model (and over the Ulysses), and you'll never hear me say a single bad word about any of the many Honda bikes I've owned.

So I've got lots to chew on with my habitual shopping!

Jeffy said...

Isn't it fun to have so much to choose from!

A professor at my office has been steadily moving up through the ranks from scooters a couple of years ago into real bikes. Each time he gets a new one he wants me to ride it around a while and let him know what I think of it, so I've got to test ride a lot more bikes than I otherwise would have.

None of the scooters did too much for me, but toward the bigger end they weren't bad. He had a large Suzuki scooter, and the new Honda Silver Wing, and both were quite a joy to ride, and would be very functional commuter bikes.

From there he moved up to a Suzuki Boulevard, which was a fun bike, but rather crudely done. After that he got a Vulcan and ended up with a K 1200 LT. I rode the LT quite a bit, and it is VERY nice. He decided to get rid of it this summer, as it just wasn't working out with his old bones (and his artificial hip), it was too high for him to straddle comfortably. I think that he is considering the new Boulevard as a replacement, since that rides so low to the ground, and I hear that it is quite an improvement over the model of two years ago. I am anxious to have it arrive and give it a test drive.

The best thing about all of the test driving is that there wasn't a one of them (well, other than the LT) that I would have traded him my PC for. And, if I had to pay the price differential I wouldn't go for the LT either - it is sweet, but I just wouldn't use it enough to make it worth what it would cost.

Joshua said...

How do these compare to the newer Pacific Coasts? Someone locally is selling a 97 PC for 5000, and I have been searching for a nice bike. Is this a good place to start for the first time owner?

Jeffy said...

Uncle Wunelle may be more up on this than me, but I don't think that Honda changed the Pacific Coasts much over the whole time they were available. I have heard that there were a few minor flaws in my original '89 model that got worked out in later years, but I haven't seen any sign of troubles.

I may be rather biased, but I think a PC would be an ideal first bike, if it is your kind of ride. It has plenty of get up and go (and quite a lot of torque), but it would not be confused with a high performance bike. It is a really easy bike to ride and handles like a much smaller bike, so it is a pretty forgiving bike for beginners. You just don't want to be such a raw beginner that you are at all likely to lay it down, as it has plastic EVERYWHERE that will not live through a trip to the ground (however, the most vulnerable parts can easily be removed leaving some rool bars exposed instead). It is also designed to require about as little maintenance as a bike can get by on, and what it does need is very easy to do.

I haven't kept up on what a PC is worth these days, but $5000 sounds like about the right ballpark, if it is in good shape. And, since the PC has quite a following, and you can't get new ones anymore, the used ones hold their value pretty well. So, if you change your mind you probably wouldn't have a hard time getting your money back.

It has been the perfect first bike for me (my first bike to own - I had ridden quite a bit before I got it).

wunelle said...

I think Jeffy's assessment is right on the money.

I agree that a Pacific Coast is a great place for a mature but first-time biker to start. It's plenty powerful without being dangerously volatile, and it's refined and very utilitarian (with integrated bags and all). Good brakes (the most important thing to me). My only complaint is a general genre one: it's a bit too dressed-up for my tastes, but that's not meant to be an indictment of the bike itself. If one wants a full coverage touring bike, this would be at or near the top of a reasonable used bike list.

See, Jeffy, if you were closer to me you'd get to test-drive all MY bikes as well! Like a New York City dog walking service!

wunelle said...

Oh, and I forgot to send kudos for the full-face helmet! I'm a big fan of full-facers--and Arai is notoriously good; many road racers wear them--and it's part of the reason I've never cared for windshields: it seems redundant to have both face shield and then windshield as well. But I'm in an extreme minority in riding without any wind protection (apart from apparel). Most people want a little windscreen of some kind!

Anonymous said...

Wunelle: Your assessment of the Pacific Coast is right on the money. Since you love the bike so much (with maybe a few reservations), I suggest you purchase one with very low mileage from you know who until you can fill the gap with something a little more sporty. "You know who" is getting too old to hold the damn thing vertical at low speeds and prefers a snow sled which is much more stable, albiet more noisy.

wunelle said...

Such a near miss! After all these recent acquisitions, The Comptroller as put the kibosh on any further gadgetry and assorted male materiel until after the Second Coming.

I guess you haven't logged too many miles on the old PC the last few years. Maybe Joshua will buy it!