Saturday, September 19, 2009

Teaching the Son a trick or two Uh Huh ! Yeah Right !

Now that I have the FJR and still have the Connie, Sky can join us on some of our journeys. He made one earlier this summer on the Rebel 250, but he had to be feeling the pain of the ride. He handled the trek like a trooper, but at times the Rebel just couldn’t keep up and 300+ miles on a Rebel just can’t be comfortable.

I have to ride to Brockton to get my free inspection sticker and figured this would be a good introduction between Sky and the Connie. Mainly slab with some city traffic. I was quite impressed with Sky’s awareness of the environment around him on our previous ride, so I wasn’t concerned with his in traffic skills.

I have always had this internal debate going inside me of whether or not promoting riding to an 18 year old is a good thing. Am I giving him a loaded gun and then get to watch him play Russian roulette like the move from Deer Hunter. Brrrrrrr enough of the bad vibes.

I call Sky and ask him if he wants to go and take the Connie. He has not seen the FJR yet. I pick him up and tell him we are going to head to a parking lot, so he could get used to the Connie. I tell him the Connie is much more powerful, brakes much stronger, the bike is a lot heavier and he needs some practice before we hit the road.

I get the Connie started and point it toward the street. I tell him we are just going down the block and to hop on the bike and we will ride there together. He says, “Dad trust me”. To which I reply “I do trust you, but I would prefer that we just do it my way” Again a plea for trusting him (I really think he thinks his package will disappear if he is found on the back of the bike), against my better judgment, I acquiesce.

Sky pulls out onto the street and dutiful follows me to the church parking lot. I pull in and he follows right behind me.

Sky then proceeds to literally run circles around me like an Indian in an old western, tightening the circle with each revolution. To say the least I am very impressed with his slow speed maneuvers. I finally get him to stop and I say, “OK OK I am impressed. By the way be careful of the tip-over bars on the Connie. Your lean angel is so steep you are very close to hitting the tip-overs, which will take you down faster than you can spit.”

I then say, and I can say with that fatherly pride, “You just might be able to outdo me on riding skills. Very nice !!"

Couple the long trip Sky took with us on the Rebel and the skill he showed me today, I no longer have a fear of him being able to ride the Connie. However, I will continue to worry about him overextending the limits of the bike or himself or both.

Sky don't ride faster than your angels can fly !!

As an ancedote to the story, later in the day as we were getting ready to leave Brockton Cycle, Sky hopped on the Connie began a sharp turn and I saw it in his eyes. The bike rather than making the turn he expected continued to head for the ground. Yes he had a tip-over as I watched him step away from the bike in bewilderment of what happened. I also got to witness first hand just how effective the tip-over bars worked. Not one piece of plastic, front or rear, ever touched the ground, with the 2 loops of metal that so uglyily protruding from the sides of the Connie, kept the the bike looking like it was just moments before. Sky emerged with maybe a bruised ego, but physically unmarred.

I simply tuned to Sky and said, "I take back everything I said this morning", with a sympathetic smile on my face [it was borderline smirking, since he showed me up earlier in the day]. We had lunch about a 1/2 hour later and over chili, we talked about the incident. While I believe he had respect for the Connie and bikes in general, that simple incident firmly planted in his mind that one must be acutely aware that this hobby can be inherently dangerous.

Let Me Introduce Myself - I am a Ride of Speed and Agility

The Nomad has transformed itself into a new being. Meet FJR1300A

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Execution Exhilaration End Game– Ready Aim Fire

The Ready Part
It’s Wednesday, September 16th, the day I am going to unload my bargaining powers on Brockton Cycle. The night before I stopped at Giff’s garage and we talked about trading stuff in, since he does sell bikes and cars for a living and he might lend some inside perspective. Now Giff is a really nice person and didn’t want to put some H2O on my flames. I finally said to him why would a dealer want to trade a bike that had 10K on it for one that had 48K and was a dime a dozen (Read the Nomad is Cruiser) for a niche bike like the FJR. He just smiled, nodded his head, and said “My thoughts exactly” or something along those lines.

My objective in this excursion was to take an asset that is perfectly good, but I am no longer using and turn it into an asset that I might use or might be more saleable sometime in the future. With this in mind I made some adjustments as to the value of this and that, mainly getting off the point of comparing High Retail for the Nomad to Low Trade-In for the FJR and gave up my rosy outlook on this deal into the Whiter Shade of Pale of reality.

Up bright an early, put on my Draggin Jeans (Cruiser style gear), T-Shirt (used my National Park one, didn’t think Performance Cycle would be appropriate) and donned my mesh jacket and helmet, walked out the door. The Nomad, as usual, started right up. I saddled up, lifting the bike of the stand (Geez this puppy is heavy), pulled in the clutch, shifted to first with a thunk, revved up the engine, partial release of the clutch and moved off the sidewalk heading for Brockton, MA.

Made my way to 495 and hit the highway. The morning traffic is gone and I have the slab all to myself. Find myself cruising about 75. Hit Rt24 head north and then off at Rt106 and then left onto Rt28. Moving along much to fast for the speed limit and there is a LEO on the right just before I hit Brockton Cycle. Damn damn damn. Watch the rear view mirrors and don’t see a car pulling out, no flashing lights, and no one tracking me down. Phew, I would have been pissed if I got pulled over and got a performance certificate, but it sure would have made the Nomad’s Last Ride memorable.

Pulled into BC and walked in the show room. Toni, the sales guy, recognized me and we sat down to talk about the FJR. I told him I was here to buy the bike and wanted to go home with it today. I told him my Nomad was outside and I would be trading it in. We go over the price of the FJR. Now the tag on the bike does not include the Dealer Prep charge of 299 and the Doc Fee of 149. So I say then the asking price of the FJR is 448 higher. He nods in agreement. Toni then asks me what I want for my bike. I say, “I really don’t want to that game. If you want to charge me 31,000 for the FJR that just means you are going to give me more for the Nomad. From here on when we talk about price we will talk about you selling me the FJR for the Nomad and some cash which includes everything. That work for you?”

The opening salvo of negotiation is over and we move to Stage Deux. With that said, Toni asks me what I want. I open up with a low ball bid, to get him to make a move to see what is in his head. During the bantering I ask him you will let me take the bike for a spin just to make sure the ergonomics of the FJR are not really off for me. He said they can accommodate that. Toni leaves the table to go do what ever sales people go to do and this really good looking young girl comes into vision and she is wearing a really tight fitting T and jeans. What young guy could refuse to buy anything from her was going thru my head. Thank God I am not a young guy and can control my senses. At least I got something to look at while Toni does his sales thing.

Toni comes out and they have accepted my offer, matter of fact the price is $3.00 less than I offered. I said you are going to give me back $3? Yup was the response. I said we got a deal!!. My heart is beating at this point, my brain is spinning, the good looking girl has no consequence anymore. This is waaaaaay to easy. Now I start wondering what’s wrong with the FJR. Toni gets up and goes back to that salesmen’s secret spot.

About 5 minutes later Toni and another guy come over to the table. Brett is the Sales Manager and I just thought he was there to congratulate me on the purchase. I really didn’t think that and knew something was up. Brett opens “I think we may have misled you on the price. We thought you were going to finance the bike”. I said, “Isn’t cash just as good, but if it makes a difference I can finance too” Brett then goes onto explain their offer was my bike, plus the cash I offered, plus the price Toni conveyed as the total purchase price. I confirmed what they are saying and they agree. I knew what Toni accepted was too good to be true and at least this does away with there being a major defect with the FJR.

At this point I ask them for the manual to the bike, which they can not find. I wanted to see what the maintenance schedule for the bike is, to use this info as part of the negotiations. Free maintenance items can be an easy give me since the sales department doesn’t have to pay for it, and pass the cost onto the Service Dept, which is not involved in the deal. With me sitting and Brett and Toni standing, I make a counter offer, which is more reasonable plus I wanted the 2 year YES warranty (Yamaha Extended Warranty). They make one more counter and say we can do the price, but have to charge you our cost on the warranty plus $100. I ask for the price of the warranty. Toni leaves at this point to get the BOOK. Upon his return, he points out the price as 640. I say so you want 740, he nods. I point out to him he is looking at the Retail Price page and turn the page in the book to one that I find that says Dealers Cost. This one says 340, so I say we are talking 440, right? Both Toni and Brett agree. I sit silent for a moment. What is going thru my mind is not so much the price, but whether I want to carry the Nomad over the winter and try to sell next spring or just get this done now. The answer is GIT ER DUN.

We have a verbal agreement. I say I do get to test ride it before I make a final commitment. Toni says I will go get it ready for the ride. The bike is outside ready for me to ride. I throw a leg over and immediately experience that this bike is much taller than I remember. The very end of the balls of my feet are touching. I don’t remember this a week and half ago. I start the bike and it has this low purrrrring sound, very throaty and it sounds great. Clutch in, gear engaged, throttle up, release and we are on our way. Pull up to the RT28 which is a fairly busy road and come to a complete stop and then some. I almost go down as the bike starts to dip to the right in a full downward arc. Somehow I keep the bike up and become very leery of my lack of height and the FJ’s not so lack of height. One more time and we are out on Rt28. Quick run thru the gears to 3rd, nice tranny. Couple of push and pulls of the bars to initiate counter steering, responsive, but not overly active. Power OH YEAH you can tell it is there. Hand and arm position is what strikes me the most. It is very very comfortable and maybe more so than the Connie. Street coming up, back off the throttle, lean into the corner, throttle up…DRIVETRAIN LASH. Wow this thing is lashy and catches me somewhat by surprise. I don’t like this. I am now off on some side streets and I don’t want to get to deep into Brockton or I will be lost so I pull over with a bit of trepidation because of my near fall over at the start. Slow, feet down, stop. This is much better but still than the start, but still taller than what I remember. Head for the store but I make a stop first

Pull into Bank of America and head for the counter. I need to withdraw cash for the deal. Swipe card, sign the slip and the teller begins counting out the cash in $100 bills. I ask does a cashier check cost me anything. She looks at my account and says no cost to you. I get a cashier check for the amount of the purchase.

On the bike again, cross over RT28 and into BC lot. KSD, dismount and head in to finish up the deal. Toni asks me if I want some water. I turn him down. Brett shows up and says Bill the clutch on the Nomad needs to be replaced and it is gonna cost $700. And I give him that look of YOUR POINT but remain silent and then say no it doesn’t. What did you do, take it out for a ride get up to 40mph in 5th and twist the throttle and think it was slipping. Brett says, Exactly!!. I said that is not the clutch, but a known item with the Nomads clutch spring plate. He says we could split the cost of the clutch say 350. I said I am the customer and I am supposed to be doing the GRINDING not the other way around. I mention it would have been nice to have discussed this before the test ride. Brett indicates the offer was subject to the trade in evaluation and really apologizes for springing this. I go blank. I remain silent; I roll my head back and face my eyes toward the ceiling. Do I walk, do I fold my hand. I am really not thinking of anything at this point. I am not mad, I am still in control, I have no emotion at this point. I am not in love with this bike, it is just another bike. I don’t need it, the Connie is perfectly fine. The thought of carrying the Nomad thru the winter and trying to sell it next spring clearly is occupying my thoughts. The economy is not going to improve; disposable income is not going to be anymore for a buyer next March as it is now. The bike will be 1 year older. While the clutch is not a problem, someone that tests rides the bike, will come to the same conclusion as BC and either walk or grind me away. This is what I am thinking.


I say, "do I at least get a free T Shirt" Toni says, " what color do you want green or blue".


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Epiphanies – Grand Schemes – Preparation ~ Lock and Load

Mosquito bites have a way of swelling up and this one was no different. As I was thinking about the FJR, it dawned on me I have a Kawasaki Nomad sitting outside that has been for sale since April. I have gotten calls and some people appeared excited by the prospect but as soon as I mentioned the bike has 48,600 miles on it, you would think it had AIDES or some venereal disease. The phone would go silent and then they would say, well I have a few more calls to make and I will get back to you. Over and Over and Over again.

The EPHINANY –I could trade the Nomad in on the FJR. Simple enough. The Nomad plus a little cash and Brockton Cycle would be happy, I would be happy, but I doubt this would have little effect on Middle East peace, or the war on terrorism. These will have to be solved at another time. I got some research to do

The GRAND SCHEME – Quick check to NADA and KBB (Kelly Blue Book) makes trading for my Nomad for the FJR very feasible. Quick search on the internet about FJR’s and I sign up on the FJRForum, start researching tip over bars, how to mount a Streetpilot GPS to the bike.

Now I am getting excited.

One problem, I have to ride the Nomad down there and a couple of weeks ago the battery died. I have to push the Nomad back to where I live from the Getty station. So I don’t run into problems I start researching where to purchase a battery from. Wow, batteries aren’t cheap, this sucker gonna cost a hundo (HD term for $100).

OK with paper in hand using the High Retail on the Nomad and the low trade-in value on the FJR, Brockton Cycle is going to owe me money. Quick call to my friend Steve to see what is a reasonable method for calculating high mileage deduction, since it is not spelled out on the NADA / KBB. He says $.10/mile. Ouch. The Nomad for the year and CC’s is supposed to have 25K and it has 48.6K, quick math $2,300 mileage deduction.

The plan is to get a battery by Friday, put it in the Nomad and head to Brockton Cycle on Saturday the 12th.

PREPARATION – It’s Saturday the 12th, it is pouring out and I don’t have the battery. I am feeling a tad guilty about not going to Stowe for the NER Birthday Bash, but I do have this riding malaise thing going on.
Left the house about 9am heading for Auburn to the Interstate Battery store on RT 20. They have an exact much, however it needs to be energized (put the acid in it) and charge it up. Head to Upton to the garage to see if my battery tender will be go to go for a slow charge on the battery. Mark, John and Steve are there heading for the Rose Garden. I got time for one beer.

I left the Rose Garden about 3 hours later and still have the battery in the box. Home to N Uxbridge. Bring the battery up, take the battery out, read the instructions like 5 times, once in each of the languages (struggled with the Japanese ones, since I don’t know the symbols). Get the juice emptied into the battery (they actually make this very easy and minimize the chance of spilling the acid all over the place), wait the predefined 20 minutes for it to flow from tubes to the battery, and take the battery into the hall, hook up the battery tender, plug it in and go watch a movie

The next morning I wake to see the light on the battery tender has gone from yellow to green. Get out my meter, read the instructions on how to test, test it, PERFECT.

Downstairs with the battery and put it in the Nomad. Goes in like a charm. Get all the connections hooked up, turn the key on, WrrrBRRRRRR (the fuel pump winding up) and press the start, WrrrrWrrrrW rrr PudataPudataPudata, SUCCESS.

Brockton Cycle is closed on Sunday and Monday, I have a training meeting in Chicopee Tuesday, so Wednesday I will take the day off to perform EXECUTION.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Small Itch – Just a Mosquito Bite

On 9/05/09 and still suffering from Riding Malaise, MeAsWe and I headed out for Monty’s HD in West Bridgewater for the RideNewEngland stamp. It was a beautiful day, with limited traffic on 495 until we came across an accident, which had the whole south bound side tied up. The accident was so bad we were able to KSD and get off the bike. We were harbored next to a Nomad and we struck up a conversation with our new found 495 friends. He had just gotten back for New Orleans with the Buffalo Soldiers & Troopers MC. We discussed our experiences in NOrleans and the Tail of the Dragon. I asked about the club, which he began to explain the history of the club, however the traffic had cleared and we had to hop on our bikes to get a move on. Just one of those great experiences when you meet someone on the road and just strike up a conversation

Moving along, we hooked up with 24 North and then 106 East to 28 North arriving at Monty’s just after noon. Got our stamp and I said to MeAsWe, let’s go down the street to Brockton Cycle. BC has always had some really great deals on clothing and has a pretty large accessory section.

In the showroom they had a mix of new and used bikes. A new black FJR and a new red Connie C14. We passed a blue Harley, an orange VTX and at the end of the row, there stood a black cherry FJR and a red ST1100. We asked some questions of the salesmen, kicked some more tires, opened the side luggage, fumbled with the GIVI trunk. I had the salesmen roll the bike out, so that I could throw a leg over it. With me on the bike, I told MeAsWe to hop on. A couple of Vroom Vroom and we were traveling thru the back roads of North Carolina heading for Florida. My first impression was this bike is very doable height wise, my feet actually touched the floor.

Out of the dealership and back on the road, stopping for some really good chili at Chili Head BBQ. MeAsWe had the special burger and I had the chili with a rating of 6 out of 15 for hotness. 6 were hot. I just can’t imagine what 15 is like, but you do have to sign a waiver. I wonder if that is just marketing or for real.

We arrive home before the sun goes down (now you know I have a malaise) and I just have a little queasiness of excitement thinking about the FJR (or was it the chili).