The best new bike for you might be parked outside already

The last part of my route home from work is I-95 North (from exit 15 to exit 33). Around Bridgeport (exit 26/27) the highway goes to 4 lanes – even 5 lanes in spots.  I think I learned how to survive on a motorcycle here – it goes from high speed to stopped, lane changes from any direction, a few aggressive drivers – on a motorcycle you need to be a really wide-awake driver, or your name shows up in the newspaper.

When the wind blows the bike around, I like feeling the power of mother nature – it reminds you who is in charge.  It’s fun, and only maybe once out of a 100 times, I feel like I am in danger.  Around exit 29, you can get the bad wind – the kind that goes from side to side. After I go over the bridge in Bridgeport, I always instinctively brace myself – I even do it when I am in my car.

On my commute home (I-95 N), after the bridge in Bridgeport, the speed finally picks up – 70 to 75 mph or more.  Now that I have 17/38 sprockets, I have been running faster through there than I normally do. From exit 30 to 32, the highway has lines of ruts that are not good for small motorcycles.  Going home Thursday, I think I hit every one of them.  I love my Virago 250, but my logical side immediately started with the “Why are you putting yourself through this?”

When I got home I found myself looking online at used bikes that I thought would ride better than mine. I want my next bike to have at least some of these: ABS, fuel injection, shaft drive, easy to work on, less than $4,000, and be interesting and sound good (so I’m excluding singles and most vertical twins for now). In order, my list was:  1) later model Moto Guzzi 750 Stone in white,  2) K75,   3) Triumph T100.

Moto Guzi V7 Stone - 2013 - white--
1987 BMW K-75T


By the end of the weekend, I had come to my senses and realized I already had a great bike.

The Virago 250 has a weak rear brake – I call it “poor man’s ABS” .  I recently put on new rear brake shoes, and last Thursday I heard a chirp on a hard stop on a bridge.  It is the  first time I ever locked the rear wheel, and it was just a quick chirp – the kind that cars with ABS sometimes make on sudden stops.  Cars with ABS do that.

[fuel injection]
The Virago 250 has one fairly simple carburetor – mine has always started easily and has had no issues with performance when cold (or hot).  For me the single carburetor has been more trouble-free than twin carb bikes I have owned.

[shaft drive] 
The Virago 250 has chain drive – I have a cheap o-ring chain – it has been problem free and seldom requires adjustment.

[easy to work on]
It would be very hard to find a motorcycle easier to work on than a Virago 250.

[be interesting and sound good]
The sound a Virago 250 makes is hypnotic/unbelievably cool.

[comfortable ride]
For the bumps and ruts near I-95 exits 30 to 32, I need to slow down and try harder to avoid hitting them. I can make my bike ride better by not hitting the bumps.

The grass is not always greener on the other side.

virage-250-les-s-rear-led-turn-signals-step3lum3.jpg (552×959)

Les S.’s 2002 Virago 250