Not too long ago, about 4 years from the current time, I started realizing I had friends that had motorcycles, and I kind of wanted to be out riding too. I had tried riding when I was just a teen and started out with WAY too big of a bike. I started on a Suzuki GS750L, and when I weighed barely 130 or 135 at the time, I could barely hold it up. I gave up the bike after only a couple of weeks, and never really thought much about it again. Fast forward to roughly four years ago and the bug started biting me again and I started looking at motorcycles. At first, I was looking on Craig’s List, researching what was out there and what the costs were. I got to be pretty good at identifying various motorcycles, and based on the bike, age, and miles, what the price should be.
I eventually decided the Yamaha VStar 650 looked like it would be a good “starter” bike. It got great reviews and most everyone agreed it was light enough and easy enough to handle for a beginner or relative newbie, but big enough for more advanced riders as well. I even went to a motorcycle shop and looked at one and tried to buy it. They wanted about $500 more than I was willing to pay for it though, so I walked away. I kept looking and ended up finding one at a car dealership of all places. They took the bike in trade for a Jeep, and basically just wanted to unload it. I got a YEAR VStar 650 with MILES on it for right around $2,200. It even had custom pipes and saddle bags on it! The dealership was nice enough to even deliver it for me. I had to have them deliver it because I didn’t have a trailer, and at the time, I didn’t even have an endorsement to ride legally! Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Oh well, I had my bike now. It was October when I bought it and I did get out a couple of times, basically riding it around the block to get used to the way it felt and handled. I had to wait until spring to get my endorsement.
It was the following May when I was able to get signed up for a class and get my certificate, then run by and take my written portion of the test to become officially certified to ride a motorcycle on public roads. I had not wasted my time waiting though. I had already decided I wanted a windshield and installed a small sport style windshield. I had a full helmet, and a half helmet both. I had my boots, my leather jacket, which I already owned so I didn’t have to get one special, and riding gloves. I was still scared to actually get out on the highway or on the busy city streets though I have to admit, and when I started going over 50 mph and looked down at the road, it looked like it was going by SO fast! I kept pushing and rode every single time I got a chance though. At first I would only go on a few city streets, then finally ventured out for a tiny 2 mile drive on the highway from one exit to another. I was scared to death and excited as hell all at the same time! I had survived though, and I got a taste of the road. I kept pushing, and by the time the summer was over, I was riding all over the countryside. I put on just over 4,000 miles that season, and I learned one very important thing. I really wanted a bigger bike. That little 650 was fun in town, but on the highway it was wound up way too much, the wind blew it all over the place, and when I rode with friends it was a comical experience. When they would leave from a stop, I would have to catch up. If we wanted to pass someone, they just passed them… I had to plan ahead because I didn’t have the power to pass as quickly. So, I sold my beloved beginner bike late that fall, and started researching yet again.
Thru the whole winter, I was thinking about riding again. Would I get another bike or would I just relish in the taste of open road that I had been given? New bikes were so expensive, but would I be happy with a used one? I had a million questions. It seems like the riding Gods were smiling on me though. I looked on Craig’s List one day in the spring of 2014 and saw a motorcycle shop advertising 2012 models of the Yamaha Star 1300 for what almost amounted to half price. They had warehouse inventory left that had to go to make room for the new models. It almost seemed too good to be true. I actually took a long lunch from work that day to go look at one. Another clue that I might have been fated to get that bike was the location of the bike shop. It was directly across the street from the car dealership I had bought my previous bike. What were the odds? I went in and looked at one of the bikes, sat on it, checked it out, and decided I had to have it. I didn’t even take it for a test ride. I verified the price and said, sign me up. It took about 45 minutes to get the paperwork signed. They had a brand new one shipped from the warehouse with zero miles on it. A week later, I had someone drop me off to pick it up. I was really, really nervous too! I tried not to show it, but here I was with a bike probably 200 pounds heavier than my previous bike, with twice the motor and twice the horsepower. I went to the dealership to pick up the keys and they brought the bike around front for me. I put on my helmet and gloves, slid on my sunglasses, straddled the seat, and fired her up. This was my bike…. MY bike! I freaking had a 1300cc motorcycle. I know, to some people, that isn’t anything unusual, but you have to remember, it hadn’t been that long ago that I had been a total non-motorcycle rider. For heaven’s sake, my endorsement wasn’t even a year old yet! As I took those last moments to get ready, a million things went thru my mind, foremost of which was, could I handle this much bike! So, I squeezed the clutch, put it in gear, and started on my journey.
I only had to go about 2 blocks before coming to my first stop and it was perfectly uneventful. OK, so I can ride this thing, I guess I’ll be OK, let’s keep going. A few more blocks and 2 stops later and I was able to turn onto a country road and head out of town. I had already decided by this time that I was not going to have any troubles riding the bike. To be a heavier bike, it actually handled pretty well and felt much lighter than I thought it would. The ride home was pure heaven. It was much smoother and more stable over the bumps, and I felt totally confident with it. The power was totally exhilarating. This was everything my old bike wasn’t. It didn’t have a windshield, there were no saddle bags, and no passenger bar (sissy bar), but I loved it. I went on a few rides that first week and the more I rode the more I loved it. It had all the power I wanted on the highway, and it was better balanced so was actually easier to ride in town, which I totally didn’t expect. I did order a windshield for it, and saddle bags, and a sissy bar, so within the next 3 months or so, I transformed it into the bike I wanted. I also took a 2 inch hole cutting bit and drilled out the baffle on the end of the pipes. It sounds 100% better. It gave it a bit of bark, without being as loud as straight pipes, which is just what I was looking for. I still love my bike and ride it any time I get a chance. I think if I had to do it over, I would go with a full fairing, batwing style, over the standard Memphis Shades, fat windshield. I get a lot of side buffeting that I’ve had friends with batwing fairing say they don’t get. The buffeting itself doesn’t bother me, but the wind noise part of it does. It’s pretty loud, even with a full helmet. The only other thing I want to do is change the seat. The factory seat on there is horrible for anything over an hour of riding. My backside gets really painful if I go over about an hour and a half. I’ve taken rides where I leave at 8:00am and get home at 8:00pm too, and it’s really painful. One thing at a time though. When I get the bike paid for, I hope to get a nice seat. For now, I’ll live with it. I still enjoy it no matter what.
I think I’ll end this piece right here. This is my story of getting involved in the world of motorcycle riding. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and I would love to hear your story.