Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wow!



This weekend has been AMAZING!  We are in full-on blooming spring mode with stellar temperatures being in the low teens (Celsius).  For the last 3 weekends I have observed a group of students learn to ride through my riding school's novice course and traffic course.  'Incredible' is really the only way I can describe the process.  I am awe struck by the tenacity of these fledgling riders and their age diversity from very young to very life experienced.  They remind me of little chicks learning to fly testing their wobbly wings.  


The traffic fleet is diverse in style to cc's and generally there is a bike for everyone.  Last year the school added a Honda CB500f and I was lucky to get to take it for a spin. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the CB500 so much, it is the furthest style away from my cruiser. Our school encourages students at the end of their traffic course to experiment and try all the bikes, as most haven't bought a bike this early in the game and it gives you a good opportunity to try different riding styles, cruiser, dual sport, and sport bike.  

My friend Deb is an instructor and this weekend we were observing a traffic course.  Yesterday when I left it was just the beginning of sunrise, today because of daylight saving time it was still dark & cold, what a difference an hour makes! (Sorry for the grainy pic)

My instructor mentor suggested I ride one of the schools newest additions to the traffic fleet, the Harley Davidson Street 500.  So not only do students get learning opportunities, fledgling instructors do too.  Harley has two new bikes a 500 & 750 model, which are water cooled, low slung cruisers.  I think the 500 is going to be a very good entry level cruiser for everyone. They don't look like the usual HDs and surprisingly don't sound like the traditional throaty potato potato low rumble.  They sound like some of the Japanese cruisers, very quiet and soft, there is no signature rumble.  That was a little disappointing, but I quickly got over that.  I could not believe how light weight it was, in fact, it was lithe.  The 500 weighs in at 489 pounds. Getting on and off was easy peasy I am only 5'3" and my feet were securely planted when sitting on it, no acrobatics happening here like I usually have to do when getting on and off some bikes. 


I was also surprised at how agile the bike was and how manoeuvrable.  The bike is fuel injected and started up with ease.  Then the fun began!  I rode the bike for 8 hours and I have to say I had so much fun.  It goes like the wind and the acceleration is fast & easy.  The steering is agile and when I was carving corners and twisties it was so much different than Scarlett, it was absolutely effortless.  Going down the highway was easy!  The 500 was so easy to ride, but if I was getting one I'd probably get the 750 for the extra cc's. The seat was comfortable and I wouldn't change it to a custom seat.  I really like the bubble housing on the headlight and the fender, it reminded me of cafe racers.  I like the understated elegance and lack of chrome, don't get me wrong I like bling, in fact I'm the princess of bling, but sometimes less is more.  

*nudge* David Masse,  I think you should have a look at this if you are considering a 'shifter', I think this would rock as a daily commuter and as a distance bike and it was easy and comfortable to ride.

At the end of a very happy weekend of riding I also took the new Honda CB300 for a spin, I really liked this bike, albeit it is more of a sport bike styling.  So now I am even more confused about my future moto love.  I guess  motorcycles are a bit like a box of smarties, so many to choose from and 1 smartie is never really enough!  

I am happy, exhausted, and ready to do my practicum.  Today the group of 4 students I followed from novice class to traffic all passed and are doing their road tests in the next few days or weeks.  I know they are going to do great and it is very exciting being part of the process.   I think I am going to like this instructor gig!






15 comments:

Robert Wilson said...

I think HD made the right move in building a 500 and 750cc. That part of the market was woefully under served by HD, and I've heard some grumbles from long time HD riders about how it's not a real "Hog". All the reviews I've read however have been good ones.

Dar said...

Well I guess some will be snobs, but seriously that's their problem. These bikes are going to open up the HD market at an entry level. Lots of folks can't afford the bigger bikes or don't want the high cc's because of insurance rates. And sometimes motorcycling is about baby steps & nimble agile machines.

SonjaM said...

These Baby Harleys will become the big hit in Europe and Asia, where cc's are not everything...

Trobairitz said...

Sounds like you have had fun observing and also doing a little playing on the bikes. Good for you.

It is pretty easy to get more than one bike as they can serve a different purpose. Ask me how I know. Trust me, it is a good thing our garage isn't any larger.

Scooterchick said...

Those are nice looking bikes, but I find HD's very noisy and prefer a quieter ride....like a scooter! ha....Sounds like you had a great time....:-).

David Masse said...

Dar, I consider myself nudged.

Stay tuned, stuff is happening.

When I returned the (comparatively) massive Switchback to Eagle Riders, a customer on the lot asked me how I liked the bike. "A little on the small side, right?" he said.

When I said I thought it was a handful coming from a Vespa GTS, he quickly added that he meant it would be tight for a pillion. With that I agreed.

When did a 720 lb, 1,700cc bike get to be a good 'beginner' bike?

Dar said...

Sonja - I think these are going to be hot sellers in Europe & Asia, where people typically ride smaller more agile bikes and they don't have the number if cc's being the image thing like it is in the North American mindset of more is better.

Scooterchick - these bikes sound like a scooter and are quiet, so quiet I thought I was riding a Japanese bike.

Trobairitz - I know about things showing up in the garage and I think in the next year or so there are going to be changes in the Moto lair.

David - completely agree with you 1700cc is waaaaay too big. People convince themselves they need these massive machines, it's almost as if they think they are proving their validity as motorcyclists. Personally I would prefer a rider who rides a small cc bike well than one who doesn't handle a big cc machine and just has an image thing going on. If you do look at a bike I would probably look at the 750 versus the 500, I felt that I had outgrown it already and it did feel a little on the small side. I also think that some of the Japanese bikes may still be a little more bang for your buck. Gizmag had a decent review as did Cycle World and some of the things I wasn't too fussy about they mentioned as well. The mirrors are nothing to write home about and were virtually useless no matter how much adjusting I did and it would definitely be the first thing I'd replace. I found I was having to dip my shoulder or contort my upper body to see what was behind me and that wasn't good at all. Mon the whole though I think it is a good light weight easy commuter, and agile beginner bike with room to grow for a new rider. I think Harley has figured out there is a whole market of riders who want smaller more agile biked without having to break the bank to get into HD. Will I catch on in North America, not sure because the market is so different than Europe & Asia where Japanese and European bikes are more plentiful & cc's aren't an issue. Time will tell.

polarbear said...

All I can say is....

So many motorcycles, so little time..

It isn't that I want to own them all, but to experience riding them once or twice would be very nice.. I think I was lucky enough to find my Tiger.. It will be with me for a while..

Dar said...

Polarbear yup truer words gave never been spoken. I loved my vintage bike, but after riding the little HD yesterday, I definitely know I am missing outing acceleration and new technology. My bike felt like a hulky old beast with no pick-up. Things will be changing at some point.

Conchscooter said...

I love the standard riding position and always have. But that's just me. I'm not even a little bit gay...as it were ( I hope by now you know me well enough to get my humor).

Check the Ducati scrambler, if you can get your feet on the ground. 75 hp, 190 kilos and old fashioned styling. Enough to make my Bonneville jealous.

Dar said...

Conchscooter - you made me laugh! I love the Ducati's and Triumphs. I think one of the reasons I haven't strayed from my current bike is because I can't decide! I love the Bonnie's, but there are quite a few Duc's I love as well. I have such a fickle heart. I think in the end it won't be an HD, Duc or Triumph, probably going to be a Japanese bike because they give me a little more bang for my buck and generally a little less costly in maintenance. I think in the next year or two I will be looking at getting a new bike or two ;)

Lynne Goebeler said...

Dar, so glad you are loving your new intructor role, sounds great! And getting to try lots of bikes is a wonderful perk. It is hard to decide...I have been riding since 1997 and am on my 9th bike. I started small, and grew gradually, but once I found the dual sport category, that was it. my GS does it all, gravel and long-distance, equally well. :-)

Dar said...

Lynne I think I could have many new moto loves if I had enough money to do it!

Kathy Kirkpatrick said...

It sure sounds like you're having fun as an instructor. Getting to test different models is a great bonus. I was a dedicated cruiser person, first a 650 then a 1300, until I rode a rented BMW F650GS. I knew I had to have one after that first day.

Enna Nguyn said...

Looks great!! I love your blog, thank you for all your tips and advice :)