A rainy Veteran’s Day…..

(my 2013 Harley VROD on the left, and Kawasaki ZX-14R on the right)

Happy Veteran’s day !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I write this hurricane Eta is blowing across Tampa Bay, and since I’d rather NOT ride on rainy roads my 2nd best option is to write about it…..

I bought a 2017 Kawasaki ZX-14R (The Green Machine) about a month ago, and I’ve been cautiously learning how to ride the damn thing.

The ZX has a 1441 cc engine, on a 600 pound frame…. with 200hp. An engine this large would work just fine in a 2000 pound economy car, so you can imagine how fast it moves a much lighter motorcycle.

I only had one good reason for buying the Green Machine; I wanted to know what it feels like to cruise at 130mph…. and then go MUCH faster with a twist of the throttle.

Mission accomplished.

My Harley pulls hard to 130mph…. then gearing and aerodynamics limit the bike past that point. The Green Machine is just getting warmed up at 130!!

You need a wind fairing to go really fast…. on the ZX the wind fairing splits the airflow starting at around 100mph, creating still air behind the windscreen. Riding that fast is very different than sitting in a car, you can feel turbulence wash behind 18 wheelers on the highway, and that turbulence pushes the bike around in the lane.

The ZX riding stance is slightly forward, my 46 year old back and wrists were sore if I was futzing around in traffic…. but once there was some open road…. low earth orbit, indeed!

I respect the 200hp ZX the same way I’d respect a fully loaded machine gun, there are times to to fire and times to refrain from firing. I’ve been learning my ZX in 20 to 40 mile runs; getting used to the controls, the weight of the bike, how the brakes respond, the throttle response, etc.

I got my first 1,000cc Honda back in 2018 and did the same thing. At that time I’d never owned anything that fast… some motorcycles are more advanced, and I took my time learning how to operate my 1,000cc Honda. In many ways these bikes are incremental, from the 1,000cc Honda to the 1250cc Harley VROD to the 1441cc ZX-14.

My first 2 wheeled moped had 50cc’s… and no working brakes. Ran from the cops on that one, I got away but the cops took the moped. Oh well.

The great thing about learning how to ride really fast bikes is that smaller and slower bikes are still fun…. a friend of mine bought this 250cc Yamaha from me…. I was over there the other day and rode it again for kicks…. super light, super slow, really easy to ride…..

All motorcycles are fun, but when you go heavier and faster they can also kill you in MORE ways.

We motorcycle nuts think about the inherent dangers in riding, your skill level has to be higher than your crazy level, and good riders ride on a regular basis to keep their skills sharp.

On that note… I wear gear and don’t touch alcohol before riding. What really keeps me alive is 25 years of riding experience, and having a pretty good sense for when someone is about to cut me off or pull out in my lane of travel.

Good thing about being my age is that one develops a finely honed set of defensive driving skills, which come in handy on 2 wheels or 4… I met a young kid (17 years old) who got in a dumb accident on his 600cc cycle, probably because he lacked all around driving experience.

New riders might live longer IF they got a few years of driving skills under their belt before jumping on a motorcycle. I was 21 when I got my first cycle in Taipei, Taiwan…. I had a whole bunch of (low speed) accidents on my 150cc San Yang !! God forbid if my first bike had been a 600cc crotch rocket…. I would have been tiny little bits all over a Taiwanese street!

The goal here is to ride until I’m 105. Don’t know if that will happen, but it would be cool to be the old grumpy guy at the crotch rocket meet up.

I wanna pull up on a really fast machine and everyone thinks I’m younger until I take off my helmet and they see my gray wizard beard.

Goals, right?

Thank you Veterans !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 11th, 2020

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