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2001 Model Tests

While it's not our forte to feature new models every month, it does make sense to test drive new models locally and give readers our take on them as they pertain to Puget Sound.  why would anyone sitting in their house freezing in Winter shivering at 30 degrees because the last electric bill was so high want to read about a new motorcycle? Would you be inspired to go out, put chains on the car and ask your dealer for a test ride.

I won't say these are official TEST reports (you can get those anywhere), however they provide us a chance to ride these machines locally and report back to you of our thoughts. 

We'll be doing more of these on an as needed basis which is relational to new models as they hit the street. If you'd like us to test a model just send a note to the editor@soundider.com .

TOURING

Honda Gold Wing 1800

Mike at Everett Powersports got on the phone one day and invited me to test drive the new "1800."  I figured he meant Honda's new VTX Cruiser which is just hitting dealers floors as I write. Instead I was shocked when they pulled around the new coveted Goldwing.  The bike is everything they say it is and if you think you might be intimidated by it's size, that all disappears after you pull out of the parking lot and ride it 100 yards. It's a pussy cat and it also has an alluring side.  The minute you take a 120 degree turn, to say, get on the expressway the bike is coaxing you and crying out "I'm a Sportbike, ride me like a sportbike." How could I resist.  Despite it's mass, it handles corners and sends a smile five miles wide across your face. For those who like a lot of controls on their bike, this one is loaded.  CD player, CB, radio all that stuff and you'll probably spend the first three months you own it figuring out what each of the 11 finger accessible switches are on the left hand grip alone. If you're not into the 6 disc CD changer, toss it and ad a latte' machine instead. Never heard about the Latte' machine add on, call Everett and ask for Mike Liebold at the parts counter.

Where you can get one:

Everett Honda*, Cycle Barn , University Honda , RMC Motorsports , Reiner's South Sound Honda


DUAL SPORT

BMW F650GS

BMW brought the F650 to market a few years back with some mixed results. It was a chain eating monster, BMW's introduction of a bike with no shaft, and a motor built elsewhere. Nonetheless the market went crazy for it and the F650 began to build a reputation for itself. Similar to when Volkswagen introduced the Rabbit in 1975, there were plenty of things that needed to be worked out, but just as VW later returned with the GOLF, BMW has brought it's second generation F650 to market with the GS model.  No more chain eating, newer styling placing a vacuum seal gas cap behind the rider and better engineering make this toy the choice of choices for Dual Sport riding. Yep, it cost a little more than Kawasaki's KLR, it doesn't rattle as much as Suzuki's old DR series and it's midget friendly allowing little guys like me to sit on them flat footed. 

We took a bike for a weekend. Around town riding was a cinch with easily handling making it a breeze to ride as well as park. The adjustable bags provided plenty of room for making short shopping hops.  

But the real question was how did it perform on the highway and in the dirt?  

Along I-90 the bike had no trouble doing the 70 mph with plenty of power to spare and the ride was incredibly smooth for a dual sport.  

But the road performance didn't sacrifice it's abilities in the dirt. Along logging roads northwest of Mt. Si the moon surface pot holed roads were extremely tolerable and handling was as smooth as I've ever encountered on a new bike which I had yet to get accustomed to. Impressive stuff here.

If dual sports your game, the F650GS just may be the name.

Where you can get one:

Cascade Motorcycles , Ridewest BMW *


NAKED BUT FAIRED STREET BIKE

Kawasaki ZR7-S

Remember when they used to call these kind of bikes standards? Now they're naked, naked with fairings and street/sportbikes.  OK, you're right, I never heard anyone call them that last one.  But what we're talking about here is a standard street bike, with a little flash and much of the punch of smaller sportbikes on the market today.  The ZR7 is a lot of fun to ride, a lusty looking hunk of engineering and it even carries with it a little retro style.  Sportbikes in general can be rather boring along Interstates and the like, but a romp down the Alaskan Way Viaduct had me thinking what fun people are having on these bikes doing around-town type riding.  It's got this smooth as silk low whine to the engine, and its lightweight makes it a blast in turns. Plus, it's one of those rare bikes that has a petcock with reserve AND a fuel gauge.  Just right for guys like me that need to be reminded during my 40 mile margin of grace that I need to get gas. What makes this bike even juicier in it's 3 rd year of production is a new fairing that aids in it's aerodynamics and provides some wind reduction to the rider.

Where you can get one:

Cycle Barn , RMC Motorsports   


SCOOTER

Vespa

Too bad Jackie O. couldn't have been around for the return of the Vespa. Back when she was photographed on one in Europe in the 60's it was a two stroke, four speed oil/gas mix machine. But times have changed and now that Piaggio has made it's amen's with the EPA they've reintroduce the line into the US, in style.  The new look is only slightly updated from the last scoots they released here and they've latched onto some of the more common things we see in scoots today. The rear brake is no longer on the floor, but located on the left hand grip.  The bike is now a four stroke so you won't be running around looking for some of that precious two stroke oil whenever you venture out.  It's also automatic and even better is the 150 model's ability to go up to 65 mph making it possible to take on the interstate.  But beware, you won't be doing any high speed passing or trick cornering with this puppy. The smaller wheel base makes it a bit dicey should you hit a pot hole, but the suspension is frankly far more comfortable than some of the newer scoot.  In the end the Vespa is a lot of fun and makes a super around town utility vehicle. Eight new colors, mostly metallic, and an optional luggage rack make this a head turner for getting some groceries or hopping a ferry for a day on Vashon.

Where you can get one:

Big People Scooters*

*Special thanks to these dealers for providing the test bikes ridden in this article. Kawasaki ZR7 provided by Adrienne W.

Photos courtesy of their respective manufacturers.

Spring 2001


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