Here are the four bikes and brands I’ve had significant experience riding: Honda Shadow 250, BMW R1200c, Kawasaki 1000, BMW R1200c Montauk, Harley-Davidson Sportster 883, and finally the 2013 Victory Cross Country.
Honda Shadow 250
This is the first bike I ever rode. I took a class with the TEAM Arizona folks to learn how to ride motorcycles and they furnished the bike and taught us how to ride. It was also the first time I ever dumped a bike. That was during the emergency braking section. I took a bow shortly there after. This was the bike I rode in order to get my motorcycle endorsement.
The James Bond motorcycle I lusted after. I bought this a few months after the TEAM AZ class. So I made the jump from a 250 cc bike to a 1200 cc bike. Go big or go home I guess. On the way home from the dealer I stalled the bike twice. I put on about 18,000 miles on that bike before buying the Montauk version in ’04.
I rode this bike for a total of 80 hours in the span of two weeks. I did things with this bike during my training that I had never done before and never have since. This was hands down the toughest training I have ever taken ever in anything my whole life. And the majority of it did not get past third gear. At this time in my life I was never a better rider. Much of what I learned in those two weeks has significantly helped me still today. I not only dumped their bike on a daily basis because we were pushing the machine so hard but I also had the worst wreck I’ve ever had during this training. During a skid slide drill were we locked up the rear tire, I became very over confident and at the end of the drill, ended up high siding where the bike threw me for a good 20 plus feet. Lucky I was wearing full padding protection and a helmet. After the two weeks, I had to pass an obstacle course in order to get the next block of 40 hour training which I did not successfully complete.
BMW R1200c Montauk
Everything about the classic R12c that I loved but with changes in the ideal areas. Bigger front end, better handlebars, better ignition system, windshield, etc. I loved this bike for a long time. This bike taught me the lesson of how to ride a motorcycle with a wet clutch.
Harley-Davidson Sportster 883
I bought this bike brand new for $920. The $20 was for the raffle ticket and the $900 was for taxes. I’m very happy that I won this bike in a raffle because I never would have purchased it on my own. I gave it to my wife at the time for her birthday. And thus began the worst motorcycle experience I’ve ever had. The fuel injection on the bike took a dump and had to be replaced inside of a couple thousand miles. Luckily it was under warranty. Replacing the handlebars was easily the worst customer service I’ve ever had owning motorcycles. And as a result I will never do anything even remotely related to Chester’s Harley-Davidson in Mesa. But the most interesting thing I discovered was the “Harley wobble”. The bike is so unbalanced that it lead to a compensation lean while riding and handling in order to avoid the bike shaking. Riding that bike made me appreciate the engineering that went into my Montauk. Eventually I traded the bike in for a Kaw 950 tour. Despite the Sportster validating all of the complaints folks have about Harley’s, I’m not an HD hater. They are an amazing part of our American heritage and culture. And one bike does not make an entire company. I have tons of friends who own Harleys and love them. And for a while any custom started out as a stock Harley. That being said, I will never own a Harley-Davidson again.