Tag Archive for virago

"You're Gonna Need a Bigger Bike"

One of my co-workers has a Honda Shadow that I’ve envied for a while. Its 750cc engine is three times the size of my bike’s engine, and it outweighs my bike by about 150 pounds. I asked him how different it felt from my bike. He promptly handed me the keys, so I took her for a test drive.

Boy was that a mistake. Because it was terrifying? Nah. It’s because now I want a bigger bike.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my bike. However, strong winds blow me around more than I’d like, and the narrow tank leads to sore hips and inner thighs on extended rides. My bike’s comfortable up to about 40-45 miles per hour, but I hit 55 and she starts to feel a little shaky. It’s not so much a feeling like I’m going to fall over, it’s more like Scotty’s in the tank screaming “I cannae hold her together, Captain!” and the not-so-warp drive is going to fly apart.

The Shadow was a whole new experience. I felt like I was sitting on something of substance, and the wider tank and higher seat made for a comfortable fit. There was no choke to play with on startup, and her throaty growl had a very different voice from my Virago. I had to lean her a little harder to keep the tighter turns, but she felt a lot steadier despite the heavier weight. I didn’t get her much over 40mph, but when I did I hardly noticed it. (I probably should have taken her out on a back road and opened her up, but I get real nervous driving other folks’ cars, much less their motorcycles.)

That said, the differences in the controls also surprised me. The brakes weren’t as touchy, and the foot shifter had a more tangible click between gears and across neutral. The biggest difference was in the clutch lever. On the Virago, I let it out most of the way before first gear engages and the bike starts rolling. On the Shadow, I hardly had to let up at all. There aren’t many things more embarrassing than killing an engine twice at a stop sign with two guys watching from a nearby yard. Fortunately the engine kicked in and drowned out their witty remarks as I rolled off, thus sparing my pride a bit.

All in all, I decided I definitely need to get into the 650-850cc range for my next motorcycle. It’s a lot more comfortable, and probably better suited to my frame. Now to see about selling some more books to pay for my engine lust…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Secret Lives of Teachers

Most people don’t think of teachers as bikers, but as it happens five of us at the school district I work for ride. We’ve been talking about getting a picture since the school year started, and today we finally made it happen.

The Rocket Riders

The Rocket Riders MC

The Rocket is our school’s mascot, so we thought it would be fitting to take the picture in front of it. We have three of the major bike manufacturers covered: Yamaha, Honda, and Harley. Honda dominates with a Rebel (Jessica forgot to ride it in so it’s not pictured) and two Shadows.

My 250cc Virago felt a little wimpy next to these guys, but it’s cool. It’s a fun picture, and it may even show up in the yearbook.

Now you know who the principal calls when he needs to lay down extra discipline in the halls.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

I'm Riding the Lightning Now!

I spun the motorcycle up to 40 miles an hour today. Yeah, I’m flying now! I best be careful before I break the sound barrier and piss off the neighbors.

Okay, in all seriousness, I’m finally putting in some real seat time after several weeks of storms, rain, trips, and projects, and my comfort level is growing fast. In fact, today I felt more eager than nervous when I fired her up, and that 40mph jaunt, though brief, was not as terrifying as I anticipated.

That’s right, I said terrifying. It’s tough to shake the idea that I’m straddling an engine and someone stole a couple of my wheels. Granted a Virago‘s engine is about as small as they come, but sitting on top of even 21 horses is a very different feeling from strapping into a cozy chair with a sturdy firewall and floor separating me from the engine and all the spinny bits. It’s also a lot of fun, but like my father-in-law told me, you’ve got to respect it or it’ll turn on you.

Because tempting fate by pushing new heights of speed wasn’t enough, I took her out into some heavier traffic today, too. This was another exercise in channeling fear as I made sure I had plenty of time to get moving. My bike will still accelerate better than a lot of cars, but I also have to keep in mind my shifting ability (or lack thereof). Missing a the gear with a semi bearing down on me wouldn’t be any fun now, would it?

Then came the hat trick: I also marked the farthest distance ridden yet. Okay, so it was only a mile from home, but I’ve zipped around quite a bit within that range. It’s all about seat time for the moment, and my comfort level grows with every turn. Just like when I’m learning a new kata in karate class, I’m building up my proprioception, or muscle memory. Pretty soon shifts and turns will be automatic, just as they are in a car.

That mile distance took me to the local gas station. The tank was looking a bit empty, so I decided it was about time I topped her off. I didn’t look at the pump meter until she was full. The total?

$3.95!

I rounded her to four bucks even, just shy of a gallon of gas. If the previous owner had reset the tachometer with the last fill-up, I’ll easily see 50 miles per gallon out of this bike, probably more.

I can definitely get comfortable with numbers like that.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Meet Eve

Eve
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Let the mid-life crisis jokes commence: I bought a bike.

She’s a 1995 Yamaha Virago, a small cruiser with a 250cc engine. I’ve dubbed her Eve after learning what virago meant. Her previous owner took wonderful care of her and she’s got less than 3000 miles on her. Not a bad find at all.

Now to review my Motorcycle Safety Foundation materials one more time before taking her for a spin. Incidentally, if you’re thinking about learning to ride, I strongly recommend the MSF courses. They teach you a lot more than “here’s the gas, here’s the clutch, enjoy,” and in Illinois it’s a steal at only $20.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.