If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Soul Movers

Having banged on about them for page after page, I suppose I should post pictures of my two bikes, just for the record. And, of course, as a technical exercise to see if I can post pictures at all.

The big one is a Honda Pan-European, known to our American friends as the ST1300, and known to me as The White Rhino, because the first time I rode it all I could think about was a phrase from a bike magazine - "the bike charges off like a rhino with a spear up its bum." It's an ex-police bike, first registered in 2003, and because of its history it was way cheaper than a civilian model of similar age and mileage, which meant I could afford it, rather than the older 1100 that I was considering. I traded my Ducati for it, on the grounds that finally my wife had agreed to come touring in France this summer, and the Duke just wasn't suitable. Sadly, her health means that this plan has had to be put off for a while, but it's still in my mind. And while we are waiting, it's a pretty good bike to have. Very fast, very comfy, good handling and with a bit of 'presence'. If I wear a hi-viz jacket, it's like the Parting of the Red Sea. Ho ho.

The second bike is my sneaky favourite. I was commuting on the Ducati, and my route took me through some pretty shitty mud (my workplace was undergoing a lot of construction work at the time). It broke my heart to see the beautiful Italian thoroughbred covered in filth after a day's washing and polishing at the weekend, so I went to that nice Mr Ebay and bought myself a cheap trailbike for winter commuting purposes. I went for a Yamaha XT600E, as I have had a couple of XT350s in the past, and liked them very much. It's 14 years old, and has a lot of 'old bike' problems (butchered wiring, fading components), but it's a hoot to ride and I love it to bits. Objectively, the Honda is by far the better bike, and is the one I would choose for a long, fast journey or for touring two-up. But while I respect the abilities of the Honda, sneakily I am far more fond of the XT. One day, I will have replaced everything, and then it will be as reliable as XTs usually are. Until then, I will have to put up with its 'character'.

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