Last Ride

It’s  just after Christmas, sunny and in the mid forties. That’s right. Time for a motorcycle circumnavigation of Lake Winnipesaukee. Quite likely the last such ride in 2016, by anyone.

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Alton Bay, already frozen over.

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The F650 loves cool weather.

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Route 28 north to Wolfeboro. White Mountain National Forest in the distance.

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Big lake house under construction. Just the top of it visible.

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A bay on the big lake, north of Wolfeboro

There are actually some guys in those bob houses. Recovering from Christmas.

Street 750

The idea of a motorcycle can be just what you want it to be. You can even attach a sense of well-being to it. “I can get on my bike and ride and be okay. Life is good.”  Why undercut that idea with negatives?

On the other hand, the real bike you own doesn’t hide negatives, it presents them to you in highlighted fashion. If it doesn’t start, you are stranded. And lucky to be just stranded. The top-heavy beast didn’t fall over and break your leg as well. (The kick-stand has to be up to start it.) Not to mention dangerous non-cancelling directionals, messy chain lube, too heavy in the driveway or too light on the highway, decaying rubber parts, leaks, etc.

So even though I own a great bike and have no intention of replacing it, it’s still enjoyable to conjure up the carefree, perfect-fit experience of an optimal motorcycle.

That’s how the Harley Davidson Street 750 came to my attention. Not when it first came out and I dismissed it, but now after riding the F650 for over 11,000 miles and also having seen some slightly custom Street versions like the one below:

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Harley Davidson Street 750

Compared to the F650, I like the lower center of gravity, lower seat height, belt drive, cast wheels, tubeless tires, low horizontal tank, good looking quiet 2-into-1 exhaust, simpler rear suspension, the advantages of a newer bike made in the USA and a nearby dealer. But what really makes this bike appealing is the engine.

Like a lot of imported bikes, the F650 doesn’t begin to develop any torque until 3000 RPM, so I have to rev it and slip the clutch to get it going. Typical. But the Street’s fuel injected V-twin is already producing torque at 2000 RPM. I like that. Low-down torque is in fact a hallmark of the Harley Davidson brand.

I would be able to loaf along on the Street at lower RPMs in situations that don’t require a lot of power, situations that would nonetheless have the F650 staggering a bit, requiring a downshift into a buzzier gear.

And I’m thinking the new counter-balanced V-twin is smoother than my single, even though the F650 is arguably the smoothest big single out there.

With greater engine displacement, the Street has more roll-on power at highway speeds. Where the F650 powerband leaves off, the Street keeps on going into higher RPMs. You have the horses to go, and that little bit of extra weight, longer and lower, makes you more planted on the pavement.

But a credible fantasy should have some reality in it. From a big Harley point of view, the Street is merely an introduction into the proper range of HD motorcycles. It’s not even as manly as the lowly Iron 883. I don’t care, but it affects resale. And I would prefer a slightly taller seat and the pegs a little more under me. I have yet to see a suitable luggage setup on the Street.

Even though the Street 750 is about half the cost of a “real” Harley Davidson, it’s still three times what I paid for the ’97 F650 about three years ago.  Also, I can maintain the BMW myself.

Remarkably then, all reality considered, especially money, the bike I really want is the bike I already have.

Still, using that old mental magic, I can skip over cost, make some superficial modifications, and wind up with a rather optimal incarnation of the approachable middleweight motorcycle.

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The fantasy is working!