During high school and increasing in college, I became interested in two-wheeled machines. My first ride was my grandma’s a 50cc scooter that had sat in a shed for about 10 years. I tinkered with it outside my dorm room and learned more than a few valuable lessons…. too many to name here. Once it was running, my roommate James and I abused that poor little machine riding 2-up (or sometimes 3-up!) to and from campus. We also organized ‘time trials’ in the snow around the periphery of the common area behind our dorm.
After that I was gifted a Suzuki ’73 lime green RV125 from my grandpa. It didn’t look near as nice as the stock photo at right. Straight out of the factory it produced 9.8 horsepower. That lack of power probably saved my life more than once, as I was still very much a beginner. I met my wife for lunch on this bike. She denies it, but I’m sure the “Green Goblin” was a contributing factor towards getting a second date. Was it dweeby? Yes. Was it slow? Embarrassingly. However, this is the one bike I REALLY regret selling.
The reason I sold the RV125 was to buy a bigger, faster, ‘better’ dirt bike. I found a 1980 XR500 for sale in Nederland and bought it from a teacher for $550. It had some issues with the automatic compression release, which nearly broke my leg a couple of times before I perfected my technique. It had gobs of torque, dual shocks, and mediocre brakes, but I finally had a REAL dirt bike. James on his XR650 and I used these machines to explore as many front range trails as we could until graduation. She is named “Rhonda the Honda”, and has put up with alot of crap over the years. In 2010, after a period of, uh, ‘sub-optimal lubrication’, her engine seized up. I took the opportunity to bore out the cylinder and put in a new piston, valves, lights, paint, and re-wound the alternator for MORE (electrical) POWER.
Because I was having so much fun riding dirt bikes, my wife decided that she should give it a try. So she went out and bought a 1997 Suzuki DR350SE. On her 3rd or 4th trip, an encounter with an angled wet, slippery log crossing (we’ve all been there, amirite?!?) kind of turned her off to the whole dirt bike scene. I told her that EVERYONE crashes on their first bike, but that sort of thing didn’t really appeal to her. Since my wife doesn’t ride it any more, it has become the ‘Buddy Bike’, which is great. It is a nimble, capable, generally reliable little bike that is perfect for tackling steep, loose rocky trails (which, frustratingly, seems to be most of what I am riding these days).
I had been enjoying my time with the two dirt bikes, but some how got the idea that I wanted to ride more than at 60mph(max) before filling up with gas and/or amputating my arse. Predictably, after watching Long Way Round I thought I was in the market to buy a BMW 1150GS. Until I fully realized just how MASSIVE those bikes are! Ewan and Charley withheld (hallowed be their names), the 1150 is also kind of a ‘banker’s bike’; the american GS fleet probably logs more far miles to/from the local coffee shop than on dirt roads. I wanted something that had highway power and comfort, but was still capable in the dirt and rocks. I test rode a bunch of bikes including a Triumph Tiger, but the F800GS stood out. Of course, being a cheapskate, I didn’t buy it new. I found a chiropractor is Steamboat Springs that was selling his bike for a bargain. It had decently high mileage, but didn’t look abused, and had a bunch of nice aftermarket parts (hard luggage, crash bar, tailbag, windscreen, seat, etc). I had found my bike!