Posted 11 February 2009 - 04:47 PM
I've had a few. My first powered two-wheeler was a Lambretta Li150 when I was 12. I became the only person I knew who was banned for driving without licence or insurance when several years below the minimum age for riding!
My first proper bike, and the one I passed my test on, was a 1961 Triumph Tiger Cub. Looked and sounded like a real motorbike, but with only 200cc in those days it was hardly a hotrod!
Later I had a Triumph Bonneville 650 of the same vintage. Travelled all around Europe on that one, then back again picking up all the bits that had fallen off! At the same time I got my first BMW, an R90S. Wonderful long-distance bike, other than the speed wobble that occasionally started at around 110mph and scared the **** out of me when it first happened. I did a lot of miles on that bike, up to 40k per year, mostly riding from London where I worked to the English Lake District for a weekend's hill walking. Lovely relaxed low pitched engine noise, no nasty high pitched whining, and over the entire four years I owned it I got 65mpg (that's to an imperial gallon, which is 25% bigger than an American one, so that's 52 miles per US gallon).
I don't remember selling the BMW. I sure wished later that I hadn't done. But I do know I sold it after four years and after adding over 80k miles for much more than I had paid for it. I do remember selling the Bonneville, but I've lost touch with the friend I sold it to and I don't know whether he's kept to his word in keeping it for the rest of his life.
I've had a few others since. I had a Kawasaki ZZR1100 for a while, but sold it after I was clocked passing through a radar trap at 180mph. The police were laughing so much they didn't charge me - they wouldn't do that now. That bike was impossible to ride slowly. Actually it handled horribly slowly - it only felt right above about 60mph.
I had another Kawasaki, a KLR650. The only bike I've ever fallen off of. I was off-road and came across some really deep ruts and realised I'd have a big problem trying to get past them, so stopped. Unfortunately when I put my foot down it was in a deep rut and I didn't touch ground until the bike had already passed the no-recovery position. If you've never tried lying in deep soft mud with a motorcycle on top of you pinning you down, then I suggest you do some time. Just make sure you have a photographer with you.
One of my favourite bikes was a modern Triumph Tiger. Not very fast (the same engine in a more sporting chassis went way faster) but a really rewarding bike to ride. Another bike I was stopped on, this time at 130mph. And again the police did nothing. Must be the toothpaste I use.
I had a borrowed BMW K1200GT for a while, and absolutely loved it. A true successor to the R90S. Immensely more powerful and faster, but with a lovely slightly sporting riding position that didn't tempt great speed. And a real looker. The last of the "house brick" fours, superceded shortly after by their new across-the-frame superbike. But I loved that bike.
Currently I have a tourer, a BMW K1100LT, that I see on my rare visits to England. Haven't ridden it in over two years, and I'll sell it on my impending visit. Very comfortable and relaxed but not a great handler - anything above about 90mph starts to feel a bit insecure, thiough the bike has a top speed of 145mph. Due to the massive fairing and luggage, I'm sure.
Ou here in Belize I had a toy for a few months, a KTM 125SX. An offroad competition bike with no lights, starter, etc. A real pocket rocket on any terrain whatsoever and a lot of fun, but too noisy to use in town and with zero luggage-carrying capacity. Amazingly fast - without a speedo it's hard to be sure, but I think I had it at over 80mph on soft sand, and I could lift the front wheel off the ground at 50mph+. When I go anywhere local I prefer to cycle and I found few reasons for starting up the KTM so I sold it.
So now I'm back to my original and enduring love - a bicycle!