Friday, January 17, 2020

As Different As Can Be

I rode both of my motorcycles today, a rare treat. I had to pick up my S1000R from the shop and my mechanic suggested I bring in my other bike for service at the same time. (It's due.) So I rode 50 miles into NYC on the GTL and 50 miles home on the S1000R. The trips revealed vast contrasts between the vehicles.

Despite living together, the GTL and S1000R are as dissimilar as Felix and Oscar. The GTL is a huge touring bike with every amenity (e.g., heated seats, hard luggage, speakers in front and back). The S1000R is simply a motor on a stick. The GTL, at 800 lbs., is twice as heavy as the S1000R.

Their riding experiences couldn't be more different. The GTL is a RV. It's so comfortable that you can sit on it for 10 hours without complaint. The bike has a windshield and full fairing which buffer you from wind. The S1000R has none of those things. Riding it, you collect bugs and admiring glances. "Hey! Look at that red sportbike!"

Like an ocean-liner, moving the GTL requires planning: you don't just change paths. When you see a turn ahead, you shout to the First Mate, "Steer starboard ahead." He relays to the crew, "Starboard rudder." They shout to guys wearing greasy t-shirts in the bowel of the boat, "Turn right, you idiots!"

The S1000R, in contrast, is incredibly intuitive because of its small size and weight. To change lanes, I don't do anything: the bike moves laterally by itself. When I see open space ahead, the bike surges without input. My go-to excuse for speeding is, "Officer, it wasn't me! The bike did it. I'm just sitting here."

The temperature today was 23-degrees going into NYC and 26-degrees going home. Normally that'd feel cold but I wore heavy-duty Winter gear which, coupled with stubborn machismo, kept me warm.

Riding the GTL, my face is relaxed and full of contentment. I'm Buddha on two wheels. Riding the S1000R, I grin maniacally as we bend the laws of physics together. Hunter Thompson wrote, "Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba...".


  1. I love your descriptions of how different these two bikes are - I can feel it! I used to ride on the back of my dad's Harley and his Yamaha before that, both non-racing styles, but not quite at the "boat" stage - cruisers?

    1. Yup, cruisers. My first bike was a cruiser. It looked like what I imagined motorcycles were supposed to look like. Cruisers are pretty but uncomfortable for long-distance touring and much slower than sportbikes.

  2. Two totally beautiful bikes. Two totally different experiences.

  3. An excellently written post, which makes even me, who doesn't know the first thing about bikes, understand the difference between those two. xxx

  4. AHHHHH, I love your passion for bikes!! So persuasive! You have a great passion and interest!