Saturday, January 23, 2016


The process of trading in one perfectly good motorcycle for another is a study in the art of rationalization.  I generally keep a bike for six to ten years. My bikes don’t sit in the garage, they get used, plenty.  I usually log between 40,000 to 60,000 miles – which is to say “far from used up” – before my fancy is tickled by something new.

That’s when those rationalizations begin.

My current rides are a 2009 BMW R1200 GS Adventure and a 2007 Moto Guzzi B-1100 ‘Breva’.  Both are excellent machines.   

The BMW is engineered to be driven around the world.  It is reliable, tough, dependable, and comfortable and, according to a 2009 issue of GQ Magazine, “the world’s best motorcycle.”  The Beemer’s boxer engine is iconic and although because of technological upgrades they’re not as easy to work on as they once were.  I don’t work on my bikes anyway.

The Moto Guzzi is a timeless example of how Italians marry design and function.  The thing is beautiful with fluid lines coupled to a bulletproof chassis and drive train.  Guzzi may lack the cachet of other Italian brands, but the marque has been going strong since 1922.  My little Breva eats up windy country roads and garners attention wherever it is parked.  As a “second” bike I’ve put fewer miles on it since I acquired it used, but it had never as much as hiccupped on the road.

So why think about something else?  Here come those rationalizations.

·      Having moved and downsized numerous things, it is time to downsize in the motorcycle department.  I need to get down to one.
·      That perfect BMW can take on any road (or non-road, for that matter) but I find myself less excited about picking the thing up off its side after misjudging the depth of gravel in a turn.
·      With an arthritic knee that telegraphs me something unpleasant about the aging process, kicking a leg over the high seat and wide panniers is becoming, on some days, problematic.
·      Final drives on my generation of BMWs have a bad reputation – probably due more to how quickly a shred of bad news can circulate on the internet than justified by the part’s performance – and final drive failures are costly to repair.
·      The dealer for my beautiful Breva is over 100 miles away.  Local motorcycle shops won’t so much as change the oil or adjust the valves because difficulties related to getting parts from Piaggio, Guzzi’s current parent company.
·      I’ve always been a bit too tall for the B-1100 but have been willing to sacrifice a tiny bit of comfort for the experience of riding a bike with such mojo.
·      I’m not riding 14,000 miles in a year any longer.
·      I’m not riding 500 to 600 mile days any longer.
·      I’m sticking to paved roads.
·      I do need space in that garage.

So what’s next for the garage?  Whatever was featured on the cover of the latest edition of Rider magazine?

Seriously, I’ve been snooping through the world-wide web looking for a touring steed: one that is comfortable for 300 or so miles in a day (but 500+ if I have to), neutral seating position, good handling, storage for a week’s worth of clothes.  Something that would invite me to ride out to the coast or up to the redwoods at a moment’s notice.  And something with some degree of that magical mojo that you feel as much as see.   

The current apple of my eye comes from England and, because the local (yes, “local,” meaning closer than two hours away) dealer is closing them out, a well-equipped model is selling for about four grand less than sticker.  (Another rationalization?  Sure.)

So, gentle reader: if you’re looking for a world-class adventure mount or a crowd pleasing Italian, get in touch.  Both have been well maintained and, when they are gone, I know I’ll regret it …maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but soon. And for the rest of my life… But those rationalizations are wearing away at my better judgment.  No telling how long I can hold out.

© 2016
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. I am sure you will be pleased with a Triumph. Hubby had a Triumph America for a few years until I bought my own bike. (It was fairly comfy for two-up riding) He loved it and still misses it quite often.

    1. Good to know, T. Today I completed a loop in the pickup up through Redding, CA across the Coast Range on CA 36 and down a secondary (or third-in-dary) road through places called Blocksburg and Alder Point - all the while imagining seeing the beautiful vistas, mountains and barns on the Triumph and comparing that with what it might be like on my current GSA. Still liking the idea of a new scoot but know I'll miss the Beemer when she's gone.