Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I really liked the Street Triple R.  No, I mean I REALLY liked the Street Triple.  I had stopped by the local Triumph dealer's showroom to look at the Bonneville and the Speedmaster, but the Street Triple, the metallic orange paint job oozing attitude all over the showroom floor, stole my attention almost immediately.  Jauntily propped up on the side stand, the Street Triple's siren call beckoned to me past the Bonnevilles and Speedmasters that I had originally come to see.  The Tiger was also nice, but was about $5,000 over my budget.  I didn't even notice the Ducati Monsters or BMW luxury bikes with the Street Triple in the room.  I must have stopped by the local Triumph dealer about three or four times between August and November, drooling over the Street Triple.  I scoured the Internet comparing the Triumph to other bikes.  Did I mention that I really liked the Triumph?  Then I called my insurance company.

Cough, cough...how much to insure the Street Triple?  That's the Street Triple, not the Speed Triple, right?  Oh, it was.  Coverage only for April through October, right?  'Kay.  You know I'm over 25, right?  Well over 25, in fact.  Yeah.  Okay.  Thanks.

My wife was awesome.  "Well, that's a lot of money, but if we take the insurance off your truck and you just ride the motorcycle during the summer, we can do it."  That was fine.  I had ridden the Nighthawk in some pretty torrential downpours, and I had since bought a rain suit.  If you live in South Central Alaska, you don't wait for good weather, you dress for the weather you have and make the best of it.  When I'm with the family, we almost always take my wife's truck.  Consequently, when I am driving my truck, I'm usually alone, so parking the truck and riding a bike all summer didn't seem that big of a deal to me.  Okay, one major hurdle down.

But something kept prompting me to see what else was available.  A friend at work suggested I check out the Suzuki SV650.  He used to own one several years ago, and was convinced that dollar for dollar, it was the best bike you could buy.  Unfortunately, I really liked the naked bikes, and Suzuki had discontinued the naked SV650 a little while ago.  They still made the SV650S, but I didn't really want the fairing.  There was always the Gladius, but on paper at least, it seemed heavy and underpowered, especially when compared to the three hundred eighty pound, one hundred twenty horsepower Street Triple.  Neither of the local Suzuki dealers had a Gladius in stock, so I couldn't find out for myself.

Still, I kept coming back to the Suzuki web site.  For some reason, the DL650 V-Strom kept catching my eye.  It wasn't nearly as sexy as the Street Triple, but something about it seemed right.  At approximately twice the horsepower of my Nighthawk and about 60 less pounds, the Street Triple was a lot of bike, and I was still a beginner motorcyclist.  The V-Strom had about the same power to weight ratio that my beloved Nighthawk had -- maybe a little better, in fact, but not so much that I would be likely to get myself in over my head with a moment's inattention.  I could go places on a V-Strom that I'd never take a Street Triple.  And let's face it, the roads in Alaska get pretty rough.  Even the good streets often have potholes or tar snakes.  Get very far from Anchorage, and you are almost guaranteed to find frost heaves.  Even better, the V-Strom came in almost the exact same shade of metal flake orange that had initially drawn me to the Street Triple.

The debate wore on for several months.  The V-Strom didn't have the cool-factor of the Street Triple -- nowhere near, in fact -- but I wasn't buying a bike to be "cool".  I wanted a bike upon which I could explore the world.  I was drawn to the image and allure of the Street Triple, but the V-Strom seemed to be a much better bike for the things I really wanted to do on a motorcycle.  By New Year's Day, I was hooked.  I wanted a V-Strom.  I stopped visiting the Triumph dealer and started chatting up the Suzuki dealers, instead.

Uh, oh...neither dealer in town had a V-Strom, and rumor was they wouldn't get any new shipments until June at the earliest.  Summer in Anchorage is short enough, and I didn't want to waste two months of the short riding season, so I began looking for options.  One of the dealers said it didn't look like they would actually be getting any 2010 Suzuki motorcycles (which, in fact proved to be true -- Suzuki didn't import any 2010 bikes, except by special order).  I hit the Internet in search for V-Stroms.  After only getting 1,000 miles from my Nighthawk, I really wanted a new bike, but V-Stroms, apparently are quite popular.  Finally, I found a dealer in Monroe, Washington with a brand-new orange 2009 DL650...maybe I could get one from them?  Ultimately, Anchorage Suzuki Arctic Cat found an orange '09 at Northern Powersports in Fairbanks.  Anchorage Suzuki suggested I work directly with Northern Powersports, and after a couple of phone calls, I ordered a brand new V-Strom from them.  (Huge plug for both dealers, by the way -- they were absolutely great to work with, and I highly recommend them).  For another $100, I had the DL650 shipped down to Anchorage, and by the end of March, I had my new bike.  All I had to do was wait for the temporary tags to arrive and the last remnants of winter snow and ice to disperse, and I would be free to ride again!

First ride on my new DL-650 V-Strom at the end of March.

Woohoo!  I managed not to crash!  Yes, that's still snow and
ice in my driveway.

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