Returning to the land I’d given up just a few years ago in favour of my new home, Canada, I was given a typical English summer greeting of low overcast clouds and a chilly nine degrees Celsius as the plane descended from its sunny domain at 30,000 feet.
Otago Peninsula had spectacular mountain riding, with lots of sheep dotting the hillsides below us. John thought it was pretty funny to see 100 km speed limit signs on a twisty, narrow road full of hairpin bends and sheer drop-offs on either side, with no guardrails.
New Zealand is a spectacular scenic country with friendly, relaxed people, and a motorcycle tour is a terrific way to experience all of it. We were there from January 30 to February 17, (which is late summer in New Zealand) and spent 12 of those days riding.
One fine summers day it suddenly dawned on me that it would be just a dandy idea to do a road test of some of the larger cruisers (Fat Bastards as I like to call them) that have appeared on our ever tasty bike menu recently. Let’s see … we have the Honda Valkyrie, the Yamaha Royal Star and the ever present Harley Road King. Cool, that should do it.
I guess we just don’t get it. The cruiser thing, we mean. We admit that after a couple of weeks with an interesting selection of cruisers, we still haven’t more than a vague effing clue what the attraction is. Having said that, however, we’ll still be more than pleased to pass on our opinions.
Scooters, basic motorised two wheeled transportation at nearly its simplest form, are completely ignored here in capitalist Amerika, which is funny because they’re everywhere in many other congested cities around the globe.
My first impression of the Bandit 1200, shortly after I picked it up at Suzuki Canada, was just how torquey the motor is. While doing a couple laps of the parking lot to familiarise myself with the bike, the front wheel would readily jump up a couple inches with just the slightest provocation.
The Bullet pushes a meagre 24 bhp (18 for the 350), but it’s a torquey little bike with that one cylinder. The shifter is stiff and sluggish, and it’s not always evident the gear has taken until you release the clutch. I keep reminding myself it improves with use.
I think I have a new favourite BMW, even considering my aging body and the mildly sporty riding position.
When BMW offers the press a chance to ride their bikes, it’s best to take care not to get trampled in the rush.