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My Motorcycle Adventure

My First Ride
Nov. 24, 2007

The owner of the local Yamaha dealership retrieved my newly purchased used 2002 Suzuki Volusia from his service area and brought it out front where I was waiting for it. After securing my helmet and donning my gloves, I flipped my leg over its seat and pressed the ignition button. It started right away with a nice, smooth thrumming sound.

The owner asked if I had ridden before. I did, 20 years ago in San Diego on a Honda 650cc Nighthawk. This Volusia had more gusto with its 805cc, and I was anxious to see what it would do on the road.

I thanked him, and slowly let out the clutch lever. The engine died. Ooops.

I cranked it up again and nervously grinned. Though I did complete the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course last month, this will be the first time I rode a bike in traffic for over two decades. I was apprehensive, but I rev'ed the engine a couple times and the Vol spoke to me with its thrumming pipes. The sound calmed my nerves, and I once again slowly released the clutch lever, with a bit of throttle this time.

I began my first ride, which was immediatly home for two reasons: A) I wanted to show off my "new" bike to a few neighbors, and B) I wanted to take off the windshield. The windshield was small and created a bad buffeting effect that drew me crazy. It had to go. I could always get a larger shield down the road if I wanted one.

I slowed down, took it slow and easy all the way home, and parked it in front of my house. After showing my Vol to my family and neighbors, I removed the windshield and once again fired her up. She started right away and I rode her out.

The one hour ride that followed was an experience I'll never forget. My previous riding experience was in southern California amongst the crowded traffic of San Diego and L.A., with aa occasional ride through regional flat deserts.

Here, in North Carolina, the country roads made for great riding. The traffic was sparce as I cranked the speed up to 55mph, and in no time the bike became a part of me. It maneuvered great around the curves as I followed the country road through the woods. The land would open up now and again to reveal open fields and ancient homes, only to be swallowed up again with woods that shaded the road.

I finally noticed a chill as the temp. began to drop through the evening and headed home. Yeah, I got my bike just as winter approached, but that's okay. There are a few things I'd like to do to her before the spring arrives, and I can still take her out for a chilly ride every weekend.

I finally got my bike, and she is perfect in every way. But then again, there is always the D.J. Hillis Drive Mod. Hmmmm. With early nights, there is some lighting mods I'd like to do. Oh, and there's that larger windshield too.

*Checks wallet* Ack!

What's A Volusia?
Nov. 20, 2007

As I was waiting for the price of my Boulevard C50 mototrcycle to drop during the upcoming cold months of winter, an exciting encounter took place. It happened a short week ago while driving past a local Yamaha dealership. There, with some other used bikes ouside their doors, was what looked like a used C50!

I parked and walked up to it to check it out. It was not the Boulevard C50 that I wanted, but something even better! A 2002 Intruder VL-800 Volusia! What's a Volusia, you say?

A Volusia is the predecessor of the C50 which took its place back in 2005. Identical in every way, except for some technical differences such as fuel injection, and named after Volusia County in florida, it was Suzuki's best selling cruiser.

This 2002 black & blue Vol was fully stocked with a lightbar, windshield, and saddlebags. The bike looked clean and well kept with no scratches, and best of all was it only had 6,800 miles on it and costs half as much ($3,500) as the 2007 C50 I had wanted earlier.

I'll be picking the bike up today. Come back soon to read about my first ride on this Volusia. It's gonna be a blast!

MSF Course Completed
Oct. 29, 2007

Hey, that wasn't so bad. There were 5 of us students and 2 instructors, a small class compared to the 12 - 18 usual class size.

Fri. evening began with videos and a lot of bookwork. Saturday morning, we walked to the school's bike shed and I was issued a 200cc Suzuki dirt bike. Yikes! Skinny and top-heavy, I knew it was going to be a challenge as I never rode one before. They did have some 250cc street bikes similar to my old 650cc Nighthawk I used to ride back in the 80's, and though I tried to swap my dirt bike for one the instructors was dead set in making me ride the dirt bike.

Though the pavement was wet from rain the day before, it didn't rain that saturday. We began some basic riding skill events. Powerwalking, stopping, etc. Then came the turns & swerves. The dirt bike actually made it easier for me to make the short figure-eight type box turns. After a long day of riding around cones in a parking lot, the class ended and this tired old body was ready for some sleep.

Sunday morning I was up early. I didn't study for the upcoming written test the night before, so I went to a Waffle House and after a good breakfast with lots of coffee, I studied for about an hour and headed back to class. The written test was laying on my desk when I arrived and we knocked it out first thing. Very easy. Aced it.

Then, back to the parking lot. We did some advanced rider training such as sudden swerves and curves, including riding over a block of wood. The dirt bike felt more comfortable now and I began to relax and have fun.

After lunch, it was time to do the riding skill test. Sudden stopping, swerves, u-turns, and curves. I admit I was apprehensive, but I survived with only one stike against me because of a deceleration/acceleration during an outside-inside curve maneuver: -5 points.

At the end, I passed and received my MSF cards, a patch, sticker, and some Geico insurance promo stuff. One of the students failed the riding skills test.

I believe the course may help save my life someday, and if you had not taken it, I highly recommend it. I learned a lot, and I know you would too. Another bonus of completing the course is not having to take the DMV riding skill test (still need to take the written test) and there is a 10% discount on participating insurance companies.

Ride safe!

MSF Course Update
Oct. 25, 2007

The course was cancelled last weekend due to not enough students, and was pushed back to this next weekend. A shame too, because the weather last weekend was beautiful. Rain is in the forcast Fri. & Sat. this weekend during the course. Come back soon to read my write-up on it.

MSF Course Written Test
Oct. 10, 2007

With the 3 day Motorcycle Safety Foundation course a week and a half away, I decided to take a closer look at their official site. There is more info there than I first thought! There are details on what to bring/wear, a break down of topics covered, and a review of the written test.

Take the sample test online and see how you'd do. Okay, I missed 4 of 48. Not bad for not covering the material, but most questions are common sense.

Motorcycle Repair
Oct. 9, 2007

I'm an artist, I believe. I wrote a novel. I draw. I paint. I like to create. But to put food on the table, I have an alternate skill/occupation as do most artists. I am a copier/facsimile service tech. That's my job. It's what I do. But, I know nothing about motorcycle repair.

There will come a time when I may become stranded somewhere on my bike, or perhaps I just cannot justify paying a dealership several hundred dollars for service that I may be able to do myself at a fraction of the cost. Thus I will need to learn some basic motorcycle repair skills.

The first step is to brouse through the Volusia Riders forum for tips on service. A forum search for a particular problem will most likely yield a solution. Then, there are sites that do a great job with introducing you to maintenance and repair, such as Dan's Online Motorcycle Repair Course.

Chances are that I will not need to work much on this Boulevard C50 after I've put some miles on it, except for the basic maintenance to keep it running smooth. My research shows the C50 to be a solid well made bike with little problems, outside of an ignition switch and wiring problem that occured in earlier models (05/06).

Breaking It In
Oct. 4, 2007

No, I don't have my C50 yet. I'm looking at Jan. 2008, no later than March 2008 before I can get my ride. But, I did run across an interesting site regarding breaking in a new bike at Mototune USA. Something to consider. Check it out.

Addendum: Another write up on breaking it in at Dan's Motorcycle Repair Course. Which is right? Perhaps somewhere in-between.

Got The Links Up
Oct. 3, 2007

To the left I placed misc. links to sites of biking accessories. Most have been recommended by riders at the Volusia Riders forum.

Before purchasing something online, check around your area first and support your local dealer. In my case, I wanted to purchase a leather jacket, and I did see a good price for one online, but I decided to check around town first. Some places were very expensive, but I found a great genuine leather riding jacket at a local store called Booty Brothers. They specialize in boots, and they also stock leather bike gear. The $50 cost for a leather jacket was a steal. I'm getting my chaps there next.

Booty Brothers
3470 Capuano Rd.
Lumberton, NC
(910)739-8923

Itching To Ride
Sept. 29, 2007

Geeze. Building a shed is tough, especially on the pocketbook. And I have 2 of these to build. Half way done with a main shed, and then I begin my bike shed. Woot!

Scheduled for the Mototcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) rider's course in late Oct. through my local college. A friday evening of bookwork with all day Sat. & Sun. riding the course. Can't wait!

Speaking of safety, while brousing through a motorcycle forum I ran across a link to some great words on Motorcycle Commuting Survival Strategies. Really makes you think. Check it out.

There She Is!
Sept. 8, 2007

A couple of decades ago, I owned a Honda Nighthawk 650cc motorcycle while living in San Diego. The bike and I parted after a few years, but what a time I had while riding this nimble bike.

Flash forward to today. The itch to ride again has taken hold, and I commenced to search for my new ride. I decided to upgrade to at least a 750cc and began my research. My first thought was a Honda Shadow, so I paid the local Honda dealer a visit. Once there, I admired the Shadow's looks. I flipped my leg over the seat of one and tested the feel. Nice, but the seat didn't feel right.

Across the showroom to my left sat a black bike that screamed for me to look at it. Stepping up to it, it looked vastly different than the Shadows. It had classic cruiser written all over it. Looking at the logo on the shiney tank, I saw the word Boulevard, and on the side cover displayed the model# C50. No indication of the cc engine size though. Probably in the 1400cc range, I thought. Too big. Too expensive.

She screamed at me to have a seat though, and upon sitting on it, everything about it became perfect. The looks. The feel. All of it. I signaled a roaming salesman and asked him what size this bike was: 800cc. Cost? $6200. Comparable to the Shadows I was looking at previously.

This is it! I identified my bike make/model, but much to do before I can own her. Study up on this bike, take the MSF Riders Course. Purchase my gear. Build a bike shack to house her in. Take a few months through winter 2007 to save up a down payment (unless a great off season deal presents itself), and I can own her early 2008.

Meanwhile, I'll be placing links (left) to various sites of interest regarding the Boulevard C50. Expect updates on my motorcycle adventures as they happen.


Expect some riding videos. Until then, watch the Oregon Dairy Ice Cream Ride by Southern Cruisers Riding Club, Lancaster-Lebanon Chapter #289.

Jim (aka Reptor7)