By Bud Wilkinson of RIDE-CT.com
It’s a case of paralysis by analysis. For two weeks now, ever since selling the 1994 BMW R100RT “as-is” after it suffered complete transmission failure, I’ve been shopping for a replacement bike, looking for a modern, used motorcycle that will be reliable, affordable, stable during occasional trips on I-84 and I-91 and sufficient fun.
Craigslist has been perused daily as have the websites of almost every dealer in the state. I’ve visited Jim Batterton at Kent Road Motorsports in Cornwall Bridge twice to test ride a 2005 Honda Shadow Sabre 1100. The price is right, the bike fits my practical criteria and it offers all the power and handling that I’ll ever need. The shaft-driven Sabre would certainly be a bullet-proof complement to the vintage bikes in my garage.
So what’s holding me back? I rode the Sabre again yesterday and even had a wad of cash in a pocket of my jeans to make the purchase as well as the “RIDE-CT” license plate from the RT in my tail bag. My excuse for ducking out quickly after returning it was that it was raining and I wanted to get home before the sky opened up.
The Sabre presents a quandary. With fewer than 5,800 miles on the odometer, it’s nearly new. I’ve never ridden a bike with such a wide friction zone or one that’s so comfortable. But it also has feet forward controls. While my V-Rod did, too, I now find an upright riding position and being able to stand on the pegs when necessary more pleasurable.
Over beers last night at The Village in Litchfield, friend Brian O’Neill derided the Sabre as a “Harley wannabe” and suggested that if my primary goal in buying is reliability, well, Honda makes loads of other models that are not V-twins. His comment reinforced the stereotype that “we are what we ride.”
How many riders buy Harley-Davidsons solely because of the image they project? Buying a pricier Harley isn’t in the budget at the moment. But should a motorcycle purchase ever be ruled by practicality instead of emotion? Yes, “it’s the same wind” no matter what you ride but it’s also more fun when you pull to a stop and people come over to admire your ride. That’s one of the pleasurable aspects of riding vintage bikes and boutique brands.
In reality, the Sabre suits all my immediate needs, another requirement being that it’s light enough that it doesn’t requiring muscling at slow speed. The website and forum The Sabre Group has great things to say about the model. I really shouldn’t give a hoot about what others may think. So why do I? And what the heck does that say about me? Thanks, Brian.
I’ve bought at at least a half-dozen other bikes (Triumphs and BMWs mostly) on whim. Why not this time? As I said, it’s a case of paralysis by analysis.