Who has two thumbs and a new dirt bike?
Yup! This girl!
I have been searching for a small dirt/trail bike for more than a year--since I went off-road for a weekend with the Rocky Mountain Adventure Riders (RMAR) last July. I had a grand time, but learned that weekend that if I wanted to be self-sufficient, I needed a smaller bike. Smaller in engine size and smaller in over all physical size. And although the GS is made to be a dual sport bike, having a bike specifically made with this type of riding in mind would help me greatly in learning the basics, and improving the skills I found I already had.
The "Shortypants--we are short women and this is what we ride" thread on ADVRider was immensely helpful. It is more than 50 pages long, and packed with info on bikes, modifications, likes, dislikes and ridiculously inspiring photos. These women can ride!!!
After reading through the whole thread, I made a short list of bikes on a post-it that has travelled with me for about 8 months in my work bag. These were the top favorites, for different reasons and for different riders, that I thought could work well for me. This summer I started sitting on bikes in dealerships and seeing how they felt. I was not, however, going to buy a brand new bike.
There are two reasons for this.
1) (and this is pretty big) $$$. I knew I would be looking at selling the Red Devil and using that money towards a new bike. It is 33 years old, and though its a great bike, it is not in original condition. It would not cover the cost of a new bike, so I needed to keep my budget fairly low.
2) I will drop this bike. A lot. I'm pretty sure that if I get myself a brand new bike, I will ride it so gingerly and carefully so as to not scratch or dent it, that it will defeat the purpose of getting a bike to learn on. I think I would probably cry the first time I dented a brand new bike--no lie.
So, Craigslist it is. After months of looking, both here in Colorado and in California where I spent six months of my summer, I bought a bike from a guy just outside of Sedalia, CO. I met Steve in front of Bud's Bar (he was on his 650 V-Strom) and followed him to his home. He pulled the bike out of the garage and the first thing I thought was, "Crap, its bigger than I thought it would be!"
I looked it over, got my gear on and he started it up. That's when I looked at him and said, "Oh, the one thing I didn't do before you started it was throw a leg over to make sure I could touch the ground." We both laughed, but I wasn't laughing on the inside....
I got my leg over and couldn't put even my toe on the ground on the other side. But the bike was light and the suspension squishy and I was feeling brave. I pushed up and the bike got upright and settled just enough for me to put toes on the ground! Success! I got the kickstand up and took off. I was glad that by the time I returned, he had gone back inside: I knew I had the goofiest grin on my face! What a fun bike!
We got all of the paperwork out of the way, Steve helped me load it up, and I drove off with that same goofy grin on my face, windows down, music loud, wind blowing my hair, having a great time! It was now about 1:30 in the afternoon, and I realized I hadn't eaten all day--I was starving! On my way back through Sedalia, I decided to stop and eat at The Sedalia Grill. I had ridden past it many times, seen loads of motorbikes there, but never stopped. I went in, ordered wings and a Coors Light, and sent messages to everyone I knew who would care about the new bike.
In the parking lot at The Sedalia Grill. Motorbikes of every variety were parked there, and by the time I left, several trucks loaded with dirt bikes were parked next to mine. I felt like I was part of the club!
I get to go home early from work today--we are super slow--so I'll be heading to the DMV to title and register it. The picture below is the current line-up, but room in the garage is super tight. I'm going to sell the little Honda this month if I can, but I will miss her!
I know she doesn't look like at XT--they are usually white with blue/grey graphics. The first owner of the bike put an aftermarket Clarke tank on her (4.2 gallons) and painted the bike to match. Steve admitted to me that he had put a couple scratches on her, and quite honestly I'm thankful for them. I won't be worried about keeping her in pristine condition--that's not what she's for anyway!
L-R: Nalla, Louise, The Red Devil, ?, and Thumper the Ice Queen. Gonna need a name for the new one.... (Look at that big 21" front wheel on the Yamaha!)