Monday, June 25, 2007

Tales from the Tube: My New Motorcycle

Life can be so simple, but on my planet we prefer to complicate matters. For instance: I needed to buy a motorcycle for transportation, so did I buy a nice, sedate Honda Wave like everyone else in Thailand? Did I buy an even more sedate Honda Dream like many people of my advanced age seem to prefer? Those bikes, kick them once and they settle immediately into a nice, quiet idle; nice little mudguards to protect your pants; semi-automatic transmission, real easy . . . so did I get one? No.

No, not at all. I opted instead for a used Honda Dash. Idle? Not hardly, it won’t idle at all. If you let go of the throttle it stalls immediately. Start on the first kick? Maybe, but sometimes you need to jiggle the key around until the proper electrical connection is made. Shifting? Actually, it shifts quite well. But if you can find neutral inside of about thirty seconds I’ll give you a dollar.

My rational for buying this machine went like this: I have had motorcycles for thirty-five years. They have all had a clutch. They have all had flat bars and rear-set foot pegs so you had to lean forward a little bit. They have all been fast and not particularly comfortable. A Honda Wave meets none of those criteria. A Honda Dash meets them all.

The Dash has a 2-stroke, 100cc, water cooled engine that sounds like all Hell breaking loose. It sounds like a drunken steel band celebrating the explosion of a small fireworks factory. The Dash has a six speed, close ratio gear box that will move it along very quickly indeed to the top of its range. Where is that? I don’t know, the speedo is broken, but it’ll keep up with the cars on the “superhighway,” a two lane blacktop with a good surface. I’ve had bikes that would embarrass the Dash in an acceleration contest from 60 to 90 miles per hour. The Dash won’t even do ninety, probably. But under 60 mph the Dash will keep up with almost anything. It’ll pick up the front wheel in first, second and third gear, and it easily does those wild burn outs like the mutants in “Road Warrior.”

It’s a looker too. It’s got lots of extra chrome; an aftermarket double-caliper disk brake in the front; the stock disk brake on the mono-shock rear end. Under the skin I’m sure it’s a little tired, the engine is still real strong but I expect it to give up the ghost at some point. It’s got 60,000 kilometers on it, and it’s a tiny, way over-tuned 2-stroke. I don’t know how old it is but the license plate looks older than me. But it only cost Bhat 13,000, about $350. So f*ck it, if the motor breaks I’ll get a new one put in.

I’m glad it’s loud: it helps the opposition to avoid hitting me, you know it’s coming, that’s for sure. I’m glad it’s fast too: I’m not reckless but I really like to go fast. I love the Dash. It’s my middle-age-crisis-red-Corvette but I got it for literally one half of one percent of the price of a Corvette, do the math, and under 60 mph it’d probably stay close to the ‘vette. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

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