Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with my Buddy

Today was the day that I finally had to ride my Buddy International scooter to San Francisco in order to get the first maintenance service. Also, I wanted to install the GIVI topcase, which finally arrived after a long long wait. It seems scooter accessories are in short supply, given the increased sales. Everyone wants a cheaper mode of transportation. I was lucky that I caught the wave early on and did not have to wait for delivery of the scooter.So, I was dreading this day because it was going to be the first time I actually took the scooter on highway 101. There were a couple of stretches that I had to enter the highway, a short stretch in which highway 1 joined highway 101 (between Mill Valley and Sausalito) and then crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. I dreaded the most crossing the bridge because it is notorious for cross wind. Given that, I decided to be there around 9:30AM, after the morning commute and before the winds kicked in.

At least for today, everything went according to schedule. It was a sunny, cool, morning. The scooter behaved superbly. It took me about an hour and half to reach the dealership in San Francisco. I loved the stretch of road along the Presidio. I dreaded a bit about street traffic, but San Francisco motorists seem to be more attuned to scooters and motorcycles. It is also more fun when you see scooters around. I felt that I was not alone, which is sometimes how I feel around here.

The scooter dealer knew that I needed to return early, before the afternoon commute rush hour. They were quite efficient and right during lunch; I received a call stating the scooter was already serviced. The return trip was a bit tiring because of the heat and my head was swelling within the helmet. There was only one stretch of the road that I felt uneasy, and that was at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge, on the Marin County side. It was there that the winds started to whip. The scooter still felt secure but my body felt being whipped by the cross winds. Luckily, all I needed to do was to take the exit right after the bridge.

My opinion, so far? The Buddy is a nice scooter for casual cross-town rides. It is a very easy scooter to use, with enough torque across the RPM band to keep me away from cars. It is also quiet and has a great horn. Life is good.

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Waiting till next year

Having gone through an array of ideas as to which motorcycle to get (or even whether it is wise to get one), I think I decided to wait till next year until this appears on the dealer’s floor:

It is the new Triumph Bonneville for the 2009 year. Unlike the curent year’s model, the seat height is lowered by an inch overall. I have sat on the current model and I am tip-toeing on it. So, hopefully, I can flat foot on this one. Well, at least I have a better option than the heavy cruisers that seem to permeate the inseam-challenged arena.

Still alive after taking the motorcycle class

I haven’t updated this blog for awhile, because I was taking the basic motorcycle rider class. Since you readers are still reading this, it means that I survived the class and did not spend time in the emergency room. So, I passed the class and that means that I’ll be getting a waiver from taking the motorcycle rider’s test given by California’s DMV. Another day, another test. That is what my life has been about.

Although I’ll be riding primarily a scooter, I am glad that I took the class using a motorcycle because, frankly, it was more difficult. For me, the main issue was modulating the crutch and changing gears. It did not help that the motorcycles were worn from use and the “friction zone” of the clutch was hard to find. Also, while the class requires you to wear leather boots, I made the mistake of buying boots that were made of hard leather. There was no much feeling when I was up shifting the transmission level.

Anyway, I urge anyone who wants to ride a motorcycle to take the class (you can check this site). I learned a lot about safety and how to handle a motorcycle. The tutors are excellent and provided high quality feedback. The California CHP sends anonymous riders to audit them. How did I know? Because one of them was in our class. How did we know? Because the instructor noticed that he dismounted the motorcycle from the right side (cops are trained to dismount from a bike that way for their safety when they are on the freeways). The rest of us are taught to dismount from the left side because the rear brake is on the right side.

Also, by taking the class, you’ll know whether you can actually handle a motorcycle safely. I found out where my weak points were and, although I was not the best student, I was still able to pass the rider’s test at the end of the class. There were a couple of persons who could not. Well, it is better knowing about it in a safe environment than out on the street. I wish there were similar classes for bicyclist. Although their speeds are lower, I believe bicyclists face similar situations in traffic as motorcyclists.

Now, shall I trade in the scooter for a Harley?