My Bike, My Friend

My Bike, My Friend

By Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle School.

Sounds a bit silly, but along with my husband, best girl and guy pals, trusted sister and in-laws, my motorcycle has joined the ranks of those I trust, enjoy the company of and look forward to being with. My bike makes me smile when I see “her”. Clean or dirty, she’s always a welcomed companion, ready to take off with me on another adventure.Diane Big Apple School

It wasn’t always so. Previous motorcycles I’ve owned over the past twenty-plus years have been good machines, but there was never that bond that I have with my current ride. The first bike in my stable was not my “dream bike”, but was a serviceable older model Suzuki (GS450) that had many hard miles under its belt.  It was a simple, standard, naked bike with center-mounted controls and a narrow profile. It got me through the first few local trips when I first got my motorcycle license, but it’s propensity for shedding essential parts during a ride (like the shifter) due to its age and condition kept it from being trustworthy enough to ride any distance from home.  The Suzuki languished in the garage as a result and my time “in the seat” languished as well.

Next, a fortuitous demo ride at a motorcycle event put me in the seat of a new MotoGuzzi Breva. It was long on looks with fine Italian styling and sleek hard bags that locked.  The Suzuki promptly got sold to another new rider who hopefully had good mechanic skills (and lots of spare parts). The new bike had a comfortable low seat and manageable size – a little bigger than the first bike, but still under 500 lbs. wet. With the new bike I had the confidence to leave the local area and go on trips with my husband. Group rides to the Midwest and other locales followed. I soon found out that my little Breva (and my skill level) was no match for the larger and more powerful bikes of our companions on extended rides and curvy roads.  Either I was the next-to-last bike in the line or in front where I slowed everyone down to my level. Not fun for anyone. Eventually the MotoGuzzi was used as a trade-in for my husband to get a bigger bike and I started looking for something to take its place.  A Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom seemed like a good choice and that lasted awhile until I started scraping the pegs and exhaust. It soon went the way of the Suzuki, replaced by a sporty Yamaha FZ6. Finally I had enough horsepower to keep up with the big boys (90hp), plenty of ground clearance on the curves and a custom Corbin seat brought the seat height down a somewhat manageable level. The FZ6 and I did many track days together and I grew comfortable with its power and smooth, agile ride. It was my friend on the track where everything is flat and there’s a designated stop area in the pits, but on the street the still-too-tall seat height gave me trouble on banked roadways and inclines. A few too many tip-overs and leg cramps helped me decide that I needed more comfortable ergonomics for my 5’2” frame.

Looking around at one of the large motorcycle shows a chance encounter helped me find my “forever bike”, a sturdy, low-frame, low-seat-height BMW F700GS. I wanted her in white, but settled for red and now she’s my Bonita (sp. for pretty).  There’s very little chrome to clean and she has ABS brakes and front-mounted LED lights for safety. I can push her around easily on or off the bike as both my feet touch the ground flat – no tippy-toes! A lockable tail bag expands to fit my full-face helmet, and my sitting position on the bike is as comfortable as the recliner in my living room. Bonita always starts and sitting on her and taking a ride is heaven on wheels. I look forward to every opportunity to ride Bonita, rain or shine.

Like a good friend, Bonita requires some attention, and I hear her calling me from the garage when I’ve been neglectful.  She’s my companion, Sherpa and trusted steed; always ready to go. It took me a long time to find her, but the journey was worth it and gave me a better understanding of what combination of style and function works best for my needs at this stage in my life. If you haven’t found your Bonita yet, keep looking. There’s a good friend out there just waiting to be found!

Ride Safe!