Friday, February 20, 2009

Ninja Monkey Love



I’ve never much cared about appearances when it comes to the motorcycles I ride. If a bike makes me grin, I’ll ride it. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the gear I wear, either, as long as it protects me. Just ask anyone who’s seen my bug-stained Hi-Viz yellow Darien jacket.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about getting a second bike, not to replace my V-Strom, but to complement it. One of the bikes on my short list is the Ninja 250R, a front runner in the bang-for-the-buck sweepstakes.

As trick as this little screamer is, it got me wondering—exactly how silly would a 270-pound rider look on a 374-pound motorcycle?



I raced a TZ250 Yamaha in the 1970s. Even then I was big for a 250 rider—180 pounds, and 6 feet tall—which probably played no small part in my failure to set the AMA Novice class on fire.

Time and genetics are harsh mistresses, and the terrible twins have done a number on me since my racing days. Imagining myself straddling a 250R invariably brings to mind a colorful phrase having to do with a monkey and a football.

Still, lately I've been dialing up the 250R page on Kawasaki’s website and going over the specs at least once a day. Suggested retail is only $4,000; the same money would buy me any number of good used bikes more suited to my size. But they’d all need some work—a chain and sprockets, or tires, or brake pads—that would add up fast. And not many of them would look as zoomy as the 250R.

The only thing saving me from myself right now is that I’m about as likely to rustle up a spare four grand as I am to drop 100 pounds any time soon. So for the time being I’m spared the embarrassment of seeing myself reflected in a store window, doing the monkey thing with a 250R.

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