Monday, April 05, 2010

Licentious Woman

If you're newer to riding motorcycles you might not be familiar with the reference.  If you've been into Japanese motorcycles since the eighties there's a good chance you've heard someone use the term.  If you've owned Yamaha motorcycles and you like their previous iterations of cruisers then there's an excellent chance you know exactly the line of bikes I'm talking about.

I've been the proud owner of a "licentious woman" since the mid eighties.  A great bike for those of us shorter in stature.  Fantastic lines and the ability to cruise the boulevard, or as I put mine to use, to cruise the farmlands of southeastern Wisconsin at any pace I chose.

Theese machines have excellent lean angles.  Light weight makes their ample horsepower very much usable.  And when you hear that engine growl you can't help but smile.  They were shaft driven and carried a much larger rear tire than anything in their catagory.  The faux tanks above broad V twins (Yamaha had a thing about carrying its gas low down instead of where you normally would see the filler cap) helped lower the bikes' centers of gravity.  They were police-making-you-walk-the-straight-line stable but turned into any curve or switchback like a dream.  You always felt planted on these things.

My buddy Whitey took the bike on his licensing test.  I knew he wouldn't be back soon.  Better than two hours later, he returned.  Grinning like the cat that finally got the family parakeet.  I couldn't blame him.  Every person whose ridden that bike wants to keep riding it.

Jerry, a guy who lives and breathes Harley Davidson, lost his coil on a country ride we did one night.  I gave him the Yamaha to get the necessary part for a roadside repair and the same thing happened.  He returned apologetic.  Again, a couple hours later.

"Don't sell that bike Harv.  I've never ridden anything like it."

Today I reaquainted myself with what it's always been with that particular machine.  Back roads through farm land.  Twists and gently rising and falling hills.  Roads where I've always found the most enjoyment.  The Yamaha just felt so good.  The note of the two pipes, the slight whine of the shaft final drive.  A V twin in its proper element.  Expressways are for people needing to get somewhere.  Roads leading nowhere in particular are a destination in and of themselves.  They'll take you somewhere.  Eventually.  But the chances are better you'll enjoy what you see on the way that much more. 

The roads and a great bike.  In this case, an '87 Yamaha Virago 535 I bought new.  Someone once said it's the color of red wine.

Seems appropiate for a bike named the licentious woman...