Yep, you heard it here first folks. After the deluge that was yesterday, today dawned crisp and clear. It was time to get the bike out of the shed and go for a ride. Even if the ride was only about 4 kilometres(2.5mi)!
The reason to gear up for such a short ride was because local bike shop "Team Moto" were putting on a test ride day at the Mt Cotton Driver Training Centre. Being literally a stones throw from my house I couldn't not go. I had no intention of buying a new bike and I had missed out on booking a test ride as well but a work colleague was test riding some of the bikes so I thought it a great chance to nose around the training centre.
Walking in I immediately had a delicious steak sandwich thrust into my hand, with a cursory "would you like that?" thrown in afterward. "Would I??!!" "Heck yeah". I wasn't there to test ride but I could sure help them out by eating their steak sandwiches!
After finishing the food I went in search of Matt, a current Sprint owner. Not seeing him, a quick text informed me that he had been at work until the wee hours and decided to give it a miss today. Well, his loss....and all that!
I swanned over to the rego desk and was informed that "yes, we do have plenty of openings". I saw my chance to test ride a Tiger Explorer 1200. Pity it wasn't the 800 as thats the one I am really interested in, but steak sandwich thieves can't be choosers.
Feeling a bit nervous about it, with my sum total of 4km motorcycle riding for the year, I though I might be a little ..um...rusty.
Sitting astride the beast I felt like I had been plonked on the back of an elephant. It was huuuuge and in a nice shade of blue. I played with the controls etc while some bloke faffed on with some rules for the ride. Something like no overtaking, no speeding!? and blah blah. Luckily I had thought to put my ear plugs in before he began so I wasn't too distracted while playing with their bike. I just nodded vigorously whenever they looked at me....
The second thing I noticed was how light the throttle was. It was too light! I am no arm wrestling, cow puncher but even with my strength I found it very hard to be gentle with the throttle....No,no, I mean it! It was sooo sensitive.
The little road course that is the driver training centre has corners that go on forever. Some are off camber, some tighten up and some open out. All designed to challenge the student. But, it was race track smooth and I was having FUN.
The Tiger Explorer was just so smooth. And powerful. And easy to tip in. And, would you believe it, awesome to ride! I have always known that a good rider on a dual sport bike can clean up a sports bike rider in the really twisty stuff, but a very small part of me still didn't want to believe it. Today, I knew I was easily faster on this Tiger than I would ever be on my R1 and it seemed effortless. Maybe that is the difference in 10 years development. Maybe it is just a new bike versus one with 29 000km on the clock. The only thing that unsettled me a bit was that I felt no feedback from the bike. It was too smooth! I couldn't feel the tyres working or the suspension suspending or the brakes braking or the engine er..reving. I am sure I could get used to it but the ride was very homogenised. Nothing a pipe and some more riding time to explore limits couldn't fix though.
Many thanks to Team Moto for putting the day on. There were plenty of smiles in evidence as guys jumped on the fleet of test bikes that were on offer.
Cheers and thanks for checkin' in.