By May 7, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Raptor

I’ve owned my BMW KT 1200 LE motorcycle for about five weeks now. I knew I was in for a huge change from Cylon, my FZ6 sport standard. Cylon weighs just about half of what Raptor does. I was a mess when I got my BMW. It felt like I was learning to ride all over again. I almost dumped the bike at the first stoplight because it was so heavy and I couldn’t “cheat” on my technique by muscling the bike. Raptor felt big, oafish, and clumsy.

I suspected, but now firmly believe, that this has more to do with me than it does with the bike.

I’ve been riding Raptor to work about three days a week for the last three weeks. That’s sixty miles a day, and if I make it home in one piece today that’s 540 highway and ’round-town miles since I started my job. I’ve taken him down to Williamsburg a few times, and any time I travel out to the west end of town I try to get some extra miles in.

I still have rough patches with him, but over time and these miles the bike “feels” smaller. Five weeks ago I felt like I was the captain of a two-wheeled barge. Now I’m the captain of a two-wheeled skiff. I am finding out how to make Raptor do what I want him to do, and I am now zipping in and out of traffic like I would with Cylon. Well, almost.

Speaking of Cylon …. I feel like a giant circus bear on a tiny bicycle. I have become even more comfortable in his smaller, thinner saddle, and my riding has improved even though I spend much less time on him. He gets jealous, so he typically gets one trip to work a week. Otherwise he’s just my “fun” bike whereas Raptor is my car replacement.

Overconfidence may lead to motorcycle accidents. Aside from the random deer or baby-swatting SUV mom, most motorcycle accidents are due to rider hubris. Taking a corner too fast, not braking properly, etc. The important thing for me is to continue to respect the incredible shrinking Raptor while pushing my limits a little bit at a time. It’s how I learned to ride Cylon, and hopefully by my cross-country trip in June I’ll be fully comfortable on board the big BMW.

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Posted in: motorcycling

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