So I did, in fact, buy ngold66's 919 from this post: https://www.wristtwisters.com/forums/...t-c-73914.html
I mean, we all sometimes make the questionable decision to browse forum classifieds late in the evening with a drink or two, right? And then some of us, who work at a motorcycle shop and thus have a notable lack of reasonable, responsible adult influence in their life, might then conceive of a scheme to fly down to the opposite end of the west coast with a stack of cash to buy a customized motorcycle from a complete stranger of unknown mechanical aptitude and ride it 1200 miles home. Or maybe that's just me.
Well, no one tried to talk me out of it, and in fact several people, including my boss, demanded to see pictures and then actively encouraged me to go through with it, and since Vintagehunter had seen and vouched for both the bike and the owner and the asking price was eminently reasonable even factoring in travel costs... I went ahead and did it.
I flew out of Seattle at some ungodly hour on a Sunday morning on the cheapest flight I could find, which involved a plane change in Oakland before getting to Burbank. The plan, as arranged with Neal over phone, email, and text, was for me to then catch an Amtrak out of the Burbank airport to Camarillo, where he would pick me up, but because I'm an idiot and didn't listen to multiple people who warned me not to try to walk anywhere in southern California, I went wandering away from the airport in the 2 hours I had between landing and the train's schedule departure and managed to get turned around enough to end up across the street from the train station, watching it pull away, 2 minutes after its scheduled departure time. Neal very kindly came to get me from the airport instead. Yes, it's a tiny airport. Yes, I am remarkably talented at getting lost. Plus there was this whole thing with someone asking if I had a phone charger and-- look, I don't wanna talk about it.
I packed light, because I didn't want to check luggage and anyways, anything I brought I'd have to be able to strap to the bike. So I wore my jacket for the flight, had my helmet, a couple pairs of gloves, change of clothes, and a light rain jacket and pants in a duffel, and a small tank bag with a strap clipped onto it as a "purse" 😂 I actually did a couple of trial fits on my 919 at home, and the duffel bag with rokstraps worked a lot better than I expected-- I may rethink my camping/touring setup. The minimal rain gear was totally going to bite me in the ass, though.
I only took one day off work to get the bike because I didn't want to blow too much PTO this early in the year, and my friend told me that road conditions were bad on the CA coast. So I just took I-5 the whole way north. I left Neal's place and made it about 200 miles into the middle of nowhere between LA and SF before it got dark and I called it a night. The battery, weaned off its tender for probably the first time in years, was weak and wouldn't start the bike Monday morning, just to keep things interesting, so I got help bump-starting the bike from two eastern European guys in a motel parking lot and set off again only a little later than planned. I figured since I'd made a few gas stops the previous night, freeway riding was keeping the battery charged just fine during the day and I'd have to plan for another bump-start the next morning. But then (see post title) some moto-buddies in Ashland that I'd met through a local women's motorcycling group reached out and offered me a place to stay Monday night, which I happily accepted, which meant I'd have the aid of a battery charger once more. Plus, Redding to Ashland and then Ashland to Eugene, even on I-5, is some pretty decent riding. I caught a lucky break in the weather through Siskiyou Pass, and it was perfect: sunny but not too hot with good pavement and beautiful scenery, it felt like a well-earned reward after hours of slogging on I-5 through the boring, hot, bug-ridden bottom half of California, which a friend described aptly as "Cowschwitz."
Mt Shasta photo op:
Tuesday morning in Ashland:
Leaving my friends' place the next morning, it was a little chilly but still clear through Grants Pass, and I made it to Eugene before stopping for food and to put on more layers while considering the last leg of the trip to Seattle. About five minutes out of Eugene, my luck ran out. I rode straight into one of the most miserable downpours I've ever been in and it followed me all the way home. What should have been about four hours' worth of riding at freeway speeds turned into almost seven hours, hitting traffic in Portland, Olympia, and Tacoma, and having to stop to change clothes in a gas station bathroom in Kelso.
Checking radar while futilely hoping that my gear would dry out a bit before I had to hit the road again: it looks
like it clears up from Olympia to Seattle, but the storm was actually moving north at about the same rate I was. Lucky me.
Zero visibility, just pissing
rain, the usual parade of shitty Oregon and Washington drivers, left lane camping at 55 with no lights on to boot. My fancy new Revit goretex gloves, which were partially a birthday present from my boss, soaked through after about a hundred miles. (I can't even fault them. I'm pretty convinced no gear on earth could have kept me dry for that whole ride, short of an actual car. On the plus side, they're broken in wonderfully now.) Water worked its way between my helmet and the collar of my rain shell and soaked into my scarf, which then wicked water all the way down my shirt and
up into my helmet liner. Water spraying up from the road got under the cuff of my rain pants and into my regular pants, which then also sent water down into my socks and boots. Even the visor seal on my Shoei gave out, and water started leaking down the inside of my visor. It was just an absolute shitshow, and the whole time I was very conscious of the fact that I was riding on five-year-old Q2s with a nice flat spot in the middle from the 800 miles of interstate I'd just put on them. I had enough butthole-puckering moments that my hips hurt for two days after I got home. Just past Olympia, I started fantasizing about calling one of my friends with a truck or a trailer to come get me and the bike and bring me a change of clothes... but I stuck it out.
Sweet, soggy victory at 6:30pm Tuesday night:
19015 was the recorded odometer mileage when I left Neal's house:
Would I do it again? Wouldn't change a thing.
OKAY, yes, that's nice derps but how is the bike??? The bike... is really, really
good. When I got my second 919 with the insurance money from my totaled first, I knew what I was getting into: for around 3k, I think the 919 is one of the best deals around and one of my favorite bikes to ride, and the adequate-at-best stock suspension and brakes were just something I'd live with. This one still feels like my favorite bike, just without any of the drama I usually expect from the suspension-- it just handles it. The brakes are great. The power commander makes it actually rideable down to 2k rpm, although after owning two stock-piped bikes, the Yoshis make me feel like I'm getting shitty at totally tame city speeds, lol. I'm also pleased to report that nothing on this California bike melted when exposed to rain. I took the Yuasa out of my '07 and threw it in this one and it starts every morning. There's nothing I want to change right now. I'm debating trading some parts with the '07 to make a frankenbike-- I think this one would look cool with the darker grey case covers. I did miss having heated grips and handguards in the rain, and I might swap over the whole handlebar setup instead of messing around with refitting the parts. Maybe I'll buy a rear cowl that still has the grab rail holes, so I can have a rack for touring. Right now I'm perfectly happy to just ride it every day I can. It does have a cold-starting quirk; I went back to some old threads I'd never paid attention to before about possible power commander cold-start issues, and the trick with keeping the starter button held down for a few seconds after the bike starts works for me.
On the lift at work for a lunch break oil change and chain service, trying to decide if the headlight is growing on me (I've never really liked
the bug-eye look. although it definitely doesn't look bad):
It's been a miserably cold, wet winter (is it spring now? who can even tell?) up here in the PNW but it dried out enough last weekend for me to want
to go riding, instead of just grimly riding to work rain or shine because I hate getting up early enough to find a spot to park my truck near the shop. Nothing squirrely until I get a WA plate and some new rubber on her, but just some tame cruising through some local twisties. We stopped for lunch at a little tavern because we saw a Tuono and an Interceptor parked outside, and when those guys left they were definitely checking out the 919 more than my friend's 1199 Panigale on their way out. (Kelly: "They're probably just trying to figure out what it is, you know 😒" Me: "It says it right on the license plate!")
So there you go. You really do meet the nicest people on a Honda. It's been just shy of two weeks, and I'm beyond happy with this bike, plus I got a mini-adventure and cool story out of it. Thanks to ngold66 for building it and then selling it to me, plus going above and beyond with mailing me a box of spare bits and bobs for the bike and checking in the whole way to make sure I made it back.
And now, the most important question: should I keep "RC 919" as a vanity plate when I get it registered here?