Cheating never felt so right.
I’ve been riding motorcycles for nearly 27 years. In the dirt, on the street, or up and down the stairs and walls outside my friends’ houses (trials riding), it’s all good to me. For the past 13 years, I have been mostly faithful to one motorcycle: a 2000 VFR800. It’s yellow (naturally), fast enough to get me in way over my head, and shows me a good time whenever we go out. I reciprocate with regular bathing, synthetic oil and brake fluid changes, chain tensioning, and sticky new shoes as required. My VFR has over 30,000 miles on it now, but it looks just as good as it did 13 years ago since it is kept inside of doors. At the state inspection station earlier this year, the technician thought I had ‘restored’ it. “Nah man, I take care of my equipment.”, I replied.
My wife frequently joins me on the VFR for some hot three-way human-human-motorcycle action. It’s a hoot, you might say. Like many of you, I have lusted over many motorcycles (and other motorized things with wheels) over the years, but more recently I have given into these temptations.
Last year in early April, I took a long-weekend trip to visit family in Switzerland. While planning the trip, I decided that I was going to make it a point to do some adventure-riding for at least one day. It’s in my blood, after all – my grandfather rode motorcycle enduro races across Switzerland on anvil-technology motorbikes with sacrificial oiling systems. A quick Google search revealed a dealer/rental location near my sister’s house and I asked her to scope it out for me – she was impressed by the place.
They had several sexy two-wheeled machines for hire, but my interest was in the female volleyball player equivalent in the motorcycle world. The Duke 690. Athletic, poised, well built, handles exceptionally well, and looks fantastic when scantily clad. My sister coordinated the reservation with the joint to include reserving gear. It was on like Donkey Kong…
When I arrived @ Kloten Flughafen, it was overcast with a light drizzle falling. “Shucks”, I thought. “So much for that.” My sister and I decided to drive straight to the dealer (as planned) in the hopes that the weather would break. As we drove west towards Aarau, the skies lightened up, the drizzle stopped, and conditions were looking good. Angels sang. I gave thanks. Despite my limited German skills, I was able to get some proper gear fitted (even in tall sizes !), signed the papers, and headed outside for my introduction to my escort for the next 24hrs. Ignition: check. Fuel: check. Controls: check. I've got it from here. This wasn’t my first rodeo.
I copped a feel for the Duke on the ride back to my sister’s house to unpack my bags and make last minute plans for my riding that day – it wasn’t even 11AM. My first impression ? Wow, this thing is small and light. So much awesome in such a little package. I fueled up on some knockwurst and Spaetzle and headed out with a printed map and two smartphones, ICE. The temps were tickling 60* F. Perfect.
For 5 hours that afternoon, I twisted, slid, wheelied, and panted my way across the hill country north of Niederlenz. Oh. My. God. The Duke 690 made my VFR800 seem like an overweight cheerleader. What a tryst. We did it up hill, downhill, corkscrew, switchback, and most importantly, missionary. 67HP never felt so good.
The Duke was a willing accomplice to every compromising situation I could dream up for us. The WP suspension was taught and the steering communicative. The throttle/EFI was a bit choppy at lower RPM’s in the city – the moderately oversquare 690cc LC4 mill wanted to be revved. The Akrapovic pipe sounded great, but not obnoxious (due to strict noise laws in the EU); it let the LC4 bark when the revs approached the 8,000 RPM redline. I burned nearly a full tank of fuel that afternoon in what was practically an all-asphalt SuMo session. I learned to ride on dirtbikes a few decades ago – crossed up slides are the order of the day – so I was immediately comfortable man-handling the Duke. The big difference was that the Duke never placed a wrong foot. The grip and communicative suspension made me want to be a better rider. It’s _that_ good. The Duke 690 brought back a rush of emotions and memories of those early days for me. After this 5 hour g-force orgy, I was exhausted, but not achy. The Duke’s seat and ergonomics were surprisingly comfortable – even for this 6’4” 180lb rider.
The only cure for a motorcycling hangover is more motorcycling, right ? The next morning was a chilly 34* F, so I layered up for a 40km ride to my ancestor’s town on the Swiss/German border. This ride was a mix of twisty and A roads and the adrenaline did its job of keeping me warm. I took some pics of the small town with my family name and faced reality as I gazed at the Duke in the morning sun – this tryst will soon be over.
The race was on to make it back to the rental joint before 1030AM, under the 250km rental limit, and not get a ticket for speeding. It was essentially a TSD rally. I made it back in time without mileage or speed penalties and the tech that helped me spoke enough English to say, “Good ride ?”. “Yeah, man. Good ride.”, I replied. I was grinning from ear to ear. No words were necessary. He acknowledged my elation and complete satisfaction with a nod and a smirk. “He must see this often.”, I thought.
And now for the biggest let down of the experience: Saying good-bye. KTM wasn’t selling the Duke 690 in the U.S. at the time in that configuration. This really was like a swinging trip to the EU, I thought, because I might never flog a Duke 690 in the states. This year, KTM has decided to bring the motorcycle I did unmentionable things with to the states for the 2013 model year. That’s like having the escort you shagged in the EU move in next door to you and your family. Taunting you. Right there in your face when you leave the house. Ready for another go ‘round. I find myself in a quandary. Should I buy a Duke 690 and start a small harem of bikes ? My wife will not be amused, but I think I can convince her. The other problem is making time for regular workouts on each of the bikes – I don’t like for them to sit long between rides.
Since the romp with the ‘lil Duke in Switzerland, I have re-affirmed my deep appreciation for the well-rounded VFR in many ways. Timeless design, smooth torque delivery, composed touring manners, and that lovely symphony of mellow exhaust note (Two Brothers Titanium pipe) with some gear driven cams sprinkled in. It really is a great bike and the VFR holds a special place in my heart because the first street bike I rode on a regular basis was my friend’s 1983 VF750F. The VFR will always be one of my true loves.
Screw it. I want the Duke. I’m ready to be a two-timer.
If you enjoyed this short story, let me know. I recently had a mid-winter So-Cal fling with a BMW R1200RT that I could share. Another short story might take the edge off of your late-winter PMS.
Enjoy the ride.