Thursday, February 9, 2017

100,000 Miles

Suzi, days after I adopted her.
Back in December of 2007, I picked up a shiny, clean, blue 2003 Suzuki SV1000, with 21,555 miles on it.  Actually, I traded in my HD Sportster for it. Since I still owed on the Sporty, I had to go to the Harley dealer to get a printout of the balance of the loan to get it rolled into the Suzuki financing. When the manager wanted to know why I was switching brands, I told of the many breakdowns I’d had and the bad customer service I’d received at his and other dealers. He looked at the papers, and commented, “Well, you did buy a Sportster with nearly 12,000 miles on it.” My response was “Please! I’ll do double that in a year if the bike would run.” This isn’t meant to be a knock on the HD brand; I was bitter for a while, but I’m over it. I just encountered a terrible combination of a lemon and terrible customer service. It may be worth noting that that dealership is under new ownership since then. I mainly tell that side story as a preface to the following.

As stated, the SV had 21,555 miles on it. In the following days, I decided my goal would be to double THAT in a year. I made my goal in right around ten months. I successfully did more miles in ten months with no breakdowns than I did in three years of Sportster ownership. Granted, for a lot of that year, I was commuting 96 miles round trip, but miles are miles, and I did them trouble free.

And while I haven’t been able to duplicate the mileage of that first year, I’ve racked up the miles. As several of my club brothers and sisters are fond of saying, “mileage is knowledge”, and Suzi (yes, she developed a name) has taught me a few things about herself, bikes in general, and myself.

I put her on a dyno in 2009 at the R.O.T. Rally in Austin. She put out 101 hp and 71 lb-ft of torque. Weighs just a little over 400 pounds. Averages 42 miles per gallon. And puts out that power and gets that economy on regular old 97 octane fuel.

On Friday, January 20, 2017, I finally hit mile 121,555. 100,000 of MY miles on this bike. A personal milestone. I’ve gone through a lot of bikes in my time – mainly due to lack of funds causing me to purchase used bikes of questionable condition. Once I started racking up the miles, it became a goal of mine to hit the 100K mark. I posted milestone mileage odometer phots on Facebook and Instagram. 50K, 75K, 100K. And now, here we are, the magical “real 100K”. I even measured miles from a specific backdrop for the milestone photo I wanted to take.

Mileage is knowledge

As I look back over the last nine years (plus a couple months) and 100,000 miles, I see a lot of happy hours, miles, days, times. I have yet to have to replace any part that isn’t expected to eventually wear out. She had over 75,000 miles on the odometer before I had to do anything beyond routine maintenance. The most intrusive I’ve had to go was to replace the clutch bolts and clutch springs. At that point, the mechanic even looked at the clutch plates and pronounced them to look brand new. Now, I don’t want to sound like an ad for Suzuki, and I may have just really lucked out with this particular specimen, but let’s just say that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the brand, or the SV line.

I’ve ridden all over the central Texas Hill Country area west of Austin. All in and around Austin itself, too – I’m a crazy fool who actually enjoys riding in urban traffic. It’s like a big game of dodgeball. Of course, the stakes are higher, but that keeps you on your game and makes it fun. Suzi and I have been to Dallas, Del Rio, San Antonio, the Houston area, down near Corpus Christi, all the way into Mexico, and over to Louisiana. Of course, we’ve put down some miles in Georgia, too.

I’ve ridden solo, I’ve ridden with a passenger. With another rider, small groups, large groups. Suzi and I have ridden in poker runs, toy runs, parades, and far too many funerals (even running blockade for several of those).

I’ve ridden in temperatures below freezing, and sat in stop-and-go rush hour Austin traffic when the mercury was at 107 (not counting the heat index), and everything in between. Rain and shine.

Found her!
There may have been some practical jokes at her expense, taking advantage of her light weight in a culture dominated by heavy cruisers. Let’s just say that I’ve played hide and seek and found her stashed in some rather odd places, including inside a tent, inside a men’s restroom, and even with the bucket of a back hoe (or was it a front end loader?) parked on the foot of the kickstand. I knew the game was on when my brother Jim “Wingman” Hartness would walk up to me and say the magic words “Where’s Waldo?”

Worse than those "boots" the cops use

Honestly, trading in the Harley for this bike was bitterness toward the lemon combined with a touch of midlife crisis. The last couple of years have found me longing for a cruiser style bike again. Maybe a sport tourer. Maybe both? Heh. Yes, I’m getting older and looking for a bit more comfort. Maybe I also miss a certain look to my bike that I used to have, too. So once I’m in a financial place to do so, I’ll be bike shopping. But I do know this: I won’t be trading in. Suzi’s earned a permanent place in my stable. I think it’s time to start planning for the next 100,000 miles.

The Boy astride Suzi

Starting the Wee Girl out early (despite Mom's objections)


Out by Rex Mill in Rex, GA

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