Two-wheeled America: the experience of owning an "iron horse"
More than a year ago we decided to move to Florida with the whole family, where, as you know, summer is all year round, and with it the motorcycle season. I decided that I would definitely get an “iron horse”. Living in America and not having a motorcycle is a crime.
Where to begin? Well, of course, from the budget. I decided that with peace of mind I was ready to allocate thousands of American dollars for this 3 business. Amount by local standards, frankly, small. For this money, you can qualify for something like a Harley-Davidson Sportster or a Honda Shadow about 10 years old with a 20-30 mileage thousands of miles. At first glance, it’s not even scary, but the first trips to the shops and services selling motorcycles showed that I definitely won’t get pleasure from such a purchase. The technique was a dull sight: fine corrosion throughout the “body”, dried rubber parts and the overall impression of staleness. The reason for this - high humidity and the scorching sun, and, regardless of storage.
Speaking on Skype with one of my more experienced motorcycle friends from Moscow, I received advice from him - look at the model Honda Shadow Phantom, which was a more youth version of the usual Honda Shadow. The motorcycle is almost completely black, without a windshield, and the production of this model began only in the 2010 year, which guaranteed the freshness of the future purchase. However, I quickly realized that the budget would have to be increased. Normal options start at $ 5 thousand.
Voyage to motorcycle shops confirmed that there is nothing to catch there. Motorcycles with high mileage and a stale look gradually made me lose hope, but one day I decided to change tactics and started looking for private ads. My attention was attracted by a copy of the 2011 of the year with a mileage of all 4200 miles in excellent condition at a price of just $ 4.5 thousands.
I phoned and made an appointment. The first pleasant moment was that the seller lives in a good area (Coral Gables), and this already says a lot. Upon arrival, I saw a nice condo (HOA) with underground parking. A man of years 45 with a son of 14 came out to meet me, which also made the image of the seller very positive. I have already begun to understand that such a person would not kill a motorcycle, and sells it for quite predictable reasons. We went down to the second floor of the underground parking lot, where it was very dry, and I saw my next bike.
From the very first seconds it became clear to me that everything was in order with the motorcycle. The mileage is really 4 with a little thousand, five-minus condition, the seller had a service book and all the papers from the moto shop. He was the first owner, and sells, because the children, the wife ... next comes the familiar situation. We bargained a bit, agreed on 4200 and “shook hands”.
We made the deal the next day. It took about an hour of time, taking into account the waiting in line. The process of renewal in the United States is very simple. The seller and buyer sign in the title (PTS) and go to the TAG Agency (issuing agency), where after paying $ 160 I was given a new number, a receipt, and a completely new title in my name came by mail in a week.
Even before buying a motorcycle I was surprised by the carelessness of local bikers. Many go without protection, and some even in shorts. On the head of the means of protection - a bandana. The helmet is worn only by the drivers of the "sports", and even then not always. Pure recklessness.
After reading the rules, I realized that the helmet can not be worn, if the driver has insurance with coverage of at least $ 100 thousands. In other words, the authorities say the following: “If you want to break, please, but not at our expense.” I was not very pleased with this prospect, so I got a helmet in advance, even before buying a motorcycle, and bought a jacket with protection in the first days.
In summer, standing at traffic lights is hot enough. I chose a well-ventilated jacket, which slightly brightened my fate. On a fine day, the sensation of riding, as if you were blown into your face.
Coolness is almost never felt! Perhaps only before the onset of rain, but more on that later.
At first glance it may seem that Miami is driven well and calmly, especially in comparison with Moscow. This sensation is deceptive. After six months, I began to notice that the behavior of local drivers is very far from ideal. I tried not to dwell on it and stayed out of trouble.
Once, on the way to a meeting with a friend, I passed a traffic light, where a full stop is required when turning to red. To ensure this requirement, there is a camera behind that "shoots" in the back. The three cars in front of me performed the exercise perfectly, and it was my turn. I stop - and then suddenly ... I feel a blow from behind.
The first sensation, of course, is shocking. On the empty place! Thank God, the speed was low, but the feeling of fear was replaced by resentment. Almost a new bike - and this is such an idiotic situation. I climb down and see a bent number bracket and a slightly bent wing. The wheel is locked!
The driver of the Chevrolet Volt approached me deadpan and clarified whether everything was all right with me. People passing by were also interested in my condition. I slightly unbent the bracket so that the wheel could turn, and we pulled over. The culprit sent me by SMS the number of his insurance policy, and we parted.
In the evening I called the insurance. A couple of days later the insurance commissioner came to me, who counted me $ 848 dollars. I said I will repair it myself. A week later, the check came in the mail. Insurance worked great.
Why are there few motorbikes in Miami?
Despite the fact that almost every hour a motorcyclist passes by, their number is still small. This is not Italy or Thailand. I thought for a long time, what is the reason, and I think I understood.
Let us suppose that we do not take heat into account, but the changeable weather is the business card of South Florida. The sun burns almost always, but at any moment, especially in summer, it can rain.
Somewhere after a couple of months of owning a motorcycle, I left work and after 15 minutes I felt quite strong raindrops. Parked at the gas station and waited for about half an hour, I looked into the phone and realized that the rain had “charged” all night. There was no point in waiting, and I decided to drive, but I chose a less expensive highway as my route. Less risk, but a lot of traffic lights.
With a grief in half, I got to the house in 2 hours, getting wet to the skin. Fortunately, the head was dry - thanks to the helmet.
For 4 months I got caught in the rain 10 times, but only a couple of times I had to wait out the bad weather. It happened that on the way to work I managed to get wet and dry 2 times. After the end of the rain, the sun peeps out again - and after 15 minutes "under the hairdryer" you are again as good as new.
In Russia, the lion's share of motorcyclists are either young people or middle-aged people. In America, the opposite is true. A typical motorcycle club starts at least 40 years old, and the average age, according to my observations, is somewhere around 50-55 years old. Why? A motorcycle in America is not a toy, but a lifestyle.
The aged people are no longer concerned with raising children, they have made a career, paid the mortgage, have gained enough sense not to drive like scalded ones, and therefore can afford to do what they want.
When I talk about lifestyle, these are not empty words. Bikers in America honor traditions and, as a rule, are members of clubs with regular rides, visiting bars, etc. Often a similar style is practiced by girlfriends of bikers, that is, wives who sit in the back seat of motorcycles as faithful companions. No wonder the United States is the country with the longest motorcycle history.
This photo captures Eric Sprague, who looks years on 90, although, according to him, he has just 66. There are reasons for this: he was injured 3, has metal parts in many bones and joints, he advocates the legalization of marijuana, because he uses it as a medical remedy against regular pain.
By the way, Eric is an honorary member of the Iron Ass Association, whose members at least 1 have traveled 1000 miles (1600 km) at least 24 hours in their lifetimes.
Eric said he managed to do it in 23 hours 27 minutes, and his friend managed to fit in 23 hours 53 minutes. The confirmation is either a record from the GPS tracker, or the words of one of the authoritative members of the club.
It is he who is the leader of our local motocross, which once a month travels "to a long distance" to see another attraction. The media sponsor is the local Honda motorcycle dealer, which we use as a collection point and where we have warm breakfasts. When I first joined Eric's company, we started at around 9 am and drove about 300 kilometers one way to Solomon's Castle. By the way, the castle was built by a native of Russia.
In the end, I returned home in the evening 5 area, winding about 600 kilometers. I can not say that the Honda Shadow Phantom is well suited to travel long distances, but still I rested on the 5 minutes at each refueling, and that was enough for me.
Driving a company of 20-30 motorcycles on an empty road in America is pure pleasure.
There is also a Russian-language biker club in Miami that unites Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians and other migrants from the countries of the former USSR. I recently took part in one of these meetings. The age of the party is also closer to 50, and motorcycles are almost all solid Harley Davidson. They look, of course, brutal and charismatic. I looked on my Honda like a teenager on a scooter. However, even they did not deny the superiority of my bike in terms of reliability. Japan vs. America ... comments are unnecessary here.
I want to say that I am absolutely satisfied with the way my motorcycle life in America is proceeding. For six months I was in a minor accident, I got acquainted with how insurance works, got under heavy rain, wrapped 6 thousands of miles, joined 2 motos, went to the “far-away”. What else can you dream? Apparently only about the "iron ass."
Blog text published on Online "Amsrus". Reprinted by permission of the author. Photos of the author are used in the material.
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