Touring the Bay Area with Kim…

…even though, sadly, it was all in a car for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kim and I have been tossing around an idea for a trip this summer (no, nothing as long as Alaska, boss) and I think the subliminal messages I’ve been implanting in her brain are working, as she’s pretty much agreed to go. Bwa ha ha. One of the barriers to entry was that she was down to one motorcycle, the CB-1, which is wonderful and spunky and ten kinds of fun and not very pleasant for long freeway riding. So she started perusing the classifieds.

Long story short, she found an ad she liked: a 1997 Kawasaki ZX6E, mechanic-owned, at a good price. We went to see it yesterday.

I drove my car up from my house to San Francisco, as I didn’t really want to leave the SVS parked alone in SOMA all day (not a bad neighborhood, really, but not the place to leave an unchained shiny vroom-vroom). The bike was another hour northeast of San Francisco, in Fairfield, so we took Kim’s car up there. It’s been a while since I’d been up around Vallejo/Fairfield — I used to go at least once a year when riding up to Napa/Calistoga. I don’t think I’d ever been in winter before, either. Yet one more Bay Area place that’s actually pretty when green instead of crackling dry brown.

Anyway, we arrived at the seller’s house and met the bike. “Oooooh!”, said I, “it’s sparkly green!” and began petting it. “Oops, sorry, being a girl.” “Yeah,” Kim said, “stop being a girl and start being my mechanic.”

So I puttered around the bike, looking at this and looking for that, and it actually looked pretty clean for having 27k miles on it. The chain and sprockets were obviously recently replaced, the brake pads had life left in them, the oil and brake fluids were light and at the right levels. Kim took it for a test spin while I chatted with the seller a little bit — he was a super-nice guy that was obviously sad to see the bike go. He used to race at Sears Point in the 1970’s, he said, and was hoping to buy a 70’s era superbike from a local guy soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

When Kim got back, we had a bit of a scare with the oil — I happened to be looking at something near the sight glass and noticed the oil was a little foamy. This didn’t please me, especially when Kim (intentionally) rocked the bike a little bit and I could see a milky white film on the oil and on the sight glass. The seller was worried, too, so we opened up the ….not a dipstick, since there’s a sight glass, but you know what I mean — the cover where you pour the oil in….and looked at the oil inside. It didn’t look milky in the slightest. We waited, rocked the bike a little, looked again…same thing. So we figured it was just condensation on the sight glass from the bike not having been ridden in a little while.

Anyhoo, Kim gave the nice man US Dollars, and geared up again and we headed out. She’s keeping the bike at our house for a couple of days while she works out the parking situation at her apartment, so we came down the East Bay straight to Cupertino — a nice 80-mile jaunt for Kim’s first ride on a new bike, after not having ridden for a while due to broken foot. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kim’s assessment, stolen mercilessly from her LiveJournal: ” I rode the bike the whole way down in one chunk, which isn’t too bad on a fully faired bike. It needs a bigger windscreen (and I need to not forget my earplugs) but it was a great ride. I’m left with the feeling that this is the bike I should’ve bought instead of the Thundercat 2 years ago. I had considered it at the time but decided the Thundercat was a better bike — which objectively it may be, but for me it turned out to be sadly under-loved and somewhat resented for its high insurance price tag. The ZX6 is a better height for me, particularly post-gimping (I can put one foot down flat or 2 feet at almost-balls-of-feet), and the engine feels more like a real inline-4, which I like (the Thundercat had a ton of torque down low, which was fun but very un-4-like and made me a little sad). I also prefer its character when turning, which is more like the CB-1 in depending on you to hold the line rather than just going where you point it when you tip in.”

I checked the oil again when we got to my house; no condensation or milky anything in the sight glass this time.

I haven’t ridden the new bike, but I did get to sit on it and it was pretty darn comfy. The handlebars are more angled than I’m used to but other than that, it’s comparable to the touring-modified SVS (oh, the seller had also put 1″ bar risers on the ZX6E, so I guess they’re both touring-modified ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). It’s a good thing that a ZZR600 or ZX6E would serve exactly the same purpose for me as the SVS, otherwise I’d be sorely tempted to want one.

So, yay! Kim has a new bike.

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