It only took one month for my friends and family to be able to say to me, "told you so." I sat in the middle of the street in West Hollywood watching as gasoline spewed out of the punctured gas tank. I looked at the bike, lying on its side, as people started to step out of their cars to see if I was okay. All I could feel was anger.
I wasn't concerned with any injuries, I wasn't extremely worried about the state of the motorcycle, and the animosity wasn't even aimed at the person who'd just hit me. I was mad that my two wheels were now out of commission. I was pissed that I became another cliche. Most of all, I was furious that, after years of yearning to own a motorcycle, I only had about two weeks of true riding (I'll explain that later) before everybody close to me now had even more fodder to protest my continued riding.
I first grew an interest in a bike in high school. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled by the idea. “Not while you’re living under this roof,” they said. So when I got to the University of Missouri for college, I thought, “alright, I’m free, I can do what I want now.” They quickly snapped back with, “as long as we’re paying for your education, you’re not allowed to get a motorcycle.”
This grew particularly frustrating because my dad once owned a bike and my mom had told me stories about how she loved riding on the back. My dad had also witnessed two of his best friends get in life-threatening accidents because of motorcycles. But I had no room to complain. I was fortunate to have parents who were willing to back another dream of mine: becoming a journalist. For that, I'm thankful every single day of my life.
After graduating, I moved straight to New York City, a place where owning a vehicle makes about as much sense as giving a homeless a guy a sip of your Dunkin Donuts coffee from the same straw. That leaves my current location in Los Angeles, Calif., where I've lived for just longer than a year.
It took me about two months to pick a car when I got to LA (I ended up with an ’03 Acura RSX with 48,000 miles on it.) Once I'd decided it was time for a bike, it took me a week to pull the trigger.
The First Motorcycle Purchase
I got my license back in 2013 and I've been able to test ride quite a few motorcycles. I tried out almost the entire Ducati line, I've ridden five or six different Harley-Davidsons as well as a Kawasaki or two. I'd even tried out a Royal Enfield, the BRP Can-Am Spyder, and the Morgan Three-Wheeler (motorcycle engine!). With that experience, I felt that I'd had enough time to get comfortable with the lower-end power and was ready for a mid-level bike.
After reading multiple reviews, looking at every "best beginner bikes" list I could find, and adjusting the options for a desired budget of about $3,500, I settled on the Suzuki SV650 as my top choice. I loved the naked look, the seating position was a little more upright than a sport-specific motorcycle, they have the Japanese reliability, there are a lot of them out there, I like the way they sound, and I read that they have numerous upgrades for the future. There's also a relatively active group of SV owners in the LA area.
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After proudly not jumping on a beautiful 2007 SV650 with ABS I'd seen earlier that week (the price was way too high), I found a red 2001 SV with 17,000 miles listed for $2,200 up in the valley. When I got there to take a look, I was happy to hear and see that the seller was a BMW mechanic. That fact probably lead to me trusting him more than I should have.
I knew immediately that the bike was not in original condition. The paint job was terrible, there was a fender eliminator on the rear, and the crooked gauges were mounted on a few pieces of metal that were clearly added later in its life. But where many people would have immediately walked away, I saw an opportunity. The RSX I had was pretty much perfect. I didn't have any work to do on it, and I wanted something that I could wrench on.
The seller didn't know anything about the previous owners, which is also never good, but I was already hooked. It ran well and it could be my own first project. I wanted a motorcycle, and for that price, I wanted to jump—I got him down to $1,950.