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Chilly’s Blog – Riding versus Testing
Who Wants To Test Motorcycles?
Okay, I know everyone is going to think I am completely full of horse dung, so finish reading and then feel free to flame on.
Do you want to know when I have the most fun riding? Is it when I get to take out the newest bad ass bike in the shop? Is it when I get invited for the very first ride on the latest über cycle, the one that is going to change the world? Is it getting to try out that new super trick part that arrived in the mail? Well, it is none of the above.
I typically have the most fun when I am out riding the oldest, most worn out bike I can find. Now surely I jest, this must be crazy talk, insanity. I have three of the latest, greatest in the shop right now. But I want to go ride the dusty one that is tucked in the corner. Just recently spent a whole day getting the old 2003 450 out to go on a Baja trip. I had a great time on that ride.
Now this oldie works pretty good, I have gotten many good years of service out of it. But there is more to it than that. It is the bike that allows me to start a ride with absolutely no expectations. As long as it runs and doesn’t do anything bad, I am a happy guy. Getting home after a few days of riding with no mechanical problems is like a little victory on its own.
Now the difference with a new bike is that I do have expectations. There are lots of good motorcycles, but few great ones. That is to say the bar is set pretty high. Secondly, people are going to want me to be able to explain and quantify how it works. Is it really better than the Yamazuki? Now this part is starting to sound a little bit like work. I have to think and be responsible, almost like having to show up for a job everyday. Testing bikes is terrible for clearing the mind.
So if I don’t want to get fired, a day of riding turns into a day of testing. Testing can be fun, but it is also laborious. Think about it. I just made a jetting change; one lap out on the track tells me it is wrong. Now I have to sit back down, get all the tools out and do it over again. Or how about that suspension change. Maybe I should put the heavier spring on? Did I bring all the tools to change the spring? How do I get the shock out of this bike anyway?
It is pretty much a one man job. No one wants to waste their day of riding to watch you get the tools out again. Everyone wants to volunteer to help ride the new bikes. No one really wants to commit to spending a tedious day of testing.
Time is money. Both are my enemy. This is a business. I am still trying to figure out how to make it flow in the green and get out of the red. Testing motorcycles consumes far more resources than I can usually justify. When it costs $100 to drive anywhere, it adds up fast. But I love it, so I am stuck to it, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Many people ride motorcycles, few really test them. So when you read the latest test on DirtActionCycle.com, think about what you are reading. Did they really test the bike or just go out and ride it?